ielts writing task 2

IELTS Writing Task 2: Tips For IELTS Writing Task 2

Updated on 22 June, 2022
Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, is one of the world’s most popular and standardized English language proficiency tests that evaluates the English language proficiency of non-native speakers for overseas education and employment. There are two types of IELTS examsIELTS Academic and General Training. The test has four sections: Writing, Speaking, Reading, and Listening. The pattern of IELTS academic writing task 2 is similar to that of the general training. The IELTS Writing Task 2 requires the applicants to write an essay in response to a statement, or situation.

What is IELTS Writing Task 2?

Writing Task 2 is the second part of the writing section of IELTS, where aspirants are presented with a point of view, argument, or problem and asked to write an essay in response to the question. The word limit for this response can be 250 words and has to be completed within a duration of 40 minutes. It focuses on evaluating the applicant’s ability to write a response that is in sync with the terms of content, ideas, accurate use of vocabulary, and grammar. The test-takers need to provide opinions and reasons behind arguments, and writing should be grammatically correct. The IELTS Writing Task 2 topics are designed to evaluate the writing skills of the applicants to determine if they are suitable to study and work in English-speaking countries. 

A candidate is evaluated on the basis of the following parameters in the Writing Task 2 of IELTS. These assessment criteria are as follows:

  • Task achievement
  • Coherence and cohesion
  • Lexical resource
  • Grammatical range and accuracy

Essential Information for IELTS Writing Task 2 

  • Candidates are required to write an essay in response to a question.
  • The word limit requirement of 250 words has to be maintained.
  • The IELTS Writing Task 2 comprises two-thirds of the marking on the Writing test. 
  • Though the IELTS General Writing Task 2 is different from the academic test, they are the same for Task 2. 
  • Candidates will be required to put forward their opinions in response to the point of view, argument, or problem.

Structure of IELTS Writing Task 2

While answering the Writing Task 2 of IELTS, candidates should divide their essay into four to five paragraphs. While doing so, they should follow the structure given below:

  • Introduction - The introduction should give the examiner a gist of what the candidate thinks about a given topic and also answer the question directly. This helps the aspirants to make a foundation for the main body paragraphs and makes the examiner aware that they know about the topic.
  • Supporting Paragraphs - This is where the candidates are required to provide more detail about the topic. This can be done by stating the main points and backing them up with explanations and relevant examples.
  • Conclusion - In this section, a summary has to be provided of what has already been said in the rest of the body paragraphs.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Tips

Success in IELTS Writing Task 2 is guaranteed if the right techniques are used. Listed below are some useful tips that aspirants can follow to score well in task 2. 

  • Follow the word limit requirement of the essay i.e. 250 words. Neither cross that nor write below it. Not meeting the word requirement might lead to penalizing. Time management is the key. Do not take more than 40 minutes to complete it and quickly go through it once to scan out all the minor and major mistakes. Proofread the write-up to avoid simple mistakes. 
  • Applicants must write a short and interesting introduction. Use the right words for the introduction. The examiner should be able to understand the crux of the essay by reading the introduction. An excellent conclusion is very important. Finish off the essay with an interesting conclusion. Finishing words should be chosen in an ideal manner. 
  • Keep the vocabulary strong. It is not possible to mug up the entire dictionary, so when aspirants are not able to understand the meaning of a particular word, they should try to understand the meaning of the words and sentences around the difficult word to find a cue. 
  • The question is important as it has an answer in itself. So, applicants must understand the question well to write an excellent essay. The response should be relevant to the topic, coherent, and to the point. 
  • Spend no more than five minutes analyzing the question and planning the answer.
  • The main paragraphs of the essay are where candidates delve deep into the topic and give a detailed explanation. This can be done by stating the main points and supporting them with explanations and relevant examples, and experience. 
  • Read the question carefully, decide how many parts are in it, and answer all of it. To reach a band score of 8 or higher, all parts of the question must be answered. Some questions have 2 to 3 parts, so be careful to complete the essay. 
  • Use connectors for task 2 of the IELTS writing section or linking phrases to carefully organize all the ideas from the introduction to the conclusion. Put the ideas, opinions, and arguments in the right order. 
  • Organize the essay in short and crisp paragraphs. Each paragraph should have a valid idea and a relevant topic. 
  • Band 8 writers skillfully use uncommon lexical items. As vocabulary is important, it is important to ensure the correct selection of words.
  • Task 2 is a formal essay. Maintain the right format and structure. Use the right tone and format. Use the passive voice to sound more formal and objective. 
  • The essay should be grammatically correct. Applicants should try to avoid both minor and major grammatical errors and grammar rules should be applied in a correct way.

