IELTS Writing Penalty for Being Under Words

There is a penalty in IELTS writing if you write under the word count which is 150 words for writing task 1 and 250 words for writing task 2. How serious is this penalty?

Comments: Word Count Penalty

  1. The examiner will count the number of words if they think it is under the word count.
  2. You should aim to write between 160 and 180 in task 1 and 260 and 280 in task 2 to avoid receiving a penalty.
    • Don’t count the number of words, count the lines you have written instead – it will be quicker.
  3. Some IELTS teachers state it is possible to be a couple of words under the word count but don’t take this risk.
  4. If you write under the word count, you WILL receive a penalty. 

Will I get a lower score if I write under the word limit?

Yes. You will get a lower score as a result of not producing enough words and not completing the task, which is to write over 150 for task 1 and 250 words for task 2.

  1. Practice writing on the official answer sheet to judge the length of your writing on that paper. Follow the link to watch a video lesson about using the official IELTS writing paper.
  2. To learn how words are counted in IELTS writing, see this lesson: IELTS Word Count Advice & Rules

Other things affecting your score

  1. Your handwriting – if the examiner has problems reading your handwriting, your band score can be seriously affected.
  2. Memorised answer – if your essay answer is memorised, it will not be accepted and could result in a 0 band score.
  3. Limited answer – if you fail to answer the whole question and only answer half of it, you will not get above band score 5 in task response.

Is there a penalty for writing too much?

No, there is no upper limit. However, writing too many words does not mean you will gt a better mark. In fact, it might cause problems. See this page: How Many Words is Recommended for Writing Task 2?


For more answers to questions about IELTS writing task 2, follow the link.


  1. Tamara Thenuwara says

    Dear Liz,
    Do we have to leave a line space after every paragraph? I think i got low marks for writing because of that. Please advise.

    • The empty line is to help the examiner see the paragraph more easily – it is not a requirement. If your paragraphs are indented and easy to see, it’s fine. That is unlikely to be the cause of your low score. Review your understand of the marking criteria and check your technique.

  2. Hi Liz, will I be penalized if I write more than 200words in task 1

    • Band 5 Task Achievement – may give too much detail. You need to avoid that. Don’t get lost in detail – your aim is to focus on key features in a concise report.

  3. Hey Eliza, I have a question that… in the words count do the preposition like a, an, the… and the numeric data and values …which are mostly used in any writing counts or not?

  4. Hi Liza, thank you for useful infomation. I ask a question about the writing test. If I foget the source of cited articles in my essey, can I tell a lie such as writing “according to the United Nations”, not writing honestly “according to a reputable source” in order to make my argument stronger? Thanks,

    • You should not be stating any source of information or data in an IELTS essay. This is not a university essay. It is a language test. The examiner has no interest at all where your examples or information come from. You do not get a higher score because your argument is more convincing. You get a higher score for relevancy and well explained ideas. Make sure you pay attention to the things that really matter in IELTS and don’t waste your time with thinks that don’t improve your score.

  5. Hey Liz,

    I took my CBT ielts academic today and I think I have done horrible in Reading and writing by

    1. Leaving two questions unanswered in reading
    2. Writing only around 200 words in task 2

    Listening and speaking , I am confident of scoring more than 8

    Can you please let me know how point no 1 & 2 will affect my score ?

    • 1. Each answer is worth one point. That means you do not gain two points. See the band score information on this site if you need the point system.
      2. In task 2, one of the marking criterion called Task Response is about developing your ideas. You will get a lower score for that. Nothing else is affected.

    • Syeda Ramsha Ibrahim says

      I would like to know what did you score in writing as I had a test today and I think I wrote around 200words in task 2

  6. Hi Liz! I just sat for the IELTS exam and had severely mismanaged my time. This resulted in me writing less than I had expected (151 for Task 1 and 258 for Task 2). How badly would this affect my band score, and if it does, what are the odds of me scoring at least a 7.5 with this omission?

    Thanks, love your youtube videos, it’s a shame I discovered them too late!

    • It will have an impact on your score for Task Response which is 25% of your writing task 2 marks. For task 1 is has less impact as not all reports need to be extended. However, for task 2 essays, you are being marked on developing ideas sufficiently and 258 words is not much. It is absolutely not possible to predict your score. There are many other variables to consider. Good luck with your results 🙂

  7. Hossein jimmy says

    Hi dear Liz
    I hope you are great.
    I have a question about copying 80-90% of sentences of a sample letter (in writing task1 of GT) and writing them for a roughly same question in real exam ,but with a slight change in some words or sentences in order to suit the question.
    How examiner recognize that this is a copy? As maybe I have copied them from a sample which is not seen or read by examiner before.

    • The examiner will recognise it is a copy because the memorised parts will be band 9 and the parts you put in will be band 6 or 7. Do not memorise sentences. It is a test and you can’t cheat.

  8. Machis Achyani says

    Hi, Liz.
    I am planning to take an academic IELTS test. Regarding the word count, will IELTS count word tokens or word types? Thanks

    • Each word is counted. All words are counted – there are no exceptions. “A man walked into a house” = 6 words.

  9. Hello there!
    Dear Liz, Could you please tell me if mistakenly we tend to write off the topic, Are the words included in our Essay that are off the topic are counted or not?

    • ALL words are counted. There is no exception. If your ideas go off topic, it will only affect your score for Task Achievement/ Task Response.

  10. Mam I, m very frustrated towards IELTS And It’s preparation I , m preparing it from one year (from may 2018 to 2019) I gave exam in Jan 12th but I got 5.5 in writing as well in speaking. I join many schools but they real not know how to teach please help me. Mam if you have a skype or Facebook account can I contact you, I also use cambly if you are on family let me know and other than this what I do to improve my writing and speaking from 5.5 to 6.5 and more please answer this. I, m waiting your answer in a hurry. Thanks regards gurkirat

    • Sorry, I don’t offer private lessons. There are over 300 pages of free lessons and tips on this site for you to use. However, I suspect you will need to improve your level of English first.

