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

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  1. thank you so much

  2. 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.

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

  4. Hi Liz,

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


  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Hi Liz,

    Are erasures acceptable?


  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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..

  13. 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.

  14. 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?

  15. 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

  16. 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 🙂

  17. 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?

  18. 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.


    • 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

  19. 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.

      • 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

          • 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. 🙂

  20. Hello Mam !!

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

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

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

  22. 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.


  23. 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

  24. 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.

  25. 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.

  26. Hi Liz. I want to ask you something.
    Can I write these sentences in my essay (writing task 2 )?
    Exercise has been a part of children’s learning for thausands of years. In most countries children are required to attend gym class, several hours a week, from grades from one to twelve. Since many children feel incapable in sports and other physical activities, they would prefer optional physical education classes. Although some children do not want to participate in physical education, I believe these classes must be mandatory because they teach children health and co-operation.

    • These sentences belong to Introduction paragraph.

    • Your introduction should contain just two sentences (two statements). Your introduction is too lengthy and contains unnecessary information. Watch my free video about how to write an introduction for an IELTS essay. It’s in my video section of writing task 2.
      All the best

  27. Hello Liz ,thank you for your classes .
    Do I have to write two sides of the statement in agree or disagree type essay

    • Hi,

      For an opinion essay, you give your opinion and then explain it in the body paragraphs. It isn’t a discussion and you can’t discuss both sides. But you may have a specific opinion which allows you to use a range of ideas. The most important thing is to give a clear opinion and explain it in the body without giving any other information about what other people think.
      All the best

      • Thank you

        • Hello Liz can you please be kind to check my essay . I am writing example on 14/2 need 7 .
          Some people think that the government is wasting money on the arts and this money could be better spend elsewhere.
          To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement

          It is believed by some that the government lavish money on the arts while this money can be used effectively on other areas . This essay totally disagree with this statement.

          To begin with , it is true that art is an essential part of our society .people depend on arts for relaxation ,entertainment and even for their living. To illustrate this, music is an art however , musicians use this as their way of income .I listen to music for relaxation. Thus, it is the responsibility of the government to protect the art .

          Moreover, art has economical and therapeutical values . For an example , tourists visiting our country to see our traditional and current arts that brings foreign currency to our nation. Naturally, government needs to support and enhance art.

          In conclusion, spending money is not a waste . Art is inevitable just like science and technology.

          • Hi,

            An essay is for writing task 2 and the task is to write over 250 words. Writing task 1 is a report which is 150 words. You will need to write a longer essay to get a reasonable band score for task 2. Please review all lessons and video lessons before writing your task 2 essay – you need to learn more before you get marked.
            All the best

  28. Dear Liz,

    I am posting a recent essay question along with my response. Hope you will be kind enough to check it for me and give some suggestions.

    Ques: ”Many people think that too much attention and resources are given to protect the wild animals and birds. Do you agree or disagree with the statement?”

    People have different views regarding the protection of the wild animals and birds. Although, some argue that, excessive attention and resources are being spent to protect them, I believe that they deserve that expenditure,since they are essential for the world’s ecosystem and have equal rights as human to survive in this universe.

    To begin with, ecosystem is crucial for the environment. The wild animals and birds along with the trees maintain the balanced ecosystem of the whole world. Moreover, the animals and birds help to spread the seeds of the trees and thus play an important role in afforestation. Thus, they contribute a lot in maintaining the world’s environment healthy and suitable to live for us. Therefore, they must be protected for the survival of the human being.

    In addition, wild animals and birds are the creature of God as us. They have the equal right to live in this universe. But, because of some harmful human activities, some of the species are becoming extinct and many of them are endangered. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the mankind to protect them and save them by any mean.

    However, according to some people, excessive amount of resources are being used to save the wildlife. But, the necessity of saving these wild creatures for the survival of the human being is undeniable.

    To conclude, I am inclined to believe that, wildlife is an indispensable part of our world environment. Therefore, we should protect and promote it anyway to for maintaining equality and universality for every living being on the earth.

    Thank you in advance.

    Best Regards,

    • Hi,

      On the whole, this essay would probably get about band 6. Here are some comments:

      1. You have given a clear answer which is that you disagree with the statement – it’s clear – well done!
      2. Your first body paragraph supports your opinion very well.
      3. Your second body paragraph is also fine. However, your third body paragraph is confusing. It is under-developed and I’m not sure what point you want to make with it. Do you want to refute what others say? In that case, you should write more in this paragraph – or don’t use it at all.
      4. There are a lot of grammar errors – articles (a/the etc), word order and general sentence structure. This will limit your score for grammar.

      You need to make sure that each body paragraph supports your opinion and that each body paragraph is extended and developed.
      All the best

      • Dear Liz,

        Thank you very much for your opinion. I am confused about an issue of the opinion essay, if it is essential to discuss the opposite view of my opinion after supporting my reasons of agreement/disagreement? Some told me it’s mandatory. That’s why I wrote the 3rd body paragraph though I didn’t have much ideas to develop it.

        Best Regards,

        • Hi,

          An opinion essay only asks for your opinion not for the opinion of other people. It isn’t a discussion essay. Don’t include anything that IELTS haven’t asked for. So, if you agree then your essay will support your opinion – nothing more. If you have a balanced view, then you will use ideas from both sides to support your opinion – but that doesn’t mean discuss both sides.
          All the best

  29. Hi Liz :
    Your tips are really wonderful.Thank you so much for your valuable tips.

  30. Aurora Hoxha says:

    Dear liz. Your tips are helpful and for free no one does this just you thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  31. Hi Liz,

    Can you elaborate Tips # 3 (30000=one word / 55%=one word)

    Very best regards.

    • That is how numbers are counted as words. If you write the number 30,000 is it counted as one word. If you write 55% (with the symbol) it is still one word.

      • Anam Zamin says:

        Hello liz
        I saw your video on writing task 2 introduction tips
        it is really helpful 🙂
        could you please provide the model answer for the whole essay?
        the topic which you discussed was “the best way to improve health is to do regular exercise?”

        model answer could help me learn how to further carry on with the essay

  32. Vivek Sharma Dhakal says:

    Your videos and tips are awesome. Very helpful Thank you for your free service.

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