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IELTS Academic Writing Task 2: The Complete Guide

IELTS Academic Writing Task 2 involves composing a formal five-paragraph essay in 40 minutes. This is the second of two writing tasks on the IELTS. The first section—Task 1—should take you only 20 minutes. Why spend more time on IELTS Writing Task 2? This basic comparison offers a few reasons:

  • Points: Task 2 counts more towards your Writing band score
    Task 1 = 1/3rd of your score
    Task 2 = 2/3rds of your score
  • Word count minimums: Task 2 is longer
    Task 1 = 150 word minimum
    Task 2 = 250 word minimum
  • Planning your response: Task 2 questions require more thought
    Task 1 = transfer of information from a visual into writing
    Task 2 = answer an open/abstract question with no clear or “correct” answer

ielts academic writing task 2

Even though Task 1 is by no means easy, most students find IELTS Writing Task 2 more challenging. It is well worth your time to write many Task 2 practice essays as you prepare for exam day. Understanding Task 2 deeply and developing an approach to the various question types you might face will make your practice even more effective.

The purpose of this guide is to help you master the IELTS Writing Task 2 skills you need in order to do well on this important section of the IELTS exam. Click on a section in the table of contents to skip directly to that topic, or continue reading below to start learning all about IELTS Writing Task 2.

Table of Contents

This post is all about the IELTS Academic Writing Task 2. If you’re looking for IELTS Writing Task 1 tips, click here!
 
Ielts writing task 2

IELTS Writing Task 2 Basics

Let’s begin with some basic tips for IELTS Writing Task 2:

Handwritten Responses

The IELTS is a pencil and paper exam, so your responses will be handwritten. It is essential that you handwrite (don’t type!) your practice essays for Task 2. Writing by hand helps you develop a sense of pacing. In other words, you will learn how quickly (or slowly!) you write with pencil and paper in English.

Importantly, as you’re probably aware, precious points will be deducted if you do not meet the minimum word requirements in the Writing section. But it is a huge waste of time to actually count your words on exam day. If you take the additional step of using official IELTS Writing Task 2 response sheets (download and print them here), you can see how many words you typically write on each page. You won’t have to count because you will know what that number of words looks like on the IELTS answer sheet.

Timing

Writing speed varies a lot from student to student. How you allocate time depends a lot on how fast you can write. The more you practice Task 2 responses, the quicker you will become. Your goal should be to allow enough time for these three things:

  • Essay planning 2 – 10 minutes
  • Writing 25 – 32 minutes
  • Editing 5 minutes (or more if possible)

As you practice, try very hard to cut down on the amount of time it takes to plan your responses before writing. Some students can take up to 10 minutes to brainstorm and plan. For most people, however, using 10 minutes at the beginning will take away too much time from writing and editing. I usually recommend three to five minutes of planning as a reasonable target. The more practice questions you answer, the faster you will become at generating ideas before you write.

Academic/Formal Writing

The IELTS expects you to use an academic/formal writing style. This means you should use the same kind of language that you would when writing a report for work or an essay for school. Obviously, you would avoid using “slang” words. You would also write in complete sentences and use proper punctuation. Here are some additional features of academic/formal writing to keep in mind for Task 2:
 

  • Organize ideas into separate paragraphs: You will lose points if you do not divide your essay into paragraphs. In the next section of this post, I’ve included an IELTS Writing Task 2 response template. The template includes the essential paragraphs you should include in your Task 2 response. Generally speaking, your essay must have an introduction paragraph, 2 – 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  •  

  • Write in complete sentences: Make sure each sentence you write has an independent clause with a subject and verb. When you write complex or compound sentences, use “connectors” like coordinating conjunctions (and, but, so, etc) or subordinating conjunctions (when, although, because, etc).
  •  

  • Avoid repetition of words and ideas: Your ideas should move from one to the next logically, and you should show off your vocabulary by avoiding redundancy (don’t repeat the same words over and over).
  •  

  • Avoid “slang:” The English you hear in the movies or read on social media is often inappropriate for formal writing. It is a big problem to use words like “dude” or spellings like “U” (for “you”) on the IELTS.
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  • Thoughtful and Neutral Tone: Academic/formal writing has a very careful and thoughtful tone. It rarely sounds angry, excited, or overly certain about an idea. It is also best to avoid broad generalizations in formal/academic compositions. Here are some examples to demonstrate:

 

NOT ACADEMIC: I hate this idea! (Too excited/angry)
ACADEMIC: This idea has some problems to consider.

