How to Get Band 8-9 in IELTS Writing Task 2

Person studying IELTS Writing Task 2 Band 9 Tips

Today, we’re going to look at how to get a band 8 in IELTS Writing Task 2, or even possibly a band 9. Because the second task is the same on both IELTS versions, this post also tells you how how to get 8 in IELTS General Writing Task 2, or higher. Read on for IELTS Writing Task 2 Band 9 tips, a discussion of the differences between 8 and 9, and general advice on how to get a top score on Task 2.

Top IELTS Band 9 Tips for Writing Task 2

Whether you need to get an IELTS Band 8 or Band 9 on Writing Task 2, I recommend aiming for a 9. If you want your best score, aim as high as possible! Here are my top Band 9 tips, listed in the order you should do them. (You could also think of these as steps to a winning score!)

1. Read the Question Carefully

Carefully read the whole question so that you can answer every part of it. This is an easy first step toward a top IELTS Writing Task 2 score, but it’s also an easy step to miss. And it’s so important! You can be an amazing writer and still get low marks on IELTS Writing Task 2 if you don’t properly read the question and address it fully.

2. Brainstorm Your Essay

Do some prewriting to lay a strong foundation for your essay. Brainstorm ideas, writing them down. Then, choose the ideas that will go in your essay and write a very short outline that shows the ideas in the order they’ll appear. As you do this, here are a few key tips to remember.

  • Your essay should generally have two body paragraphs, so you’ll want to select two key ideas that can serve as topics for these paragraphs.
  • In your notes, it’s helpful to have separate lines for each body paragraph.
  • Your brainstorming notes can be very simple, but they should be easy to translate into a fully written essay, complete with an introduction, conclusion, and body paragraphs with explanations and examples.

For tips on how to brainstorm, then translate your notes into a winning Task 2 essay pattern, see Magoosh’s guides to brainstorming for the second IELTS Writing task, structuring IELTS Writing Task 2 body paragraphs, and following an IELTS Task 2 essay template.

3. Vary Your Sentence Structure

Sentence structure is important. Sentences should demonstrate good grammar. Good grammar is varied. This tip isn’t fun to read.

The four sentences above demonstrate why you should have varied grammar. If your sentences vary in length and structure, they will be much more enjoyable to read, and they’ll showcase your fluency in English. This in turn will help you really impress the IELTS Writing scorers and get you top marks; see how that works? 🙂

In short, great grammar is key to getting an 8+ in either version of the IELTS. This is true if you are wondering how to get 8 in IELTS General Writing Task 2, or if you’re aiming for a full 9 in IELTS Writing Task 2 Academic!

4. Use Transitions

Variety of vocabulary is as important as variety of grammar. And, while it is important to vary your choice of words in general, the most important words you’ll choose are the transitions. Strong transitions don’t just connect ideas; they also make it very clear how the ideas in your Task 2 response are connected.

If you’d like to see examples of strong transitions and effective word use, Magoosh has you covered! Check out Rachel’s guide to IELTS Writing linking words, and Eliot’s post on the best vocabulary for IELTS Writing Task 2.

5. Double-Check Your Work

Manage your time carefully and try to have about 5 minutes left after you initially write your essay. This should be enough time for you to go back, double check your work, and add little improvements for one last boost to your score in IELTS Writing Task 2.

How to Get Band 8+ in IELTS Writing: FAQs

So I’ve just walked you through ways to aim specifically for the very top band. But there are other pressing questions when it comes to getting a score in the 8-9 range. Let me give you the answers to a few of the questions I hear most often from students.

How do I avoid going off-topic in IELTS writing task 2?

If you write your IELTS Writing Task 2 off topic, even a little, it can significantly hurt your score, particularly in the area of Task Achievement on the official IELTS Writing Task 2 rubric (PDF). The trick is to make sure you fully understand the question, addressing each part both fully and correctly. It may help to underline or otherwise note the key words in the question. You should also revisit the question during your brainstorming step, to make sure you are focused on the question’s true meaning.

How can I improve my Writing Task 2 in IELTS?

“How to improve IELTS Writing Task 2” really is a big-picture question. Whether you’re trying to learn how to get 8 in IELTS General Writing Task 2 or how to score high in the Academic IELTS, seek out as much information as possible. Magoosh’s Complete Guide to IELTS Writing Task 2 is a great place to start.

As you move forward from there, the next big thing you can do is practice, practice, PRACTICE. As you do this, don’t forget to look at sample top-scoring essays, emulating them in your own practice. Here at Magoosh, I’ve created a set of practice questions for each of the IELTS Writing Task 2 question types, complete with links to Band 9 model responses.

Why do I keep getting 6.5 in IELTS Writing?

If you’re asking this question, you may have reached the dreaded plateau: a point in your practice where you can’t seem to get any better than you already are. There are many possible reasons that your essays might stay at the 6.5 level. The trick is to identify the exact reasons you keep getting a 6.5. Maybe you need to improve your use of vocabulary, or grammar. Or perhaps you are consistently doing poorly in some other key aspect of this essay.

A careful reading of the official IELTS Writing Task 2 level descriptors PDF can help you isolate the reason or reasons that you are stuck at 6.5 But ideally, you should get essay feedback from a real person. In some cases, this means hiring a tutor or taking a course. But there are cheaper ways to do this, and even free ones.

But you could also consult with a classmate for free, or share your essay and ask for feedback free-of-charge in an online IELTS forum, such as the Reddit IELTS community.

Final Thoughts on How to get 8 in IELTS General Writing Task 2 or Academic Writing Task 2

I would like to reiterate that the very best way to get a top IELTS score for Writing Task 2 is to aim as high as possible. This is why I recommend aiming for a band 9, even if the score you actually need is lower. So keep IELTS Band 9 in mind as you do the following:

  • Avoid making your IELTS Writing Task 2 off topic
  • Brainstorm and structure your essay
  • Develop strong paragraphs and varied sentences
  • Make good use of transitions and other word choices
  • Manage your time well
  • Practice with examples
  • Seek out feedback

Also bear in mind, of course, that your Writing task 2 score is only half of your overall IELTS Writing score. Once you’ve tackled IELTS Writing Task 2, make sure you also pay attention to Task 1; Magoosh’s Complete Guide to Task 1 is a great place to start. There, we have some Task 1 tips to match these IELTS Writing Task 2 Band 9 tips.

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. David has taught K-12 ESL in South Korea as well as undergraduate English and MBA-level business English at American universities. He has also trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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