Many people have approached me for help with the unique challenges of IELTS General Writing.
While the Academic version of the test opens up doors to academic and professional opportunities, the General test is primarily for emigration.
As a result, the tests differ, and both native and non-native speakers find the IELTS General test a major obstacle on their path to a new life.
What’s The Difference Between Academic and General IELTS Writing?
Let’s start with the similarities.
The test asks you to write two tasks. You should spend about 20 minutes on the first one, and 40 minutes on the second – no more than 60 minutes in total.
IELTS General Writing Task 2 is almost identical to the Academic version – just a little less academic.
For example, instead of asking about the benefits of university education, the question may ask about the benefits of homeschooling.
Nevertheless, examiners mark both in the same way, with the same set of descriptors.
Despite its less academic nature, you should still use a relatively formal level of vocabulary.
General Task 2 is almost the same as the Academic. Instead of or repeating everything here, you can read more about Task 2 here.
This page goes through the five different types of question you might get for Task 2.
Check out my page on IELTS Writing & the Band Descriptors to find out how examiners mark the test.
Despite the many similarities between the Academic and General test, there are also some significant differences.
In the Academic version of the test, Task 1 asks you to describe some data.
Instead, IELTS General Writing Task 1 asks you to write a letter. The letter might be either formal, semi-formal or informal.
You write formally to people whose name you don’t know, for example, to the customer service manager of an airline.
Semi-formal letters are written to people who you know, but not as friends – for example, your landlord.
You write informal letters to people who you know on an everyday basis, for example, friends or family.
The difference in formality and the important difference in tone is all that sets IELTS Writing Task 1 questions apart.
By contrast, Academic IELTS Task 1 has many more variations and is thus much harder.
So, What makes IELTS Writing Task 1 so hard?
The Task 1 letter requires a different kind of vocabulary. Most schools and textbooks teach you English as a Foreign Language (EFL). For this task, you need the type of vocabulary taught by English as a Second Language courses (ESL).
When you live in another country, you will experience different problems to those faced by tourists.
For example, you may have a landlord and need to communicate with him about a problem with your home. But most language courses don’t teach you words like legally binding, a structural survey, damp, drainage problems…
It is these kinds of words which will help you to get a high band score.
Click on this link for more essential tips on how to tackle IELTS General Writing Task 1.
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