IELTS Tips: How words are counted

Learn how your words are counted in IELTS. This page explains about counting words, numbers and symbols. You need to know how words are counted for IELTS listening, reading and writing. If you make mistakes with the number of words, you can lose points which can affect your band score.

How words are counted in IELTS

1. Numbers, dates and time are counted as words in writing. For example 30,000 = one word  /  55  = one word  /  9.30am = one word / 12.06.2016 = one word. “Six million” is counted as two words in IELTS writing. In listening, 30,000 is counted as one number and 9.30AM is also counted as one number.

2. Dates written as both words and numbers are counted in this way: 12th July = one number and one word in IELTS listening and as two words in IELTS writing.

3. Symbols with numbers are not counted. For example, 55% = one number (the symbol “%” is not counted as a word). However, if you write “55 percent” it is counted as one word and one number.

4. Small words such as “a” or “an” are counted. All prepositions, such as “in” or “at” are also counted. All words are counted.

5. Hyphenated words like “up-to-date” are counted as one word.

6. Compound nouns which are written as one word are also counted as one word. For example, blackboard = one word.

7. Compound nouns which are written as two separate words, are counted as two words. For example, university bookshop = two words.

8. All words are counted, including words in brackets. For example in IELTS writing, “The majority of energy was generated by electricity (55%).”. This sentence is counted as 9 words. The number in brackets is counted. Brackets can be used in IELTS Writing Task 1, but not in IELTS Listening or IELTS Reading.

9. Some people have asked me if words such as “the” are counted only once regardless of how many times they are used. It is best to illustrate: “The man walked into the shop for the newspaper” = 9 words.

10. Contractions are counted as: it’s = one word / it is = two words.



  1. Hi Liz,

    In ielts writing exam do articles (a, an, the) count as 1 word or do they usually get ignored

    Thank you

  2. Hey! Thanks for such a great article. I want to know what does “One word AND/OR A NUMBER”. In order to answer one of such questions, I wrote just “sides”. However, answer “4/four sides”. The questions is from IELTS book 10 test one reading passage one.

  3. Hi Liz,

    Thank you for your amazing tips. I wanted to ask if it says in instructions Not more than three words and the question is How did the students do their practical lessons? And i wrote ‘in small groups’ (As the tape says) and the answer on the answer sheet is ‘groups’ will my answer be correct?…..As in i wrote three words exactly from the tape but the answer given was in one word

    • The answer would normally be either “small groups” or “groups”. You do not need to use prepositions or articles for short answer questions.

  4. Hi Liz, hope you’re doing well and staying safe.
    My question is , how many words are there in the time ’12 o’ clock ?

    • You would always write “12” instead in IELTS Listening. The word “o’clock” is not needed for an IELTS Listening answer.

  5. 55% counted in listening as one number.
    In writing???
    Counted as one word or one number?????

    • IELTS listening instructions are all about numbers and words. Obviously 55% is a number. In IELTS Writing the examiner counts each item of language as a word – you should write over 150 words in task 1 (for example). This means there is a word count in IELTS Writing. Obviously this is one unit of language = one word. It is very straight forward. This isn’t a trick or complicated. Just look at the instructions for listening and look at the instructions for writing.

  6. concilio says

    Hi, Liz,
    I am an IELTS trainer and a long time follower of yours,
    I recently came across a blank-filling which confused me. It might have to do with word counting rules, or not. Could you help me with it?
    (Source: Reading passage 1, test 1,Cambridge IELTS 14, academic)
    Question 2: Board games involve ___ and turn-taking.
    Exact original text: Later on, when they tire of this and settle down with a board game, she’s learning about the need to follow rules and take turns with a partner.
    The blank-filling is required to answer with ONE-WORD-ONLY response, then I wrote ” rule-following”. However, the in-book answer key to this is “rules” ONLY!
    In my opinion, “rule-following” is semantically more accurate than “rules” as it’s already an original mentioning and a parallel to turn-taking. Just cannot persuade myself out of my attempt, not to mention how I should explain it to my students.
    By far the most reasonable explanation (for me) would be that my try should be regarded two words. Otherwise, I must have missed something else, could you shed some light on this?
    I’d be greatly appreciated.


    • I see where you are confused. The question has paraphrased the words “take turns” from the passage into “turn-taking” in the question statement. As we know, it is normal for IELTS to paraphrase the statements from information given in the passage. However, we can’t paraphrase the words from the passage as an answer. We must take one word or words from the passage as they are written.
      The sentence “Board games involve rules and turn-taking” is actually grammatically correct in English. Certainly if we write “Board games involve rule-following and turn-taking” it might seem a better sentence and in fact so is the sentence “Board games involve following rules and turn-taking”. But this is not about preferences. It is about IELTS rules.
      I think sometimes you need to just go with basic logic – a) we can’t paraphrase our answers, the words must be written as they are stated in the passage. b) the sentence “Board games involve rules and turn-taking” is actually grammatically correct.
      Given those two points, you need to come to the conclusion that while you prefer a different grammatical structure, the answer using only the word “rules” fulfils both criteria for answers in IELTS sentence completion.
      I hope my answer sheds some light on the way IELTS thinks. There have been a number of times that if I was writing a test, I won’t choose such a question. But this is IELTS. Their test on the whole is pretty good. Just look out for those questions that niggle at you and go with applying basic principles for correct answers.

