IELTS Writing Sample Questions: Task 2

On this page you will find some IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Questions that you can use when you practise your IELTS essay writing.

I’ve decided NOT to write a big long list of 100 sample questions. Nobody needs to write that many practice essays! Instead, I’ve selected a few questions, but I’ve included some comments about each question: my comments point out tricky words in the question, suggestions for how to answer each one, and potential problems. 

These comments will, I hope, help you to plan and write your essay. Please make sure you read my comments before you write!

IELTS Writing Sample Questions #1: Two Sided Discussion

Good Members Of Society (Academic)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Some people think that parents should teach children how to be good members of society. Others, however, believe that school is the place to learn this.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 8 (Test 1)

My Comments: This is a two-sided discussion question on the topic of how children should be brought up. Who should teach them to be “good members of society”? Parents or schools?

One difficulty with this question is the term “good members of society”. What does it mean? It’s a very general, vague term. You need to think about what it means to you before you generate your ideas. I think it includes the idea of law-abiding citizens, but if you only discuss that idea, your discussion will be a bit limited. I think it also includes ideas like contributing to society and studying hard, but this is a very personal and culturally-biased thing.

As with many of these two-sided statements, most people would probably argue that BOTH parents AND schools should play a role in bringing up children, and this a perfectly sensible position to take. It’s the position I would take.

A Bad Situation (Academic)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Some people believe that it is best to accept a bad situation, such as an unsatisfactory job or shortage of money. Others argue that it is better to try and improve such situations.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 14 Academic (Test 1)

My Comments: To me, this is a strange question! Do “some” people really believe that if things are bad, they should accept it? My instinct is to take a strong position, and argue that you should always try to make things better, but that’s just me. So this means that in BP1, I would argue that it is not a good idea to accept a bad situation, because you can usually change things for the better. I would also add that there are some things that can’t be changed, so these should be accepted (e.g. the weather).

Environmental Problems (Academic)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Some people say that the main environmental problem of our time is the loss of particular species of plants and animals. Others say that there are more important environmental problems.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 14 Academic (Test 2)

My Comments: this question addresses the issue of environmental problems. What are the most important ones, in your opinion?

This is one of those “two-sided” issues where you might think BOTH are important. It’s not one or the other. However, the question uses words like “main” and “more important”, so it’s a good idea to choose one side – it will be easier to write a clear essay.

My Position: while protecting the natural world is really important, the most important issue is global warming, because if we don’t deal with rising temperatures, all species will die out anyway.

Sharing Information (Academic)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Some people believe that it is good to share as much information as possible in scientific research, business and the academic world. Others believe that some information is too important or too valuable to be shared freely.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 12 (Test 5)

This question is particularly nasty! The question is difficult to answer because it mentions  information from science, business and academia in the question. Information from the business world (e.g. company accounts) is a lot different to information from scientific research (e.g. new medical drugs). So how should you address this question and structure your essay?

You could simply discuss “all” information in a very general way. But this means your essay will lack development.

A better way is to argue that while some types of information should be shared, other types of information (e.g. financial information and sensitive information) should be protected. In other words, both views are correct: you should share as much information as possible (View 1),  but some information shouldn’t be shared because it’s too valuable or important (View 2).

(This is a classic example of how two views are not necessarily “opposites”.) 

Boys' And Girls' Schools (General Training)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Some people think that it is better to educate boys and girls in 

separate schools. Others, however, believe that boys and girls benefit 

more from attending mixed schools. 

 

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion. 

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 8 (Test B)

My Comments: this question is concerned with education, specifically whether schools should be co-educational (girls and boys) or single sex.

This is the kind of issue where people usually take one side or the other, and I would suggest you do that in this essay. 

Watching Movies (General Training)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Some people say that now we can see films on our phones or tablets there is no need to go to the cinema. Others say that to be fully enjoyed, films need to be seen in a cinema.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 13 General Training (Test 3)

My Comments: this is one of my favourite IELTS questions because there’s quite a lot you could say about this. However, it’s also dangerous, because if you have lots of ideas, you must organise them before you write.

This question is typical of many IELTS “two-sided” issues: both “sides” have their merits; it’s not an “either-or” issue. So a well developed answer would argue that both the cinema and home/cafe/etc are good places – it depends.

IELTS Writing Sample Questions #2: Agree - Disagree

Music (Academic)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Some people say that music is a good way of bringing people of different cultures and ages together.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 14 Academic (Test 3)

My Comments: I think this is a difficult question. This is not an issue I’ve ever really thought about! My initial thoughts are these: music often divides the generations, because teenagers like different music to older people, but there are exceptions. I think music can bring cultures together, though. Everybody likes Abba, for example! So I’d write a paragraph about dividing people of different ages, and a paragraph about uniting cultures.