 

NOT ACADEMIC: Everyone is distracted by cell phones these days.(Too broad)
ACADEMIC: Many people are distracted by cell phones these days.

 

NOT ACADEMIC: I have the best solution to the problem. (Too certain)
ACADEMIC: I would suggest this solution to the problem.

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Ielts writing task 2

IELTS Academic Writing Task 2 Essay Organization & Example

In this section, we will look at the overall structure of an IELTS Writing Task 2 response. Before we get to that, however, let’s take a look at a sample Task 2 question. Read it over and take a moment to think: How would you respond?

IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Question

IELTS Writing Task 2 example

Planning Before You Write

When you first encounter an IELTS Writing Task 2 question, try to decide what perspective you will take fairly quickly. Unfortunately, the IELTS doesn’t give you much time to do this. Making matters worse, it is fairly likely that you won’t have strong, well-developed opinions about the topic. Don’t worry. Task 2 questions are (intentionally) debatable, with no clearly “correct” answer.
 
Fortunately, unlike an essay you might write for work or school, it is not important to present your true opinions on the IELTS. Remember, the IELTS is an English language test. It is not a test of what you know about the topic of your Task 2 question. While you should present reasonable ideas in a clear and logical way, you can argue any side of the question and do well. Therefore, rather than worrying about (and spending time on) formulating your true opinion on your Task 2 topic, ask yourself the following question instead:
 
“What is the easiest way for me to answer this question?”
 
Can you think of some main ideas and/or examples quickly for one side of an argument? Even if these ideas don’t fully represent your perspective, just go with them on the IELTS. You don’t want to waste too much time thinking about how to express your true opinions.
 
Once you’ve chosen a perspective on your question, you can do some planning/brainstorming. Below are some planning notes for our sample Task 2 question (introduced above). On exam day, you won’t have a chart like this to fill in. The chart simply helps to make the information easier to read in this post. Basically, your goal in the planning phase is to come up with a main idea for each paragraph of your essay. We will discuss each of these paragraphs in more detail below the chart.

IELTS Writing Task 2 exa

Writing your Essay

When you’ve done some initial planning, you’re ready to dive into a writing. Let’s take a closer look at how to organize your Academic Writing Task 2 response paragraph by paragraph. After you read about each paragraph, look at the sample Task 2 essay immediately below this section as an example.

The Introduction Paragraph
An introduction is a very important element of your Task 2 essay. Practicing introductions can really pay off, even if you don’t follow through and write a full practice essay every time. Many students get stuck at the very beginning, not knowing how to respond to the question in the introduction. Let’s look at what to do.
 
IELTS Writing Task 2 introductions can be short and simple. A two-sentence introduction should be your goal. There are two main parts of a Task 2 introduction to include every time:

  • Topic Presentation:
  • In this first sentence of your introduction, you simply need to paraphrase the topic described in your question prompt. In other words, find a way to accurately state the topic in your own words. Try to avoid using the same words and phrases as the prompt.
     

  • Thesis:
  • After presenting the topic, you need to provide your perspective on it. This is your thesis. It is a sentence that expresses the main idea of your essay. At a minimum, you need to provide a general answer the question prompt in your thesis: “I believe that…”, or “I agree that…”. A really great thesis also introduces the main ideas of each body paragraph in a general way. Take a look at the sample essay below. Notice how the thesis introduces the main idea of both body paragraphs.
     
    Important! You MUST answer the essay question directly in your thesis. Students sometimes lose points because their thesis does not answer the question directly enough. Read your question prompt carefully and make sure your essay will answer every part of the question.

2-3 Body Paragraphs
The next two (or if necessary, three) paragraphs of your IELTS Task 2 essay are your opportunity to explain your thesis. Each body paragraph should present ONE main point. If your question prompt includes several questions, you should write a body paragraph for each one. The main point of each body paragraph must relate directly to your thesis statement in the introduction. Use supporting details and/or examples to explain your main point before moving on to the next body paragraph.

Conclusion
Don’t spend a long time on your conclusion. A good IELTS Task 2 conclusion should be one or two sentences long. Simply paraphrase your thesis and main points from your body paragraphs to close out your essay. This means you should avoid using the same words, phrases, and sentence structures as your thesis statement. Definitely do not copy your thesis statement word-for-word as your conclusion.

Before we dig into an example IELTS Task 2 essay, check out the video below and try your hand at writing an introduction paragraph.

