Students are instructed to write a minimum of 250 words on IELTS Writing Task 2 or essay writing. On IELTS Writing Task 1 of the module (that is Academic or General Training) you must write at least 150 words. Students don’t think of it too much until they actually start writing. It is only after having written the introduction, that most students have a sheepish expression while asking us “how to count words in IELTS essay?” the question they mean to ask is often two-fold: one, what counts as words in IELTS, and two, how do you physically count the words before you submit the paper? We aim to answer both questions by the end of this blog.
Let’s take a sentence as an example:
“75% of the six million people who voted for backtracking the policy on 11th July 2017 were young adults (eighteen to twenty-four year demographic).”
This sentence displays some of the most confusing aspects of what counts as a word for IELTS Writing Task 1 and 2.
Keep in mind these basic rules when writing your IELTS Essay, reports and letters. You will be able to accurately calculate how many words you have written for your Writing section.
Now we come to the other aspect of writing the exam – checking your paper. Students often want to know just how much they have written to ensure they have crossed the word limit, or not written too much. There is a rather simple trick for that.
Let’s assume you write about 6 words in a line. Make sure you get this number based on a typical answer sheet given by IELTS, otherwise there can be a severe difference in the number of words you end up writing on the paper. You know the minimum number of words you need to write for the essay is 250. So in this case, divide 250 with 6, to get 45 – the number of lines you will need to write to reach the word count. You would need about 3 extra lines to leave some space between each paragraph, so add it to 45 and you are left with 48 lines.
Similar counting strategy can be implemented while writing IELTS Writing Task 1: either a report or a letter.
Before you start writing, you can divide the lines on the answer sheet according to each paragraph. That way you would have a physical reminder of how much space you have left to write every paragraph.
It is important to remember that this is just a guideline for you to make counting easier. Writing a couple of extra or few lines in the whole essay should not affect your overall word count. But if you are still worried about having written less than the minimum, you can always count each word from scratch. Just ensure that you have followed the rules mentioned above when counting your words to be as accurate as possible!
On computer-delivered test, the screen is going to display the word-count. So, you need not bother about how many words are you going to write.