How many words for IELTS writing? Rules & Advice

How long should your IELTS writing task 1 &  task 2 be? Learn how the examiner counts your words and the recommended length of your IELTS essay. This page contains information about:

  • IELTS Writing Word Count Rules
  • Recommended Essay Length
  • Word Count Warning
  • How Words are Counted in IELTS writing

IELTS Writing: Word Count Rules

  1. IELTS have set a task of writing over 150 words for IELTS writing task 1 and 250 for writing task 2.
  2. However, there is no upper word limit.
  3. You will receive a penalty for writing under the word count.

Recommended Length of an IELTS Essay

  1. Always write over the word count.
  2. The examiner will check and count all your words.
  3. Aim for around 170 – 190 for writing task 1 and about 270 – 290 for writing task 2. This will mean you are safely over the word limit but without adding too much irrelevant information.
  4. Don’t write too much. Aim for quality rather than quantity. This means focus on writing excellent English and organising your information rather than writing a long essay.

Watch this video to learn more about how long your IELTS essay should be:

Will you get a higher score for a longer essay in IELTS?

The answer is very simple = no. IELTS is look for a highly relevant, focused essay. If you try to add information that is not 100% relevant to your task, you will get a lower score.

Don’t try to add a hook to your introduction to make it interesting. You don’t get more points for interest. You get more points for being focused and concise.

You do not get a higher score for a longer essay.

Warning for IELTS Writing Word Count

  1. If you copy the information given by IELTS for your introduction, the examiner will not count those words. This means you might be under the word count. So, always paraphrase your introductions. This lesson shows you how to write an introduction for IELTS writing task 2 by paraphrasing.
  2. How to check how many words you have written – you don’t have time to count each word you have written, so you should count the lines instead. Knowing the length of your handwriting on the official writing answer sheet will help. Watch this video lesson to learn about practicing with the official writing answer sheet.

More IELTS Writing Tips & Lessons

10 Sentences to Avoid in IELTS Writing Task 2

How many Paragraphs for an IELTS Essay

How to use the Official Answer Sheet for IELTS Writing

All IELTS Writing Task 2 Lessons, Model Answers, Tips & Free Videos

Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, lessons, free videos and more.

Get my free lessons by email

Subscribe for free to get my new IELTS lessons sent to your email inbox.

Comments

  1. Hello Ma’am

    Greetings of the day!

    I’ve been told that in writing module, the examiner does not count articles, prepositions and repetitive words. Is that true? If it is true, then I believe that the total word count (including articles, prepositions etc) would exceed 280 words (as suggested by you).

    Please advice.

    Thanks

    • Do you really think the examiner will spend time counting how many times each word is used (which would take a very long time)and then do mathematical calculations? Did you try to do this and check how long it takes? Of course the examiner does not do it. Try to be logical in your thinking. Go to the main writing task 2 page and review the link about counting words. I really don’t know what to say – who gave you such ridiculous information??? Was it someone who has completed the IELTS examiner training? Obviously not. Again, be logical and sensible. IELTS is not a trick test.

  2. thank you so much

  3. Hey Liz!
    Hope that your are fine. My query is that, I write almost 220 words in my writing task one and about 360 words in my writing task 2. Will I get a lower band score if I write consume so many words? However, my points are relevant to the topic I am writing.

    Tips will be helpful.

  4. can we add examples to our opinion based essay ?

  5. Hi Liz,

    Words in few of my writing task 1 reach about 210, is it bad for scoring ??

    Regards,
    Nidhi

  6. Noureldin says:

    Dear Liz,
    How are you? hope you are fine. I wanted to ask you about the maximum words to be written in the IELTS writing test tasks 1 & 2, as I have informed from one of my friends who has taken an IELTS training courses, that if the number of works exceeds 180 for Task 1 and 280 for task 2, I will lose points. Please advise.

    • This is not true. There is no upper word limit. However, if your task 1 or task 2 is long and contains unnecessary information, that will lower your score. Both task 1 and task 2 require focus, relevancy and selected ideas / information. So, giving too much will be a problem.

  7. Dear Liz,
    I have some trouble with managing my essay length. I tend to write about 350-400 words for task 2. One of the examiner told me that when the essay was above 300 words, it would lower my band score. I am quite terrified because most of my practice essays are too long. What can I do to tackle this? My test is coming this week and I am quite confused. Thank you.