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Ielts writing task 2

Sample IELTS Task 2 Essay

Let’s take a look at an example essay containing each of the Task 2 paragraphs described above.

IELTS Writing Task 2 example

Some parents may worry that pushing their children towards a particular career could be harmful. While I agree it is unwise to predetermine a child’s profession, parents should still offer guidance through open communication.
 
Young people need freedom to make choices, especially when it comes to their careers. Even parents who agree with this idea may still feel some anxiety about it. Ultimately, most parents hope their children will be financially secure. Deep down some parents may also want their children to choose prestigious careers, or jobs that will impact society in some way. These wishes are normal and not necessarily harmful. Yet, it can be problematic if these desires turn into firm expectations. In such cases, the main motivation for a child becomes fear of disappointing her parents. It can lead to resentment if she spends her life doing something she doesn’t enjoy. With freedom to explore, by contrast, she can take ownership of her career decisions and develop internal motivation to reach her goals.
 
Yet, offering a child freedom does not imply that parents should be absent. To the contrary, parents should strive to foster open communication about career decisions. If a child’s aspirations do not line up with his parents’ wishes, he may fear that approaching them could lead to judgement and confrontation. However, if he feels that his parents will listen carefully and maintain an open attitude, he may let down his guard and welcome their feedback. When this happens, parents can provide guidance and, importantly, even critiques of their child’s plans. In this way, open communication creates opportunities for young people to benefit from their parents’ wisdom and experience.
 
In conclusion, even though parents should avoid pressuring their children to follow specific career paths, they should not abandon the discussion. Parents should strive to create an environment where they can offer caring guidance through open communication.

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Ielts writing task 2

IELTS Writing Task 2 Question Types

No matter what question you get for IELTS Writing Task 2, your goal should always be to answer the question completely and directly. Take time, every time, to read the prompt carefully and understand it fully. In Task 2, you are always required to provide your perspective on a topic. However, there are a variety IELTS Writing Task 2 question types you may encounter. The charts below present the five basic IELTS Writing Task 2 question types, and offer some tips on how to organize your responses for each one.

to what extent do you agree
 
what are advantages disadvantages
 
causes solutions to a problem
 

 
thematic questions

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Improving Your IELTS Writing Task 2 Score (By Scoring Category)

There are four scoring categories for IELTS Writing Task 2:

  1. Task Response
  2. Grammatical Range and Accuracy
  3. Lexical Resource
  4. Coherence and Cohesion

Here are some tips to help you improve your score in each category.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Scoring Categories

1. Task Response

This his is a measurement of how well you fulfilled the basic requirements of the task based on the instructions. Following the template and organization advice above helps you most in this category.

2. Grammatical Range and Accuracy

This is a measurement of your ability to use a wide range of grammatical structures without making a lot of grammatical errors. If you have enough time (a few months or more) before you take the IELTS, consider taking an English class or investing in a good grammar book for self-study. I often recommend this grammar book to intermediate and advanced students. It offers clear grammar explanations and contains many practice exercises.

Here are some additional grammar tips to help you, even if your IELTS exam is coming up soon and you don’t have time to take a class or study a textbook!

Grammar Tip 1: Don’t use the same simple sentence structures over and over.

The next time you write a practice response, take a close look at your sentence structures. Do you use a variety of sentence patterns? English language learners often develop a habit of using forms of the “BE” verb (am, is, are, was, were) very frequently as the main verb of the sentence. Using “BE” verbs is not a problem (I have used many in this blog post!!), but using them too often makes your writing sound very basic. Importantly, using “BE” verbs repeatedly also limits your grammatical range. Choosing more descriptive verbs opens up many grammatical possibilities. For example, you can use adverbs and adverbial phrases to describe an action. By limiting yourself to forms of “BE” as the main verb, you will mainly rely on adjectives for description.

To work on this, go back through your practice essays and try to change every sentence that includes a “BE” verb as the main verb. Don’t worry about sentences with “BE” auxiliary verbs like this:

She is running.

“Running” is the main verb of this sentence and “is” is an auxiliary. There is no need to change this. You want to edit sentences that look like this:

Michael is a history professor at my college.

“Is” is the main verb of the sentence. When you revise these sentences, don’t change the meaning of the sentence too much. The sentence should still fit logically in your essay. This can be tough! Making these changes will force you to use different sentence patterns and, importantly, more descriptive verbs and adverbs when you write. Please note—you do not need to avoid all “BE” verbs when you write for the IELTS exam. This exercise simply helps you to develop your ability to use a variety of grammatical structures. Review the following examples:

Original sentence: Mary is an excellent teacher, so students always love taking her class.