  11. Hello liz.. i think i had misused one word in my essay writing test. How would it affect my score in task 2? One word only 😭😭😭 and i cannot sleep thinking about it. I doubted the word but i still used it 😓, when I checked the meaning at home, it was completely different, it wasn’t the meaning i’d expected. 😭😭😭

    • Vocabulary is only 25% of your marks and the score is based on more than just one incorrect word. It is about paraphrasing, using of collocations, spelling, range, accuracy etc. Time to stop worrying and relax – it’s all over now. Wait for your results.

      • Ohhh.. what a relief ☺️ Thanks so much liz.. may God bless you always..

      • Hi Liz, I finished my IELTS exam today and I’m so worried too. I forgot to separate the paragraphs and it was too late when I realized as I panicked and spent too much time in task 1. So it may seem that I only did one paragraph for task 2 although my ideas were organized in order. How will that affect my score Liz? I cannot get over it. I’m crying awhile ago. 😭😭😭

        • Try to relax. Were your paragraphs impossible to see? You do not have to leave an empty line – it is a recommendation. If the examiner can see the paragraphs, it’s fine. If the paragraphs are not clear at all and it really looks like one single paragraph, you will be given band 5 in Coherence & Cohesion – but that is only 25% of your writing task 2 marks. So, it see how it impacts your score, you must wait for your results. Try to forget about it for now – get some rest 🙂

          • Myreen Mahaguay says

            Thank you Liz. I just feel like I could have done better. Coherence and cohesion is the organisation of your thoughts and ideas isn’t it? So if it’s organized, although the paragraphs isn’t clear, does the IELTS checker still mark it 5? Thanks for making me feel relieved. To be honest I practiced alot in writing, however, it’s indeed true, in althe actual exam, the time pressure will really make one abit uneasy. Praying for my results. Godbless you Liz.

            • Khursand says

              hi Myreen. I am interested in your result. What is your score?

              • Hi Liz,
                I recently took my IELTS exam. I’m worried about my Writing because I have only written 152 words for task 1, because I consumed most of the time writing for task 2 which is around 320 words. Will I get a bad score because of my task 1?

                • IT is still possible to do well with only 152 words in task 1. However, it will depend on the task given and the information presented.

  12. Hi Liz.
    I’m gonna have a test in 3 days. Is it possible to just cross out the mistaken words in writing? And not to erase them?

  13. Hi Liz, I took my IELTS test a week ago. I didn’t get enough time for the writing test so I couldn’t conclude my task 1 and couldn’t count the number of words, so I’m worried if I’m under word count. But I have described the given table well (except the conclusion) and done a satisfactory job on task 2, grammar, paraphrasing and all. Will my score be too low because of this?

    • It is a shame that you didn’t learn from my free lessons and videos. There is no conclusion in task 1. There is an overview in task 1 and it is the most important paragraph. Without an overview in task 1 your score for TA (25% of your task 1 marks) will be stuck at band 5. For this reason, I teach people to write their overview after the introduction so that it is the paragraph to focus on.

  14. hi Liz, do you think i can get band 6 if i didn’t finish and didn’t write a conclusion in task 2?

    • There are four marking criteria for task 2. On one criterion (Task Response) you will automatically get band 5 because you missed the conclusion. This is why I made a free video about the importance of writing the conclusion. However, your score for the other marking criteria will not be affected. It isn’t possible to estimate your score – your score will depend on the other three criteria and on task 1.

  15. Abdur Rehman says

    Hello Ma’am!
    My name is Abdur Rehman, and I have just given my IELTS exam. My question from you is that I have written Full word instead of One option (A, B, C) in IELTS listening, so can I get marks for that?

  16. Hi Liz,
    It’s so useful your page . Thank you so much .
    Could you please advise me for improving my listening . Getting around 20-22 scores only . Getting nervous. I am afraid of this task. Other 3 tasks I don’t have tension .Please help me .

  17. Hey Liz, just came back from my ielts. I have a very important question. I took computer-delivered test and in the writing task 1 section forgot to remove the plan of the essay( I had my draft on top of the text box, so I can follow it) the plan was written in abbreviation and spelling mistakes. Then after the plan I wrote the actual essay, and I didn’t have a chance to correct one mistake, that affected other words and meaning of the last sentence, also i might have written less that 150 words. All of this happened because I didnt organize my time properly. What will be the score in this case. Please advise. Thank you

    • You should have highlighted this to the invigilator at the end of your test. I can’t advise you about this. If you are still worried, call your test centre and talk to them.

  18. Anar Iskandarli says

    Hi Liz,

    Thanks a lot for your great advanced lessons. I have purchased them and been trying to follow up your rules.

    However, I am facing with a big problem that I can not overcome. Despite writing in required time, the word counts of my essay are always more than 350 words. The writing off-topic is not the case here, but the lengths of my sentences which is at least 20-25 words in every single of them.

    Take both body paragraphs have 6 sentences in each (2 thesis statements+4 supportive points). Then the essay will be formed with about 15-16 sentences which means 350-400 words overall for my writing.

    Would this kind of writing impact my score adversely so I should make my sentences more concise, or it would be enough to get 7 or 7,5 in case I meet the requirements of this band score.

    Thanks a lot for your advice in advance.