    • You choose two or three main points – never more. Each main point is in one body paragraph. Each main point has three or four sentences to support it – never more. Keep your ideas focused and plan your supporting points. This means each sentence is planned before you start writing.

  8. Hi Liz,

    Are erasures acceptable?

    Thanks

  9. Jomal Sonny says:

    Hello Liz,
    What can I use instead of “This essay will discuss both sides and give an opinion at the end”

    Jomal Sonny

  10. Dear Liz,

    I have question, is writing up to 350 words in Academic writing task two is a posssible reason for low bands score? I think, it could also be a reason for my lower score in the recent ielts test, which dropped to 5.5 from 7. So, should I restrict my writing up to only around 300 words?

    Thank you so much. Your advice means a lot to me.
    Lots of love and respect.

    • You should aim for accuracy, not length. You should aim to write between 260 and 280 words in task 2 and spend at least 3 mins proof reading it to delete errors.

  11. Hi Liz,
    I gave LRW test yesterday. I have a query.. I write 290-300 words in writing task 2 , in 6,7 small paragraphs , instead of writing in 4, 5 paragraphs. Is it wrong,? Will I lose marks?

    Secondly, in my speaking test examiner asked in que card section question about history event , as I am not good in history I told him this and asked him can I tell any of my own history event? He noded his head in yes . I again confirmed him it could be my event he noded head in yes. Then I told him about my marriage how did it took place who people were involved how whole event was arranged. Liz you tell me was this answer wrong ? And would I loose marks? When the recording/test was over , I heard him saying , “I was asking you about history event”. Why he noded his head in yes when. I was confirming him about question.? At least i gave answer I didn’t remain quiet.
    How do you see this thing? Liz

    Much thanks

    • Writing 290 to 300 words isn’t wrong but it does mean you might have written a less focused essay. Having 6 to 7 small paragraphs will lower your score for Coherence and Cohesion which is 25% of your marks. It is not possible to estimate a score. In speaking, you are not marked for focus, ideas or being on topic. So, directing the talk as you want is fine and the right strategy for speaking.

  12. ABHISHEK A says:

    Hello Liz,
    Do we need to write number of words in the brackets at the end of the essay,like (170 words)

    • No. Definitely not. You don’t have time to count your words. Just count the lines and calculate your words for your own sake – don’t write the number down.

  13. Hi can u tell me if i write more than 150 words in task one .so it will be good or bad effect on my band..

  14. ATIQUR RAHMAN says:

    Hi Liz, I have taken my exam in today evening but in writing task2 I didn’t count word numbers due to lack of time management, but iguess I wrote over 250. will it reduce my score if its not 250 or almost 250?

    • If you think you wrote around 250 words, hopefully you will be fine.

      • ATIQUR RAHMAN says:

        Thanks for your reply, one another thing I would like to share with you mam that in my speaking exam, the examiner was tatlkative and she just interrupted me while I was talking in section 3, therefore my response was not satisfactory but I did well in part 1& 2, what makes the difference in this perspective? does it reduce my score? Thanks again mam.

        • She did not interrupt because your answer was wrong but may be because she wanted to take the discussion in a new direction. There are no right or wrong answers in IELTS speaking. You can marked on your language, not your ideas.

          • ATIQUR RAHMAN says:

            Thanks for your reply mam.

            • ATIQUR RAHMAN says:

              But one thing I heard that I was the last candidate that’s why she wanted to take the test in hurry as she took much test. So is there any impact if that actully happened?

              • It should not have an effect. However, examiners are just normal people and they can get tired. You have the option of getting a remark if you feel your speaking results are not right.

  15. did my best in both the task… both the grammar and coherence was kept good the only thing that makes me feel down is the word limit… i only wrote 200 words in task 2.. people that if we write less we automatically get 5 or 5.5 and not more than 6 is it true?

  16. Dear Liz,

    Really, you lighted my IELTS exam road. Your log is very helpful.
    I have a question in Writing section. Could you tell me please, when I write a new paragraph should I leave space in the first line then start writing or that not important?

