The International English Language Testing System, or IELTS, is a test that is used around the world to test English skills. More than 3 million people take the test each year and one big part of it is the IELTS writing task 2, which requires a short essay. For those who aren’t completely comfortable in their language skills, it can be a nerve wracking part of the test, but it doesn’t have to be.
When you prepare for the test, you drastically increase your chances of passing. It’s not enough just to study, though. You should make sure that you can write well. Do some practice essays and have a native English speaker go over them. The best way to improve your score is simply to practice. However, familiarizing yourself with the writing tasks, such as the IELTS writing task 2, is also a good idea. It’s far easier to pass when you go into the test knowing what to expect.
The IELTS is often required by schools and employers to ensure that you know how to use English properly. Schools tend to require the academic version of the test, while employers may prefer the general version. Immigration and studying for a basic diploma generally requires the general version of the test.
Tips to Help You Ace the IELTS Writing Task 2
Focus on one section of the test at a time for best results. In this case, you will be looking at the IELTS writing task 2. This is a section that requires a short essay on a specific topic. Here’s what you need to get a good score:
Practice ahead of time. Take some time to write practice essays for the IELTS writing task 2. You should have a good idea of exactly how many lines constitute the minimum amount of words. You can also have other people check out your work and correct it (look for native English speakers) so you know what your weak points are.
Know your word count. The IELTS writing task 2 is very strict about word count. You cannot have too few words and expect to do well. You need to write a minimum of 250 words for this part of the test, but it can waste time counting words on the day of the test. Practice ahead of time so you know approximately how many words you handwrite per line and can quickly estimate how many words you’ve written just by multiplying the lines completed.
Divide your essay into paragraphs. You will lose points if your essay is one block of text. Your paragraphs don’t have to be terribly long, but they do need to exist. Ideally, you will have the introduction, conclusion and at least two body paragraphs, to create a solid essay. Paragraphs should be at least three sentences long.
Leave time to revise. After you’ve written the essay, you need to go back over it and revise and edit. It’s very difficult to write perfectly the first time through. You should look for any words you have repeated too many times, spelling and grammar errors. There may also be sections that you could word better.
Academic vs. non-academic. There are two versions of the IELTS, the academic and the non-academic. The version you take will determine what format your essay takes. Keep in mind that if you are writing the academic version, your English needs to be quite formal. It should suggest things, but not make outrageous statements. For example, you can say, “I would suggest people use this method.” as opposed to “This is the best method in the world.” You should also aim to write specific statements, rather than wide, general statements.
Your opinion doesn’t matter. The IELTS is measuring your English knowledge, not your opinions. When you are planning your response to the prompt, take the time to look at the easiest way to answer. It may be that your opinion will be more difficult to prove and discuss, so you can choose a viewpoint that is not your own if it’s simpler. Remember, making your point is not the important part . . . showing that you can write and reason in English is the main purpose of the IELTS writing task 2.
Use the right vocabulary. Don’t stick to simple words just because you know they are right. While you shouldn’t make the essay sound like a dictionary entry, it reflects well on your grasp of English if you correctly use slightly larger vocabulary words throughout the exam. Be sure to use them correctly though! A thesaurus can help you find alternatives to the most basic wording and talking with native English speakers will also give you a leg up on the test.
Relax as you write. If you’re too nervous about the test, it can be difficult to write well. Try to go into it with a calm mind and you’ll find that you do far better. If you’ve been practicing ahead of time, it should go smoothly. Some people find it helpful to spend a few minutes meditating before the test, just to keep their nerves calm.
You’ll find the IELTS is not terribly difficult if you practice ahead of time. You should always do a test run before you actually have to sit down and take the exam. Have someone else go over your work so you can learn from your mistakes and use the template to practice writing better.
Doing a few practice runs beforehand will also boost your confidence level. When you feel confident and know what to expect from the exam, you will find it easier to ace the test. Preparation is key!
Grab an IELTS writing task 2 template and practice writing before the big day. You can practice all the relevant parts of the test ahead of time and go into the exam feeling great. That extra confidence boost can mean the difference between an okay score and a terrific one, so it’s worth taking the time to prepare for your test.
The key to IELTS Writing Task 2 success is to give the examiner exactly what they want and nothing else.
Below you will find everything you need to achieve a high score in IELTS Writing Task 2.