    • The body paragraph as I taught has the first sentence which contains the main point. You do NOT have two thesis statement in a body paragraph. After one sentence with the main point, there will be 2 or 3 sentences which explain in more detail. You plan which points to put in. You do not put in all points you think of – you select and choose. This means you control which ideas you use and which ideas you don’t use. Try writing again following guidelines.

      • Anar Iskandarli says

        Thanks a lot for your valuable answer. While writing two thesis statement in a paragraph I meant two ideas, such as “Firstly….+2 supporting sentences and Secondly…+2 supporting sentences” in the advantages paragraph, for example, and the same structure for the disadvantages paragraph.

        Is it acceptable to write very long sentences in IELTS essay (around 20-30 words)? While I try to rewrite it, I can only eliminate one supportive sentence, but not the shortening of the sentences’ length.

        Thanks a lot

  19. Kishor bashyal says

    Hi seemed to be very helpful to me through all my ielts learning…i appreciate you..
    i just appeared my ielts exam yesterday…but while writing essay in writing section i found that i had written only 254 while counting each words one by one ..but it can be seen only 242 while counting according to line wise..i need your suggestion on its impact in my score would be a great help for me..

  20. Askari Raza says

    Hello Liz. Yesterday I Took The IELTS Exam For Academic And I Wrote About 145-147 Words For Task 1 And Around 247 Words For Task 2. Will I be penalized for this?

  21. Priyanka Bajaj says

    Hi Liz,

    Hope you are doing good. I am disappointed with my first attempt with General Training – Task 1 IELTS exam which ended with 140 – 145 words due to improper time management by myself.

    My questions to you, please :
    1. Will there be a huge penalty, if there are 145 words for Task 1 (Letter).
    2. Is the penalty counted per word. I mean a letter with 145 words will suffer a higher penalty than a letter with 140 words .

    Thanks in advance,

    • IELTS allow for about 10 words under the limit before the penalty kicks in. However, being under by 10 words means you haven’t extended your ideas very much which will have an impact.

  22. Kiran Varma says

    Dear Liz,
    I hope you are doing good. How is your health now?
    I wanted to know does word count for letter writing include salutation (Dear….,)
    ,signing off ( Your sincerely) and the name or only the body of the letter is counted.
    I have taken IELTS once with a score of L:8, R:7 ,W:6,S:8. In the feedback for general writing its mentioned that : conclusion(s) of letter are unclear, some details are wrong and irrelevant. I wanted to know how to determine whether the detail which is being given
    is a relevant one or not. I was wondering whats conclusion(S) in a letter is and what’s the parameter to know its clarity.

    I would also like thank you for your wonderful subscription videos ! I wish there something for like that for general writing too.

    • Yes, the word count includes each and every word you write on the lines of the answer sheet. I have no idea what you mean about your feedback for your writing task 1 and “conclusion(s) in a letter”. There is no such thing as a conclusion in a letter and that is part of no IELTS band descriptors. Who gave you this feedback? My Advanced writing task 2 lessons are for both GT and Academic essays. I hope to put together an e-book for GT letter writing but it won’t be until next year.

  23. Hello Liz, Is it necessary to write the “word count” at the end of essay in writing task 2?

  24. hi Liz
    I find your material really helpful, however i am having an issue with describing complex diagrams, any help on that?

  25. Ignacio Ortiz says

    Hi Liz, I took my IELTS academic test yesterday. I’ve been following your tips and I have also watched almost every video that you’ve posted. For me the writing was the most difficult part because I didn’t have enough time. Despite that, I finished both tasks but I feel like I could’ve done that part so much better. The rest was fine. I hope I get the results I want to get. Wish me luck!

  26. Liz,

    I recently completed my writing test and am very apprehensive about a mistake done.
    I think I did reach the word count limit for the second essay, but didnt finish the final line in conclusion part. There was about 4 words left to complete that sentence but the time had completed by then. Will this be penalized?
    Please let me know what you think.

    • There is only one essay in IELTS writing. So, I presume you are talking about task 2 because task 1 is a report, not an essay. As long as you have a conclusion, it’s fine. Just 4 missing words will only affect your score for task response in a minimal way.

      • Thank you so very much for the response. Yes I was talking about task 2.
        Now is the hardest part of this whole endeavor. The wait for results.

      • priyanka penikalapati says

        In my Writing Test. I wrote extra time 1 second, 2 words after completion of time.The examiner forced me to sign a “Ielts Warning Letter”, which was a folded paper and I was able to see only My Name,Candidate Id, Signature boxes in that page.I don’t know what was inside that letter. Is this effect my score?
        What will be in that letter?

        • You should contact your local test center and ask them about this. IELTS is an international test with strict policies and very strict time control. Phone them and ask them about the letter and the consequences for you.

        • HARMINDER SINGH says

          hoping your result will be withheld .
          please update it you got any response.

  27. I have a problem i forgot to put the introduction and conclussion on an essay, how many points do u lose?

    • It does not work on a points system. It will serious affect your score. You need to think carefully about why you failed to do the most basic aspect of an essay, which is to prepare paragraphs and plan your organisation.

  28. Miten Kashiyani says

    Hey Liz,
    I just came back from exam. I am little worried that,

    In the task 2 , I’ve been asked essay of to what extent do you agree/disagree?

    In the intro, after paraphrasing I ve said that “I agree to a large extent….”and wrote 2 bodies that gives reason for my agreement and wrote is it good?

    Bcoz I’ve seen that I’ve to write 3 body which 2 for agree and 1 for disagree…bcoz I answered I agree to a large extent.

    So will it be okay or not? And if not then how much it will effect on my score?? Will I be able to get at least 5.5 or 6!!

    • There are NO rules about how many paragraphs to have. It is fine to have only two. The most important thing is that your opinion is VERY clear and that your body paragraphs FULLY explain your opinion.

      • Miten Kashiyani says

        Thanks for prompt reply.

        Yes, I’ve stated reason with detailed explanation and example.

        So will it be okay if I wrote ‘ I agree to a large extent’ instead of ‘i strongly agree’ in intro??
        With the 2 paragraph showing reason behind my agreement.

        • Of course it’s fine. I don’t understand why you doubt this. It is a clear opinion. Your opinion shows that you do not fully agree and that there are reasons for this. Your body paragraphs will explain why you agree, but also why you do not 100% agree (you will explain your reservation).

          • Miten Kashiyani says

            No, you might misunderstood me. I have said that, i wrote ” I agree to a large extent” it means my opinion is not full agree… But i wrote 2 body paragraph only and both are of the reasons why i agree.. and i have not write any para that states about disagree. That is why i was asking that, will it effect on my score and if yes then how much!!

            • This is a problem. you have shown that you DO NOT fully agree. “I agree to a large extent” means that you agree about 80%, 90% or 95%, but NOT 100%. This is the meaning of your words. So, in your essay, you need to explain why you mostly agree, and you also need to explain why you do not fully agree. If you fail to explain why you do not fully agree, you will lose marks. It will affect your score for Task Response.

              • Miten Kashiyani says

                Yes i know. But i was having less amount of time in last and so had wrote conclusion directly. 🙁 What do you think how much band will be reduced because of this overall on writing?

  29. Hi Ma’am
    I got my IELTS result today I got overall score of 6.5 ( listening 7.5, reading 6.5, writing 5.5)
    I wrote task 1 following your instructions but only of 90 words and task 2 of around 230 words, although I used complex sentences with some high vocabulary words and also wrote overview and conclusion ( in task 2) . Is my band low because of word count penalty ? Please advice me , should I go for a recheck ?

    • Your score will have been lowered due to your lack of words. It is essential that you write OVER the word count.

  30. Hi Liz,

    I’m grateful for your help. You have a gift for teaching.
    I just want to post my experience from today’s test. With regards to the writing part there is really NOT ENOUGH time. I came across a subject about to what extend should the national governments interfere with ones preference towards a study subject during the university period. I felt I had so much to say in the essay but I ended up not even writing half of what I could. I constantly went back and forth. So disappointing. Good luck to all of you guys!

    Once again thank you Liz,


  31. vinay kartheek says

    Dear Mrs. Liz,
    I’m Vinay kartheek, today I gave my listening, reading and listening test. However, in writing task 2 I shared my views regarding the topic but I forgot to give relevant examples which they asked for. I’m worried about the score now. Could you please talk regarding this.
    Thank you for your time

  32. Hello,
    I wonder what would be the penalty if I wrote everything correctly, and follolowed the instructions, but I couldn’t write 250 words for Task 2. Instead I’ve written only 160.
    I also wrote everything for Task 1(170 words).
    Thank you!

  33. juan gomez says

    Sorry if a miss this but you didnt answer how underwriting the task would affect the final score. Is it an essencial part of the test? like if you do not complete you always score band 5 or may the penalty reduced your score 10 percent? or how does this work?

  34. hallo liza haw can i count words in order to write like 150 words

  35. Is it compulsory to state total words below essay??????

  36. Hi Liz,
    I got this question in writing part 2 : Some people support the developement of agriculture like factory farming and scientific creation , While other oppose.
    Discuss both views;-
    What I Wrote:-
    1 body paragraph:- development of farming for business purpose and greenhouse farming
    2nd body :- ehnacement of technology rather than farming is a better development.

    I know, i am off topic in second body. How much will it effect?? Can you please analayis

  37. Hi Liz,
    I had viewed most of your videos on youtube as my only aid for IELTS preparation. I was able to complete only 50% of writing task 1, I din’t have enough time to explain a few details on one category. I have written introduction, overview and the major difference, my word count is going to be definitely below 150. Could you give a ballpark figure of my score for this task?

  38. Manpreet kaur says

    Some people think that there are important things in life and they can’t be bought. This is essay topic but i wrote about natural resources. I think i wrote irrelevant. Can i score low in the writing essay task. Please guide me.

  39. For my exam, I have used variety of sentence structure… But I have a habit of writing long essays which would be at least 400 words. Is that a big issue?

  40. Hello Liz.I just had my Ielts exam today and on the writing test I only managed to write Task 2. I started task 1 but I didnt even finish the first sentence in the introduction and the time was up!The essay question was a bit confusing so I struggled making a decision what type of essay it is .
    The topic went like this: Some people think that a country can benefit by hosting major international sport events. Other people think there are more disadvantages from hosting that event.
    Discuss both sides and give your opinion and supporting arguments and examples. So Im honestly confused if it was a Discussion essay or Does advantages outweigh disadvantages. Of course it is made to confuse us .what confused me was the words advantages disadvantages and my opinion.So I made a decision to go with the outweight adv.disadv.essay and in both body paragraphs I gave examples but suported the advantages with a few arguments and explanations for each.Whats the biggest score I can get if only one of the essays is written (if I chose the right typeof essay )
    hope you can give me some aproximate answer .

    • I think the instructions were very clear. Discuss both sides. This means you discuss both sides = a discussion essay. And give your opinion = with an opinion. So, you discuss both sides and give your opinion. It is a basic, standard discussion essay for IELTS. Writing task 1 is worth 33% and writing task 2 is worth 66% (more or less).

  41. Hi Liz,
    Thank you so much for your valuable suggestions.
    I have a small doubt. Can I write IELTS GT essay/letter in alternate lines? ( to avoid erasing nearby words for correction when written in pencil )

    • Don’t do that. It makes paragraphs difficult to see. Write each line and then leave one empty between paragraphs. If you plan your letter or essay enough, you will have less errors to correct.