  7. Chinedu Ononiwu says

    Hello Lizzy,
    if you are requested to write two words and/or a number and i write ten thousand dollars how many words will this amount to and will it be correct.
    Also if i write it as 10 thousand dollars will it be counted as been correct.

    • As you get marked down for wrong spelling, don’t spell out numbers. Just write: $10,000 – much easier and safer.

  8. Bennysmart says

    Hi Liz,
    Thank you very much for all these knowledge you sharing with us……….God bless you real good.

  9. Hello,
    may I ask you, I just tried one listening test on the internet and there was question when doest the event start (maximum one word and/or number) and they said just 2.45 , but I wrote 2.45PM to my answer sheet and when I saw correct answer there was just 2.45. Would it be considered as a mistake? Should I write AM PM only when they say it ?

    Thank you so much for your help 🙂

    • Did you use an official IELTS website for this test? Or was it just an online ielts test from a website that isn’t official? Do not use online sources unless you know the teacher’s qualifications or unless it is an official IELTS website.

  10. Dear Liz,

    Recently in a listening practice test the audio was as follows: “The next tour is on April 18th”. I had written the answer as 18th April, but the answer key marked me down and displayed the answer – April 18th or April the 18th.
    Also in another instance, for answers not more than 2 words/ number; the audio stated “The course will be for 3 weeks”. I had written the answer for the fill in the blanks as : 3 weeks. I was marked wrong as the answer key was “three weeks”.

    Even though the answers were fundamentally correct and I was within the word limit, I was marked down. I am intending to take the computerized IELTS test, will the instances be counted as mistakes, thus affecting my band score?

    Thank you so much,

    • It sounds to me like you are not using authentic tests written and published by IELTS. Are you using an Official IELTS website for these practice tests? If not, don’t use them. Use only official sources for full tests. For practice lessons, only use lessons published and written by teachers who you are familiar with – who publish their qualification and experience. Use the internet wisely.

      • Please reply to the answers that she I am facing the same issue.

        • IT means the answers might have been marked wrong because the test wasn’t officially from IELTS. It means it was not an authentic test with authentic results. If you don’t use authentic test materials from the actual IELTS website, you will find such problems with your answers. The answer “3 weeks” and “three weeks” is 100% the same, but it was marked wrong because it was probably done on a website that was not an Official IELTS Website. Do not use online sources except from teachers whose credentials and face you know (ie they are will to stand by their word) or directly from Official Sources: IELTS, BC, Cambridge, IDP.

  11. Hi Liz,
    Do they also count Greetings and Sign-off?

  12. Can we use contractions in writing?
    My teacher told me not to write ?
    Please make me clear?

    • Contractions are informal and can’t be used in formal writing for IELTS. This means writing task 2 and academic writing task 1.

  13. Punitkumar says

    Please answer.

    Everyone is telling IELTS is not possible with coaching classes. I want to prepare for myself by following your tips. Can I achieve a good score?

    • You will achieve a high score if your level of English is strong enough and if you have fully prepared by understanding the IELTS test – questions topics, strategies, marking criteria, band score requirements etc.

  14. Hi Liz , thanks for your useful website , I have one question , does the examiner account
    ( pronouns, a, an, is , are , it etc. ) as normal word ?

  15. Hello liz.
    If there’s no more than one word question and in that if we write an apple as an answer instead of just apple then would it be considered as incorrect?

    • IT would be marked as incorrect. You must always follow instructions. Also, not all question types require the use of articles (a/the).

  16. Sunny Chowdhri says

    How are the words counted in the IELTS online as well as offline test?
    Is the count tally for word check manual/guesstimate or automated?

  17. Akshay Nand says

    Hi Liz. Can we use special characters in IELTS Wrting tasks (both 1 & 2). My question is not about word counting, I intend to ask whether using such characters will result in negative marking or disturb the flow of writing. For example- using ” / ” for giving options.

    • Sorry, I don’t understand your question. Which characters do you mean? Why would you use “/”? You are being marked on your use of English language – are you planning to use “/” instead of the word “or”? You’ll have to explain more clearly for me to help you.

      • Akshay Nand says

        Thank you for your prompt reply Liz. Sorry that you did not understand the question properly, but fortunately I got your point and explanation. Why would I use special characters when examiners are testing me based on the English language used. Makes total sense. Thanks again!!!

  18. If the question has command “no more than 3 words” and if we have to write an email address “” what do we write??

    • IELTS never has an answer that is outside the word limit. Always remember that this test isn’t a trick – it is straight forward and logical. Obviously, that email address would be within the word limit.

