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Marking Criteria for IELTS Writing Task 2

In this article, learn how your IELTS writing task 2 is marked and the difference between band scores 5, 6, 7 and 8 with tips to improve your score. You need to understand the 4 marking criteria used by the examiner to fulfill the requirements of the score you want.

The first step towards learning IELTS essay writing starts with the understanding how your IELTS essay will be checked. You should be aware of how IELTS examiner will check your essay. If you know this, then prepare essay writing accordingly.

In this article, learn how your IELTS writing task 2 is marked and the difference between band scores 5, 6, 7 and 8 with tips to improve your score. You need to understand the 4 marking criteria used by the examiner to fulfill the requirements of the score you want.

Don’t just read the band score you want. Read all the band score descriptions to learn how you lose marks and how you gain marks.

4 Marking Criteria for IELTS Writing Task 2

The examiner will assess your IELTS essay using the 4 criteria below. Each criterion is worth 25% of your total marks for task 2. You will be given a band score for each criteria and then a total score for task 2. See bottom of page for example of scoring.

  • Task Response
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource (Vocabulary)
  • Grammatical Range & Accuracy

Task Response

This task 2 marking criterion is about your answer to the IELTS essay question, your main ideas and how you develop them.

Your score will increase if you:

  • pay attention to ALL issues in the essay question
  • write about the issues rather than just the general topic
  • answer the essay question with relevant main points
  • plan your supporting points so they don’t go off the topic
  • write over 250 words

Coherence and Cohesion

The IELTS examiner will check the organisation of your essay, the paragraphs and your use of linking devices.

Your score will increase if you:

  • have either four or five paragraphs but not more and not less
  • this means you should have two or three body paragraphs only
  • have just one central topic in each body paragraph
  • organise your ideas logically
  • use a range of linking words
  • avoid errors in linking words

Lexical Resource

Your use of vocabulary, your paraphrasing, your spelling and the number of mistakes you make will be assessed in this criterion.

Your score will increase if you:

  • pay attention to collocations (which verb matches which noun)
  • paraphrase carefully to avoid errors
  • use a range of words appropriate for the topic
  • spell words correctly
  • avoid making errors (errors will lower your score – see Band Descriptor)
  • avoid using informal language

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

The IELTS examiner will give you a band score for your sentence structures, the tenses you use, your control of grammar and also the number of mistakes you make.

Your score will increase if you:

  • use different grammar tenses (conditionals, perfect tenses, passive voice, past, future etc)
  • pay attention to word order in your sentences
  • use a range of sentence structures
  • use the correct punctuation (full stops and commas)
  • avoid errors in grammar (errors will lower your score – see Band Descriptor)
    • common grammar errors: articles, plural nouns, uncountable nouns, word order)

Example of Writing Task 2 Scoring Calculated

You will get a band score for each of the above criteria and then a total score for task 2. Here’s an example:

  • Task Response: Band 6
  • Coherence & Cohesion = Band 7
  • Grammar: Band 6
  • Vocabulary: 6

Total Score for IELTS Writing Task 2: 6 + 7 + 6 + 6 = 25/4 = 6.25. This score will be increased to 6.5. To calculate your score, add all scores together and divide by 4.

You should find how your IELTS teacher check your essays

Does your teacher tell you what are your errors in essay?

I have seen that many IELTS teachers just tick-mark each word of candidate’s essay which gives the candidate a sense that his essay is checked thoroughly and tick marking means he gets an impression that his essay would score 7 or above. Rather than tick marking each word, it is better for teacher to mark the errors and then to do effort in teaching the candidate so that he can learn why such mistakes happen.

Does your teacher give you explained review after checking your essay

Some of the teachers , especially in small cities where students don’t dare to ask questions from teachers and any so-called IELTS teacher with no knowledge to teach students give the review while checking essays like “ half concept” or “your idea is half” or “your idea is ineffective”  and something like this. While this way of checking essay helps a teacher in hiding his own weakness and insufficient knowledge, this kind of review don’t give any clear picture to the candidate about their weaknesses in writing. It is better that teacher specify what actually is “half concept” and what to include to make it effective.

You need a sufficiently skilled teacher to check your essay more accurately

I know there are always a percentage of students who are good enough in writing and they don’t need teacher’s help. With little practice and covering the essay topics, they can easily score 6.5 to 7 or above. They are able enough to write essays with their own ability. However, Teachers or coaching centres leverage their brand name on such students and take credit for their higher scores in writing but the truth remains different.

I am particularly talking of vast majority of those students in Punjab region, mainly Villages where students are weak or starters or below average in English language. Rough estimate may give a figure of 80% out of total students who need serious preparation in writing module. And considering it, a skillful teacher is your better option who can make writing module easier for you.

Remember, a sufficiently skilled and knowledgeable teacher can make essay-writing a very easy task for you with his proper guidance, writing improvement lessons and sentence-making exercises. Such teachers take concern of candidate’s progress and learning.

Your Choice!

It is on the part of a candidate to find the right teacher for them. Otherwise, I have seen hundreds of candidates who fail to score in IELTS Exam due to writing module, or they rarely score above 6 just because they do so many errors in essays and fail to include variety of sentences. Their idea may be fair enough to score 7 but those errors cost them dearly in Exams. Make a wise choice while choosing an IELTS teacher for you.

My Suggestion

At the end, I suggest you that you should check your essay based upon the criteria given in IELTS band descriptor. If you are able to get desired bands in mock tests, then proceed to book your IELTS exam, otherwise if you are not scoring enough and you sit in IELTS exam, your money may be wasted.

Click here to find out how your IELTS essay will be checked

You may use following way for checking IELTS Essay

In order to make you aware of your errors in writing, I have prepared a format to be aware of errors for you. After you write an essay, get it checked from an expert. Ask him to give you reviews, suggestions and recommended practice lessons for improvement, according to the format.

Keep on knowing your errors in each essay, type of errors, and learn the concepts to rectify those mistakes, and step by step, keep on improving the quality of your essay until your essay reach the level where it can score you desired bands.

You should look for the following type of errors in your essay while checking it. It will give you a clear picture where to make corrections in your writing. Then ask your teacher to teach you the concept which can help you to avoid errors in future.


  1. Structural sentences: (Fundamental English)
  2. Passive Voice Sentences
  3. Complex Sentences
  4. Accuracy in long sentences
  5. Collocations
  6. Irrelevant words/ vocabulary
  7. Improper use of a word (adjective, adverb, verb, Noun):
  8. Errors in using Conjunctions (connecting words)
  9. Expressions
  10. No. of paragraphs
  11. Is the question asked in statement answered thoroughly
  12. Is there Sufficient Explanation given for each argument
  13. Conclusion
  14. Cohesion / Coherence
  15. Task Response
  16. Spellings
  17. Preposition
  18. Singular/plural nouns
  19. Any other error:
  20. Ask you teacher what more to include to improve idea
  21. Punctuation
IELTS writing


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