Important Resources to Read About IELTS:

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Essential Writing Task 2 Skills for IELTS

The IELTS Writing Task 2 has 66% of the total writing marks. It is important to do well in this task, to get band 7 and more. Writing skills are an important part of communication. Good writing skills allow candidates to showcase their language proficiency and achieve the desired goal of studying or working in English-speaking countries. Here are all the important writing skills for a good band score. 

  • Develop a unique writing style - IELTS is taken by applicants worldwide, so the competition is huge. Every applicant has their own style, tone, and skill to deliver the best essay in an interesting way. 
  • Time management - For the writing section, time plays an important part. Applicants must plan and manage the time to complete the essay within 40 minutes. 
  • Good vocabulary - Having a broad vocabulary is an asset for a successful writer. To enhance writing skills, aspirants must try to listen, speak, and read a lot of English every day. The more they read and listen, the better vocabulary they will develop. It is also imperative to use interesting, positive, and crisp words in the essay. 
  • Take care of grammar, spelling, and punctuation - These are some of the important skills that every IELTS aspirant must have along with their creativity. Poor punctuation and spelling can  bring negativity to writing. 
  • Set the correct tone - The tone is an important writing skill and should be kept formal. 
  • Use facts -When facts and numbers are used, the essay becomes more valuable and enriched. It is also advisable to use evidence when the question requires. 
  • Make proper use of sentence construction - Use connectors to maintain the right flow of ideas and opinions in the entire essay.

Tips to a Band 8 in IELTS Writing Task 2 

The writing score for IELTS is calculated on how efficiently a candidate can fulfill the criteria of task response, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource, and grammatical range and accuracy. To achieve a band score of 8 or more, here’s a guide for all the aspirants.

Keep the answer relevant to the question

It is important to keep in mind that candidates do not produce an essay that is close to a topic they have prepared previously, instead; they should answer what has been asked in the question. They should try to be specific and not overgeneralize, as this might affect how their ideas are presented to the examiner.  

Answer all parts of the question

Before answering, applicants should read the question carefully and analyze how many parts are in it. To score a band of 8 or higher in task 2, all the parts of the questions must be answered. To explain that candidates possess an understanding of the question being asked, it is necessary to present a clear position when answering the statement throughout the essay.

Question typeHow many partsOpinion required?
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?1-part questionYes, agree or disagree and state why there is an agreement or disagreement
Why is this so? Give reasons for this and solutions?3-part questionA situation is presented on why it is a particular way. Applicants have to state the reason for this issue, and solutions to solve the issue.
Discuss both views and give your own opinion.3-part questionYes, the opinion might be one of the views or a combination of both.
Why is this so? What effect does it have on the individual and society?3-part questionYes, reasons must be given for the statement, and then its effects have to be presented both on the individual and society.
Do the disadvantages of international tourism outweigh the advantages?2-part questionYes, it must be clearly stated if there are more advantages or more disadvantages

 

Organize the essay logically, use linking phrases 

Ideas in an essay must be organized and ordered clearly - starting with an introduction, then moving to the supporting paragraphs, followed by a through a conclusion. If it is asked to present an opinion as well as both views, state the opinion at the beginning and then move on to present both views in the essay. Lastly, candidates can come back to their own opinions and conclude the essay, thereby presenting a logical way of expressing ideas. Use a range of linking words and adverbial phrases but do not overuse them. Do not use headings or subheadings, one-sentence paragraphs, or start every sentence with a linking device. 

Break the essay into paragraphs

To organize the essay into clear parts, paragraphs can be used. Each paragraph should consist of a clear and developed topic with a minimum of two sentences. The acronym “PEEL” can be used while writing the essay - Point, Example, Explain, Link.

