IELTS report

In task 1 of the IELTS academic exam, you will be asked to write a report. This will be a description of some sort of visual data – like a line graph, a bar chart, or a map – and for this task you must write at least 150 words in about 20 minutes.

In this article, I will go into more detail on how long your IELTS report should be and what strategies you should use to maximise your score through word count.

IELTS Report Length

First of all, it is important to note that your IELTS report for task 1 should not be shorter than the recommended length. This is a minimum word count and you will be penalised if you write less than this number of words. The reason is that your report would not have sufficient detail and thus it could not have covered all of the important points necessary to get a decent score in Task Response.

You might logically deduce, then, that your report should be much longer than 150 words, but this is not necessarily true. Whilst you should certainly write more than this number of words, you also should not grossly exceed this or you could encounter some different problems.

One of the problems with writing too much is that you will run out of time. Because there are two tasks for IELTS academic writing, you need to carefully plan your timing. If you spent 30 minutes on task 1 instead of just 20 minutes, you would surely struggle to finish task 2. This would be a massive problem because task 2 is worth more points.

You would also probably include more mistakes in terms of spelling, vocabulary, and grammar, and you would have less time at the end to check your answer. Beyond that, you would probably include too many ideas and it would become confusing. Remember: For IELTS writing task 1, you need to be selective, only picking out the most important details. Writing about every single detail would not help you get a higher score.

As such, you should aim for an essay of moderate length. Look to write about 160-190 words so that you avoid the two aforementioned traps. If you really think that you are capable of scoring band 8 or 9, you might benefit from writing a little more because hopefully you would be making fewer errors, but this is a risky strategy. It is better to conserve your time and spend it wisely on task 2.

In summary, when it comes to writing IELTS reports, you should neither write too much nor too little. Instead, aim for a modest sized report that focuses on accuracy.


When is it reasonable to write more than 190 words?

  • Never.
  • When you are worried about a low score.
  • When you are aiming for a very high score.

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