  42. Hi Liz
    Ma’am I m really worried about my test could you please clear my mind… I did well in ielts writing task 1 but my task 2 wasn’t so good … Let me tell you what I have did … They asked that nowadays companies are using sports events to promote their product.some people think that it has wrong effect on sports. I wrote mostly about their company advertisements through sports events and I said a little about its wrong effects on sports… Could you please tell me to which extent it can effect my score???

  43. I gave my ielts exam yesterday. Listening and reading were fantastic. I think I might score 7.5-8 in these sections. In writing, task 1 was good. I’ve written more words than the word limit but however in the second task I was able to write around 180 words only. What do you think how much score will I get in writing for not completing the word limit?

  44. Sukhvinder singh says

    Hi ,i gave my ielts test on 14th oct. i had write 210 words in task1 and 300 word in task 2 will my score reduce? For over limit

    • There is no upper limit. But you will be marked down for lack of focus for task 2 and adding too much detail in task 1.

  45. Hi Liz, I gave my Ielts exam today, my task 2 was good. I completed it with more than 250 words. But I didn’t get sufficient time to complete my task 1. I might have written just 100 words. How much score should I expect?

  46. Hi Liz,
    I have been following your blog and it is very helpful! Thank you.
    I am fairly new to the IELTS test. I am planning to take IELTS General Training by mid of October 2017. The responses to IELTS questions have to be given on a paper is it? I was under the impression that our responses will be typed on a computer.
    Thanks for your response.

  47. Mam i have written 385 word in task 2 but this is only written on only one sheet, can my score get effected due to this over writing

    • If you have written a long essay, it usually means it is less focused and includes unnecessary information which will lower your score. Your aim in task 2 is between 270 and 290 words.

  48. DEAR LIZ,
    The question for ielts writing task 2 was

    my answer were mainly 2 point in 2 different body paras
    my opininon- agree with this with parental collaboration
    para 1- topic sentence- school is responsible because a teacher can highly influence her students character
    para 2- topic sentence- parental collaboration is equally important because children try to copy parents.
    my doubt is whether para 2 about parental influence is relevant.
    is it relevant to question

    • This essay question is not about parents at all. It is only about the role of schools.

      • Is it 100% necessary that we should use examples in our body paragraphs?
        I messed up with time and I totally forgotten about writing examples.. can it effect band?

        • It is not necessary to have examples. As long as you explained your points clearly, that’s enough.

          • Lokesh chawla says

            Thanks so much because i was very tensed following the exam. I have explained my points clearly but the question read that give examples from own experience. So then also they won’t penalise me right ?

  49. Hi
    In my mock tests I write more than 300 words in task 2 and still manage to save some time. I think my answer is good but I get 5.5/6 only. Is it because of exceeding word count??

    • There is no upper word limit. But writing 30 0 words isn’t recommended. Your aim should be to produce a focused, highly relevant essay with no unnecessary information and an essay which is accurate in language. Writing 300 words means you will have made more mistakes. You should aim for between 260 and 280 more or less. See my advanced lessons if you need training:

  50. hello , in task 2 wrote 200 word only ! task one was really nice , however task 2 was 70% good but I ended up with 50 words less 🙁 please tell me what do you think about it?

  51. Felicita Argaña says

    Hi Liz!
    I’m Felicita, from Paraguay, South America.
    I have a query related to the format of the writing skill.
    I took the test last week and while I was reviewing my task 1 I realized that I had made a mistake. Therefore, I corrected it, but I left some extra spaces between words.
    For example:
    “The most common vehicle in UK was the railway”
    The reason why I mistakenly used extra spaces was because I had to erase some words and write others instead, but I had not time to use all the space of the line before the start of next sentence.
    Would this affect my marks?

    • Felicita Argaña says

      When my comment was posted the “extra spaces” of my examples didn’t appear.
      The error was to write extra spaces between words in one sentence. I am worried that this will affect my marks.

    • It depends if the examiner understands the full sentence. There are no set rules. If the examiner can see the problem, it’ll be fine.

  52. Hello mam,
    My test was on 6 may. In writing task 1, I mentioned only percentage but did not mention percentage of GDP. I forgot to use word GDP, will it affect my score.

    • It might affect your score for Task Achievement which is about presenting the right information. But there are still plenty of other things being assessed which you can still do well on in task 1.

  53. Hamza Sheikh says

    Hey Liz,

    I want to get my writing task 1 & 2 marked. What is the procedure?

    Thank You

  54. Hi Liz, I just gave my ielts test. In task 2 of the writing section I only had three paragraphs. An introduction, body and conclusion. Will I get lower marks for not adding another paragraph to the body?

    • Yes, your marks for coherence and cohesion will be lower as you didn’t dived your main ideas into body paragraphs. Hopefully you did well in the other marking criteria. Don’t think about it for now.

  55. Hi liz,
    My husband took his ielts yesterday. He did both his task 1 and 2 really well. However, he dint have enough time and the examiner snached his paper away. So he had just written 1 sentence in his conclusion and his paper was taken away before he could finish the next sentence. How badly will this affect his band score.?

  56. I write out of the topic in ielts academic writing task 2.
    So how many band around i get?
    If there are any chances to get very low band around 3 to 4?

  57. Jagjeet singh says

    Hello liz,
    Is all helping verbs such as is am are was were are counted as word in Ielts writing.

  58. hello liz,
    Today I gave my ielts exam. But I had some spelling mistake in writting task 2 I wrote “vehical” instead of ”vehicle” I used this word 3 times. will my band score decrease due to this?

    • Spelling mistakes do count as a vocabulary mistake. But band scores are not calculated just by counting errors. You will need to wait for your results.

