The post will give you the 10 most common IELTS Writing Task 2 topics.
IELTS Writing Topics
A question my students keep asking, repeatedly, is ‘What are the most common IELTS writing part 2 topics?’ They are worried that they won’t be familiar with the topic and will not have any relevant ideas. This is especially true for students from ‘developing’ countries because most of the questions are ‘first world’ problems and issues. Let’s turn that disadvantage into an advantage.
To answer the question, I have asked my students over the last few years to send me the topics on their exams.
A big thank you to those students who were kind enough to send me their questions. I have built up a huge amount of questions, and I think it is about time to analyse them.
Are the same Writing Task 2 topics repeated?
The answer is yes and no. There are a huge amount of topics that come up in writing task 2. At the last count, there were around 50 different topics (based on collecting data over the last few years), and if you would like all 50, please let me know, but I’m more concerned about the topics that come up again and again. If you have time to familiarise yourself with over 50 topics, then please do, but I think most people have to be smart with their time, and it, therefore, makes more sense to prioritise the most common topics.
I try to encourage my students to be efficient in learning. However, I don’t agree with the saying ‘Work smart, not hard’ as this implies you can do very little work and still achieve your goals. My motto is to work hard and smart.
IELTS Essay Topics
10 general topics come up more often than all of the rest put together. They are:
- Public Transport
- Criminal Justice
- Youth Crime
- Government Spending
So what can I do with this information?
Now you know the common topics, there are 3 things you can do:
1. Develop a vocabulary list for each topic
Having relevant vocabulary for each topic will give you a big advantage. Many students fail to provide relevant vocabulary, and their band score suffers.
When looking at new vocabulary, try to guess the meaning from context first and then look up the meaning to ensure your idea matches the actual meaning. Also, be sure to look at the word within a sentence to be aware of how it relates to other words.
When recording vocabulary, do it in a way that will help YOU remember it. Everyone learns differently, and everyone learns vocabulary differently. Some people like to draw pictures beside the word, some like synonyms or antonyms, others prefer to write a few sentences, and others like to use the phonemic chart to write the word that way. Whatever works for you, do it.
It is also very important to review words regularly. This is the most effective way to remember the words. So many people learn lots of words and a week later, they can’t remember them. I would recommend reviewing them one day after learning them for the first time, then one week later and then finally one month later. After that, they should be firmly stuck in your head for good.
I am developing a vocabulary list for each of the topics above, which you can access here.
2. Practice reading and listening within these topics
To do well on your IELTS test, you should practice at home. Even just 60 minutes per day can make a big difference. This will not only improve all four skills but familiarise you with the common topics at the same time. Why waste time listening or reading something if it is about something that probably won’t come up on the test? Unless you are listening or reading for pleasure; in that case, be my guest.
When reading an English newspaper, look for articles on common topics and highlight good vocabulary.
If you like listening to the radio or podcasts, find ones on common topics.
Please check out my 25 online language learning tools for many ways to study at home for free.
3. Study the common topics
This method is so effective that some of the best IELTS schools are starting to adopt this approach. If you are going to study or practice anything, then do it within the context of one of the common topics. For example, if you are practising speaking with a friend on Skype, why not discuss one of the issues above? If you are practising writing essays, find a question about one of the most popular or repeated IELTS topics.
This method allows you to practice both skills and learn about these crucial topics.
They also come up quite a lot in the speaking test.
Can I focus on these topics and get a high band score?
Obviously, there is much more to achieving a high score than just focusing on repeated topics, but this will allow you to study and prepare more smartly and efficiently, giving you a huge advantage.
However, I would like to add that studying things you are passionate about is also important. If you are genuinely interested in a topic, then it is much easier to study, and you are less likely to quit. Please also make time to read, listen, talk and write about your passion. If you love football, read about your team every day on www.goal.com. Love fashion?- find some fashionista blogs. Have a passion for photography?- why not blog about it? Have a passion for astrophysics? Listen to star talk radio.
Here are the latest topics:
- Traditional Culture
- Government Spending
- Traditional Culture
- International Aid
- The Environment
As you can see, Technology, Health, and Education are still prominent Task 2 topics. It was interesting to see Traditional Culture popping up twice in such a short period, but that doesn’t mean that it will definitely feature again soon.
I still think that Technology, Health, Education and the Environment are important topics and will regularly feature in the future. Reading about these topics will help you, and you will also pick up other vocabulary just by reading about them.
The important thing is to read actively. When you see a word you don’t know, note it down and find its meaning, collocation and synonyms. Soon you will have a notebook full of new words, and you review them regularly until they become part of your vocabulary.
I recommend looking at our IELTS task 2 page for many more lessons, tips and sample task 2 answers.
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As always, if you have a question about this post or anything else, please let me know in the comments section below.