  19. Huma Yousaf says

    Hello Liz, Thanks a lot for the information. I recently attended IELTS classes where the teacher mentioned that the writing task 1 shall be divided in 5 paragraphs. the first para shall be where you shall paraphrase the situation given in the task and express your emotions. for word count purpose this para shall not be included. the next paras shall be to address the 3 bullet points mentioned in the task. Kindly let me know if it is correct

    • Every word you write is counted. There are no words on your answer sheet that are not counted. ALL WORDS ARE COUNTED. Writing task 1 academic paper should never – never – contain emotion. It is a factual report based on what you see. For the GT letter, it would depend on the style and aims of the letter. A formal letter would not be emotional. Make sure your teacher completed the IELTS examiner training.

  20. Thanks a lot.. this page has solved all my small doubts

  21. Thank you for your immense hard work 😊

  22. Are punctuation mark consider as one word in “Writing” of IELTS ?

  23. Hi Mam,

    In some passages (listening/reading) where the instructions clearly state “NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS”, there are answers which demand you to write numbers. For eg. 25%. However, since there is no allowance of a number in this case, i think we should write the answer as twenty-five percent. This would count as 2 words if i am not wrong. But, to my surprise, the answer as per the cambridge book is 25% itself.

    Please help. Thanks much.


    • If the answer is a number, the instructions will allow for that. IELTS do not write faulty instructions.

      • Alexis Prime says

        Hello Liz. Thanks for all your help. I was going to ask the exact question until I saw your reply but it’s still not clear and the same issue has come up in several practise tests taken. Where the instruction is given that ‘NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS’, and the answer requires a number, say a date e.g 15th of May. Since there was no allowance for numbers, I spelled out the date as Fifteenth of May and was marked wrong. The answer was stated as 15th May. Are numbers marked as words in the listening test (where the answer gave no instruction for use of numbers)?Took test from ieltsonlinetests

        • IELTS NEVER gives instructions that do not fit the answers. NEVER. The reason you are struggling is because you are not using official tests. Stop using such websites and only use tests that you get from official sources – from IELTS. You can purchase the IELTS Cambridge test books and use the test directly from the books. It is important that you use the internet carefully when you prepare for IELTS or you will get confused.

  24. Hii mam, how many linkers are use in each passage please reply mam.

    • The examiner does not count the number used and there is no set number to use. The number is flexible. you are being tested on linking ideas correctly and use of linking words – not how many you use.

  25. Rahim Malik says

    In writing task 2, Can I use any sentence related to me as well as any examples?

    • It is a formal essay about the world in general – keep your examples less personal if possible. Your experience of the world is not limited only to your own personal life – it is about the world as a whole. This is not a rule of IELTS, it is advice to help you boost your score.

  26. Hi Liz,

    Would it help to score high if essay starts with a quote?

  27. Hello Liz, is it okay to use forward slash in IELTS WRITING ACADEMIC? I mean the table in task 1 has categories with slash. For example Food/Drinks/Tobacco, Clothing/Footwear and Leisure/Education, can I rewrite it in my essay?

    • No. You must write the headings so that they are grammatically correct – using capital letters, commas and linking words appropriately.

  28. “200 millimetres ” is counted as one or two word?
    in the reading : the place gets drop of 200 millimetres of percipitation
    Question It gets only….of rainfall.What is the answers?

  29. totally,we can write uppercase letters in listening ?

  30. Mam…
    Is “three thousand” two words (or) one word.

  31. Nadia Nayyab says

    Hello, Liz
    My name is Nadia. I gave my LRW Test in academic module on yesterday evening in Pakistan. I have a question that in writing module (task 2), what is the method to count the half written lines.

  32. Hi dear Liz,
    I’m writing to ask you one question as to Listening module.If we write market instead of a market.Will we lose the score?

    • Some types of questions require an article and some do not. It depends if the question types requires you to complete a sentence – in that case the sentence must be grammatically correct when completed which includes the use of articles.

  33. Navjot kaur says

    Hello mam ! I gave my exam and i got 6.5 in writing. though i used to get 7.5 in my ielts institute;and now i am planning to give it again.i am watching all the videos given by ielts experts online. And i figured out that..i should use : – range of complex structures with accuracy..
    Range of vocabulary..
    Cohesive devices within the sentences
    1 main idea in 1 paragraph which is extended,supported and clearly developed.
    Modal verbs
    Some less common words accurately
    I also saw the public version of marking criteria given by ielts
    Is there anything i am missing and which can hold me back to get 7 bands in writing ..please let me know.

  34. hi Liz ı have a question 🙂
    in my real listening exam there was a question like;
    and we need to write “no more than two words and/or number” for each
    which one is correct
    -2 am- 10 pm or

    • You only need to write two times – you don’t need to put anything in the gap. Your answer would be “2am 10pm” or “2 10” depending on what is said in the recording.

