IELTS writing test is a direct test of writing in which tasks are communicative and contextualized with a specified audience, purpose and genre, reflecting the recent developments in writing research. There is no choice of topics; however, IELTS states that it continuously pre-tests the topics to ensure comparability and equality. IELTS has both academic and general training modules consisting of two tasks per module. In the academic writing task, for Task 1, candidates write a report of around 150 words based on a table or diagram and for Task 2; candidates write a short essay or general report of around 250 words in response to an argument or a problem. In general training writing, in Task 1, candidates write a letter responding to a given problem, and in Task 2, they write an essay in response to a given argument or problem. Both academic and general training writing tasks take 60 minutes. The academic writing component serves the purpose of making decisions for university admission of international students, whereas general writing serves the purposes of completing secondary education, undertaking work experience or training, or meeting immigration requirements in an English speaking country.
Trained and certified IELTS examiners assess each writing task independently giving more weight to Task 2 in marking than Task 1. At the end, writing scores along with other scores from each module of the test are averaged and rounded to produce an overall band score. However, how these descriptors are turned into band scores is kept confidential. There is no pass/fail cut scores in IELTS. Detailed performance descriptors have been developed which describe written performance at the 9 IELTS bands and results are reported as whole and half bands. IELTS provides a guidance table for users on acceptable levels of language performance for different programs to make academic or training decisions; however, IELTS advises test users to decide for their own acceptable band scores in the light of their experiences and local needs.