Top Tips for IELTS

How many words in IELTS essays?

How many words in IELTS essays? The short answer is should write AT LEAST 250 for the essay and AT LEAST 150 for the task 1 report. This is essential information because you can lose a whole band score if you do not write enough words. If you are concerned or new to IELTS, I suggest you read through the following points.

Write AT LEAST 250 words in your essay and AT LEAST 150 words in task 1

Learn how IELTS writing is scored

Your writing is scored under 4 different headings. One of these is task response. Part of that is you need to write a certain amount of words.

You’ll find more info about task response in this lesson on task response explained.

At least means at least!!!

Examiners count the words – every one of them. So this means that 149 words is not enough. Silly perhaps but true. So please don’t think that around 150 words is good enough.

Don’t repeat the question

If you repeat the wording of the question, the examiner will not include those words in the final word count. What this means is that you should not take whole sentences  from the question. You can borrow single words: they may well be the right word to use and it would be pointless looking for another word that was not exactly correct.

an example

Let’s look at a question to see what you can and can’t do:

Some people argue that the government should give every unemployed person a mobile phone and should make sure they have access to the Internet. They believe this is the best way of using public money to reduce the problem of unemployment. To what extent do you agree or disagree?”

Here you could of course repeat the words “government” “unemployed” “the internet” and “mobile phone”: these are simply the correct terms to use. But what you should avoid is writing ” I agree that the government should give every unemployed person a mobile phone and should make sure they have access to the internet”. This is simple copying.

Repeating yourself

In the same way, if you repeat large bits of your essay, the examiner may not count those words. The key point to remember is that it is really quality and not quantity that counts – do not repeat yourself, just to get to the word limit.

All words are words

Sometimes people ask what is a word. Small words like “a” and “is” are still words. A contracted word like “isn’t” is going to be counted as one word and not two. Generally speaking, however, you are not going to use contracted words in your IELTS writing – with the exception of a less formal letter in General IELTS.

Don’t waste time counting words – count lines

Time is your enemy in IELTS writing. I suggest you don’t waste time counting all the words you have written, there are more important things to check. Rather what you should do is to count the number of words you normally write in a line and then multiply that by the number of lines you have written. So if you normally write 12 words to the line, you need to write at least 25 lines in your essay.

Don’t write too many words – spend more time planning and checking – be efficient

Some candidates write 300 words or more in their essay. There is no deduction for this, but it is not a good idea unless you are a very high quality candidate. There are no prizes for quantity, only quality. The time you spent writing the extra 30/40 words would be much better spent either planning your essay or checking and improving its quality.

Possible problems are:

you include irrelevant ideas that will be bad for task repsonse

you make too many grammar mistakes and that will be bad for grammar

you don’t think carefully enough about organising your ideas and that will be bad for coherence and cohesion

If you write too many words then you may just write less well

A sensible target?

It’s quality that quantity that really counts. So my suggestion would be to aim for between 275-300 words in the essay and 165-185 words in the task 1 report. This means that you have some margin for error.

What you should read next

If any of this information was new to you I suggest you look at my task response page and other lessons about how writing is scored.  It’s key that you understand the rules of the IELTS game:

IELTS writing band scores explained

If you are concerned about timing then I suggest you think about how you plan your writing. It may seem wrong but the longer you spend planning, the more likely you are to write enough words. I explain more about this here

Planning IELTS essays – the 10 minute solution



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44 Responses to How many words in IELTS essays?

  1. fraz June 23, 2010 at 5:07 pm #

    thanks alot

    • aMJAD March 25, 2015 at 12:20 am #

      Some people believe the money an important for their life even they can buying anything or travel anywhere . by contrast some people do not have thinking about amount of the money in the salary , if they will have enjoyable of their action . In the essay I will discuss about aforementioned .
      First of all , some individuals when they have a sense to relaxing in their job, they can do work well. Indeed, may be they did not have a chance to choice their salary. One reason of that, they did not have a good education or the high certificate. On the other hand, some persons say they can not survive without enough money in their life. However, they can do anything such as they can travel with their friends or families any places instead of thinking about spending money. In my opinion, I observed it is necessary take a better job which it more comfortable than of thinking about the value of money in action. Furthermore, it is Possible found a good job with a lower hours and greatest salary.

  2. Anonymous February 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    yeap thanx a lot!

  3. vini April 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    thank u

    • Anonymous August 23, 2016 at 12:02 pm #


  4. nora June 25, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Thanks a lot!
    i thought there was a penalty for writing too many words! are you sure there is none? That would be great, because i wrote more than 300 words in my essay!

    • Dominic Cole June 26, 2011 at 9:52 am #

      Quite sure. If you are a strong candidate, it maybe that you need over 300 words to express yourself fully. One danger is that the more you write, the more chance you have of going off track.

      • nora June 27, 2011 at 5:22 am #

        OK, so it does not have to be a bad thing? Thats good to hear. Thanks a lot!

        • top July 2, 2011 at 8:54 am #

          Hi, teacher

          I wrote more than 320 as well, I really would like to know that whether my approach of doing this type of essay is correct or not.