  35. Hi liz
    I was wondering if you can make a video about how to do a plan for my writing task 2 ?
    I already saw the video you have on youtube about to plan an introduction , and it was very helpful

  36. Hi Liz,

    for Writing task 1+2 = 60min. If I spend and finish task 1 in 15min, can I use remaining 45min for task 2?.


    • The time is yours to manage as you wish in the reading and writing test. You have one hour for reading – use the time as you want. You have one hour for writing – use the time as you want.

  37. (on the one hand) is considered as how many words

  38. Hi,
    How about apostrophe s (‘s)? Does it count as a word?
    If so, then how about an s-less apostrophe, as in “Birds’ photos”?

  39. Hello Liz. I have a doubt regarding my listening ,I always put “S” in words as for example checklist(s), review(s),end of term(s)..
    It will cut my mark or not. How can I improve regarding this “S” word. I have exam on 17 Nov. Feeling stress.

    • You can’t use brackets for your answers in the listening test. You need to choose one only – plural or singular. Just practise.

  40. Qamber Haider says

    Hi Liz,
    In writing Task 1, at least 150 words are allowed. if we exceed the limit of words. For instance, I write 160 words??

  41. Good day) I hope you will get better soon) I wanted to ask about the % sign. During the listening practice tests I wrote 40% in my answer sheet, but in the answers there was only ”40 percent” given, with no other variations. Does this mean that my answer was wrong?

  42. Jaspreet says

    Is there any change in listening band score in general training

    • There is only one listening test for all IELTS candidates. There is no special listening test for GT. All tests for listening are the same and all marking is the same.

      • Gaurav Ranjit says

        Hi Liz. Could you clear one confusion that I have regarding one particular answer? The script says, ” Ceramics were first discovered 29000 Years ago.” But the question states “Ceramics date back approximately _____________” It requires no more than 2 words and/or number.

        I wrote “29000 Years ago”. The key says “29000 Years”

        Is my answer correct or not?

        • It is wrong. This is due to grammar. The sentence you must complete is “Ceramics date back approximately _____________” – the answer does not require the word “ago”. Always check the grammar requirements of the sentence you are completing.

  43. Ethar Al-Kubaisi says

    Hi Liz,
    I’m planning on taking IELTS general training model, as well as I’m practicing currently. I noticed that I can understand the listening recording fully, however, I am an extreme slow reader, I could only obtain band 6 in reading as for June last year. As it came to my attention, I must read, listen and write in listening sections, mainly, 3 & 4, which I find even more difficult since they involve speed reading.

    Any advice dear Liz? should practice more and more reading helps?

    I’m looking forward to reading your answer soonest.

    Thank you,

    • You should be reading the questions before the audio starts. You need to practice this skill. It is not a skill that will come without practice. You must develop your ability to a) skim read b) spot and underline key words in the questions. In listening, all questions come in order which is helpful. The test is also designed that key words in the questions either appear or are paraphrased in the recording – so you know, 100%, that the particular word or similar word will definitely appear. But again, I stress clearly, you need to practice and develop this skill. One way is to review all (and I mean ALL) tests that you do at home. You need to make a list of paraphrases used in each answer and a list of key words used. As your awareness grows, your ability to post this during the recording will also grow.

  44. Hi Liz ,
    Must I start the Intro using this way:
    Paraphrasing – Thesis – Outline ???

  45. KATHAN MEHTA says

    Hello Liz,
    When writing answers for listening/reading, are the symbols counted? For instance, if the answer is 25%, what would be the correct answer if word limit is no more than three words:
    1) 25%
    2) 25 percent
    3) 25 per cent
    Thanks in advance!

  46. Hi, I started writing from the back side of answer sheet and ended it on the front side, in writing task 1. will the examiner consider it or its totally unacceptable ?

    • As long as you correctly label the answer sheets and put a notice at the top of your paper for the examiner, it’ll be fine. If you have made it clear so that the examiner can understand – it’s all fine.

      • Thank you Liz, invigilator had asked me to write “turn over” in empty space of front page, I hope it will work.

      • Madam,
        If instructions is to write one word one, but according to grammar the sentence is unable to complete the meaning. So we uses an article or preposition in a braket before writing that one word
        e.g. : party- as per instructions of questions
        ( the) party- it’s grammar demand
        Which one is correct

        • IELTS tests and instructions are perfect. If the answer is one word only, then it is one word and never two. IELTS do not make mistakes with grammar.

          • Gaurav Ranjit says

            While reading your reply above, I became curious about what exactly “IELTS” is referring to in the last sentence. Since you wrote, “IELTS do not…”, I am guessing it is referring to “People at IELTS”, as “do” is used for plural subject, right?

  47. Prince sahni says

    Hi liz

    Thanks for worderfull things you are doing for all of us.

    My question is related to listening, I will explain you with example
    Like Ticket Office is an answer and I write ticket office or Ticket office And if answer is cottages and I write Cottages will it make difference.

    Hope you got my point , only difference is using upper and lower case

    I am very much confusing in that part

  48. Hi Liz.
    I m a bit confused about using , in thousand numbers. We are using . For thousands instead of , and I sometimes have mistake about it. Is 5000 (without using ,) acceptable in Ielts (in listening, reading and writting skills)? Thanks a lot.

