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Written by Ashlee Fisher

The IELTS test is a globally recognized assessment that measures the English language proficiency of a variety of candidates. Within the Writing section, Task 2 presents a significant challenge, requiring candidates to craft a well-structured essay on a given topic. One key aspect that can greatly impact your performance in Task 2 is the skillful use of keywords and phrases. In this blog post, we will delve into the pivotal role of keywords and phrases, explore their multifaceted functions, and provide you with practical insights on how to effectively incorporate them into your essay. By mastering this essential technique, you can unlock your potential and maximize your score in Task 2 of the IELTS test.

Understanding the Importance of Keywords

Keywords and phrases serve as the foundation of any essay, providing structure and coherence to your ideas. In Task 2, these words guide you in comprehending the essay question and help you generate relevant ideas for your response. By paying careful attention to the keywords, you can ensure that your essay remains focused and addresses all aspects of the given topic.

Moreover, keywords provide clues about the task type, indicating whether you need to provide advantages and disadvantages, discuss both sides of an argument, or present your opinion. They also help you determine the appropriate tone and register to use in your writing.

Recognizing Different Types of Keywords and Phrases

The word keyword is written in letters on a table. A hand holding the letter K. The letter K is yellow

Task 2 questions often contain specific keywords that signal the direction of the essay. Let's explore some common types of keywords and their functions:

  1. Action verbs: Verbs like 'discuss,' 'compare,' 'analyze,' 'evaluate,' or 'describe' prompt you to approach the topic in a particular way. Pay attention to these verbs as they provide instructions on how to structure your essay.

  2. Restrictive words: Words such as 'only,' 'mainly,' 'most,' or 'usually' narrow down the scope of your response. Understanding these words helps you focus on the specific aspects you need to address.

  3. Opinion words: Phrases like 'In my opinion,' 'I believe,' or 'It is argued that' indicate that you need to express your viewpoint on the given topic. Use these words to present a clear stance and support it with appropriate arguments.

  4. Cause and effect words: Words such as 'due to,' 'as a result,' 'because of,' or 'consequently' signal the need to explain the reasons behind a situation or the consequences of certain actions. Incorporating these words into your essay helps demonstrate your ability to provide logical explanations.

Tips for Effective Use of keywords and Phrases

The word tips is written on a post-it note held in a person's hands over a book.

To maximize your score in Task 2, consider the following tips:

  1. Analyze the question: Take time to carefully read and analyze the essay prompt, highlighting the keywords and understanding their implications. This initial step will ensure that you approach the topic correctly.

  2. Plan your essay structure: Use the keywords to outline the structure of your essay. Identify the main ideas you want to discuss and allocate them to separate paragraphs, ensuring a coherent flow of information.

  3. Paraphrase the keywords: Instead of directly repeating the keywords in your essay, paraphrase them to demonstrate your language proficiency and vocabulary range. This also helps in avoiding redundancy and adds variety to your writing.

  4. Use keywords as topic sentences: Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that incorporates the keywords. This immediately shows the examiner that you are addressing the specific aspect mentioned in the question.

  5. Connect ideas using keywords: Transition words and phrases like 'Furthermore,' 'On the other hand,' 'In addition,' or 'However' help establish logical connections between your ideas. Incorporating these words enhances the coherence and cohesion of your essay.

  6. Maintain a balance: While it is essential to include keywords and phrases, ensure that they do not overshadow your own ideas. Use them judiciously and integrate them seamlessly into your writing.


Mastering the use of keywords and phrases is a crucial skill for excelling in Task 2 of the IELTS test. By understanding the importance of these words, recognizing their different types, and implementing them effectively in your essay, you can enhance your chances of achieving a higher score. Remember to practice incorporating keywords and phrases into your writing, as it will help you develop a more coherent and organized essay structure. With consistent effort and practice, you can confidently tackle Task 2 and showcase your English language proficiency to achieve your desired IELTS score.