A beautifully half-sketched horse is completed with a rough outline of a head. The picture is used to symbolise what to do if you run out of time in the IELTS writing exam.

Time’s Up! What to do if you run out of time in the IELTS writing exam

Imagine this – there are five minutes left in the exam and you are only halfway through your second body paragraph! What do you do?!


Why are conclusions so important?

You absolutely HAVE TO write a conclusion to save your Task Response score. Without one, you are almost certain to receive a 5.0 for TA as the examiner will decide that even though you have presented a position, there have been “no conclusions drawn”. And for most test-takers, a 5.0 for TA means kissing goodbye to any hopes of a 7.0 overall. So, if you realise that you are running out of time in the exam, this is my advice:

5 steps to save your score when you run out of time in the IELTS writing exam!

  1. Quickly finish the sentence you’re writing in the second body paragraph (NEVER leave an unfinished sentence)
  2. Leave 3 or 4 lines space (so you can come back later to finish this paragraph if you have time)
  3. Go and write your conclusion (remember to give an opinion if you have been asked for one)
  4. If you still have some time, go back and complete the second body paragraph (but only start a sentence if you are sure you have time to finish it!)
  5. Breathe!!!

Also, if you spend too much time on Task 1 and realise that you probably won’t have time to finish your essay, then it is MUCH BETTER to write a shorter first body paragraph (especially in a Discuss Both Sides essay as this will NOT be your opinion) and a more extended second body paragraph.

Examiners expect to read your strongest arguments just before the conclusion and by having a more detailed 2nd paragraph you will be hopefully able to rescue your C+C score as well as your mark for TA. Of course, you are going to manage your time properly so this definitely won’t happen to you – right?! Good luck!

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