You have one hour for the IELTS Writing test. You need to produce two pieces of writing.
Task 1 is a short report (c.150 words) using data or information given on the question paper. This information is in graphical form and could be any of the following: graphs (bar or line), pie charts, tables or process diagrams. 2 different sources may also be given. You should spend around 20 minutes on task 1.
Task 2 is an essay (c.250 words) on a given topic. There is no choice of topic, but it generally involves discussing two points of view and giving your own opinion. You should spend around 40 minutes on task 2, which has more influence on your final band score than task 1. Both tasks are discussed in detail below, but here are a few general tips:
Before the test:
Scientists and statisticians usually prefer task 1; humanities students task 2. It is very important to practise BOTH types of task until you are confident; however, during the test, you could start with the type you are most familiar with. That way, if you finish it with time to spare, you have more time to spend on your least favourite. Conversely, maybe it's better to do the most difficult first, on the grounds that you can produce the other more easily!
When reading English, notice useful vocabulary and phrases and pay attention to the grammatical structure of sentences and the way in which sentences are linked in longer paragraphs. Use good reading text as a model for your own writing.
During the test:
Use full sentences and structure yout writing into paragraphs. Don't use ICQ or text messaging style English.
Spend a minute or two before you start writing to make a basic plan or outline, especially for task 2. If you are short of time, this stops you getting flustered and keeps you on track as you write.
NB:If your text is more than 10% shorter than the number of words required (task1=150 words, task 2=250 words), then you will be penalised. Practise writing by hand (maybe you haven't for a while) and count the average number of words you write per line. That way, you know how many lines you need to produce in the test.
Offline CILL IELTS materials for writing practice.
Cambridge University's Practice Exam Papers books 1,2,3. These provide complete mock exams for self testing.
Cambridge University's Specimen materials folders.
Cambridge University's IELTS preparation course, "Insight into IELTS" by V. Jakeman & C. McDowell
Preparation course "Focus on IELTS" by S. O'Connell, Longman press
The British Council's "How to prepare for IELTS".