Past IELTS Essay Questions: IELTS Writing Task 1 and 2 Samples

Every test-taker dreams of getting inside information on the most recent test questions. But what are the best, most current topics you can study? In this post, we’ll break down what to watch for when researching IELTS essay questions, and share IELTS writing samples that will help you prepare for the test.

IELTS writing samples - magoosh

Where can I find the latest IELTS essay questions from this year?

If you search the web for IELTS essay questions from this year, you’ll get a lot of results. What do these results have in common? None of them are from the official IELTS websites.

This is because the IELTS itself has a policy of not releasing its most recent exam materials. So where are all these supposedly brand-new IELTS essay topics coming from? And are these topics real?

Many websites claim to offer this year’s IELTS essay questions. However, such sites seldom provide any verification that the topics come from real recent tests. In past years, one of the top results for “IELTS Essay Topics 2017” boasted that it has a topic from an “actual test.” But beware of false advertising: When you click the link, there is no explanation as to how the website might have gotten a “real” essay question from an “actual” 2017 test.

You can possibly get brand new IELTS essay topics from people who have recently taken the test. But beware…

There is a somewhat more reliable source for IELTS essay topics from the current year: people who’ve actually taken the test. There are many forums on the Internet where people who’ve taken the IELTS are invited to share the essay topics from their exam.

There are also IELTS blogs and websites that invite their readers to post questions they saw when they sat the IELTS. However, Magoosh IELTS does NOT encourage its students to post comments with recent test content.

Why not? Two reasons.

Get a higher IELTS score? Start your online IELTS prep today with Magoosh.

Most importantly, if our students publicly share the contents of their exam, they may be putting their scores at risk. The IELTS has rules that forbid test-takers from publicly sharing the content of their exams. If students break those rules, it could invalidate their score, or cause them other legal problems.

In addition, the memory of test-takers may not be reliable. Taking an exam is stressful, and students can’t be expected to perfectly recall the wording of their IELTS essay questions. Do yourself a favor and review key test-taking strategies for IELTS Writing Task 1 and IELTS Writing Task 2, so you’ll be prepared regardless of what the topic is!

The good news is you don’t need the most recent IELTS essay topics

You see, the nice thing about the IELTS is that changes to the test happen slowly. There have been no significant changes to IELTS essay topics in the last several years. So you can prepare for this year’s essay topics by studying older IELTS essay questions. The older essay questions in the official IELTS prep books and the official IELTS websites are just fine. We’ve highlighted some examples below for you to use in your studies.

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Where can I find IELTS writing samples for Task 1?

Academic Writing Task 1

Academic Task 1 allows you to demonstrate that you can understand visual data and importantly, that you can describe it in a way that demonstrates this understanding. Learn more in our Complete Guide to Academic Writing Task 1.

Describing Bar Charts

IELTS writing samples - Academic Task 1 bar chart - magoosh

The bar chart below shows percentage of adults of different age groups in the UK who used the internet everyday from 2003-2006. (05/2015)

IELTS academic writing task 1 bar graph-magoosh

Describing Line Graphs

The graph shows the number of overseas visitors to different areas in a European country between 1987 and 2007. (07/2015)

IELTS writing samples - Academic Task 1 line graph - magoosh

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General Training Writing Task 1

The IELTS presents you with the kind of writing tasks that you may encounter in everyday life. You’re given 20 minutes to, for example, write a letter, using the details provided for a hypothetical circumstance. For more information, read our article on writing letters for the IELTS.

Example 1

IELTS writing samples - General Training Task 1 letter - magoosh

Example 2

You have applied to a course at a college in Australia, but you still have not received the reply. Write a letter to state:

  • The details of the course
  • Why you choose the course
  • Why you need the reply soon


Example 3

You are organizing a party. Write a letter to your friend and invite him to come to your party.

  • Explain why you hold the party
  • When will the party be held
  • Why you invited him


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Where can I find IELTS writing samples for Task 2?

Academic Writing Task 2

You will be provided with a topic, background information, and any relevant data that will be necessary to form a coherent argument. You may be asked a specific question to answer using the format of an essay, as in the example below. Learn more in our Complete Guide to Academic Writing Task 2.


IELTS writing samples - Academic Writing Task 2 agree or disagree - magoosh

Advantages vs. Disadvantages

In some countries, there has been an increase number of parents who educated their children themselves at home instead of sending them to school. Do you think the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages? (02/2016)

Problems/Reasons and Solutions

Many museums and historical sites are mainly visited by tourists, not local people. Why is this the case and what can be done to attract local people? (02/2015)

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General Training Writing Task 2

The second writing task is also in essay format. This means that you’ll be writing in paragraph form, introducing the topic at the start and concluding your main ideas as you finish. You’ll be provided with the necessary background information, a point of view on a topic, and other relevant data along with a prompt instructing you about what to include.


IELTS writing samples - General Training Task 2 letter - magoosh


Many people think learning subjects they do not like is a waste of time. To what extent do you agree or disagree? (03/2015)

Advantages vs. Disadvantages

Nowadays in many cities most people live in great apartment blocks. Does this kind of accommodation have more advantages or disadvantages? Give your views and some examples. (08/2015)

Discuss Both Views

Competitive sports are valuable because it gets people from different cultures together. However, it may also lead to conflict between different nationalities. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

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Give the practice IELTS writing samples above a try! Looking for more inspiration for your preparation? Check out our article for helpful hints on where to find the best free resources, including more IELTS writing samples. And then check out our complete guide to IELTS Writing.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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