How to Write an IELTS Essay

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Writing an essay for the IELTS exam can seem daunting, but with some preparation and practice, you can master it. In this article, we’ll break down the steps to writing a high-scoring IELTS essay and provide tips and examples along the way.

Understand the Format

The first thing to know is that there are two types of IELTS essays:

Opinion Essay

In the opinion essay, you will be given a topic and asked for your opinion on it. You’ll need to write at least 250 words.

Discussion Essay

The discussion essay provides a topic along with two differing perspectives. Your task is to discuss both perspectives and give your own opinion. Aim for at least 250 words.

For both essay types, you’ll have 20 minutes to plan, write and revise your work. So proper planning and organization is key.

Plan Your Essay

With only 20 minutes, you don’t have time to get writer’s block. That’s why planning is essential.

After reading the prompt, ask yourself:

  • What are the main ideas I need to discuss?
  • What examples can I use to support them?
  • How will I structure my essay?

Jot down a quick outline with the ideas and examples you plan to use. This provides a roadmap for your essay.

Brainstorm Examples

The examples you choose will bring your essay to life. Brainstorm 2-3 examples for each main idea before you start writing.

Good sources of examples include:

  • Personal experiences
  • Current events
  • Historical events
  • Books, movies or other media
  • Hypothetical situations

Choose vivid examples that support your main points.

Pick a Structure

With your main ideas and examples mapped out, you can start structuring your essay. Two options for essay structure are:

Chronological

This walks through your main ideas step-by-step. It works well for explaining processes.

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Block Structure

This discusses one main idea at a time. It’s a good choice when you have several distinct ideas to discuss.

Either can work for the IELTS essay. Pick the structure that fits your ideas best.

Write Your Introduction

You’ll only have a short time for the introduction, so keep it concise. Include:

  • A restatement of the essay prompt and your position on it
  • An outline of the main ideas and evidence you’ll present

Keep your introduction to 2-3 sentences. Don’t spend too long on it.

Here’s a sample introduction for an opinion essay:

Some people believe celebrities make bad role models. However, I disagree with this view for several reasons. In this essay, I will discuss how celebrities can positively influence young people and provide examples to support my opinion.

Present Your Main Ideas

This is the meat of your essay. Present each main idea in its own paragraph.

Start with a topic sentence that supports your thesis statement. Then provide specific examples and expand on why they support your point.

Connect your ideas smoothly using transitions like “First,” “In addition,” and “Consequently.” This creates coherent paragraphs focused on a single idea.

Aim for 3-4 paragraphs in a 250 word essay. If you are writing a discussion essay with two perspectives, devote 1-2 paragraphs to each perspective.

End with a Strong Conclusion

Wrap up your essay by restating your thesis and main points. You can also briefly describe the broader implications of your argument.

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Show the graders that you articulated a clear, well-reasoned position in response to the prompt.

Here’s a conclusion example:

In conclusion, celebrities can positively influence young people through charitable work and serving as inspiring success stories. While some criticize their role model status, their privileges also give them a powerful platform for good.

Spend 1-2 minutes writing a strong conclusion to earn points with graders.

Revise and Proofread

You’ll have a couple minutes after writing to review your essay. Take this time to:

  • Check for mistakes in grammar, spelling and punctuation
  • Improve word choice and sentence structure
  • Verify that your essay is organized logically
  • Confirm you answered all parts of the prompt

Revising these basics will maximize your score.


By following this process, you can craft a high-scoring IELTS essay even with a short 20-minute time window. Use good time management, thorough planning, and concise writing. With practice, you’ll be ready to excel on test day.

The key is breaking the essay down to organized steps and preparing ideas and examples ahead of time. Then you can produce a thoughtful, well-written essay under the time pressure. Use these tips and strategies in your practice essays to build confidence and improve your writing skills.

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