  49. I want know details for letter writing all word are counted from starting (I. e address, date, subject, sautation, content) or only” body content”

  50. Abhishek Das says

    in listening can we use articles in tables,forms, or not necessary

    • Most tables and forms do not use articles. Usually some answers have already been given in the form or table – take a look at how they are written.

  51. Abhishek Das says

    in listening section , if any answer is : asia and africa.
    will this be counted as 3 word .
    can i write the answer asia, africa instead of putting “and” if the word limot is two words

  52. Arpit mistry says

    Hi Liz, in general writing task 1,
    [Dear sir,
    Yours faithfully,
    Will these four words be counted?

    • All words are counted.

      • Arpit mistry says

        Thank you liz for fast reply. Someone told me that dear sir and last name not counted so i was worried. My exam is on the day after tomorrow 6th jan. And i write between 150 to 160 words in letter and 250 to 260 in essay. I count all words at last. Thanks

  53. Dear Liz,
    In the British council ielts book , in the practice test 4,under listening section 3 question number 22-the answer is given as chain of commands. But in the audio i didn’t hear such words.
    Also in section 4 ,question number 34- pest resistance , in the audio they say that the pests develop immunity to pesticides.
    The word that i heard are not directly given as answers.
    Can i modify the words to fit in the word count such that the meaning is not changed ?
    Please do help me out.
    I am completely relying on your videos and tips for my ielts preparation. The are very helpful. Thank you so much.

    • You will need to check the transcript. All listening tests that you do for practice should come with a transcript so you can check your mistakes and develop.

  54. Woojin Shin says

    Hi Liz,

    I just want to say thank you for all of your videos and lessons before I ask my question.

    I have been doing lots of listening tests on the official Cambridge practice tests and random Youtube videos.

    I have noticed that the difficulty of the Cambridge tests are relatively easier and often ask for one or two words for the fill in the blank questions. But the Youtube ones tend to ask questions with 3 words maximum. Is the difficulty of real tests roughly same Cambridge practice tests?

    Also, some questions include articles in the question, and in this case, I do not have to struggle with figuring out grammatically correct articles, but some of them don’t. Generally speaking, do I have to write articles if it’s not given to the question? (if the answer is not one word)

    • You should always practice and judge your understanding from the IELTS Cambridge books published by IELTS (IELTS needs to be the publisher). You should not use other sources to judge your score – only for extra practice. Articles are used for sentence completion questions to result in a grammatically correct sentence but not in note completion.

      • Woojin Shin says

        Thank you for your prompt answer, Liz.
        It’s very weird to hear directly from you after watching all of your videos online! It’s like talking to a celebrity 🙂

      • santhoshkumar says

        Hi Liz,

        i didn’t understand above comment by you.
        so, no need of using articles in normal questions??-only in text competion

        • Sentence completion is not text completion.Sentence completions include summaries and sentence completions. For note completions, articles are usually not needed. IELTS usually give examples of answers in note completion and diagram completion etc.

  55. Hi Liz,

    I have a query on the word count in reading section.
    It’s a summary completion question from Cambridge IELTS 9 (answer should be NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS).

    Q – If travellers cancel their trip, they will usually receive back the ticket price less………of the original value.
    Text says, ‘Tickets may be refunded not later than 5 minutes before the departure of the train for a charge of 15% of the ticket price’.

    Should the answer be ‘fifteen percent’ or ‘15%’ or ’15 per cent’?
    The answer key in the book says, ’15 per cent/%’. However, I understand that it should be ‘fifteen percent’ as per word count in the instruction. Kindly clarify.

    Thank you!

  56. Dear Liz,
    I was practicing cambridge 6 test 3.
    And in the listening section they said ” one word and/or a number”
    The note completion was about date of birth.
    In the listening record they say (27.1.1973)

    Is this a one number or should I write only (1973) ?

    I don’t have the original answer key as my version of the e book includes only student’s answer.

    Thanks a lot …

  57. Dear Liz,

    Thank you for your efforts to make IELTS preparation easier for us!
    I have a question that I would like to ask you:
    Cambridge IELTS 9, Test 1, Listening section 1, the task is note completion, and we have to write no more than 3 words and/or a number.
    1)Nearest bus stop: next to ______
    I wrote ˝the library˝, because that’s what the lady on the recording said. But, when I checked the answers, they only wrote ˝library˝. I am unsure if my answer is correct or not. I am aware that this is a note completion, and that we don’t always need the articles, but in the example of this test they actually used one: Work at: a restaurant.

    2) My second question would be about dates. Is it wrong to write 22nd October? Because in the answer key they only wrote 22 October

    Thank you in advance!!

    • You need to pay attention to whether you are asked to complete sentences or notes – notes don’t use articles but sentences do. Both options for dates are fine.