Revised sentence: Mary teaches so well that students always love taking her class.

Grammar Tip 2: Use complex sentence structures

On the IELTS, you need to prove that you can write advanced sentences without mistakes. Therefore, you should include some complex sentence patterns in your writing. What is a complex sentence? Complex sentences include “subordinating conjunctions,” which introduce a variety of dependent clauses in English. Look over this review of dependent and independent clauses if you need to. Below are some examples of subordinating conjunctions:

Adverbial Subordinators (there are many!):

Even though
Whereas
While
When
Because
Since
Etc

Adjective Clause Subordinators:

Who
Whom
Which
That
Whose

Noun Clause Subordinators:

What
When
Where
How
Who

A few complex sentence examples:

Adverbial:
Even though it rained all weekend, we had a great time.
I like playing chess because it provides a mental challenge.

Adjective:
I threw the ball to my friend, who was not ready to catch it.
Unfortunately, I can’t find pen that you loaned me.

Noun clause:
I didn’t hear what you said.
Please show me how I can fill out this form correctly.

You don’t want to overuse these complex structures. It’s best to mix complex sentences with simpler ones for clarity. Also, don’t confuse the word “complex” with the word “long.” In general, you should try to avoid very long sentences to make your writing clear and easy to understand. Having some longer sentences won’t hurt you, but, again, aim for a mixture.

Grammar Tip 3: Check your verb tenses as you edit

Spend some time reviewing verb tenses as you study. If possible, find a teacher or a native English speaker to evaluate your writing to see if you make consistent mistakes. Tense errors are a common mistake in IELTS responses. Time is very limited, making it easy to use the wrong verb forms. Yet, these are mistakes that many students can easily edit on their own. If you notice that you forget to use past tenses when writing about the past, for example, it might not mean that you need to do a full review of past tense verbs. Instead, it might mean that you need to save a little time for yourself after writing to check your work.

When you practice writing for the IELTS, take as much time as you need to look for errors when you’re done writing. In fact, make sure you keep all your practice essays and pull them out again a week or two after you wrote them. Often, you’ll find new errors and think of better ways to express the ideas in your essays.

3. Lexical Resource

This is your ability to use a wide range of vocabulary correctly (without errors) and appropriately (in the proper context) in your written responses. It should go without saying that studying vocabulary regularly will help you improve most in this area. Magoosh has (free!) IELTS vocabulary flashcards to get you started. You should try to learn 15 – 20 new words each day! Beyond learning new words, however, there are a few additional steps you can take to improve your “Lexical Resource” score.

Practice Paraphrasing

As noted above, you must paraphrase the language from the question prompt and the visuals as much as possible in your Writing Task 2 responses. Taking large chunks of language directly from the question and visual will definitely lower your score. Whenever you practice a Writing Task 2 response, make sure to study any example essays included in your practice materials. Take note of how the author paraphrases the language in the question prompt and compare it to your own paraphrases. By doing this, you can learn a lot of helpful words and phrases.

Avoid Redundancy

A second tip to boost your Lexical Resource score is to focus on avoiding redundancy in your writing. Redundancy happens when you use the same words or phrases over and over again; however, there will be some key terms that you can’t avoid. For example, in our example response, it was difficult to avoid the phrases “computer ownership” and “education level.” Other words are much easier to replace with synonyms. For instance, in Task 2 responses, you will often write about numbers that “increase” or “decrease.” There are many synonyms for these words:

Rise – Fall
Go up – Go down
Jump – Decline
Spike – Dip
Skyrocket – Plummet

If you notice that you’re using the same words again and again as you practice writing Task 2 responses, work on building your knowledge of synonyms and paraphrases. A thesaurus is a handy tool. However, if at all possible, try to get feedback about the new words you use from a native English speaker. Often, the synonyms you find will have a slightly different meaning or use from the word you’re trying to replace. As a general rule, you should always choose a word that you know to be correct over one that you don’t know well.

4. Coherence and Cohesion

This a measurement of your ability to present ideas logically and clearly. In other words, the IELTS wants to see that your ideas make sense in the order you present them and that they work together in a logical way.

Transition words and phrases

One of the best things you can do to improve your “Coherence and Cohesion” score is to master useful transition words. Therefore, study a list of transition words like this list to add to your repertoire. You should learn as many of these as possible to have a range of words and phrases from which to choose as you write. As noted in other places above, it hurts your score to use the same phrases over and over again. You need to avoid redundancy with transition words as well. Also, avoid using a transition word or phrase in every sentence. Only include them when it will help you to show the relationship between ideas more clearly.