- 5 Step Approach Video
- Essential Information
- Task 2 Preparation
- Writing Task 2 Tips
- Essential Skills
- Sentence-by-Sentence Structures
- Common Topics
- Full Lessons On All Question Types.
- Sample Answers
- Correction Service and Online Course
- Easy to Understand Infographic
IELTS Writing Task 2: 5 Step Approach
IELTS Writing Task 2 requires you to write an academic-style essay on a common topic. You have 40 minutes to write at least 250 words.
Task 2 can be broken down and thought about more easily in 5 steps:
1. Question Analysis
You must first understand the question to know exactly what the examiner is looking for. One of the biggest mistakes students make is not answering the question properly. If you do not answer the question fully, you can’t score higher than a Band 5.
In order to do this, you must first identify the question type, then identify the keywords in the question and finally identify the instructions words in order to find out what the examiner wants you to do with the question. We will look at these skills in more detail below.
The students who get the highest marks plan before they write and they often plan for up to 10 minutes. Planning helps you organise your ideas and structure before you write, saving you time and helping you write a clear essay.
The introduction should tell the examiner what the rest of the essay is about and also answer the question directly. This tells the examiner that you know what you are doing straight away and helps you write your main body paragraphs.
4. Main Body Paragraphs
This is where you give the examiner more detail. You do this by stating your main points and supporting these with explanations and relevant examples.
Here you provide a summary of what you have already said in the rest of the essay.
That’s it you’re done!
See below for articles on the specific skills you need to do this and full lessons on each different question type.
IELTS Writing Task 2 Essential Information
Below are 10 essential facts about Task 2. Many students worry about these small details instead of focusing on what really matters- improving your performance. These facts will help you understand what the test is and how it is scored so that you can move on to improving your performance.
- You must write an essay in response to a question.
- You must write 250 words or more.
- You should spend around 40 minutes on this part of the test.
- Task 2 is worth 2/3 of your total mark on the Writing test.
- General Training and Academic are essentially the same for Task 2, but different for Task 1.
- There are certain types of questions you will be asked, such as opinion, discussion etc. See below for more detail on these.
- You will be assessed in four areas:
- Task Achievement (25%)
- Coherence and Cohesion (25%)
- Lexical Resource (25%)
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy (25%)
- The questions will be about common topics that most people in the world should be aware of.
- The most important thing is that you can demonstrate that you can clearly communicate in English.
- The key to doing well is to know exactly what the examiners want and giving it to them.
IELTS Writing Task 2 Preparation
Many people know that they need to improve their writing, but have no idea how to do that. Below is the methodology that I use with all of my successful students.
You must first understand what the IELTS Writing Task 2 is, what the examiners expect you to do and how to give the examiners what they want. This is the first stage and one that is often overlooked. There are a huge number of online resources, often with conflicting and poor quality information, so finding a reliable source of information is key.
If your car broke down, you would try and identify which part caused the problem. If you are sick, your doctor will run tests to find out the exact cause of your symptoms.
Task 2 is exactly the same. We must first identify WHY you are not getting the score you need before we can move to the next stage.
However, be very careful! You wouldn’t ask the average man on the street for medical advice, so make sure you find someone who actually knows what they are doing to help you with this.
Now that we know what the problems are we must fix these problems.
If your grammar needs work, fix those issues. If your vocabulary is lacking, work on fixing this issue.
Just like a good doctor will be able to help you fix a medical issue, a good IELTS teacher will be able to help you fix your particular issues.
Practice and Feedback
Practice alone is not going to help you. It is an essential part of your preparation, but you must also get feedback on your work if you are really going to improve.
You wouldn’t try to teach yourself how to drive without an instructor, would you?
Find someone who will give you accurate and helpful feedback on your work. If you don’t, you will not be able to move to the last stage.
Now that you understand what you need to do, you’ve identified the exact areas you need to work on, you’ve improved those areas and got feedback on your work, you are ready to improve and get the score you need. You are not ready to get the IELTS Writing Task 2 score you deserve.
Essential Writing Task 2 Skills
No matter how good your English is you still need to learn some IELTS writing skills before you do Writing Task 2. Below are helpful guides that will take you through each of these skills step-by-step.
Making a good plan actually saves you time when you write your essay. If you don’t plan you are more likely to get lost halfway through your essay and the result is normally a very confused piece of writing that is difficult to read. This guide will show you how to write a clear essay every time.
