How To Tackle the 3 Main Types of IELTS Writing Task 2 Questions

In the IELTS Writing Task 2, candidates must write a short 250 word essay on a given topic.  One marking criteria – making up 25% of the score – is the Task Response, which checks to make sure that you answer all parts of the question/s being asked and that your ideas and examples are relevant to the question. Responses that are irrelevant or off-topic will be penalized. One of the problems here is that many students do not understand the types of questions asked and how to answer them. In this post, we will look at the three main types of questions you could see on the exam, how to identify them, and how you should tackle each of them. Knowing this will help increase your chances of scoring high in the IELTS.

Opinion on a Point of View

In this question type, the first sentence is an opinion about a social issue. You are then asked to what extent you agree with it or disagree with it.

Example:

“The first car appeared on British roads in 1888. By the year 2000 there may be as many as 29 million vehicles on British roads. Alternative forms of transport should be encouraged and international laws introduced to control car ownership and use. To what extent do you agree or disagree?”

Common Instructions:

    • To what extent do you agree (or disagree)?
    • How far do you agree (or disagree)?
    • What is your opinion?
    • Do you agree that…?
    • Discuss.
    • NOTE: If you are just asked “To what extent do you agree?” It means that you can disagree!

Writing Template:

  • Supporting Paragraph 1: Give your first point of view plus example to back this up.

I totally agree that alternative forms of transportation should be introduced as increased fuel emissions are heavily polluting our atmosphere. Encouraging the use of alternative forms of transport, such as walking or riding a bicycle, have no negative impact on the air quality, and have the additional benefit of keeping a society’s population fitter.

  • Supporting Paragraph 2: Give your second point of view plus example to back this up.

Introducing laws to limit car ownership and providing tax benefits for individuals that ditch driving into work for alternative transport could help reduce the number of cars on the road.  A recent survey from UK Car Magazine showed that 65% of car owners would seriously consider selling their car and instead walk or ride a bike to work if the government would reduce their overall taxes by 10%.

Tips:

  • Be careful not to confuse the background information from the opinion.  You must discuss the opinion.  Usually the background information will be in the first sentence and the opinion statement will be the second sentence as in the above example.
  • Spend plenty of time making sure that you fully understand what you are being asked.

Argument with Opposing Views

In this question type, you are given a problem or issue and two different solutions or opinions about it. Typically, you are then asked to consider both sides.

Example:

“Some people think that parents should teach their children how to be healthy and have a balanced diet. Others, however, believe that school is the best place to learn this. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.”

Common Instructions:

  • Discuss both views and give your opinion.
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?

Writing Template:

    • Supporting Paragraph 1: Agree to the first position and give an example.

On the one hand, I believe that it is important for parents to lead by example and practice healthy eating habits at home.  A recent survey by the World Heath Organization showed that children are 25% more likely to have their eating habits influenced by their family than by their peers.  Therefore it is essential that parents instill these habits at home.

  • Supporting Paragraph 2: Agree to the second position and give an example.

On the other hand, school is also a good place to learn about a balanced diet. Recent TV programs like the Jamie’s School Dinners, has highlighted the importance of serving healthy food choices in school cafeterias.  If students are regularly taught and given the opportunity to eat healthy food it is more likely to become a habit.

Problem and Solution

Here you are given a statement about a common social issue or problem and are asked to discuss it and provide a solution for it.

Example:

“Stress in modern life is increasing. What do you think are the main causes of this? What possible solutions can you suggest?”

Common Instructions:

    • “What are the causes of this?”
    • “What solutions can you suggest?”

Writing Template:

  • Supporting Paragraph 1: Discuss one cause of the problem stated and provide a relevant example.

I believe that longer working hours is the main causes of stress in the 21st Century. A study by the IMF published in 2014 showed that the average employ is working 10 hours more a week than they did 20 years ago in 1994.  In this same study respondents listed this as their number one cause of modern life stress.

  • Supporting Paragraph 2: Discuss one solution for the problem and provide a relevant example.

One solution to this problem would be for workers to agree with their managers that at least one day a week they can leave the office an hour earlier to their contracted normal working time. The British Working Union recently conducted an employee survey that noted that 75% of UK employees cited that having flexible working hours, such as leaving early one day a week, would greatly help reduce their stress levels.

Tips:

    • You must give your personal view. Do not just talk generally about the topic given.
    • Make sure you discuss both parts of the question.  If you only discuss one part you will be penalized on Task Achievement.

Overall Tips:

  • Include only one idea and one example per paragraph.  This will help keep your essay coherent and concise.
  • Keep your essay to 4 paragraphs – Introduction, Supporting Paragraph 1, Supporting Paragraph 2, and Conclusion.
  • The organization of the questions shows you the organization of your essay. Do not try to contradict it or be overly clever.
  • Before you start writing, spend five minutes generating your ideas and examples.
  • Practice makes perfect. Study with Magoosh’s IELTS prep to train for a better score.
  • Re-read the task regularly to check the you are answering the question.

By the way, sign up for our 1 Week Free Trial to try out Magoosh IELTS Prep!

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