By Singapore Teaching Centre, British Council

05 November 2021 - 12:00

Student preparing for IELTS

Are you planning to move overseas? Getting ready to take the IELTS test?

Here’s more information about IELTS, the General Training Writing test, and how to prepare for your written IELTS test.

What is the IELTS test and why is it important?

If you want to study, work or settle down in an English-speaking country, then you need to prove that you have a high level of English. The UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia all use English language requirements as part of their visa and citizenship systems.

IELTS is the most popular English qualification in the world. About 3 million people take the exam every year, and IELTS qualifications are accepted by over 10,000 schools, employers and immigration authorities. It’s a reputable, straightforward way to demonstrate your English proficiency.

What is the General Training Writing test?

The IELTS test has four parts:

  • Listening
  • General Training Reading
  • General Training Writing
  • Speaking

(There’s also an academic version of the IELTS test, where you take tests in Academic Reading and Writing instead of General Training – but we won’t discuss that here.)

The General Training Writing test consists of two tasks:

  • Write a letter of at least 150 words (20 minutes)
  • Write an essay of at least 250 words (40 minutes)

Your writing must be in full sentences and paragraphs. You can’t write bullet points or quick notes.

Learn more on IELTS preparation courses

Tips for the IELTS General Training Writing test

The IELTS writing test might sound intimidating, but don’t worry. There are lots of things you can do to prepare for the test. 

First of all, it’s a good idea to practise as much as possible. Look for IELTS sample questions or old exam questions that you can practise at home.

Second, you can prepare for the General Training Writing test by remembering a few key points.

For example, in the first task where you have to write a letter, always ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of this letter – a personal letter to a friend, a complaint letter, a request for information, or something else?
  • Is this letter formal, semi-formal or informal? Have you written in the correct style?
  • Have you started and ended the letter correctly? Don’t forget to greet the recipient at the beginning and sign your name at the end.
  • Have you included every point in the question? If you forget to include a detail from the exam question, your score may be lower.

The second task is very different. You don’t have to worry about addressing people correctly in a formal or informal style. Instead, you need to discuss a general issue and offer your opinion.

Instead, think about these points:

  • Give your essay a strong structure with an introduction, a discussion and a conclusion. Make sure your own opinion is clear by the end of the essay.
  • Have you discussed both sides of the question? Don’t forget to include another point of view.
  • Can you give any examples to support your opinion? You can share facts that you know or give an example from your personal experience.

Get more help with IELTS preparation

Looking for extra support? The British Council in Singapore has practice resources and offers IELTS preparation courses

Sign up for IELTS writing preparation courses