Thinking of good ideas is one of the most challenging parts of the test for some people. This guide provides 5 different methods to help you quickly think of relevant ideas that are directly linked to the question.
Complex sentences help you boost your score for grammar. Complex sentences are actually very simple to write and are not complex at all- in this article we show you how.
Paraphrasing is one of the essential IELTS skills, not just in Writing Task 2, but in all parts of the IELTS test. You should paraphrase the question in every essay and I recommend doing this in the very first sentence to help boost your vocabulary score.
Supporting paragraphs are the main body paragraphs and are the meat in the sandwich. This is where you provide the detail the examiner is looking for in the form of explanations and examples.
A thesis statement tells the examiner your opinion. Many IELTS Writing Task 2 questions specifically ask for your opinion and if you don’t write it clearly you have not answered the question properly. This article shows you how, where and when to give your opinion.
Around 250 words? Exactly 250 words or over 250 words? How many words over? How do I know how many words I have? This article answers all those questions.
A critical part of answering any question. This article shows you how to break down any Task 2 question and identify the keywords, micro-keywords and instruction words to help you answer the question effectively.
The introduction is the first thing the examiner reads and it is, therefore, essential that we give them a good first impression. I have a very specific sentence by sentence structure that I share in this article to help you write introductions quickly and effectively.
Do you know how Task 2 is marked? What is the difference between a Band 5 and a Band 8 answer? This article breaks the marking criteria down for you and explains it in simple language so you can give the IELTS examiners exactly what they want.
A good conclusion should be a summary of your main points. The conclusion is the last thing the examiner reads and if you can write a good one you will leave them with a very good impression.
Each of your supporting paragraphs should have a specific example that supports and illustrates your main point. This is an essential skill to learn if you want to get one of the higher band scores.
Cohesive devices, sometimes called linking words, are one of the most misunderstood and misused elements of writing. Learn how to use them and when to use them here.
Synonyms are very important, but they can also really reduce you mark if used incorrectly.
Learn how Tina went from a Band 6 to and Band 8 in IELTS Writing in just 6 weeks.
I recorded a video of me answering a Task 2 question live and thought out loud as I recorded my computer screen. This will give you an insight into how someone with lots of IELTS experience thinks about these questions.
This article will show you how to make your writing as clear and as easy to read as possible. It will also give you advice on whether to use a pen or pencil.
I have compiled these tips after years of teaching IELTS and all of them have been approved by IELTS examiners.
This is a video lesson that shows you in practical terms how to improve your coherence and cohesion score.
Writing Task 2 Structures
These structures give you a sentence-by-sentence structure for all the main Task 2 question types, making your job much easier on exam day.
One thing I would like to warn you about structures is that they are not a magic wand that will help you automatically get a higher score. They will help you, but please realise that they are just a small part of the overall score.
Writing Task 2 Common Topics
Knowing the common topics can help you prepare for the test more efficiently. Here are the 10 most common topics over the last few years. Studying hard is great, but don’t forget to study smart.
The article below will show you the top 10 most common IELTS topics.
The article below will show you how you can use the most common Task 2 topics to your advantage.
Full Writing Task 2 Practice Lessons
Here are some lessons that I have used when teaching students about Task 2. I have changed them so that you can easily learn at home. They are very long but combined with the skills above, they contain all the information you need.
Grammar and Vocabulary
Grammar is one of the four things you will be marked on in the Writing test. Finding out what your common grammar mistakes are and then fixing them is a very powerful way to boost your score in this area. Here are some common grammar mistakes I have found after making hundreds of tests.
It’s very important that you have some good examples so that you can compare your writing and see if you are on the right track. Click the link below for lots of sample answers and over 100 questions.
IELTS Writing Course
We offer help to a very small number of students with IELTS Writing Task 2 and all other areas of the test. I do not believe that simply offering students lots of videos helps them, so we do things very differently on our online courses.
We believe that students do best when they have full support and can get feedback and help with their particular problems. We treat our students as individuals, not numbers in a classroom. If you would like more information about our courses, please feel free to check them out here.
Due to the success of our courses and overwhelming demand, there is normally a waiting list.
Essay Correction Service
Need help writing essays like these? Check out our ESSAY CORRECTION SERVICE.
Click here to return to the homepage, or click one of the links below to check out more great IELTS stuff.
Writing Task 1