  59. Hi Liz! Thanks for the resourceful website you have to guide the IELTS examination takers. I wrote my IELTS (academic) module a couple of days ago. Task 2 in writing was about whether criminals released from jail are safe to be in society or not and suitable solution for the problem. Due to lack of time, I managed to squeeze out only one sentence in conclusion. However, I wrote the sentence in a way, it summarized what I wrote in two body paragraphs of the essay and meaning complete. So writing such one sentence summary affect my scores?

    • A lot of teachers recommend having just one sentence for your conclusion. I personally recommend either one or two sentences. It’s completely up to you and won’t affect your score. As long as you have a conclusion and there are main points or a position summarised. Good luck with your results 🙂

  60. Rohit kumar says

    What happened if count the word and write at bottom, it is good or bad ? Please tell me

  61. will the punctuation and numbers get count as words ?

  62. Hi Liz,

    Thanks for this terrific site and it is really helpful for all the IELTS aspirants like me.

    Is there anyway, I can validate my writing skills with a band score (ofcourse, for FREE)? In that way, I can learn my mistakes and improve my band.

    Your earliest response would be highly appreciated !!

  63. Thanks a lot Liz .In my standpoing You are one of the best teachers throughout the world.I want to ask a question.I got 6 from writing a month ago.Can you give me suggestion to improve my writing skill.Thanks in advance.

  64. Hello Liz,

    Thanks for your very helpful website.
    My question is: could you be more precise about the penalty for an under word count writing task?

    Thanks in advance.


    • Your words are counted by the examiner. If you are under the word count you will lose a band score. How much you are penalised, depends on how many words you are under the word count. So, if your score was 7 but you were under the word count, your score will drop from that point, depending on how much you failed to achieve the word count. The most important thing to remember is to aim for between 160 and 180 words to be sure of avoiding this.

  65. Dear Liz,

    Thank you for existing 🙂
    And, also I do appreciate your work.

    Renctly I finish my IELTS exam, and in the Writing skill, I didn’t achive the word number for task 1.

    Can you please tell me, in the best situation, If hipotheticaly, I did well for every thing else, what band score may I have?

    Thank you in advance,


    • Your writing score is calculated with both task 1 and task 2. Your score for each is determined by 4 criteria. If you were under the word count in task 1, your score will be lowered slightly but no one can predict the final outcome. Task 1 is worth only around 33% of your total writing marks.

  66. matteo de paola says

    Hi liz! thank you for your terrific website, it’s really helpful.
    I would to ask you one question: in writing task, abbreviations like It’s, there’s, I’m and so on are counted as 1 word or 2? thanks in advance for your response! Wish you the best

  67. Hi
    I had written over 300 words in writing task 2 in ielts in British council. How much penalty for these?

    • There is no upper word limit. However, if you add unnecessary information you will get a lower mark. Also a longer essay means you might have made more grammar or vocab mistakes which will also lower your score.

  68. The topic for task 1 is the problem I faced when I use local public transport . I forgot the word local . I written all about the bad services I hv received when I travelling a flight from mel to Malaysia . Izit there is going to be a serious problem ? Thx u

    • It might affect your score for Task Achievement which is 25% of your marks but the other three marking criteria should be fine.

  69. I have repeated a word of household many times in Task many many marks im gonna lose because of that.

  70. Please reply

  71. hi, I wrote the answer for task 1 on task 2 answer sheet and answer of task 2 on task one answer sheet. Will it effect my band score?

    • I can’t tell you for sure but hopefully the examiner will understand what has happened and not penalise you.

      • hey Liz,
        i just finished my exam and made a mistake in task 1. i thought the letter was for Manager while it supposed to be for employee. could you plz tell me that i will be marked zero for task 1 or still can get marks for my good use of vocabulary, cohesion and lexical resource.

        • You will get a lower mark for Task Achievement which is only 25% of your task 1 marks. You can still pick up good marks for the other three criteria as well as task 2.

  72. Hi Liz,

    Your website has been very helpful to me and to other IELTS test takers as well.

    Could you advise me on how to improve my writing skills? I believe it is my weakness compared to the other parts of the exam. Are there any books that you can recommend for me?

    Thank you very much and keep up the good work!

  73. Hi, Liz! Is it okay to write more than 200 words in academic task 1 of writing ? My lecturer from an IELTS review center in our country gave me a penalty for it.

    • There is no penalty given by IELTS for writing over the word count. However, it is not advisable to write over 200 words. You are being marked on your ability to select information, not to give it all. You must also focus on key features – don’t give too many small details. So, aim for between 160 and 180 words and keep your report focused and well selected.

  74. Mind sharing your scores here

  75. Hi Liz!

    I just finished my exam earlier but I failed to finish my writing task 1. I only wrote the introduction (paraphrased) then in the 2nd paragraph is my overview (which i think is strong) then the 3rd paragraph was the problem because i only wrote until the first sentence. Do you think until what band score will it only be in task 1? Thank you!

    • You will be marked down on task 1 if you wrote under 150 words. However, task 1 is only around 33% of your writing marks, so hopefully you can still do ok.

  76. Kewal Maharjan says

    Hey Liz!
    Today I’ve given IELTS test. I wrote 65 words less in writing “Task-2”. My hand-writing is understandable, and the answer also matches with what the question has asked.
    Could you please tell me how much marks could be reduced (minimum)?

    • I can’t say what your score will be but you will receive a penalty for being under the word count. 65 words are a lot of words to miss out. But you can still do well in task 1.

