IELTS Writing Task 2: Tips, Resources and Sample Essays

In this post you will learn the key facts and tips about IELTS Writing Task 2. I’ll tell you how examiners assess the IELTS Writing Test, I’ll give you a list of common IELTS topics, IELTS essay questions and much more. So let’s get started on the road to Band 7!

Table of Contents

IELTS Writing Task 2: Test Information

  1. You should spend around 40 minutes on Task 2
  2. You should write at least 250 words
  3. Task 2 is worth double the marks of Task 1
  4. You do the Writing Test immediately after the Listening and Reading Tests
  5. For most IELTS test takers, writing is the hardest part of the IELTS test.
  6. Your task is to write an essay in response to a question about a topic
  7. IELTS Examiners assess you against 4 criteria: Task Response, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource and Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  8. Each of the 4 criteria are worth 25% of your score
  9. IELTS Writing tests your essay writing skills as well as your English language skills
  10. Question topics are ones you should reasonably be expected to have a view on. No question requires specialised knowledge. 
  11. There are a variety of different question types, which require you to address the topic in different ways
  1. You should spend around 40 minutes on Task 2
  2. You should write at least 250 words
  3. Task 2 is worth double the marks of Task 1
  4. You do the Writing Test immediately after the Listening and Reading Tests
  5. For most IELTS test takers, writing is the hardest part of the IELTS test.
  6. Your task is to write an essay in response to a question about a topic
  7. IELTS Examiners assess you against 4 criteria: Task Response, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource and Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  8. Each of the 4 criteria are worth 25% of your score
  9. IELTS Writing tests your essay writing skills as well as your English language skills
  10. Question topics are ones you should reasonably be expected to have a view on. No question requires specialised knowledge. 
  11. There are a variety of different question types, which require you to address the topic in different ways

IELTS Writing Task 2: What Do You Have To Do?

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

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

In short, IELTS Writing is a test of 2 things:

  • your academic writing skills
  • your English language skills

Go to this lesson to learn more: What do you have to do in IELTS Writing Task 2?

How To Plan Your Essay

To get a high band score, it is important to plan your essay carefully. This will save you time when writing and help you to meet the IELTS Writing Band Descriptors.  Find out how to plan your essay using my 4 Step Planning Approach.

How To Generate Ideas

Many IELTS Test Takers find it difficult to think of ideas for their essays. This guide will show you 7 ways to help you generate ideas for your IELTS essay, as well as 4 common problems faced by IELTS candidates.

How To Develop Your Ideas

It’s vital to develop your ideas if you want a high band score. But what does “develop” mean and how do you do it? Find out how to develop your ideas in an IELTS essay in this lesson.

How To Use Examples

One way of developing your ideas is to use examples. Examples illustrate your ideas with specific details, but many students use examples that will limit your band score. Learn how to use examples in IELTS essays and some of the common mistakes made by IELTS students. 

IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training

The information in this guide is for both the Academic and the General Training IELTS. 

Your task is broadly the same in both tests and IELTS examiners use the same assessment criteria when they assess the tasks. 

There are 2 main differences between General Training and Academic:

The topics in the General Training exam are usually related to more everyday topics than the Academic test.

Questions in the General Training Test are sometimes slightly different to questions in the Academic Test: for example, in the General Training Test, you may be asked to “discuss the advantages and disadvantages” of something, whereas in the Academic Test, you may be asked whether “the advantages outweigh the disadvantages“. 

However, many questions are exactly the same in both tests: e.g. you may be asked to “discuss both views and give your own opinion” in both the General Training and Academic Tests.

Read more about the differences between the Academic and General Training tests here (external website).

How Is IELTS Writing Task 2 Assessed?

IELTS Examiner Assesses Essay

The IELTS Examiner will assess you using 4 separate criteria: Task Response, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, and Grammatical Range and Accuracy.

Task Response

Task Response is about how well you answer the question. It’s also about how well you develop your ideas, and how clear is your position on the topic.

Coherence and Cohesion

Coherence and Cohesion is about how well your organise and link your ideas.

Lexical Resource

Lexical Resource means the vocabulary in your head. You are assessed on how much vocabulary you know, as well as how accurately you can use it. To get a high band score, you should focus on using groups of words

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Grammatical Range and Accuracy is about the variety and accuracy of your grammar. Here are 5 tips for improving your grammatical range and accuracy.

To get a better idea of how IELTS Writing Task 2 is assessed, watch my video. In this video I assess an IELTS essay, and give it a band score for each of the 4 criteria.

Play Video about IELTS Writing Task 2

IELTS Writing Task 2 Tips

Here are my top tips for getting a high band score in IELTS Writing Task 2.