Referencing

Another aspect of your “Coherence and Cohesion” score relates to “referencing.” This is your ability to use various pronouns accurately and appropriately. For example:

I learned how to knit a sweater from my grandmother. It took a long time to learn.
“It” refers to “how to knit a sweater”

We had a great time on holiday in Hawaii. I want to go back there!
“There” refers to “Hawaii.”

Referencing helps you to avoid redundancy because you don’t mention the same nouns over and over again. Importantly, it also pulls your sentences together, linking ideas and concepts. Practice using pronouns as you write and make sure to look for pronoun errors as you edit your work!

The Template

A final important aspect of your “Coherence and Cohesion” score is the overall organization of your response. Your paragraphs should be organized logically, and your ideas should progress in a clear way from one sentence to the next. This involves using transition words (discussed above), but it also relates to what we covered in the middle of this post—the Writing Task 2 Template. Mastering this template is a great way to boost your Coherence and Cohesion band score!

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Ielts writing task 2

Additional Resources

Now you’re ready to go and practice Academic Task 2 responses. You should practice regularly and try your best to create real test conditions, limiting yourself very strictly to 20 minutes and writing your responses by hand. Our free Academic Writing Practice Test video is a good place to get started. Check it out below!

When studying for the IELTS, finding the time and staying motivated to study can be challenging. To help you organize your time, use this IELTS study schedule if you only have a week to go before you will take the IELTS. If you have a month, this one month IELTS study schedule offers more extended practice.
 
You will also need some high-quality study materials. Here is a list of excellent IELTS study resources to get you started. And don’t forget about our IELTS Prep which includes lessons on IELTS writing Task 2 (and all other sections of the exam!) to help you prep smarter. Good luck!

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46 Responses to IELTS Academic Writing Task 2: The Complete Guide

  1. Nanda Nepal July 27, 2017 at 11:44 pm #

    Thanks a lot for creating this pretty much useful guiding blog.

    • Eliot Friesen
      Eliot Friesen July 28, 2017 at 9:00 am #

      You’re welcome, Nanda! I’m glad you’re finding it so useful. Good luck with your studies!

  2. Kaif Ahsan August 2, 2017 at 9:53 am #

    Very organized and exhaustive article. The writer gave us a meticulous insight into task 2. Found it very useful. Thank you!!

    • Eliot Friesen
      Eliot Friesen August 2, 2017 at 10:19 am #

      Thank you for your feedback, Kaif! I’m glad you found the guide so helpful!

  3. sajedah August 16, 2017 at 9:33 am #

    Thank you a lot!

    • Eliot Friesen
      Eliot Friesen August 16, 2017 at 9:40 am #

      You’re welcome! Happy studying!

  4. Mari August 31, 2017 at 7:20 am #

    Dear Eliot,
    if the question is: “Do you think the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?” do I need to answer in the introduction or I can answer after discussing advantages and disadvantages?
    Thank you in advance

    • Eliot Friesen
      Eliot Friesen August 31, 2017 at 8:59 am #

      Hi Mari! Great question! As a general rule, you should always present your basic idea at the beginning of the essay. Some IELTS essay questions only ask you to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of something (not your opinion). Therefore, in your introduction, you simply need to summarize the advantages and disadvantages that you will discuss in detail in the body paragraphs. However, when a Task 2 IELTS question asks for your opinion, it’s very important to state your viewpoint in your introduction as well.

      • Mari September 1, 2017 at 12:30 am #

        Perfect! Thank you very much!
        And thank you for the article, is very useful!

        • Eliot Friesen
          Eliot Friesen September 1, 2017 at 8:31 am #

          You’re welcome, Mari! I’m glad you find the article helpful. Happy studying!

  5. Sazzad September 14, 2017 at 12:11 pm #

    Sorry I can’t find the 5th one of your question types.

    • Eliot Friesen
      Eliot Friesen September 14, 2017 at 1:27 pm #

      Hi Sazzad! Thanks for your question. You can find the 5th Task 2 question type on the table with the title “Thematic Questions.” Thematic Questions are a Task 2 question type that involve answering a set of questions that relate to a theme.

  6. Joel September 24, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

    Thanks a lot. This was very useful.

    • Eliot Friesen
      Eliot Friesen September 24, 2017 at 9:44 pm #

      I’m glad you found the post useful, Joel! Good luck with your IELTS studies.