  58. Thank you for all you do on this site Liz.
    I have a question about Writing Task 1 please.

    Is a letter to your direct supervisor at work requesting for a transfer to another department a formal letter?
    This is your manager that you know and who knows you well.

    And how do you end the letter?
    Yours faithfully or Yours sincerely?

    Kindly help to clarify.

    • Are you sure your manager knows you well? Your manager knows you on personal level? Your manager visits your home, chats with your family, will go on holiday with you? Are you sure this is a personal friend? Think more deeply about the difference between a friend who knows you and a manager who knows you.

  59. Dear Liz,
    I have a couple of questions regarding answers of Cambridge 9, listening test 2. Section 1 is a filling up a form task.
    Q3: Course of study: …………….
    The answer provided is nursing but i wrote Nursing. Is capitalizing course name wrong?
    Again, in section 3, for Q30 which is a sentence completion task, i put the answer as e-mail, but the answer says email. Will i lose marks for hyphenating?

  60. Dear Liz,

    While practicing Cambridge IELTS book no. 6-Test 4-listening section, the speaker says ‘a 10 minute’ walk, but in the answer pages back in the book, it is ’10 minute’. The question is: Approximately ………walk from conference center.
    Please clarify me whether the ‘a 10 minute’ is correct or just the ’10 minute’ is correct? Notably, no more than 2 words and/or a number is allowed.

    • That is correct. There is a different between a full sentence and notes. In the answer, you don’t need the article “a”. Most people think that listening is only testing your vocabulary and listening, but it also tests your understanding of grammar.

  61. Hi Liz,

    Do we need to write total number words After writing the Essays.

  62. Hi Liz,
    I gave my IELTS Academic today. In listening, two sections are given to be answered with “three or less than three words/number”.
    In that, three questions were like this:
    1) speaker suggest to use ___________ to search for a job (answer I written was THE INTERNET)
    2) should analyze ___________ from the laboratory (answer I written was THE SAMPLES)
    3) collect _____________ from the professor(answer I written was THE PHOTOGRAPHS)
    My doubt is whether the answers could be true or not when ARTICLES in front of the answers were used???
    Please help me out.
    Thanking you in advance.
    And your blog is really helpful.

    • I can’t comment without seeing the real questions and head the recording. The way you have written it, shows that these are note completion questions. You have not stated this. On the question paper, it always says “sentence completion” or “note completion”. Notes do not require articles always, but sentences do. So, you have’t actually provided the full questions with instructions etc.

      • I think its note completion. So would that be wrong as I included articles for every answer?
        Thank you

        • For note completion, there are not always articles. It depends on the notes. Often, some of the notes have been completed for you so that you see examples and then you fill in the missing ones.

  63. Hello Liz,
    Listening test
    instruction: write one word and/or number
    Answer : 5 to 12
    How they counted ths as one word and number ????

  64. Akash Hazari says

    Hello mam, thank you for the help you are providing. I would like to know, Do I have to write the first letter of the word in Capital letter or standard will be just fine.

    Suppose I have to write a time period. Shall I write in number e.g. 3 hours or I should write like “three hours”

    Same goes for money?quantity..
    Please help Thank you.

  65. Rajat mathur says

    is it correct that total number are words , in ielts writing task, are counted using a formula i.e ( number of words in first line x total number of lines ) = number of words in your essay ? For example if first line of the essay has 5 words and there are 30 lines written then the total number of words in our essay would be 150 ? Is this information correct ?

    • You use that technique to count your own words – it is speedy and gives you a good estimate. But the examiner will count each individual word.

  66. Hi Miss, what is the format of writing people’s name in the listening test? Do we have to write the surname or family name first ?

    • You write down the name given. If it is a full name, you write that. If it is one name only, you write that. Always check the word count and always write what you hear. All names in Europe start with the first name and then the family name.

  67. Can we write TRP, MNCs and GDP in writing task 2

  68. Hi Liz,

    Thanks a lot for your tutorials.
    Please can you confirm if we can leave a space line while writing Task -1 and 2 , as my hand writing is big so want the examiner to understand :).


  69. Jainth Chaudhary says

    Tomorrow is my paper.What should I do?
    Please help.

  70. In listening if i misspell a proper noun, for example, a name of person or place, would it be considered right or wrong?

  71. srabon bela says

    if I write the word like ” greenhouse” 3 or 4 time in a passage , as I don’t know any other word for it, how many times will it be counted?

    • Each word is counted – you use one word 4 times = 4 words.

      • would my score be lowered if i use the same word many times in my essay?

        • Your score will be lower if you try to paraphrase and make mistakes. It is better to repeat, than to make mistakes. Of course, if your English is strong enough, paraphrasing is great for boosting the score. But if your English is not so accurate, you will increase your number of errors and get a lower score. Know your limitations and make the right decisions for you.

  72. How the name of places (like a cafe or restaurant) which is given in a chart will be counted (The Tea Room, Wi-fi Cafe) in IELTS Writng Task 1?

    • You can see that The Tea Room is three words and Wi-fi Cafe is two words. It is very simple and logical.