  1. Plan Your Essay: before you write anything, map out your ideas and arguments A good plan helps you to write a great essay. Learn how to plan your IELTS essay using a step-by-step process
  2. Answer The Question Directly: if you want a high band score, make sure you answer the question directly and fully. 
  3. Make your views clear: make sure your reader can easily understand your main ideas and arguments. 
  4. Develop ALL of your main ideas: explain your ideas in detail, so that your reader can understand your thinking. Don’t write lots of ideas – just a 3-4, and explain each one. 
  5. Write around 280 to 350 words: if you write too few, your ideas probably aren’t developed enough; if you write too many, you risk being repetitive.
  6. Use a clear, logical structure: every paragraph should have a single, main idea (e.g. the advantages of something, a reason for your opinion) and each of these ideas should be gradually ‘unpacked’.
  7. Use clear, concise, precise vocabulary: you are trying to write an essay, not poetry, so use vocabulary that explains your thinking in a clear way.
  8. Focus on groups of words, not individual words: IELTS examiners are looking for groups of words (phrases, collocations, phrasal verbs, idioms). They are NOT looking for ‘fancy’ or ‘advanced’ words.
  9. Check Your Writing for Errors: when you have finished writing, spend a few minutes checking your essay. In particular, check your spelling.

Common Topics in IELTS Writing Task 2

Here are some of most common topics which appear in IELTS Writing Task 2:

  • education (e.g. teaching creativity at school)
  • environment (e.g. protection of endangered species)
  • technology and communication (e.g. parental control of children’s technology)
  • health (e.g. obesity)
  • family and children (e.g. the generation gap)
  • society and social change (e.g. the effects of overpopulation)
  • jobs and the workplace (e.g. decision-making in companies)
  • sports (e.g. salaries of famous sports personalities)
  • crime and punishment (e.g. imprisonment v rehabilitation)
  • transport and travel (e.g. benefits of public transport)
  • art and reading (e.g. eBooks v printed books)
  • food (e.g. healthy diets)
  • language and culture (e.g. disappearance of local languages)
  • media and advertising (e.g. censorship)
  • and many more!

As you can see, there are a lot of different topics that you could be asked to discuss. But don’t worry! You do NOT need specialised knowledge on these topics. However, it is VERY useful to be able to use vocabulary that is specific to these topics. For example, “endangered species”, “the generation gap” and “rehabilitation” are all examples of topic-specific vocabulary. So you should try to grow your vocabulary in these areas.

Sample IELTS Essay Questions

It’s important to do your IELTS Writing practice using authentic IELTS essay questions, so I have created a page which contains lots of IELTS Writing Sample Questions for Task 2. These questions cover the full range of IELTS Task 2 question types, and I’ve also added my own comments about each question to help you write it. So if you want to practise some essay questions, go to this page and read my comments before you write.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Question Types

IELTS Writing Task 2 essay questions are all essentially asking you to present and explain your views on a topic, but there are some important differences in the way you should do this. Most IELTS essay questions fall into 1 of the following 5 question types. Click on the link to find out more.

IELTS Opinion Essay Questions

IELTS Advantages Disadvantages Essay Questions

IELTS Discuss Both Views Essay Questions

IELTS Problem Solution Essay Questions

IELTS Direct Question Essays / 2 Part Questions

IELTS Model Essays

What do Band 8 and Band 9 essays look like? What ideas do they have? How are they organised? What language do they use?

I have written lots of lots of essay to show you what a good essay looks like. Most of these essays come with a plan and comments. Click on one of the links below and read one of my IELTS model essays.

Free IELTS Practice Activities

Improve your IELTS skills with my free IELTS practice activities. They will help you to learn vocabulary, improve your spelling, develop your writing skills, improve your listening skills, and much more. Click on one of the links below and start learning.

Frequently Asked Questions About IELTS Writing Task 2

You should write at least 250 words. Any less, and your essay will probably lack enough development to get a high band score. Aim to write between 270 and 350 words. Read More…

You need to develop all of your ideas in detail, and all your supporting explanations and examples must be fully relevant to your main ideas. You must also keep language errors to a minimum. Precise vocabulary is also important. Read about the 9 Things You Must Do For IELTS Writing Band 8

Your IELTS Writing Band Score will improve if you pay attention to language errors, such as unnatural collocations, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Learn how to check your IELTS essay for errors. You also need to explain your main ideas in detail, and explain and illustrate them. Find out how to develop your ideas in an IELTS essay.

There are 5 key differences between Band 6 and Band 7, related to: ideas development, progression, cohesion, precise vocabulary and complex grammar. Learn more about the differences between Band 6 and Band 7.

Start by looking at sample questions from the IELTS Academic Writing Test and my model essay (sample answer) collection. Look at how the model essays have been written. Then write your own essays using the sample questions. Try to get feedback on your essays from an online tutor, and use this feedback to improve your writing.

Yes. In a growing number of test centres around the world, you can take the IELTS test on computer instead of on paper. Read more about the computer-delivered IELTS Test.

If you don’t get the score you need for IELTS Writing, and you think you should have been given a better score, don’t worry! You can apply to IELTS for a re-mark of your writing test. Read this guide to the IELTS Remarking Process to find out more.