  7. Shanawaz aalam October 5, 2017 at 6:07 am #

    Thanks for this great article.
    I would like to ask something. What one should do if someone doesn’t have enough information/points as per word requirements on that particular topic, how one should complete the task?

    • Eliot Friesen
      Eliot Friesen October 5, 2017 at 9:44 am #

      Thanks for your question, Shanawaz! It’s a good one because many IELTS-takers struggle with this same problem. Here’s a tip that has worked for many of my students: add more details and examples to your body paragraphs. If you go back and look at the sample essay in this blog post (about giving kids freedom to choose their careers), you’ll see that each body paragraph has main point, but there are many details (in this case, reasons) included to explain the main points further. Depending on the topic, you can use examples from your life and experience, people you know, or simply from what you have learned somehow. Just make sure that every detail in each paragraph relates to the main idea of the paragraph directly.

      I hope this helps! Happy studying.–Eliot

  8. kamaljeet singh October 7, 2017 at 10:40 pm #

    It’s a phenomenal thing we learn a lot with the help of this
    Thx a lot sir

    • Eliot Friesen
      Eliot Friesen October 8, 2017 at 6:00 pm #

      I’m glad you found it helpful, Kamaljeet! Good luck with your IELTS preparation.

  9. Angelina October 15, 2017 at 5:37 am #

    Eliot, thank you very much for your post, it was really useful!
    I would like to ask you a question. When writing body paragraphs, one paragraph represents its own idea. Do we need to do give several arguments (clearly dividing them by “first”, “second” and “finally”, for example) and then supporting ideas to each argument for the idea in the paragraph? Or can we simply state the idea and then explain it with examples? I’m wondering how strict the structure should be.

    • Eliot Friesen
      Eliot Friesen October 16, 2017 at 10:11 am #

      Hi Angelina! Thank you for your question. It’s a good one!

      The answer is that you have some flexibility. You do not need to follow the same pattern in each essay. If you have a list of something (for example, two or three supporting reasons in one paragraph), it is a very good idea to clearly state the organization of your ideas with a list. The pattern you used in your example is a good one (first, second, third), but you can also say things like, “The first reason I like this idea is…” and then discuss this reason for a sentence or two. Then you can transition, “Another reason to support this idea is…” and then do the same as before–provide an example or explain your reason in more detail in a sentence or two.

      Now, back to your question. Can you provide a few examples instead of presenting reasons or arguments in your paragraphs? Yes! If you want to explain your main idea with examples instead of reasons, you can use the same strategy as above. Introduce your examples so the reader has a clear idea how you are organizing your ideas. You can do it this way:

      One example is….[and write a sentence or two to describe your example]. Another example is….[and write a sentence or two to describe your example].

      However, I would add one important note here: If you write a body paragraph that uses only examples to support the main idea, you should always make sure to say, very clearly, how your examples relate to the main idea of your paragraph. After you provide an example, you can write things like this:

      This example shows that…
      This situation means..
      I believe this example shows…

      I hope this helps with your question! Good luck with your IELTS studies!

  10. Kalash Acharya November 1, 2017 at 7:53 am #

    Ooops …wish I found it little earlier because tomorrow is my test. However, I do have a query that could help for next test takers. In the answer sheet of booklet of some Cambridge book, I have found sample answer by the examiner which include introduction in the first paragraph followed by explaining the both argument and then giving ones opinion. I found is little bit contradictory as I referred here. How far is it considerable in giving ones opinion just prior to concluding paragraph and on what type of questions?
    Anyway, really a great job…!!!

    • Eliot Friesen
      Eliot Friesen November 1, 2017 at 9:11 am #

      Hi Kalash! Thank you for your comment. I think I understand your question and I will do my best to answer it. However, if I have missed your point, please let me know and I will follow-up!

      Yes, it is fine to offer your opinion in the final paragraph, especially in Task 2 questions where the question says something like “discuss both sides and give your opinion.” Actually, there are many ways to organize a clear response to questions like these. The suggestions in this blog post (or any other place you find information about Task 2 essays!) are there to help you think of ways to present your ideas clearly.

      In this case, you could discuss Side 1 in the first body paragraph, Side 2 in the second body paragraph, and then you could write a full third paragraph providing your opinion. However, you could also present Side 1 and offer your opinion about it in one body paragraph, and then present Side 2 and offer your opinion about it in a second body paragraph.