    • Would you mind sharing your writing scores? I am really tensed , I think even I wrote an underlength essay. But I did write well. . I spent a lot of time on task 1 and just couldn’t write more than 200 words in task 2

  77. Hi liz, today i given writting test. major issue is that i didnt wrote writing -1 because of lack of time and also unable to complete my writing task 2. So can u tell me how much score i will get.. Please tell m very worried about it

    • Writing task 1 is worth 30% of your marks so you will lose that if you didn’t write task 1 at all. What your final score will be, I can’t predict.

  78. 10 words under? Really? In the Cambridge exams you lose marks if you are more than 6 words under, but I was told by an examiner that in IELTS you lose marks if you are even a single word under!
    So much conflicting information on the Internet 🙁 I wish IELTS would release their REAL marking criteria, instead of the paired down public one, it is really no use at all.

  79. Hi Liz,

    Thank you very much for your lessons. You are a blessing.

    I am an English teacher and your lessons helped me and my friend. He achieved his goal of getting at least 6.5. I am also planning to take IELTS by the end of this year.

    • Well done to your friend. I’m sure you can learn a lot from him 🙂

      • Dear liz,
        I was out of time in writing exam and missed writing word count at the end of task 1 and may be a line short in the ending paragraph how mich marks can be deducted

        • If you are under the word count, you will get a penalty. It will affect your score for task 1. However, how it will affect your overall writing score, I can’t say.

  80. Dear Liz,
    thank you for your lessons.
    They are really useful!!!
    I have two question about the writing test, I need a score of 6.5.

    I think to be a good writer, but in my last test I got 5.5 because I didn’t write enough word in task 1. Is it possible that the penalty takes off 0.5/1.0 point?

    The second question is: can I write my writing answers in capital letters? My hand writing it is not so clear…

    Thank you


    • You will definitely get a lower mark for being under the word count. Yes, you can write your essay in all capital letters if you want – but it is often slower to do so.

  81. hy i wrote my little bit personal view in conclusion of task 1 would i be having less bands for thatg nd also i stopped in th last 10 sec of the speaking module but i spoked a bit thb examiner said it its fyn how much should i expect the score mam

    • There is no conclusion in task 1 and you don’t offer opinions in task 1. Your speaking is score is marked based on your overall performance, so I can’t predict your score. Fingers crossed!

  82. Hlo liz,
    Yesterday was my exam, i done one mistake
    I wrote ‘the rendered tabular provides’
    instead of ‘the rendered tabular chart provides’
    Will it effect my band score?
    Is it wrong to write only ‘tabular’ ?

  83. Navjot Singh says

    Hey Liz !
    I took my exam today and am concerned with writing module. I am confident that my writing skills are efficient enough to score 8 band.
    But the question I want to address is, is it possible to score 9 bands even if I have a spelling mistake?
    There is only 1 spelling mistake in the both the tasks. (to my mind)
    I wrote :
    “The tabular chart JUXTAPOSTS the variation………”
    instead of
    “The tabular chart JUXTAPOSES the variation………”

    • The problem is not just spelling but also use of language. I would never recommend using the language you have mentioned. A table is a table – don’t complicate your language. The more you try to impress, the more mistakes are made with word choice. Lets see how your results are.

  84. Hii liz
    How many time we can use a same word in writing .

  85. Manjot Gill says

    Hello Liz!! I want to ask you that, is there a sample or an example of a WT1 and WT2 that you can provide?
    I want to know how the ideas are centered in each paragraphs, so with that I can get to know how to write a good WT1 and WT2.
    Thank you!!

  86. Hi Liz,
    As you have said that under-length essay gets penalized. Can you please tell me by how much does it affect the band score? For example if I have written an essay deserving band score 8.0. But I have written only 220 words instead of 250, how many band score points would be deducted? Is there a percentage ?

    • You will receive a lower score for task 2 due to the lack of words. IELTS have not released information regarding how much the score will be reduced by but 30 words is quite a lot to miss. Hopefully your task 1 will help boost your score.

    • Do you mind sharing your writing score here with us?

  87. What do I have to do if I am not aware of a word in question in writing task?

  88. thank you very much for your contribution to IELTS success. may i ask you to publish in your webpage easy IELTS essay templates. I think it will ease writing

  89. hii liz…i wanna ask is yesterday was my exam..nd in task 1 i write it in present tense becoz i overlook the intriduction nd forget to see that the year they gave was it would b in past tense bt by mistake i wrote it in present…so how much bands will be cut for this??

    • It counts as one grammar mistake and grammar is 25% of your marks. I can’t predict your score.

  90. Lovepreet singh says

    Hey Liz, My IELTS test was held on 18 Feb,2016. I got 6.5 in writing.Here, I’d like to admit that I am not very good at punctuation and also make spelling mistakes sometimes. And at the end of the test, I did not have any time left to revise my writing. I spent over half an hour on W T1 and had only 25 minutes to write on task 2. How can I increase my band score from a 6.5 to a 7 in writing? I hope that you respond to me at your earliest and give me some valuable advise on how I can improve my writing.
    with regards,
    Lovepreet Singh

  91. Hey Lizz,
    hi recently i was appeared for an Ielts test and unfortunately i got overall 5.5 bands. i made some blunders in writing task . I wrote almost 370 words in Part-2 and i was expecting that i might get 7 bands .

    • Writing over 300 words mean that your essay might contain irrelevant or unnecessary information and also it provides more chance of mistakes in vocabulary and grammar which can lower your score. You should be aiming for around 270 words in task 2.

  92. Hi Liz,
    Just recently I did my IELTS Exam,I wrote 267 words in task 1 and in task 2 I ran out of time I wrote about 230 words so what you would think that can I get 6 bands in writing task.

    Best Regards,
    Walid Raza.