      • The issue is that we got an information that ..if you use any word stated in the question in yor essay will not be counted …I am having tge same Question as him !!!??? If I have no choice other than using the word written in the question …will that word be counted or not!!???

  73. Hi Liz,
    In Listening test:
    (write no more than three words)

    Library hold most national papers, ____________, and magazines.

    I remember writing in the answer sheet : Local papers
    Would I mark wrong on my answer for writing capital letter on the first letter of the word?

    I would like to take another IELTS test.
    I would like to improve my score.

    Many thanks !

  74. Felix Serrano says

    Hi Liz,

    Are contractions like “It’s” counted as one or two word in the Listening. And the same question for Scott’s in expressions like “Scot’s house”

    Thank you for your help in advanced.

  75. Hi Liz,
    Great blog! It’s really helping me a lot in my IELTS preparation.
    Just one question for word counting, instruction says “no more than two words” and the answer according to the passage is Sir Joseph Banks. Should I write Joseph Banks as the answer? Thank you so much!

    • The instructions will always match the answer in IELTS. Their tests are very carefully written and checked many times over. So, don’t worry about that – it won’t happen.

  76. Hello Mam,
    Can i write Side heading such as Introduction, Overview, Body Paragraph-A, Body Paragraph-B. so that the examiner get’s clear idea?

  77. Hello Liz;

    In my writing practices, I always use “I, he, she, they, his, her..” I know that we should write impersonal style but I can’t convert into the formal way. Could you please advise me?

    • You should be writing about people in general, not one person. We don’t write about “a doctor”, we write about “doctors”.

  78. Hello Liz. I want to know about essays structures in writing part. Thank you

  79. What is correct to write

  80. how should we write dates if limitation is one word and a number ? would 25TH JULY be correct answer or 25 JULY?

  81. Serene Tan says

    Hello Liz
    Do we need to write the number of words below the essay or just get a very close estimate of how many words I have written?

  82. Hey Liz,

    I have some questions on writing task 1

    Which one is correct? ‘per cent’ or ‘percent’
    Is it better to write ‘eleven per cent’ or ‘11%’ ?

    Thank you very much

  83. The original content is,

    It’s very important to remember your photo card because you won’t be able to get in without it.

    The test is,

    Members should always take their ( ) with them.

    What is the answer should be written in ( ), photo card OR photo cards?

    Thank you

    • The instructions usually tell you to choose you answer from the passage. This means you don’t change the word. Make sure you read the instructions. IELTS try to make it as clear as possible so that you don’t get confused.

  84. Hi Liz,

    I am wondering if “25 percent” can be considered as a correct answer for a question in reading section noting that the written conditon was “Choose NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS from the text for each answer”. Thanks for your help

  85. Is it correct to write all answer in Upper case (capital letters)

  86. i want to know that if i write ” do not ” or ” don’t ” so for these two how many word will count ?

    • You NEVER use contractions in writing unless you are writing an informal letter for GT writing task 1. The words “do not” are two words. If you write “didn’t” in listening, it is one word.

      • Hi Liz,

        I think I read a cmt above of you that Contraction is one word (It’s = 2 words)
        Can you confirm this for me, please?
        Thank you.

  87. Hi Liz,
    I get confused about “no more than two words or/and a number” question types.
    In the general reading test, the answer was a phone number which is “6546 6475”
    (There was a gap in the middle between 6546 6475)
    I wrote an answer “call 6546 6475”
    What do you think that did i fail that question or is that acceptable?
    Many thanks in advance.
    Greetings from Istanbul.

    • It is still one number. It is one phone number. Leaving a space is normal with long numbers.

      • Mansi Darji says

        This answers help me a lot also. same type of question is in my mind. Madam Liz, you are doing a very good deed by giving us these type of training free of cost. Thanks for guiding us. Your all tips and lessons help me a lot. Thanks a lot.

  88. Hi Liz,

    Can I write more than 150 words in task 1 and how can they count it?

  89. I’m taking the General IELTS. So, do they count the beginning of the letter that they give us in the question like Dear Sir/Madam?

  90. Yes i had the same problem.does it affect my score?

  91. shamsul arefin says

    i have seen that somewhere written 2words / 1 number
    but in answer i saw that,
    40 north avenue

  92. Hi Liz,
    In Writing task-1: are we suppose to write our name at the end?
    For Ex:
    Yours faithfully,

  93. HI Liz,
    “5 working days” are 2 words or 3 words?

  94. Hi liz , firstly, how about auxillary verbs “be, do, have, has, will ” like (I+am , It+is, He+is, I+will etc.) are they counted as one word?
    and second, auxillary verbs for compound tenses “I have eaten” or “”I will have eaten” are they counted singly as 3 or 4 words? Their future perfect (I+will+have+eaten or It+will+have+been+sold) and their progressive in passive ( It+will+have+been+being +selling) as 5 or 6 words?