      One thing you MUST do in both cases is present your opinion in your thesis statement (the last sentence of the introduction). No matter how you decide to organize your body paragraphs, this element is essential.

      I hope this helps!

      Good luck on your test tomorrow!!

      –Eliot

  11. john November 3, 2017 at 10:54 am #

    hey there

    I have a question. I took the exam a couple of days ago. i was able to finish both task 1 and task 2. However, I used 2 papers for my task 2, which I forgot to put a page number on top. Will that affect my grade? Im kinda freaking out hehe

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert November 6, 2017 at 3:56 pm #

      Hi John,

      I doubt anything significant will happen to you or your score. We can’t say for sure (it will depend on the rater) but this type of thing happens frequently. Good luck! 🙂

  12. Gurpreet November 21, 2017 at 8:21 am #

    Sir, Is there any difference between essay structure asking Do you agree or disagree and to what extent do you agree or disagree??

    • Eliot Friesen
      Eliot Friesen November 21, 2017 at 9:54 am #

      Hi Gurpreet,

      Great question! No, there is no difference between these questions and you can approach them the same way. In other words, you may argue for just one side, or you can make a balanced argument that focuses on the strengths and/or weaknesses of both sides. If you make a balanced argument, keep in mind that you should NOT argue that both sides are equally good or equally bad. You must take a position and choose the side you think is best. Make this argument clear in your thesis statement in the introduction.

      Happy studying!

      Eliot

  13. Anu December 12, 2017 at 12:18 am #

    Hi Eliot, thanks for this very helpful article.

    My question is, can I make statements like, “In my country, we have the practice of…” Will there be an identity-revealing issue or is this an acceptable approach?

    Thanks,

    • Eliot Friesen
      Eliot Friesen December 12, 2017 at 9:30 am #

      Hi Anu! I don’t think this statement would cause you a problem. You are free to use examples from your life and experience on Task 2, so long as the examples you choose fit the question prompt.

      However, it’s possible I don’t fully understand your concern about revealing identity. If so, please say more about what you have in mind.

  14. Nana December 28, 2017 at 6:09 am #

    I sent this link to my students that I’m currently tutoring. Saves me a lot of time! The explanations are clear and thorough. Thank you so much.

  15. Yeshaswini December 29, 2017 at 6:53 am #

    Hi Eliot , your blog really helped me a lot.
    I have a question. When we are asked to discuss both sides and give our opinion, can I write my opinion in the conclusion paragraph instead of writing separate paragraph before conclusion.
    Thanks in advance

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert December 30, 2017 at 8:01 am #

      Hi Yeshaswini,

      It is not ideal to end an essay with new information (in this case, your opinion) which is why we recommend the opinion coming before the conclusion. But if you are in a situation where you truly feel this is better, you can definitely pull it off.

  16. manavpreet January 2, 2018 at 5:47 am #

    it is very helpfullthank you so much

  17. Vera Benitz January 3, 2018 at 4:35 pm #

    Question:

    In your “Writing IELTS Part 2 Question Types”
    “Discuss both sides and give your opinion”, you say that there should be 3 paragraphs, but at the free iELTS preparation course, they say, that “your opinion” goes into the conclusion.
    What is right?
    Thanks
    Vera

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 4, 2018 at 1:52 pm #

      Hi Vera,

      If you look at the example essay we provided here, you’ll see that there is a short introduction paragraph and a short conclusion paragraph that both express the author’s opinion. The two body paragraphs allow you to write about both sides of the issue and show your thought process. We should note here that there is no secret ‘formula’ on the IELTS–there are guidelines to help you craft your essay. It sounds like our advice matches pretty closely with what you heard from the free IELTS preparation course, but the most important thing is to show that you can write well in English 🙂

  18. Samitha January 12, 2018 at 6:14 pm #

    Thanks for the tips! I do have a few questions. When the topic question is about, “to what extent do you agree or disagree?”, do you have to pick a side? If you feel like the topic has both pros and cons, can you write the pro’s in para 1 and cons in para 2?

    Also, when you are writing different examples to support a claim you make, can the different examples be in the same paragraph?