          25 th June 2011 (T2 essay question)
          “Task 2: Nowadays, advertising is having an increasing influence on our lives. Some people think that the positive effects outweigh the negative effects. Do you agree or disagree?”

          1st paragraph) Intro
          2nd paragraph) advantages of advertising
          3rd paragraph) disadvantages of advertising
          4th paragraph) conclusion

          but I focused on both point nearly equal and in conclusion I agree with my 3rd paragraph, so will that be considered a bad essay?


          • Dominic Cole July 2, 2011 at 10:34 am #

            Nope. That sounds like a very logical structure to me.

            My one question is whether you focussed on the effects on advertising and the way it influences our lives, as asked in the question. There is a possible danger of repeating a standard essay you wrote before on good points and bad points of advertising that does not relate to the effect it has on our lives.

          • b1288 November 14, 2015 at 4:59 am #

            Hi 🙂 I actually took the same test as yours, and by coincidence, I used the same general 4-paragraph structure similarly to yours, identifying in the conclusion that I agree with my second paragraph. What was your band score for the Writing part?

  5. Lasam Ola September 17, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    This is quite an interesting contribution to my knowledge in ielts writing.Thank you.

  6. Lasam Ola September 17, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    Thanks for your help

  7. ieltstaker September 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    I have a query,

    If i write 145 in writing task 1 and 245 in writing task 2 ? Is that really a blunder to do, and how much does it affect my band, if i have fulfilled the other criterias?

    please kindly suggest me.


  8. jiss December 22, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    superb site

  9. Mohamed August 16, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Hi Dominc,

    Some couple weeks a ago I read the tip from your site that you suggested a template for our essays. As in IELTS there is a term ” memorized” Is it considered a memorized part?

    • Dominic Cole August 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

      Hmmm. I think I know the post you refer to. This is a super important point and in the next few weeks I intend to go back and review some of my older posts and perhaps replace them with clearer advice. For now, I will say this. It is possible to follow templates, they help you structure your answer. However, if you are looking for 7 or above, then my best advice is to try and write each essay simply according to the question itself and avoid answers that follow templates too closely. The point is that if you want a higher mark, you need to answer the question as exactly as possible and templates are dangerous in that they tempt you to write general answers and not exact answers.

  10. m farhan minhas September 20, 2012 at 1:17 am #

    thanks sir for providing information to us

  11. AYaan October 22, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    Unfortunately, i have written 120-130 words in essay because i was not feeling well that the time writing task was conducted… will anybody please guide me how much band would be deducted for this if my essay is complete but words are considerably at word limit

  12. naveed November 7, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    Hi Dominic ,

    I usually do the thinking before starting to write a letter or essay but still while writing i am not really satisfied with the sentence i wrote 🙂 , and do erasing and re-writing a lot .

    is that a bad impression ?

    Because i guess , examinar can see that there had been lot of re-writing / erasing on this essay / letter .


    • ans October 8, 2016 at 6:01 pm #

      I also did same in my writing. . Did it affect negative? Wat band u got?

  13. Sneha February 25, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

    Hello Dominic,

    I must Thank You for the extremely detailed advice that you have put out and the enormous amount of effort that you have put into helping people.
    I am sure that many have benefited from your site before and many more will enjoy the IELTS experience with your guidance.

    Thank You for the great advice.

    I am due for my IELTS on the 9th of March and this seems like the only place i need to refer for landing a higher score.

    Wish me Luck!! Will post you the score i get! 🙂

    • Dominic Cole February 25, 2013 at 8:43 pm #

      Best of luck! And yes do let me know how it goes. It’s always nice to hear from people who use the site – it’s a very strange form of “remote” teaching where I don’t really know who is out there.

  14. vijay April 16, 2013 at 1:33 am #

    If i write 149 in writing task 1 and 245 in writing task 2 ? Is that really a blunder to do, and how much does it affect my band, if i have fulfilled the other criterias?
    please kindly suggest me.
    thanks..plsss reply me its really important for me…..

  15. Mustafa May 16, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    I found this article really useful…thanks a lot 🙂

  16. navjot May 24, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    can you please tell me that repeating same word like children in a whole task leads to any trouble?

  17. Bilal November 13, 2014 at 7:16 am #

    Hi.hope u r fine dominic.It is very intresting that you are helping students through this forum.God wil be happy with your good deed of instructing people I took ielts previous year and received 5.5 overall (and reading module score was 4.5) which is extremly low.i m apparing in 13 dec again.i have problem in reading section whenever i take ielts cambridge test i get only 40 percent of questions right. i m very anxious about this particular section,i skim well the paragraphs but when it comes to scaning i perform intesnly low.I had read all your instructions.but i dont see any improvemet…i have read all the reading tips and guide line.plz help me..i m from target is 6.5 but reading is challenging for me
    i read a lot…but what do i have to do specifically.

    • Dominic Cole November 13, 2014 at 8:47 am #

      Learning to read well for IELTS does take time. Your problem may not be with actual reading skills though but with the general level of your English. The reading paper is in many ways a vocabulary test.