Remember just to focus on the ideas of music dividing or uniting people. Don’t start discussing the effect on local cultures because the question is not asking you about that.

Living In A Foreign Country (Academic)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Living in a country where you have to speak a foreign language can cause serious social problems, as well as practical problems.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 13 Academic (Test 1)

My Comments: this is a question about living in a foreign country, not one about foreign languages. There are a couple of tricky things about this question. First of all, it’s not clear from the statement if it’s about someone who can speak the foreign language or not: if you live in France, and can speak French fluently, your problems will be different to someone who can’t speak French! Also, the phrase “serious social problems” sounds quite dramatic! It suggests things like isolation and depression.

I think the simplest approach is to disagree with the statement, but acknowledge the problems faced by someone who doesn’t yet know the language. As an Englishman, I would be tempted to argue that I could just socialise with other people who speak English…but the statement says “have to” – i.e. I MUST speak the foreign language, not my own!

Teenagers' Curfew in USA (General Training)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

In some areas of the US, a ‘curfew’ is imposed, in which teenagers are not allowed to be out of doors after a particular time at night unless they are accompanied by an adult.

What is your opinion about this?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 13 General Training (Test 1)

My Comments: This is a General Training essay, so you only need to present and support your opinion; you don’t need to explain “to what extent” you agree or disagree (as in the Academic Test)

The issue is quite obscure: curfews of teenagers in America. But you don’t need any specialised knowledge to answer this. You simply need to say whether you think it’s a good or bad idea – or somewhere in between – and why.

Personally, I think it’s a terrible idea! How would you enforce it? Police patrols? (The police have better things to do than arrest teenagers for being outside!) And I would argue that there are better ways to deal with teenagers behaving badly at night.

Tidiness (General Training)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Some people say it is important to keep your home and your workplace tidy, with everything organised and in the correct place.

What is your opinion about this?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 13 General Training (Test 4)

My Comments: personally, I find it a bit difficult to generate ideas for this question.  I’m naturally tidy, so I don’t think about it much!

Remember to discuss BOTH the home AND the workplace, or you will lose marks for Task Response. I’d suggest writing one paragraph on the home, one paragraph about work. Workplace tidiness could include a discussion of safety issues.

Facts And Skills in Education (General Training)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Some people say that in all levels of education, from primary schools to universities, too much time is spent on learning facts and not enough on learning practical skills.

Do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 11 General Training (Test 2)

My Comments: this is a straightforward “do you agree or disagree” question. You will probably draw on your personal experience of the education system in your own country.

I would find it difficult to completely agree or disagree with the statement as far as the British education system is concerned. Certainly I feel that facts are over-emphasised in schools, but not necessarily universities.

Click the button below to read my model IELTS essay for this question, along with more comments.

IELTS Writing Sample Questions #3: Advantages - Disadvantages

Increased Life Expectancy (Academic)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

One of the consequences of improved medical care is that people are living longer and life expectancy is increasing.

Do you think the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Official Cambridge Guide To IELTS (Test 2)

My Comments: this question addresses the issue of increased life expectancy. You might think this is obviously a good thing, but think about it… increased life expectancy means more elderly people, who don’t work and need caring for. 

If you simply argue that there are only advantages, this suggests that you haven’t thought through your ideas carefully enough.

I would tend to argue that the advantages are greater, but they need to be balanced against the problems with an ageing population.

Self-employment (Academic)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Nowadays many people choose to be self-employed, rather than to work for a company or organisation.

Why might this be the case?

What could be the disadvantages of being self-employed?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 14 Academic (Test 4)

My Comments: this question is an advantages – disadvantages question ‘in hiding’: the word “advantages” does not appear, but the question is asking you to think about the advantages of being self employed. IELTS could have written “what are the advantages of being self-employed?” and you would write a very similar response. This shows you how IELTS question types do tend to overlap.

Tourists In Extreme Conditions (General Training)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Today more and more tourists are visiting places where conditions are difficult, such as the Sahara desert or the Antarctic.

What are the benefits and disadvantages for tourists who visit such places?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 12 (Test 5)

My Comments: I think this is a difficult question to generate ideas for. It’s not an issue I’ve thought about, and I didn’t even know people visited the two places mentioned. I know some tourists visit the Himalayas and the Arctic Circle – are the conditions here difficult enough to write about though?

A good response should go beyond the obvious disadvantages (e.g. the extreme temperatures) and address issues like their remoteness and difficulty getting there, and the need to be well-prepared.

The benefits? I’m struggling to think of ideas! Just remember to focus on the benefits for the tourist, NOT the benefits for the local economy / local people.

IELTS Writing Sample Questions #4: Problems - Solutions

Weight, Health And Fitness (Academic)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

In some countries the average weight of people is increasing and their levels of health and fitness are decreasing.