    Thanks for your help!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 16, 2018 at 12:29 pm #

      Hi Samitha,

      There is no one correct answer here–the purpose of Task 2 is to show that you can write well in English. The content doesn’t matter that much (you don’t need to convince anyone of anything) but you do need to show that you understand the prompt and can construct a response to it. Yes–you can use one paragraph to show how you agree (pros) and another paragraph to show how you might not agree (cons). In the brainstorm example we gave in this blog post, the person mostly agreed with the prompt, but also provided some reasons against the prompt. As long as you write a strong and logical essay, you’ll be fine 🙂

      Each body paragraph should be a different major idea or claim. If you have time, you can write several examples in one paragraph as long as they all relate to the same claim. If you follow the structure above, you can have several examples for the ‘pro’ paragraph and several for the ‘con’ paragraph–just keep an eye on the time to make sure you can write the entire essay in time 🙂

  19. NOUMAN January 20, 2018 at 6:48 am #

    hi, you have written wonderful article . I have a question for you if you could reply me i would be thankful.My question is that may i learn some essay by heart like 40 or 50 essay ?so it could help to get idea on time and might be possible i get exact same one of them in writing task 2

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 20, 2018 at 1:43 pm #

      Hi Nouman,

      Thanks for reaching out! It’s not a good idea to think of trying to memorize essays in order to succeed on the writing test. They could ask you about anything at all in Task 2, and there’s no list of questions that you can draw from. Instead of spending your time trying to memorize essays, you should use your time to improve your general writing ability, understand the strategy associated with how to write an essay, and practice as much as possible. This is what is really going to help you improve! The templates that we provide you with here are useful because they will help you to organize your essay. Good luck!

  20. Ranvir January 24, 2018 at 9:07 am #

    I am very much confused about example that is asked to give in task II. How example can be mentioned?
    Another question is supposed there is statement related to agree or disagree, can we partial for it? If yes/no then how?

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert January 24, 2018 at 7:34 pm #

      Hi Ranvir,

      The purpose of task 2 is to show that you can express your ideas clearly in written English. In the second task, you should try to find examples that support your point. You can think of things logically or from your personal life that you can use to make your argument.

      It’s ok to partially agree with the prompt and partially disagree, as long as you clearly state both sides. In the example essay, the author agrees in the first paragraph but disagrees in the second paragraph. In the conclusion, the author discusses both sides and makes his point clearly.

      The best way to get used to this is just to write as much as possible! The more you practice, the easier it will be to think of examples and write your opinions down 🙂

  21. Suvam sigdel February 3, 2018 at 3:43 am #

    Thanks for your enormous support. Really helped!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 5, 2018 at 1:36 pm #

      Hi Suvam,

      I’m so glad this was helpful! Happy studying 🙂

  22. Lakhana February 4, 2018 at 1:20 am #

    Hi sir, i would like you to give me a feedback on this introduction of mine which is answer to your example in the video.
    “Home town is the place that many people, including me love so much. In order to develop it, i would come up with some suggestions in altering it. I believe that these points will benefit to enhance my home land.”
    Thanks in advance sir!

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 5, 2018 at 1:57 pm #

      Hi Lakhana,

      I’m glad that you found this video and blog post useful! Unfortunately, we are a small team with a lot of projects, and we are not able to provide personalized feedback on writing. I’m sorry about that! There are many different forums and other places where you can find people willing to edit your essays. Best of luck!

  23. janine February 11, 2018 at 2:36 pm #

    Good day

    I have written the IELTS academic test twice and even though I receive good marks for speaking, listening and reading, I have received 6.5 for writing both times. The first time I couldn’t finish my conclusion, which would make sense that I only got 6.5. But the second time I completed it all with the right amount of words and paragraphs. I’m not sure how to go abouts studying for this as I don’t know where my faults are – I wish they could return your test results to help you prepare better.

    Any advise would be lovely.

    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 12, 2018 at 10:06 am #

      Hi Janine,

      It is definitely frustrating not to get any feedback on your writing for the IELTS! However, there are still plenty of ways that you can improve on this score! First, I recommend that you look over any practice essays that you wrote, especially timed ones that you wrote right before the exam. It’s likely that any mistakes you made on the actual exam are pretty similar to the mistakes you made on these practice essays. Take some time to analyze these essays according to the Band Descriptors released by IELTS (https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/IELTS_task_1_Writing_band_descriptors.pdf and https://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/sites/default/files/IELTS_task_2_Writing_band_descriptors.pdf). You can also post some of your essays on message boards such as the one on the IELTS Australia page (https://ielts.com.au/forums/). If possible, have a friend or tutor with a high English level look over your essays and provide some feedback.
      You should also definitely continue to write as many practice essays as possible and analyze each one. This should give you a good sense of what you need to improve and how you can do it. The more you practice and analyze your essays, the more you will improve! Good luck 🙂


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