  18. Julius February 19, 2015 at 9:27 am #

    I am infact, writting more in both the tasks . For example in task 1 I write more than 200 words and in task 2 , I write more than 320 words. And for topics like this which is very easy for me …

    “Modern technology has made it easier for individuals to download copyrighted music and books from the internet for no charge. To what extend is this a positive or a negative development? will this affect me .”

    I wrote a lot af advantages and disadvantages and I ended with a conclusion. I wrote a total of 410 words in 40 minutes.

    will I be affected due to this . Please help. Thanking you in adnavce

    • Dominic Cole September 10, 2015 at 9:06 am #

      There is no penalty for writing too many words – it’s just that you are very unlikely to have written your best English.

  19. ANAND April 1, 2015 at 5:40 pm #


    my essay structure is like this

    1st para : intro (3 sentences)

    2 para: +ve pts ( 5 sentences)

    3 para: +ve pts ( 5 sentences)

    4 para : -ve pts (5 sentences)

    5 para : -ve pts (5 sentences)

    6 para : conclusion

    is it necessary to write this much paragraphs ???
    usually my world limit exceeds the usual 270 , sometimes it reaches 400 words

    in my reading part i find difficulty in true , false , not given … This portion is where i lose my marks during mock exam . my exam is on APR 11….


    • Dominic Cole September 10, 2015 at 9:04 am #

      Sorry for the slow reply but I suspect that if you followed this structure you would write too many words – it’s not a good idea to go much beyond 315 or so as that is inefficient. I’m also sceptical about writing a set number of sentences per paragraph

  20. Parag April 29, 2015 at 4:58 pm #

    Hi Dominic,

    Its indeed a noble deed that you are into. Appreciate the pointers that you state. I have my exams scheduled in one week. I just wanted to know if there are any other specifics I need to keep on mind while going through writing tests. I have given some practice tests and the examiner says that at times I go off topic. Anything to be done to negate that 🙂


  21. Priya September 14, 2015 at 11:54 am #


    Please provde me some basic structure like how many para we can write in essay.

    Pls reply asap..!!

  22. waseem September 27, 2015 at 10:58 pm #

    hi i want to improve my english skill… if any one want to talk with me please add me on skype id: waseem.smarty

  23. aastha November 15, 2015 at 6:51 am #


  24. Pal December 24, 2015 at 10:25 pm #

    Please comment on this, i have a test on 6th Jan and writting is where i just scored 6.5…. i’d really appreciate if you can review this.

    Some people say that advertising encourages us to buy things that we really do not need. Others say that advertisements tell us about new products that may improve our lives.

    Which viewpoint do you agree with?

    Advertising is the biggest aspect to market any product or service. Companies spend millions in getting the best of the best in the advertising world, the more you can attract the customer to more you’d end up selling, if your product is capable to hold what it speaks about. And if the product is not so great then it can become a negative advertising too. As for this phone company by the name of One plus, their initial product was sold as hot cakes due to a brilliant marketing and advertising strategy and since the product was great it just went so well. However when they launched the second product the advertising was great but the product was not, and it backfired them so strong that people lost faith in them, as product could not hold up to what it was advertised as.

    Since the advertisements are more towards luring people to buy new they at the end do not have any ethics, none of the advertisers would ever say don’t buy our product if you don’t have the money. They are more towards creating a want or a need, regardless of whether you need it or not. For example: extremely high priced products like iphone are more of a want than a need, but due to clever advertising they have managed to lure the market to make it more of a need. People would stand in queues, borrow money, spend nights outside the store to buy the new launch product, which seems so ridiculous às people would forget their actual needs and would like to just spend on something that is more of a created need.

    On the contrary, advertisements also keeps us updated on what’s new in the market, and lets us be aware of the options. If advertising was not there then it would have been awfully hard to know what’s available or what my options are. Since advertising creates awareness, so inorder to keep the customers engaged companies have to work hard to design the best products for the markets. Hence the options increase too.

    To conclude: it’s easy to get overwhealmed and deviated by the advertisements to differentiate between wants and needs. And we may end up spending more for something we dont even need in the first place, hence it’s very important for an individual to treat advertisements as options and carefully choose or ignore them all together.

  25. Parminder Singh July 14, 2016 at 11:18 am #

    what should i write to get higher band in task 2 ?
    if i write less than 150 in task 1 and less than 250 in task 2. will it affect my scores too?

  26. Moses August 21, 2016 at 3:32 am #

    Mr Dominic, that’s a terrific job you are doing!.. Guys are gaining alot from this.,, ! Keep up th momentum!
    I really enjoyed!

  27. Raman Deep Singh April 15, 2017 at 3:41 am #

    Is there max limit of writing task 2 as I alway write around 350 words in that even if I try to write minimum then I write 300 words . If we concider all the parameters then it seems fine . Please suggest me what should I do.

    • Dominic Cole April 15, 2017 at 6:37 am #

      No maximum.

      Some people do need to use more words than others! One danger of exceeding 300 words or so is that you can start to go off question and there are penalties for that. My advice is just make sure that everything you write is directly relevant to the question. If you are used to academic writing you may start to include ideas that are related to the topic but not the question. That doesn’t really work in IELTS

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