  95. In the listening the recording said “July the 30th” and that is what I wrote on the answer sheet but the word limit was one word and/or number. Will this be considered incorrect?

    • Yes, it would be wrong. All dates are always written July 30th – without the word “the”. Although the word “the” is spoken, it is never used in written dates. I know it can be confusing as you must write down what you hear, but you still need to follow English grammar rules.

  96. Xiumei Zhang says

    Hi Liz,
    Many thanks for your help in IELTS study, I think you are great.
    It would be great if you can send me the links of advanced writing vedios to me
    which i have purchased.
    Best Regards

  97. I think there has no another way,,,without thanking you mam,,,
    in a word this realistic topic,and helpful information,tips,advice will help me to get an outstandig bandscore……..

  98. Simon Peters says

    Thanks alot Liz for your useful blog. I found it quite helpful. It is the main source of the study guide used for my preparations and helped me a great deal to get the required band score. I am very grateful. God bless you Mam.

  99. Hi Liz
    Could you show me the vocabulary that I have to know to write the writing task 1, pls?
    Thanks for your help a lots.

  100. Hi Liz, You are doing a great job. Your blog is of great help to the takers of ielts. Congrats and all the best!

  101. Thanks liz Great trip for Ielts EXamination

  102. trinaPanda says

    Thanks for this teacher Liz!!

  103. Hi Liz, how can i improve reading and speaking? i really hard i huge problem in that and i’m preparing for my ielts exam this coming week.

  104. Hi Liz,

    I have been following your blogs, for IELTS exam preparation, from quite some time now. Thanks for sharing the valuable suggestions online.
    Recently, I had appeared for IELTS exam and am unable to find the correct answer for below question (or similar scenarios):
    Instruction: Write no more than ONE word for the answer.
    I don’t remember the exact wordings of the question but it was something like….
    Qsn: Its hard to attend the class because the number of ……………xxxx yyy zzzz.
    Audio script mentioned something like it is required to attend’5 lectures’ in a day….
    Now the answer should be ‘5 lectures’ or only ‘lectures’ in this case ….I overheard someone after the exam who sounded very confident that it must be ‘5 lectures’, though I had only ‘lectures’ in the answer sheet?

    Thanks in advance for your time and explanation.


  105. HI !.Liz mam…i’m from Srilanka…..
    Thank you so much….it’s very useful…..

  106. mouhammad halwani says

    thank you very much for this good information

  107. Hi Liz,

    I have been watching your ielts videos and following tips from it. There is a huge improvement noticed in me by following your videos. Thank you very much for your valuable tips.

    Liz I’ve a question. In listening test some answers are in following format 1) (an) intermediate student 2) (a) person

    So I would like to you (an) / (a) beside the words is it an optional or this is essential to link with a word. Please clarify my doubt.

  108. Hi Liz,
    Is there any difference in exam between normal IELTS and IELTS UKVI?
    Please suggest some tips in IELTS UKVI.

  109. Hi Liz.
    I have some friends who want to pass IELT next month. If you have free time, could you help me to check their writing reports and essays and evaluate them? I can send the essays to your e mail address if you want. It would be great if you can do it.

  110. Philip Aaron Akpu says

    Hi Liz,
    Your site has given me a firm grip of what happens in IELTS. I am scheduled for Saturday and Sunday (20th & 21st Feb, 2016); LWR-20th, S-21st. any final tips for me?


  111. Oscaricious says

    Hi Liz, just stumbled on this site three days ago,I must say you are doing a good Job,God bless you.

    • I’m glad you found my site. I’m holiday until April but you’ll find plenty of help and tips on this blog. Good luck!

      • Hi, I’m from Bangladesh. My exam date is 19 March 2016. Could you please add me any whatsapp group where i can get recent question answer?

  112. Hi Liz,

    I promised I would post my result: Listening 7.5, writing 7.0, speaking 7.5, reading 7.0. Your practice materials gave me the skills I needed to pass the IELTS that I wrote on the 9th of January 2016. I practiced for only about 3 weeks using only your site as I discovered it in December. I have recommended your site and do so anytime. Thanks.

  113. I am so glad to say that your videos about writing helped me to score 7.5 form 6.0.
    Thanks a lot.
    I wont forget you in my life.

  114. Hi dear liz
    Thank you,for giveing all the valuable information that really heplful to get good band in ielts requremet to get 7 each band to apply for pr.i am sure your hard work definatly help me. Thank you dear

  115. thank you very much, Really useful information.
    Do you have any suggestion for listening.
    R 7.5
    W 7
    L 5.5
    S 7
    R 8
    W 7
    L 5.5
    S 7

    • Start making a list of paraphrases that are used in all listening exercises that you do. Also make a list of common errors you make – word based, grammar based etc. Decide which types of questions are most difficult for you and work on them. Make note of key words for each answer so that you become more aware of these. Remember that to improve you need to have structured, focused practice and not just do practice tests. See my main listening page: and also use IELTS Cambridge test books 1 to 10.
      All the best

  116. Thank you, it`s very useful)

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