Point – introduce the topic

Example – support the point with a relevant example 

Explain – state the reason behind why the evidence supports the point 

Link – transition to the next topic or paragraph 

Enough paragraphs should be formed to show a structured response. Here are some ideas on how many paragraphs can be included in an essay. 

Question typeHow many paragraphs?What to include in the paragraphs?
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

4/5

Introduction

Reason behind agreeing or disagreeing

Another reason

Concession paragraph on not agreeing or disagreeing

Conclusion

Why is this so? Give reasons for this and solutions?

5

Introduction

Reason 1

Reason 2

Solutions

Conclusion

Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

5

Introduction

One view

Another view

Applicants opinion

Conclusion

Why is this so? What effect does it have on the individual and society?

5

Introduction

Why this is so?

Effect/s on individual

Effect/s on society

Conclusion

Do the disadvantages of international tourism outweigh the advantages?

4

Introduction (more weightage on advantages)

Advantages (2)

Disadvantages (3)

Conclusion

 

Make correct use of less common vocabulary

An IELTS band 8 aspirants should be able to skillfully uses uncommon lexical items. When we learn a language, we use common and uncommon terms. Uncommon terms are used to talk about a specific topic or idiomatic language (phrasal verbs). Words that are not used in everyday speech should be avoided. 

If candidates are using a synonym, they must know which one goes correctly in a particular situation. The meaning should remain the same and must not alter the idea being presented. For instance, the terms adolescent/teenager are similar and can be used interchangeably, but toddler/baby have quite different meanings. Candidates should also master the art of the correct use of collocation. Collocations are words that go together.  

While discussing child crime, the term ‘minor’ should be applied as this is a legal term used to describe children under the age of 18. On the other hand, while using phrasal verbs, correct prepositions must be used or else it can change the meaning. For instance, throw out/away = discard, throw up = vomit/get sick  

Don’t use memorized phrases, language or examples

Examiners can easily spot any memorized language, phrases or examples. Therefore, it is better to avoid them as they cause a negative impression about a candidate’s ability to write fluently. Overuse of idioms, phrases, proverbs, and clichés should also be avoided. For instance, phrases like, The grass is always greener on the other side, Off the top of my head or A friend in need is a friend indeed. 

Use a variety of complex sentence structures

To score an IELTS band 8, it is expected that a wide range of structures should be used accurately by a candidate to present their ideas and opinion. While using a wide range of structures, it is necessary to ensure that the sentences are error-free. The use of a combination of complex and simple sentences is necessary, along with accurate punctuation, correct use of capitalization, commas, and full stops. However, complex sentences should not be long and complicated. The most commonly made errors by candidates can be found below:

GrammarCommon errors
Relative clauseIncorrect use of pronouns - who/that/which
Conditional clauseChoosing the wrong tense for the clause type
Passive voiceChoosing the wrong past participle
Present perfect/pastChoosing the wrong tense - had/have had
Countable nounsMaking errors with singular and plural nouns
GerundsMaking errors with -ing
Subject/verb agreementThe girls ‘are’ – singular or plural
ArticlesIncorrect use of a/the, or not using it at all
PunctuationIncorrectly used, or not used at all.
PrepositionsPlacing an incorrect preposition at the wrong place

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Mistakes to Avoid in Writing Task 2 in IELTS 

While answering IELTS writing task 2 it is important to remember that the examiner would not have the option to seek clarity if they feel stuck. Therefore, it is important to explain every idea clearly so that they are easy to understand. Listed below are some of the most common mistakes that IELTS test takers make.

Forcing Vocabulary

Candidates who prepare for the writing section of IELTS by learning long lists of vocabulary and then including them in their essays, end up using words with either wrong meaning or grammar. Possessing a good bandwidth of vocabulary is one of the factors for scoring band scores. However, the essay should not be forced with complicated words as that might lead to mistakes and reduce the score.

Candidates can develop their vocabulary by reading online newspapers, magazines or blogs and note their meaning whenever they come across a new word. It can be then reviewed regularly and when a candidate is sure about the word, that can be used in the IELTS Writing Task 2. 

Grammatical Mistakes

Even the candidates with a very good grasp of grammar make some silly mistakes. It is difficult to get over a band score of 6 if most of the sentences contain small errors. Some common grammatical errors include articles, countable and uncountable nouns, and subject-verb agreement. Aspirants should spare two to three minutes at the end of the test to proofread their writing. It is a health practice that they should conduct while preparing for the test as well as during the real exam.

