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Did you know that with just one month of focused, strategic preparation, you can significantly improve your IELTS Academic Writing test score? Thirty days is the optimal time to develop and polish academic writing skills. Just enough to challenge yourself yet short enough to maintain your momentum and keep the material fresh.

Studying at a prestigious university abroad is a dream for many, filled with opportunities to explore, learn, and grow. However, for non-native English speakers, the IELTS Academic Writing test can feel like a steep hill to climb.

The IELTS Academic Writing test is specially designed to assess your writing skills for academic purposes, such as constructing structured essays or summarising complex information. It’s all about testing your ability to communicate your ideas in formal writing, a must-have skill for higher education settings.

To tackle this challenge, we’ve designed a 30-day preparation plan focused on intensifying your study efforts and refining your writing abilities. While this short-term plan aims to bolster your academic writing skills, remember that long-term, consistent practice is key to scoring that coveted band 9. Ready? Let’s make the most of that final stretch before your test date so you can walk into your IELTS Academic Writing test with confidence.

What are the tasks in the IELTS Academic Writing test?

The IELTS Academic Writing test consists of two main tasks that must be completed within 60 minutes. Here’s a breakdown of each part and what to expect:

IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 1

In the IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 1, you will be presented with a graph, table, chart, map, or diagram and asked to describe, summarise, or explain the information in your own words.

  • Duration: You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

  • Word Requirement: Write at least 150 words.

  • What to Expect: Focus on selecting and reporting the main features of the visual data, making comparisons where relevant. Your ability to identify and describe trends, differences, and stages of a process or describe changes over time is key.

IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 2

The IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 2 requires you to write an essay responding to a point of view, argument, or problem.

  • Duration: You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

  • Word Requirement: Write at least 250 words.

  • What to Expect: Your essay should present a clear argument, address all parts of the task, and logically organise information and ideas. You will be evaluated on your ability to present a well-developed response to the essay question with relevant, extended and supported ideas.

For more information on how your IELTS Academic Writing test responses are evaluated across different bands, refer to the IELTS Academic Writing band descriptors for more information.

How the IELTS Academic Writing test is scored

In order to create an effective study plan, it’s important to understand how the IELTS Academic Writing test is scored so we know what we need to work towards. The IELTS Academic Writing test is scored based on four criteria:

Scoring criteria IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 1 IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 2
Task achievement Creating a clear overview while describing and summarising the key features of the data in detail. Taking a position and presenting your position with relevant, fully extended and well-supported ideas is key.
Coherence and cohesion Clear organisation of ideas, the logical flow of paragraphs, and the effective use of cohesive devices (like conjunctions, pronouns, and synonyms) to help the reader understand the relationships between ideas.
Lexical resource Using a wide range of vocabulary to choose the right terminology to describe the data precisely. Employing a wide range of vocabulary correctly and appropriately to express your ideas clearly and avoid repetition.
Grammatical range and accuracy Using a variety of grammatical structures accurately and demonstrating good control of punctuation. For both tasks, you will be expected to us e a mix of simple and complex sentence forms with minimal to no errors.

Laying out a 30-day preparation plan for the IELTS Academic Writing test

Week 1: foundation and understanding

Week 1 is about laying the groundwork for your success, practising the ability to quickly grasp questions and devise strategies for tackling them.

  • Download the free IELTS Academic Writing practice tests from IDP’s IELTS Prepare

  • Get acquainted with the test structure of the IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 1 and IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 2.

  • IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 1 Practice: Practise identifying the type of visual in the question (bar chart, line graph, pie chart, table, map, diagram) and note down the main trends or comparisons. This will set the stage for an overview paragraph you can build upon. For instance, if you're given a line graph showing population growth over a decade in two cities, write an overview stating the general trend: e.g., "Both cities experienced a significant increase in population, with City A growing at a faster pace than City B in the first half of the decade."

  • IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 2 Practice: Practise analysing essay questions part by part. This approach helps you organise your thoughts and structure your answer effectively before writing a response. For instance, when facing an essay question like "Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of online education," start by breaking it down into key components: advantages and disadvantages. This allows you to plan an answer that covers both sides of the argument.

