IELTS Writing Task 2: What Is Your Task?

In IELTS Writing Task 2, you write an academic-style essay in response to a question about a topic, such as the environment, health or education.

Your task is to present and extend your views on the topic. You should explain your ideas using a logical structure, using language that makes your ideas clear to the reader.

It is very important to remember that IELTS Writing Task 2 assesses your academic writing skills as well as your English language skills. In other words, your ability to present and explain your ideas in a logical way is as important as your vocabulary and grammar.

You do NOT need to persuade your reader that you are correct. You only need to show the reader that you have thought about the issue in a balanced, thoughtful way.

So here is an example of the kind of essay you will write in Task 2:

Some people say that the best way to improve public health is by increasing the number of sports facilities. Others, however, say that this would have little effect on public health and that other measures are required.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

The Statement

The first part of the task description is a statement about a topic. (In this example the statement presents two different opinions on the topic, but it might include one opinion, a factual statement or a problem).

Some people say that the best way to improve public health is by increasing the number of sports facilities. Others, however, say that this would have little effect on public health and that other measures are required.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

The Question

Then you are given a question: this tells you how to respond to the topic.

Some people say that the best way to improve public health is by increasing the number of sports facilities. Others, however, say that this would have little effect on public health and that other measures are required.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

In this example, you need to discuss the two views and make your own opinion on the topic clear. In other words, the question tells you how to respond to the task.

However, there are other ways you might be asked to respond to the statement. IELTS tends to use one of five different question types:

IELTS Question Types

The above example is often called the “Two Sided Discussion” question type. However, there are five main question types that appear in IELTS Writing Task 2:

  1. Two-sided discussion
  2. Agree or disagree
  3. Advantages and disadvantages
  4. Problems and Solutions
  5. Direct questions

So you might be asked to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of something, or whether you agree or disagree, or to come up with solutions to a problem. Or you might simply be asked 1 or 2 direct questions about the statement.

All of these questions basically ask you to do the same thing: to make your own views on the issue clear. You can read more about these different question types in this post.

So that is your task: to respond to a statement about a topic by answering a question (or questions) about the statement.

So how should you approach writing your task? 

Read about my 4 Step Planning Approach to writing essays that will get a high band score.

Posted in IELTS Writing Task 2.

Charles Cornelius is a PGCE and CELTA-qualified teacher and former IELTS Examiner with 25 years' teaching experience all over the world. He has worked for some of the major English language schools including International House, IDP and The British Council. He holds a MA in Education from the University of Bath. His courses, for both English language learners and teachers, have been taken by over 70,000 students in over 160 countries around the world.