Counting Words Questions


I have had many IELTS test takers asking me about how words are counted in IELTS writing. Let’s check your understanding:

  1. Are small words counted such as “a” and “the”?
  2. Is “15%” counted as one word or two?
  3. Is this one word or two: “good-looking”?
  4. Are commas counted as a word?
  5. Does the examiner count all the words in your essay or does the examiner guess the word count?


Post your answers below.

I will post the answers tomorrow to these questions with a link to more information.

All the best



  1. Ahana banik says

    No, the articles are not counted…..(1)
    One word… (2)
    One word…. (3)
    No….. (4)
    Generally the teachers guess bcoz it will require a lots of time to count each and every word…….. (5)

  2. Happy chahal says

    Ans3,one word
    Ans5, examiner
    guess your words

  3. 1: Yes
    5: Guess, it depends on , how many paragraphs 2/3 and I the conclusion.

  4. Sukhveer kaur says

    Q-1 yes Q-2 yesQ-3 joint word counting one Q-4 commas not counting Q-5 examiner guess

  5. Pabitra K Bhattacharjee says

    1. Yes
    2. One word
    3. One word
    4. No
    5. Guess

  6. 1. Yes
    2. One word
    3. One word
    4. No
    5. Every word’s counted

  7. Hey Liz,
    I have got the band I want. Thanks god and a big thanks to you and your unique website.

    Kisses from Sultanate of Oman.

  8. Ritu Kharbanda says

    1. Yes
    2. One word
    3. One word
    4. No
    5. Guess

  9. 1. YES
    2. ONE WORD
    3. ONE WORD
    4. NO

  10. 1.Yes
    2.One word
    3.One word
    5.Guess the word

  11. Priyanka says

    Does the full stop will also have a count

  12. Hsu Myat Thwin says

    1.Small words such as “a” “the”are counted.
    2.”15%” is counted as one word.
    3.”good-looking”is one word.
    4.Commas are not counted as a word.
    5.The examiner guesses the word count.

  13. 1. Yes, they are counted as one word
    2. It’s counted as two words
    3. Good-looking is one word
    4. A comma is counted as a word
    5. The examiner doesn’t count each word, rather he/she counts the number of words in the first row and multiplies it by the number of rows to get a summary of the total words.

  14. Navreet kaur says

    1. yes
    2. Two words
    3. One word
    4. No
    5. Guess

  15. In my opinion, Articles a, an, the that keep repeating often in any written exercise and without which sentences can’t be written are counted only the first time they occur in the written exercise, be it a letter or an essay.

    Examiners cannot afford grading wrongly and so, I think that they count the words of the written tasks for each and every test taker.

  16. I don’t think that these types of words are counted in ielts exam so we have to write atleast 280 words in task 2

  17. Dr.Ahmed Alrashedy says

    2.One Word
    3.One Word
    5.Really I don’t know

  18. Aayan subedi says

    1)Yes a an the is i are counted as a single word
    2)15% is one word,15 percent is two.
    3)It counted as one word,word are jointed by – so can’t be counted as two
    4)comma question marks full stops are not counted as words.
    5)Examiner will guess the no. Of words by counting the no. Of words on first line and multiplying it by the no. Of the line you have written.

  19. Harpreet Dutta says

    Question 1: Yes, all the small words will be counted.
    Question 2: Yes, “15%” will be considered as one word.
    Question 3: I think because of “-” between the words, “good- looking” should be considered as one word.
    Question 4: No, commas are not counted as a word.
    Question 5: I think examiner does the rough estimate of the word count depending on the number of paragraphs used in the essay.

    • 1. One word
      2. One word
      3. Commas not counted as word
      4. Yes he or she does

    • Henock Jourdain says

      1- The small words with one syllable as ”the” or a letter as “a” is one syllable. Therefore they are counted as a word.
      2- 15% is a compound noun, it can be counted as one or two words according how it is written. Separate by a hyphen it is one word, written without a hyphen it will be two words.
      3- Good-looking is one word. Because it is a compound name separated by a hyphen.
      4- Comma is a word when you write it, when you put in a phrase the symbol of comma , it is not a word, rather an orthographic sign.
      5- I don’t know how the examiner proceeds to count all the words.

  20. 1.Yes
    2. One word
    3. One word
    5. Examiner guess word limit

  21. safaruddinardi says

    1.Yes, they are counted
    2.One word
    3.One word
    4.No, commas isn’t counted as a word
    5.The examiner will count the word

  22. Sally Elshiekh says

    1- Yes
    2- One word
    3- one word

  23. Hi !
    1_ one word
    2_ one word
    3_one word

  24. Prabhmeet says

    Yes “a” and “the” it will be counted.
    Numbers count as a one word not two word.
    And also like good-looking, it will count as a one word.
    No, commas will not count.
    I think so it will count with lines like how many words u are writing in one line and multiple by how many lines have u written.

  25. Rose Ann Joy Manansala says

    1. No
    2. 1 word
    3. 2 words
    4. No
    5. No

  26. 1-yes /2-one word/3-one word/4-no/5-he counts

  27. 1. Yes 2. One word 3. Good-looking is one word 4. No. 5. I think the ẽaminer will guess the number of word

  28. NAWAL AL SABAN says

    2-one word
    3-one word

  29. 1. Yes 2. Ỏne word 3. One word 4. No. 5. I think the ẽaminer will guess the number of word

  30. Are synonyms allowed in IELTS listening test?

  31. 1.yes. .2..i don’t know. word ..5..guess word maybe

  32. 1. Yes counted.
    2. one word
    3. One word
    4. No
    5. All the words

    Thanks Liz!

  33. Emad awad says

    1.a & the .. I believe there are counted as words
    2.15% is counted as 1 word
    3.good-looking is counted as 1 word
    4.commas are not counted as words
    5.definitely, the examiner will count the words, not just guess

  34. michelle okiei says

    1) yes, they are counted
    2) one word
    3) one word
    4) No
    5)The examiner counts the words

  35. Hi Liz,

    Please find the below answers:-

    1. Yes, all words are counted no matter how small or big they are, including a, the etc
    2. 15 and %(percent) will be counted as two words
    3. Yes, as long as there is a hyphen (-) Good- looking will be counted a single word.
    4. Yes, comma is counted as a word
    5. Examiner will count all the words in writing tasks.

    Pls correct me if I’m wrong in my understanding.


  36. 1.yes word word
    4. No
    5.yes, Examiner count all thw words.

  37. Titus Adediran says

    5.Count all the words

  38. 1. yes ofcourse they are counted
    2. 15% is counteda as one word
    3. Good-looking is also counted as one word
    4. I think comas are not words, so they are not counted
    5. I think the examiner counts your words, otherwise it could be unjust

  39. 1.yes word word

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