    My best regards

  17. Hi,Liz

    Thank you very much for your useful video and content.I have one question to you.I would like to know for IELTS the word “On the other hand” is one word or four word.
    Thank you 🙂

  18. Thomraj kc says:

    Hi Ma’m,
    In task 1 as well as in task 2, the same article/preposition/conjunction if repeated more than once. Then that particular article/preposition/conjunction counted separately or only assigned as one word?

  19. Hi Liz,
    I would like to thank you so much for all your lessons.They were so helping and i scored Band 7 in academic module in my 1st attempt…speaking-7, Reading-7.5, listening-7 ,writting-6.5. Unfortunately i need 7 in all modules so i need to take the exam again. During my exam session i was so much confused with writting task 1 and wasted lot of time to analyse the question . can u give me some times for writting task 1 so that i can do it well in the next attempt.

    Regards,
    Gnana.

    • My tips and models for task 1 are currently on my writing task 1 page of this blog. Later, I will make detailed in-depth lessons for my online training course for task 1 but that will take time to make.
      All the best
      Liz

  20. Hi Liz.
    I am not sure if this has been asked before, but i would like to know how many sentences should there be in the introduction and overview for Writing Task 1.
    I am looking forward to hear from you soon. Thanks.

    • One sentence for the introduction. For the overview, it is usually one or two – it depends how many key features there are.
      Liz

      • That was really helpful. Thanks Liz.
        And by the way, i am bit confused on how to write an overview. I mean the key features that i should include in my overview, if it has to be the largest proportion in a certain graph or the trend(if any). Can you help me out please? Thank you.

        • That really is a long lesson to give. I can only suggest that you look at each model writing task 1 and make a note of what information I have put in the overview. You will see that it is slightly different for each type of task.
          All the best
          Liz

          • Thank you Liz for helping out. I surely will check the model essays for writing task 1.
            And hopefully I would figure out what features are necessary for an overview in a particular graph. 🙂

  21. Hello Mam !!

    Can i use proverb and idioms in writing task-2 ?

    e.g.
    Life without education is like a bird without wings
    Prevention is better than care

  22. actually,in last paragraph “practice” must be “practise” ( the firsr sentence) 🙂

  23. Hi Liz,

    I answered one of the practice writing tasks provided on your website.

    It’s a great website and really helpful.

    The task is as follow

    You have just spent a week with a friend on holiday. When you got home you relaised you forgot your wallet there

    Write a letter to your friend. In your letter include

    thank you friend for the holiday
    explain that you left the wallet in their house
    give them instruction on how to send it back to you.

    Dear Jane,

    Hope this email finds you in the best of spirits and health.

    First of all, I would like to thank you for the memorable and relaxing time I had at your house. It was home away from home. Please convey my thanks to your mother for all the lovely feasts she prepared for me. It had been a long time since I had a full meal. Wish I could have spent more time there.

    I have reached safely and am feeling very nostalgic. While unpacking I realized that I have left my wallet at your house. If I remember it correctly, it must be in the right side table drawer. It tool me a while to realize it as I have a habit of packing it in my suitcase and carry small change and important documents in my purse for peace of mind. I would really appreciate if you could look for it and inform me to subside my anxiety.

    My brother is traveling to Auckland for a business meeting tomorrow. You could hand it over to him, if its not much trouble. He will be staying at JW Marriott and would be available at 00626603036. I will also pass on your contact details to him for ease.

    Thanking you in advance for the help. Take care and write back soon.

    HG

  24. Hi Liz, please have more English video.

    • I hope to upload more over time. I hope to have one video ready quite soon with useful information to talk about body language communication.
      All the best
      Liz

  25. Rana Naz says:

    Hi LIZ

    would you mind please getting some videos on writing task 1 GT.I was looking for video but could not find specifically even one video on GT task 1 writing on Letter.

    would b very thankful to you for your precious kind effort and endeavors for me.

  26. i appeared for IELTS last month except writing I scored 7 in each module. I need individual 7 score to register as nurse can u please help me.

    • I will soon be posting complete training videos to buy for IELTS writing. I post a link when they’re ready. Otherwise, please work through this blog and do all free lessons. Also read the page about the band scores 5 to 8. Read all band scores to learn more about why you lose and gain points.
      Liz

Speak Your Mind

*