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IELTS Writing Task 2: ignore the word 'academic'

Many people are confused by the idea that they are doing the IELTS academic writing test. They think this means that they need to use "academic" words, or that IELTS writing is similar to university academic writing.

All of this is wrong. Here's why:

  • Examiners are not looking for "academic" words. There is nothing in the scoring criteria that tells examiners to do this. Instead, examiners are told to look for a wide range of vocabulary, collocations, and some less common vocabulary.
  • IELTS writing (especially task 2) is more like a high school writing task, rather than a university assignment. In a university assignment, for example, you will never see the question "do you agree or disagree?". At university you are expected to use research as the basis of your writing, but in the IELTS test you only have your own ideas and opinions. You are even told that you can use examples from your own personal experience in IELTS writing task 2. This isn't very "academic"!

So, it's best to ignore the word "academic". Ignore any advice that relates to university academic writing; IELTS writing has its own 'rules' and requirements, and I do my best to explain these here on the blog.

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