Week 2: intensive practice for IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 1

Week 2 focuses on honing your skills in interpreting data and crafting detailed summaries for IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 1.

  • Download IDP’s free IELTS Academic Writing practice questions to access a variety of materials like charts and graphs that simulate the visuals in IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 1.

  • Practise interpreting the data: Every day, pick a new chart, graph, or table. Spend time identifying its main features, such as trends (increasing, decreasing), comparisons between items, and any significant data points. Understanding what the data is telling you is the first step in crafting a coherent summary.

  • Practise writing overview paragraphs: Using the data you've analysed, practise writing overview paragraphs that encapsulate the main trends and comparisons. Focus on clarity and precision in your overviews, ensuring they’re succinct yet informative.

  • Practise highlighting key changes: In your practice answers, clearly describe any significant changes, growths, declines, or patterns evident in the data. Use a variety of phrases to keep your writing dynamic and engaging.

Week 3: intensive practice for IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 2

Week 3 is all about deepening your essay-writing skills for IELTS Academic Writing test - Task 2 by constructing strong arguments and ensuring logical flow between paragraphs. By the end of the week, you should feel more confident in your ability to articulate your thoughts and support your arguments effectively in writing.

  • Visit IDP's IELTS preparation materials online to access a plethora of practice questions. Engaging with a variety of essay prompts will help you become familiar with the range of topics you might encounter and help refine your argumentative skills.

  • Practise constructing your argument: Start by picking a topic each day, and spend some time brainstorming arguments and counterarguments. It’s important to look at the essay topic from both sides to present a balanced discussion. Focus on developing a clear thesis statement that guides the structure of your essay.

  • Practise writing full essays: Using the topics you've brainstormed, practise writing complete, 250-word essays. Don’t worry about the time limit just yet. Instead, pay special attention to creating a logical flow between paragraphs, ensuring that each paragraph transitions smoothly and contributes to the overall argument of your essay.

  • Practise your critical thinking: When writing your essays, challenge yourself to think critically about the topic. Don't just list facts or opinions; analyse them. Ask yourself why an argument is persuasive or what evidence supports a particular point of view. This depth of analysis will enrich your essays and demonstrate your ability to engage with complex academic discussions.

Week 4: timed mock tests

In the final stretch of your 30-day preparation plan, week 4 is designed to simulate actual IELTS Academic Writing Test conditions. This week aims to boost your confidence in managing time effectively while ensuring that your answers meet the IELTS criteria.

  • Enhance your preparation with IELTS online exam practice tests. Use IDP’s IELTS Familiarisation Test and IELTS Free Practice Tests to practise different IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 and IELTS Academic Writing Task 2 questions under time pressure to get used to the actual test conditions.

  • Timed practice for IELTS Academic Writing Task 1: Begin your week with timed practice sessions for IELTS Academic Writing Task 1. Allocate 20 minutes to each session, aiming to complete your summaries and data descriptions within this timeframe. Focus on accuracy, clarity, and the ability to highlight the main trends and comparisons quickly.

  • Timed practice for IELTS Academic Writing Task 2: On the third or fourth day of the week, shift your focus to IELTS Academic Writing Task 2, allocating 40 minutes to each essay. Practise structuring your essays efficiently, ensuring that your argument flows logically from the introduction to conclusion. Emphasise time management by making sure you have at least 10 minutes left over to review and refine your arguments.

  • Combine and refine: Towards the end of the week, start full mock tests combining IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 and IELTS Academic Writing Task 2 so you’re familiar with the transition and completing them within the time limit.

Ace your IELTS Academic Writing Tasks with IDP


As you wrap up your 30-day intensive preparation journey for the IELTS Academic Writing test, remember that this plan is designed to boost your ongoing studying efforts. It's tailored to refine your writing skills, enhance your understanding of the test format, and improve your time management under test conditions.

During test day, remember to breathe, stay calm, and focus on what you've practised. Confidence in your preparation is key to success. Integrate this 30-day plan into your broader study routine to solidify your mastery of academic writing.

For help with IELTS Academic Writing and more, consider downloading the IELTS by IDP app, which offers specialised resources for all aspects of the IELTS Academic test. Ready to take the next step? Book your IELTS test with IDP today!