  93. Hi Liz,
    I’ll like to say thank you. These free lessons actually helped me achieved my dream score in IELTS. Of all the online lessons I surfed through, yours was the best. Continue the good work.
    L-8.5, R-8.5, S-7.0, W-7.0
    P.S- I was really worried about the writing score after the exams. So glad, I got a 7

  94. Hello liz,
    If you don’t mind clarify for me if one doesn’t write a conclusion in task 2,will this effect the score?
    I’ll appreciate your reply
    Kind regards

  95. Hi Liz,
    If you don’t mind clarify for me if one doesn’t write a conclusion,will this lower the score?
    I’ll appreciat your reply
    Kind Regards

  96. Hi Liz! Just finished my written exams.I’m so worried aboit my writing because I did not finish the task 1 because I ran out of time,had only 10 mins left for the task. There were two graphs.The intodruction i wrote is i think acceptable because i was really in hurry.I think i described all the main parts in graph 1,however i did not have time for the graph 2 and i just ended my conclusion with a summary of only graph 2.I was really panicking. Whatdo u think will be my score in taskm1?I finished my task two and I think It was okay. I am also concer mn about my speaking test because it just lasted for almost 11 minutes only.Does it mean my english is bad?

    — thanks Liz

    • Sorry I can’t predict scores for writing that I haven’t seen. You will need to wait for your writing results to see the impact. For speaking, the test lasts between 11 and 14 minutes – this is for all students. It is not longer or shorter. The actual length does not reflect the final score.
      All the best

  97. Dear Liz,
    There are two questions in the writing part I wanted you to ask you if you please:
    The first question is: Do you know what the penalty for writing task 1 on a writing 2 sheet is when you properly notify the examiner about it during the test? I wrote my task 1 on a task 2 paper and was able to notify the examiner, so she stapled my task one with a blank task 1 sheet and signed on it.
    My second question is what the maximum band score for overall writing you can possibly obtain if you completely miss your task 1? I think there is a chance my task 1 sheet was misplaced and therefore has not been graded towards my final writing score.
    Thank you in advance for you response

  98. Hey Liz,

    I just found out about your site and let me tell you – it’s a treasure of great information!
    I want to ask if there is a penalty for writing more than 150 words in Task 1 (and 250 for t.2 I guess). I don’t ask this in order to brag, it’s a legitimate concern of mine. I start analysing all the points in the bars, charts, tables etc in fear of omitting anything that is considered important. I know that I have to practise pointing out the features that stand out the most and give less details on the other information, but, let’s say that I do emphasize the proper features and that I am on time, but my words exceed the limit, would that have any negative impact on the grade?

  99. can we write more than 200 words in task 1 if we are given a complicated task?

  100. On 20 jan a i done my speaking and 23 jan I done my listening, reading,writing so when a my result will declare on which day in February

  101. Does your first language affects the ielts grading?

  102. Crunchy Soul says

    Dear Liz, first I really enjoy your blog and appreciate your help to all of us, thank you. I recently participated the January 09th academic test in China and checked my results literally hour ago, I’v been shocked by the results, well, 8/8/5.5/8, as you may guess, 5.5 for the writing. Honestly, writing has always been my short slab, but 5.5 is no way near my anticipation, shamelessly speaking, after the test, I thought writing should archive 7 as minimal. What would be the possible reasons contribute to such a huge gap between my expectation and reality, would you kindly share some of your experiences and insights to this, sincerely thank you.

    • There is a big difference between your writing and other skills. You clearly have a very good level of English. However, IELTS writing is only based on 50% English and the rest is writing technique. You need to understand more about what the examiner is looking for to get a high score. See my advanced lessons for very detailed lessons:
      Good luck!

  103. Hi liz!
    I did my written tests today and im really anxious about my writing. I finished my task 2 well but i messed up with my task 1. I was out of time and i mislooked some of the informations by writing “the number of Asian people ages 18-25” when it was written “ages 18-25 in the Universities in four countries in Asia”. Do you think i have a chance to get an overall writing score of 7. Thank you.

  104. hi dear
    can you count the number of words in below sentence ?
    A good idea for passing exam would be practicing more .

  105. harsh khaira says

    hi..this is harshdeep.
    i wrote just 122 words in my task 1 .task 2 was totally fine….
    nd task 1 was such that one cannot elaborate it too there is a problem in that task.exam was on december 19 . can i score still 6 .any idea??? Mam/Sir

  106. mam,

    on 19th dec exam.i wrote roughly 254 i have to face any penalty for dat.plz tell me mam bcoz i m so tensed about that and my essay was about taxation.

  107. Hey, Help me Please! Is It possible to get more than 6 for the writing task 2 as I wrote less than 250 words!?

  108. Hello Liz, thank you very much for all the information, I just wanted to ask you if it’s possible to get more than 5 in the writing test if you write less than 250 words. I’ve taken the test yesterday, I think it went quite well in terms of grammar, structure etc but I’m quite sure I’ve written about 230-240 words, even if I didn’t manage to count them.

    • You will get a reduced score if you write under 250 words (although they usually start this penalty at about 240 words). Your final score will depend on how you scored in each of the main marking criteria so it is impossible to predict your score.
      All the best

  109. Munkhtsetseg says

    Hello Liz,
    I’m applying Master degree and English Academic course in one of the Australian University. They asked me any of English test result. They will process, how many weeks i must study in EAC, based on this result.So i planning to take IELTS on this saturday. And I want to know if i get 4, how much weeks i must study? Just want to know how long i will be in australia.
    Thank you,
    Best regards!

  110. Thanks for answering! I’m just a bit disappointed with myself because I skipped writing a simple conclusion.I was so engross into writing a good body, but I hope to get atleast an over all band of 5.5 for writing test.

    By the way, I’ve watch your youtube videos and they were very informative.

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