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You need to read the IELTS Task 2 question carefully before answering it, as well as answer it relevantly. 

It is crucial that you provide a direct and concise response to the question since the examiner will use your Task Response criteria to determine how well you addressed the task. We are aware that you put a lot of effort into your IELTS preparation and that you may memorise essays that match specific prompts. 

If you attempt to answer a question with a formulaic response (a learned response that closely matches the topic), your essay will not properly address the task and you will receive a lower score. 

You should learn how to interpret what the question is asking and answer it relatively instead of trying to match your answer to an essay-type category (e.g., advantages/disadvantages, causes/solutions).

What is Writing Task 2?

You will be presented with a point of view, an argument, or a problem in Academic Writing Task 2. The topics can include everything from immigration to technology to the environment. You could be asked to express your agreement or disagreement with a point of view or argument, discuss two conflicting viewpoints, write about the benefits or drawbacks of a subject, or explain a specific problem or its main cause and suggest a solution. Your response for Academic Writing Task 2 will need to be in an essay format.  

Task 2 question types

In IELTS Writing Task 2, you must write an essay in response to the statement or premise given. In your essay, you may need to: 

  • Provide general factual information related to the topic 

  • Outline the causes of a problem 

  • Give reasons for a problem 

  • Present solutions for a problem 

  • Evaluate evidence and ideas 

  • Justify your opinion (reasons for your opinion) 

  • Decide if there are more advantages or disadvantages 

  • Assess how much you agree or disagree with an idea/the statement 

  • Explain why a situation has occurred 

Type of essays 

What types of essays will I get in writing task 2?  

Given the variety of IELTS question types, it's critical to focus on the question's prompt. Here are some typical essay question formats: 

Essay typeSample prompt
Opinion essayTo what extent do you agree or disagree with the statement/opinion?
Discussion essayDebate both views and give your own opinion.
Multi-part essayWhy is shopping so popular? What effects does its increase in popularity have on individuals and society?
Multi-part and opinion essayWhat dimensions do these issues take? Do the issues outweigh the advantages?
Advantage/disadvantage essayWhat are the pros and cons of...?
Positive/negative essayIs this a good or bad development?
Cause/solution essayWhat are the reasons for these problems, and what are some possible solutions?

Disadvantages versus advantages

This is an example of an IELTS Task 2 question from www.ielts.org,external icon and how you should answer it.  

International tourism has brought enormous benefits to many places. At the same time, there is concern about its impact on local inhabitants and the environment. 

Do the disadvantages of international tourism outweigh the advantages? 

You are particularly asked to determine if there are more advantages or more disadvantages in this question. You must discuss both the benefits and drawbacks since you are asked if one outweighs the other. It is insufficient to state that "the benefits of foreign tourism clearly outweigh the drawbacks" and then limit your argument to those benefits. The reader must understand all sides of your argument as well as the arguments you use to support your point of view. 

Mistakes you can make with this question type:

  • Only listing the advantages 

  • Only listing the disadvantages 

  • Presenting both sides, but not deciding if one outweighs the other 

  • Not presenting your opinion 

How to answer this question type: 

  • Decide your position - are there more advantages or more disadvantages? (More advantages). 

  • Present the advantages (Three). 

  • Present the disadvantages (Two). 

  • Repeat your position in the conclusion so the reader knows that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. 

Opinion essay 

In Britain, when someone gets old, they often go to live in a home with other old people where there are nurses to look after them. Sometimes the government must pay for this care. 

Who do you think should pay for this care, the government or the family? 

You are asked to choose an approach that is based on your assessment of the statement in this question. You must decide whether the family should pay for an elderly person to live in a care home or whether the government should pay. It's crucial to make a choice and state it explicitly in your introduction. Of course, you'll base your decision on your own judgement, so you might believe that both parties should pay for the expenses. 

Mistakes you can make with this question type: 

  • Giving reasons why both parties should pay, but not making a decision 

  • Presenting the problems caused by living in a care home 

  • Stating the reasons why the family cannot look after their aged parents 

  • Giving reasons why old people should be cared for in their own homes 

  • Not giving a clear opinion on the topic 

How to answer this question type: 

  • Decide on who should pay - the government, the family, or a combination of both 

  • State two or three reasons to support your opinion 

  • Provide examples from your own experience to back up your arguments (the situation in your country) 

  • If you believe that the government and the family should jointly pay, explain how this can work to support your position (e.g., partial payment/ government subsidising poorer families/ government building care homes, but families pay for the care) 

  • Repeat your opinion on who should pay so the reader is fully informed of the choice you have made 

Advice

Only two question types were presented in this article and the mistakes you might make when answering them. There are other question types in the IELTS Writing Task 2; however, these two questions are just an example to give you a brief look at what questions might be like in the actual test.  When reading the question for the first time on a test day, keep in mind the following advice: 

  • Read the main ideas of the statement that contains the premise first 

  • If the statement refers to more than one idea, such as individuals and society, be careful to check and include both elements in your response 

  • Read the question prompt carefully to see how many parts are in the question 

  • Make sure to cover all parts of the question 

  • Read the words "What extent/Why/Suggest/Decide/Evaluate" carefully and provide a relevant response 

  • Express your position clearly  

  • Provide relevant examples from your own knowledge and experience to back up your arguments (not made-up statistics and research) 

  • Organise your writing into paragraphs, developing one main subject per paragraph 

  • Don't use memorised essays that might not address the task 

 Answer the question directly. Instead of trying to match a response you have already learned to the question, you must respond to the task by providing a relevant and appropriate answer to the question. You can try the official IELTS practice test to find out how well-prepared you are for the actual IELTS test. IELTS markers will provide you with expert feedback on your writing performance, highlighting the areas you should pay particular attention to. 

How to structure IELTS Writing Task 2?  

1. Identify what is asked in the question  

  • Do you have to choose one side or write for both sides? 

  • Do you have to respond to each question? 

  • Do you only have to state the advantages and disadvantages, or do you have to state an opinion? 

2. Construct your paragraphs by brainstorming your main points 

  • Compile your supporting arguments and examples for each paragraph's main idea  

3. Check your Task Response 

  • Check if you provided an answer to all questions asked 

  • If you were asked to choose a side, did you? 

  • Does each of your paragraphs address a single main subject or topic?

Which tense is used in Writing Task 2? 

There is no specific tense that should be used in Writing Task 2. The verb tense will depend on the topic presented in the task. You can check out this linkexternal icon to help you prepare and revise some verb tenses.  

Wordcount  

Can I write more than 250 words for Task 2? 

The essay should include four to five paragraphs, including the introduction and conclusion, and there should be two to three body paragraphs. Word count rules are 250 for Writing Task 2 and there‚Äôs no upper limit.  

Is Task 2 related to Task 1? 

Writing Task 1 answers are assessed based on the following criteria: task achievement, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource and grammatical range and accuracy. Writing Task 2 is also assessed in the same way, except for the task response criterion. You can check Writing Task 1 and Writing Task 2 band scores here.

Are IELTS Writing questions repeated?

There is a lot of conjecture out there about whether IELTS repeats its essay questions. While in an official capacity we can't comment on that, we urge you to focus on preparing for a variety of different topics that will give you the best chance of securing a high score.