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What do you need to do in the Writing test?

Watch Nuria, a learner of English, talk to Pauline Cullen and Gad Lim about the IELTS Academic Writing test.
So I’m here with Gad, who you know, and also with Pauline Cullen, who is a consultant to the Cambridge English Language Assessment and also one of the authors of the Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS. I have some questions for Gad and some for Pauline about the IELTS Academic Writing. So firstly, Pauline, how can you remind me of what I have to do in the Academic Writing test? Yes. The academic writing test is one hour, and you’re given two separate tasks. The first task is a summary of some visual information. So you might be given a chart or a graph or a diagram, or you might be given a set of maps to compare. And you need to summarise that information.
You need to write at least 150 words. And you should try to spend no more than 20 minutes on that. And then, task two is a formal essay, and you have 40 minutes to spend on that. And you have to produce at least 250 words, and produce a formal essay for that. OK. Thank you, Pauline. So, why was the test designed that way? Well, if you think about it, the kinds of writing you need to do at university always involve dealing either with data or with ideas.
And if you think about it, the Part 1 test is a test that makes you deal with data in your writing and the Part 2 of the test makes you deal with ideas when you write the essay. So basically, the two parts make you do what you have to do in universities. Exactly. OK. Good. Makes sense. So in Task 1, I need to summarise the main points, and I can’t include every detail. But how do I know what the main points are? Well, it’s about summarising the most important points. So it’s really important to stop and look at the data really carefully before you begin to write. Don’t start writing straight away.
People who do that tend to just list all of the details in the visual you’re given. That’s what you mustn’t do. You must summarise the main points. So by that, we mean, the most interesting details that you can see. Look for things that are similar. Look for changes. Look for things that haven’t changed. And those are the most interesting things that you notice, are the main points to get across. But it’s also really important to remember that you must only describe the data that you’re given. So you mustn’t speculate about reasons why it might have happened or reasons why changes might have occurred, for example. Just stick to describing the data that you’re given and summarising it.
And in Task 2, I know I need to give my point of view. But if I can’t decide, can I agree and disagree at the same time? I think it’s always a good idea to handle both sides of an argument, because it will sound like you’ve given careful consideration and thought to both before deciding on what you have decided. But I think it’s also important to note that the Task 2s can be slightly different. Some of them ask you to agree and disagree, but some of them ask you to consider the advantages and disadvantages on a particular issue, in which case, the way you go about responding to them will be slightly different.
So I think you should, maybe, spend some time in thinking, how might I respond differently to these different Task 2 questions. Sure. OK. Good. Thank you very much. Thank you.
Watch Nuria and Gad speaking with Pauline Cullen about the two tasks in the IELTS Academic Writing test.
You can find more information on the IELTS website and on the IELTS YouTube channel.
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Inside IELTS: Preparing for the Test With the Experts

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