Overusing Cohesive Devices

Cohesive devices are terms like ‘For instance’, ‘in addition’, ‘despite this’ and ‘To conclude‘. They indicate the relationships between different clauses, sentences, and paragraphs. One of the biggest misconceptions about cohesive devices is that their use can make an essay stand out. However, that is a myth, they do have a purpose and they should be used only when necessary. 

Not Addressing both Parts of the Question Equally

Many IELTS Writing Task 2 questions can have two parts or two separate questions. A question might require candidates to ‘discuss both views’, ‘discuss the advantages and disadvantages’ or ‘discuss the problems and solutions’. If eight sentences are written about one part and only two sentences about the other, both parts of the question are not addressed equally.

Both the parts of the question should be addressed equally to get one of the higher band scores for Task Response. It is important to plan the essay before writing and be aware of the different structures that can be used while writing as many students spend too much time on the first part and then only write one or two sentences about the latter part due to time constraints.

Write About the Topic and not the Question

An essay that has great grammar and vocabulary, but misses the point while answering the question can create a negative impression on the examiner. The most common mistake that students make is writing everything they know about the topic rather than addressing the specific question. 

For instance, if the question is “Computers are being used more and more in education and so there will soon be no role for the teacher in education. To what extent do you agree or disagree?” The general topic is computers in education, but the question addresses the effect it is going to have on teachers. Talking about computers in education, in general, would mean that question is not answered but a good answer would talk specifically about how computers affect the role of the teacher.

Conclusion

Have a proper understanding of IELTS Writing Task 2 and always follow these tips and strategies to score a band 8.

Recommended Reads:

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How to start Writing Task 2 in IELTS?

To start writing task 2 in IELTS, candidates need a good introduction as it creates an impression about the quality of writing. To come up with a nice introduction, applicants need to give some time to read and analyze the question, then begin with a general discussion of the topic before getting into its details. Candidates should also state their position and the introduction should give an overview of where the essay is going to lead towards.

Q. How to generate ideas for IELTS Writing Task 2?

Some of the easiest ways to generate ideas for IELTS Writing Task 2 are by analyzing model essays, finding ideas on the internet, simplifying the question, asking yourself some questions about the topic, generating main ideas from specific examples, or imagining that a teacher or friend is asking the question.

Q. How to improve Writing Task 2 in IELTS?

Some of the tips to improve Writing Task 2 in IELTS are as follows:

  1. Understand the task
  2. Use the time wisely
  3. Organize the ideas logically
  4. Keep a check on the word count
  5. Think about the style
  6. Know the approach that can be used
  7. Learn from the mistakes
  8. Work on the grammatical range and lexical resource

Q. How to prepare for IELTS Writing Task 2?

To prepare for the IELTS Writing Task 2, aspirants have to understand the assessment criteria on the basis of which they will be marked - Task Response (TR), Coherence and Cohesion (CC), Lexical Resource (LR), and Grammatical Range and Accuracy(GRA). Reading IELTS model essays and reading texts, building vocabulary, practicing authentic essays and how to plan them, using the official answer writing sheet, and getting feedback from others are some of the ways to prepare for IELTS Writing Task 2.

Q. How to give examples in IELTS Writing Task 2?

It is best to put the examples after the main idea or topic sentence. They can also be used at the starting of a new sentence or in the middle of supporting sentences. Though there is no rule for where exactly to give examples in essays, logically they should come after a supporting sentence. However, many model answers suggest putting the examples at the end of the main body paragraph.

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Q. How to write an introduction in IELTS Writing Task 2?

Writing an introduction for the IELTS Writing Task 2 is all about paraphrasing the question with different words having the same meaning. It should also include a thesis statement that is most important in an essay and describes the aspirants' thought process about the whole issue. Lastly, the introduction should consist of an outline statement. After paraphrasing the question and providing a thesis statement, an outline statement should give an idea to the examiner about what will be discussed in the main body paragraphs.

Q. How many mistakes are allowed in IELTS Writing Task 2?

Making one or two mistakes might be overlooked by the examiner if the overall essay is good. However, making more mistakes than that can lead to lower band scores.

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