IELTS Writing Task 2: The Essential Guide

Welcome to my complete guide to IELTS Writing Task 2. IELTS Writing Task 2 is one of the most important parts of the IELTS test. Task 2 is worth twice the marks of Task 1, so a bad Task 2 essay will reduce, not only your writing band score, but your overall IELTS band score.

So do it right! This guide will show you how!

IELTS Writing Task 2

Note: General Training v Academic IELTS

The information in this guide is for both the Academic and the General Training IELTS. Task 2 essays in the General Training IELTS and Academic IELTS are very similar. The topics in the General Training exam are usually more familiar, while the tasks in the Academic test can be more abstract. However, you should follow the same structure and use similar language. IELTS examiners also use the same assessment criteria when they assess the tasks.

IELTS Writing Task 2: what do you have to do?

In task 2 of the IELTS writing test, you have to write an academic-style essay on an everyday topic, such as the environment, health or education.

The essay should be at least 250 words long.

You should spend about 40 minutes on Task 2.

The Writing Task

The task is written in two parts:

1. The Discursive Statement

In the exam question, you are shown a discursive statement. This could be an opinion, two opposing opinions, a factual statement or a problem. For example:

An opinion

There is no need to telephone people any more. We can simply use email, instant messaging and SMS.

Two opposing opinions

Some people view conflict between teenagers and their parents as a normal part of growing up, while others view it as something negative which should be avoided. 

Factual statement

Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary schools rather than secondary school.

A problem

Global warming is one of the biggest threats humans face in the 21st Century and sea levels are continuing to rise at alarming rates.

2. Your response to the statement

You then respond to this statement in some way. You might have to give your own opinion, or discuss the advantages and disadvantages of something, or discuss the two sides of an argument. Here are some examples of full questions:

Agree-disagree

There is no need to telephone people any more. We can simply use email, instant messaging and SMS.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Discuss 2 sides

Some people view conflict between teenagers and their parents as a normal part of growing up, while others view it as something negative which should be avoided. 

Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

Advantages and disadvantages

Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary schools rather than secondary school.

Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

A solution

Global warming is one of the biggest threats humans face in the 21st Century and sea levels are continuing to rise at alarming rates.

What problems are associated with this and what are some possible solutions.

Common topics

I've asked my students which are the most common topics in IELTS Writing Task 2. Here's what they told me: education, the environment / natural world, technology and health are the most common topics. Together, they account for two-thirds of all Task 2 topics.

IELTS Writing Task 2 most common topics

This means that to do your best, you should focus on learning vocabulary related to education, the environment / natural world, technology and health.

Sample Questions

If you want to read and practice your writing, check out my slideshow of IELTS Writing Task 2 sample questions

7 step approach to writing a great IELTS essay

Writing an IELTS essay is quite a challenge. Like any difficult task, you should break it down into smaller chunks. I tell my students to break the writing process down into 7 easy steps.

Here is a 7 step approach for an argument-led (2 sides of the argument) essay. Since you can (almost) always write an argument-led essay in the IELTS writing test, this method works for (almost) all IELTS essays.

  1. Read the question carefully. What is the topic? What is your task?
  2. Think about your response to the question. What is your opinion/position?
  3. Make some notes: why do some people take one side of the argument; why do some people take the opposing view; what is the reason for your view. Come up with 1 to 3 reasons for each.
  4. Structure your essay: organize your ideas into 4 paragraphs. Paragraph 1: introduction; Paragraph 2: one side of the argument; Paragraph 3: the other side of the argument; Paragraph 4: conclusion and your opinion.
  5. Brainstorm good language.
  6. Write your essay!
  7. Check your essay for mistakes in grammar and spelling.

For a detailed description of the first four steps, read the page about IELTS essay planning.

 

Get a better band score with my IELTS Writing Correction Service

You should get your writing checked by an expert. I will correct your practice writing and help you improve your band score. Get it checked now!

Important! Task 2 is worth a lot more than Task 1

It is very important to write a good Task 1 report. It is absolutely essential to write a good Task 2 essay. Task 2 is worth roughly twice as many marks as Task 1. Read how IELTS examiners calculate the IELTS Writing band score.

How is IELTS Writing Task 1 assessed?

IELTS examiners will assess you in four different areas, each of which make up 25%of the total mark.

  • Task Response
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

How many words should I write in Task 2?

Find out how many words you should write in IELTS Writing Task 2, and get some tips on making sure you reach the minimum number of words.

Further Reading

How to plan your IELTS essay: 4 steps to a band 8

How to write IELTS essays with good coherence

How to improve your IELTS essays with cohesive devices

Do you want more tips, information and ideas?

Then download my FREE eBook, The Essential Guide to the IELTS. Just enter your details below and I will send you a copy.

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