What do you think are the causes of these problems and what measures could be taken to solve them?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 8 (Test 4)

My Comments: this question is a causes (of the problem) – solutions essay: what factors are  causing people to gain weight, and poorer health and fitness? And how could we solve these problems? 

Very Important! you must discuss the CAUSES, not the problem. Do NOT discuss problems associated with being overweight (e.g. diabetes and heart disease); do NOT discuss problems associated with poor health and fitness. Instead, discuss the causes of being overweight (e.g. too much sugar in diet) and the causes of poor health and fitness (e.g. not enough time to take exercise, high medical expenses).

Hunger (Academic)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

In spite of the advances made in agriculture, many people around the world still go hungry.

Why is this the case?

What can be done about this problem?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge Academic 13 (Test 4)

My Comments: the first question is NOT just asking you “why do many people go hungry?” It’s asking you “why do many people go hungry in spite of advances in agriculture?” So, to get a high band score for Task Response, you need to discuss why people go hungry despite the use of of pesticides on crops and hormones in animals, increased crop yields, modern irrigation, etc. Also, “go hungry” has a fairly broad meaning; it’s not the same as “starve”, so a response that only discusses famine and why people starve to death might be seen as off-topic. This makes it a much trickier essay that it first appears.

So arguing that people go hungry because they live in areas affected by drought is not quite enough for a high band score in TR; you also need to address why “agricultural advances” haven’t been enough, so a better response would be to add that many governments have failed to implement modern irrigation techniques in remote areas. Or you could argue that while advances have led to a plentiful food supply, this has not always helped people living in extreme poverty. 

Here’s an interesting article which looks at the 10 causes of world hunger.

Health And Exercise (General Training)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Many working people get little or no exercise either during the working day or in their free time, and have health problems as a result.

Why do many working people not get enough exercise?

What can be done about this problem?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge General Training 13 (Test 2)

This problem-solution question relates to health and exercise in the modern world.

Note that the statement mentions “or in their free time“, so you should try to address why working people don’t exercise after work or on their days off (e.g. their weekends). In other words, it’s not enough to argue that they can’t exercise because they’re working a lot of hours.

IELTS Writing Sample Questions #5: Direct Questions

Technology And Relationships (Academic)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Nowadays the way many people interact with each other has changed because of technology.

In what ways has technology affected the types of relationships people make?

Has this become a positive or negative development? 

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 8 (Test 2)

My Comments: Be careful with this essay! There are TWO questions here:

  1. How has technology affected relationships?
  2. Is this a positive or negative development?

Many test takers will see “positive or negative development” in the question and just write about the positives and negatives (or, if they think it’s only a negative development, only the negatives). This means they will not address the first question..and this means a maximum score of Band 5 for Task Response.

Another tricky part are the words “interact” and “relationships”: what do they mean in the context of this essay? “Interact” literally means “to act upon each other”, so it has a wider meaning than “communication”. “Relationships” also has a broad meaning: it’s not just about lovers or friends, it can also include many kinds of acquaintances, including business ones; it could even include your Facebook friends or your Instagram followers.

So you need to discuss how technology (computers, phones) has affected the way we relate to other people, and whether it’s good or bad.

By the way, one common mistake is to write about how technology has changed communication. If you do this, your response could be seen as “tangential” which means Band 4 for Task Response!

Traffic And Pollution Solutions (Academic)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Increasing the price of petrol is the best way to solve growing traffic and pollution problems. 

To what extent do you agree or disagree? 

What other measures do you think might be effective? 

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience.  

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 8 (Test 3)

Commentary: this question concerns how we solve traffic congestion and traffic pollution. (I assume it means “traffic” pollution rather than pollution in general because it mentions petrol.)

This is a 2 part question; it combines two other question types: the first question is an agree-disagree question, and the second question asks you for solutions to the problem. You’ll need to answer the first question more concisely than in a question that is ONLY an agree-disagree question. This is quite tricky! The second question uses the word “measures”: this is a synonym of “solutions”.

So what other measures might solve traffic congestion and traffic pollution? I would choose a couple of ideas from this list: improving public transport, limiting the number of cars per household, banning diesel-powered vehicles, introducing congestion charges in city centres, and encouraging more people to work from home. I’m sure you could add to this list!

Travel (General Training)

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Today more people are travelling than ever before.

Why is this the case?

What are the benefits of travelling for the traveller?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own  knowledge or experience. 

Write at least 250 words. 

Cambridge 8 (Test A)

My Comments: be careful with the first question! The statement includes the words “more people…than ever before.” Therefore, “why is the case?” does NOT mean “why do people travel?” but “why are more people travelling than at any point in human history?” So a response that discusses ideas such as “they want to visit famous cities” is not enough for a high band score. This idea does not address the “more people than ever before” issue. A better response would be to discuss ideas such as “air travel is much cheaper than it used to be”.

Posted in IELTS Preparation.

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