How long should an essay be for IELTS?

How long should an essay be for IELTS?

A very common question among IELTS test-takers is how long should the essay be for IELTS. When it comes to essays, the test-takers primarily refer to IELTS Writing Task 2 essays. It’s important to clarify this distinction, especially for those who are new to the IELTS examination. Although such clarifications are provided when students enroll in IELTS online classes or offline classes. But students who use IELTS study material online for free or practice through IELTS preparation materials often struggle with understanding such questions.

IELTS Writing Task 2 is commonly perceived as an essay, requiring candidates to respond to a given topic or question within a prescribed word limit. The lower limit is 250 words but there is no upper limit. It is clear that one must not write less than 250 words but how long an essay can be is debatable. Before we delve into the advantages and disadvantages of writing long essays in IELTS, let’s first understand the important components of the essays that count for band 9, band 8, band 7 and band 6.

Understanding score determinators in IELTS essays 

Band 9 Essay:

Achieving a band 9 signifies an exceptional level of proficiency in English writing. A band 9 essay addresses the prompt comprehensively and delves deep into the topic. It presents a clear and fully developed position, supported by relevant and extended ideas. Lapses in content or support are extremely rare, and the essay maintains effortless readability. Cohesion is seamlessly integrated, and vocabulary is expansive and precise. Grammar and punctuation are nearly impeccable.

Band 8 Essay:

It signifies a high level of English writing proficiency. While not as exhaustive as a band 9 essay, a band 8 essay presents a clear and well-developed position. It contains relevant and well-extended ideas with occasional minor omissions or lapses. The message remains easily comprehensible. Cohesion is effectively managed, and vocabulary usage is sophisticated. Minor errors in spelling and word formation have minimal impact.

Band 7 Essay:

It represents competent English writing skills. A band 7 essay addresses the main parts of the prompt, presenting a clear and developed position. Main ideas are extended and supported, although there might be occasional over-generalization or a lack of precision. Information and ideas are logically organized, with a clear overall progression. Cohesive devices are used with flexibility but may have some inaccuracies. Vocabulary demonstrates range, although minor errors in spelling and word formation may occur. Grammar and punctuation are generally upto the mark. 

Band 6 Essay:

It reflects a satisfactory level of English writing. A band 6 essay addresses the main parts of the prompt and adopts an appropriate format. It presents a relevant position, though conclusions may be unclear or repetitive. Main ideas are relevant but may lack full development, and supporting arguments and evidence may occasionally be less relevant. Information and ideas are generally coherent, with a clear progression. Cohesion may be faulty at times, and vocabulary, while adequate, may lack precision. Errors in grammar and punctuation may persist, but they do not significantly hinder communication.

Most IELTS online coaching centres help their students with this understanding and also provide them with IELTS study material online for free and other IELTS preparation materials included mock tests and practice tests for self preparation. 

Challenges of writing long essays in IELTS essays 

Advantages of Longer Essays:

Moving beyond the word limits, it’s crucial to consider the advantages of longer essays in IELTS Writing Task 2:

  • In-Depth Analysis: Longer essays allow for more comprehensive analyses of the given topic. Candidates can delve deeper into their arguments, providing more substantial evidence and examples to support their claims.
  • Complex Ideas: Complex ideas often require more words to be fully explained. Longer essays offer the space needed to present intricate arguments and concepts clearly.
  • Language Proficiency: Writing a longer essay showcases a higher level of language proficiency. It demonstrates a candidate’s ability to maintain coherence and cohesion over a more extended piece of writing.
  • Impactful Conclusions: Longer essays provide room for impactful conclusions. Candidates can summarize their main points effectively, leaving a lasting impression on the reader.

Challenges of Longer Essays:

  • While longer essays have their advantages, they also come with challenges:
  • Time Management: Writing a longer essay can be time-consuming. Candidates must manage their time effectively to ensure that they complete the essay within the allotted timeframe.
  • Maintaining Focus: Longer essays require candidates to stay focused on their main arguments and avoid straying off-topic. This can be challenging for some test-takers.
  • Quality Control: Longer essays need careful proofreading to avoid errors in grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary. Candidates must allocate time for editing and revising their work.

Striking a Balance: 

The ideal length for an IELTS essay, therefore, is not solely determined by word count but by the candidate’s ability to effectively communicate their ideas within the given word limits. It’s essential to strike a balance between quantity and quality. 

Candidates should aim to:

  • Address the Prompt: Regardless of the essay’s length, it must comprehensively address the prompt. This is the primary criterion for evaluation.
  • Provide Adequate Support: Longer essays should offer more extensive evidence and examples to support arguments. Shorter essays should focus on presenting a few well-developed points.
  • Maintain Cohesion: Cohesion is crucial in IELTS essays. Longer essays should use transitional phrases effectively, while shorter essays should ensure that their limited content flows logically.
  • Proofread Thoroughly: Longer essays require meticulous proofreading to maintain clarity and precision. Shorter essays should also be error-free.


In conclusion, the length of an IELTS essay in Writing Task 2 is subject to specific word limits corresponding to different band scores. However, candidates should not fixate solely on word count. Instead, they should focus on effectively addressing the prompt, providing adequate support, maintaining cohesion, and proofreading meticulously. Ultimately, it’s not just about how many words are written but how effectively those words convey the candidate’s ideas and arguments. Balancing quantity and quality is key to achieving success in IELTS Writing Task 2.

Help yourself with free IELTS study material online and other IELTS preparation material for self preparation of the IELTS exam.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *