When helping students prepare for the IELTS test, one of the biggest fears is how to do well in IELTS Writing Task 2.
IELTS Writing Task 2 is the second part of the writing test, where you are presented with a point of view, argument or problem and asked to write an essay in response. Your essay should be in a formal style, at least 250 words in length and you should aim to complete it in under 40 minutes.
IELTS Writing Task 2: Everything You Need to Know
In this video, I’ll outline exactly what you must do to create an IELTS Writing Task 2 essay that could score a Band 7, 8 or 9.
It doesn’t matter if you’re new to IELTS or if you’ve failed the exam before – I’ve broken everything down into a simple 3-step process that anyone can use to improve their scores! Watch the video above to find out what they are.
5 Steps to a Band 7 in IELTS Writing Task 2
1. Understand the question.
You must understand the question before you attempt to answer it. This way, you’ll know exactly what the examiner is looking for. One of the biggest mistakes students make is not answering the question fully, which stops them from getting a score higher than a Band 5.
To analyse the question, you must first identify the question type, then identify the keywords in the question and finally identify the instructions words. This will help you understand exactly what the examiner wants you to do with the question.
2. Plan your answer.
The students who get the highest marks in Writing Task 2 always plan their answers for up to 10 minutes. Planning helps you organise your ideas and structure your essay before you write it, saving you time and helping you produce a clear and coherent essay.
3. Write an introduction.
The introduction should tell the examiner what the rest of the essay is about and also answer the question directly. This tells the examiner that you know what you are doing straight away and helps you write your main body paragraphs.
4. Write the main body paragraphs.
This is where you give the examiner more detail. You do this by stating your main points and supporting these with explanations and relevant examples.
5. Write a conclusion.
In your conclusion, you should provide a summary of what you already said in the rest of your essay.
4 Ways to Improve your Score in IELTS Writing Task 2
Many people know they need to improve their writing skills, but they have no idea how to do it. Here are 4 ways you can boost your score in Writing Task 2:
1. Understand the exam.
You must first understand what IELTS Writing Task 2 is, what you are expected to do and how to give the examiners what they want. This is the first stage and one that is often overlooked.
There are a huge number of online resources, often with conflicting and poor quality information, so finding a reliable source of information is key.
2. Identify your weak areas.
If your car breaks down, you would try and identify which part caused the problem. If you get sick, your doctor will run tests to find out the exact cause of your symptoms.
IELTS Writing Task 2 is exactly the same. We must first identify WHY you are not getting the score you need before we can help you improve.
However, be very careful! You wouldn’t ask the average man on the street for medical advice, so make sure you find someone who actually knows what they are doing and have the expertise to help you with this.
3. Fix the problems.
Now that we know what the problems are, we must fix them.
If your grammar needs work, fix those issues. If your vocabulary is lacking, work on fixing this issue.
Just like a good doctor will be able to help you fix a medical problem, a good IELTS teacher will be able to help you fix your specific issues.
4. Practice and get feedback.
Practice alone will not help you. It is an essential part of your preparation, but you must also get feedback on your work if you are really going to improve.
You wouldn’t try to teach yourself how to drive without an instructor, would you?
Find someone who will give you accurate and helpful feedback on your work. Otherwise, you will not be able to move to the last stage.
Now that you have understood what you need to do, you’ve identified the exact areas you need to work on, you’ve improved those areas and received feedback on your work, you are now ready to get the IELTS Writing Task 2 score you deserve.
Writing Task 2 Structures
One thing I would like to warn you about structures is that they are not a magic wand that will help you automatically get a higher score. They WILL help you, but please realise that they are just a small part of your overall score.
These structures provide a sentence-by-sentence template for all the main Task 2 question types, making your job much easier on exam day.
Essential Writing Task 2 Skills
No matter how good your English is, you still need to learn IELTS writing skills before you take the Writing Task 2 test. These helpful guides will take you through each of these skills step-by-step:
Making a good plan actually saves you time when you write your essay. This guide will show you how to plan and write a clear essay every time.
This guide provides 5 different methods to help you quickly think of relevant ideas that are directly linked to the question.
Complex sentences help you boost your score for grammar. They are actually very simple to write and are not complex at all.
Paraphrasing is one of the essential IELTS skills for all parts of the IELTS test. You should paraphrase the question in the very first sentence of your essay to help boost your vocabulary score in Writing Task 2.
Supporting paragraphs are the main body paragraphs and are the meat in the sandwich. This is where you provide the detail the examiner is looking for in the form of explanations and examples.
A thesis statement tells the examiner your opinion. Many IELTS Writing Task 2 questions specifically ask for your opinion and if you don’t write it clearly you have not answered the question properly. This article shows you how, where and when to give your opinion.
Around 250 words? Exactly 250 words or over 250 words? How many words over? How do I know how many words I have? Will I lose marks if I write too many words? This article answers all those questions.
A critical part of answering any question. This article shows you how to break down any Task 2 question and identify the keywords, micro-keywords and instruction words to help you answer the question effectively.
The introduction is the first thing the examiner reads and it is, therefore, essential that we give them a good first impression. I have a very specific sentence by sentence structure that I share in this article to help you write introductions quickly and effectively.
Do you know how Task 2 is marked? What is the difference between a Band 5 and a Band 8 answer? This article breaks the marking criteria down for you and explains it in simple language so you can give the IELTS examiners exactly what they want.
A good conclusion should be a summary of your main points. The conclusion is the last thing the examiner reads and if you can write a good one you will leave them with a very good impression.
Each of your supporting paragraphs should have a specific example that supports and illustrates your main point. This is an essential skill to learn if you want to get one of the higher band scores.
Cohesive devices (sometimes called linking words) are one of the most misunderstood and misused elements of writing. Therefore, you must learn how to use them and when to use them.
While synonyms are very important, they can also really reduce your mark if used incorrectly.
Learn how Tina went from a Band 6 to a Band 8 in IELTS Writing in just 6 weeks.
I recorded a video of me answering a Task 2 question and thought out loud as I recorded my computer screen. This will give you an insight into how someone with lots of IELTS experience thinks about these questions.
This article will show you how to make your writing as clear and as easy to read as possible. It will also give you advice on whether to use a pen or pencil.
Read this blog now to access our 61-page Task 2 strategy.
I have compiled these tips after years of teaching IELTS and all of them have been approved by IELTS examiners.
This is a video lesson that shows you in practical terms how to improve your coherence and cohesion score.
Writing Task 2 Common Topics
Knowing the common topics can help you prepare for the test more efficiently. Here are the 10 most common topics over the last few years. Studying hard is great, but don’t forget to study smart.
The article below will show you the top 10 most common IELTS topics.
The article below will show you how you can use the most common Task 2 topics to your advantage.
Full IELTS Writing Task 2 Practice Lessons
Here are some lessons that I have used when teaching students about IELTS Writing Task 2. I have changed them so that you can easily learn from home. They are very long but, combined with the skills above, they contain all the information you need.
In this lesson, we look at how to tackle an ‘agree or disagree’ question. Many people worry about whether to take one side of the other or if to discuss both sides. Additionally, people also worry about how to deal with ‘To what extent’ question types. We allay all of these fears in this lesson.
‘Discuss both views’ questions often cause confusion because you are asked to do many things in one essay. As such, it is very important to remember that the question is asking you to discuss BOTH views AND give YOUR opinion.
These questions are much easier than you think. You probably discuss problems and solutions in your day to day life all the time. Keep it simple.
There are a couple of different types of advantages and disadvantages questions. This lesson will show you how to answer them.
Writing is a skill and just like any other skill, it is important to practice in order to improve.
This is my most comprehensive free lesson on IELTS Writing Task 2. We show you how we took one VIP student from Band 6.5 to an amazing 8.
It’s very important that you have some good examples so that you can compare your writing and see if you are on the right track. Click the link below for lots of sample answers and over 100 questions.
- Task 2 Sample Answers
- Agree or Disagree Sample Essays
- Task 2 Band 9 Sample Essay
- Latest Real Task 2 Questions
- Official Sample Test Questions
- Cambridge Sample Questions
- Free Practice Test
- Recent Confusing Questions
- IELTS Writing Practice Guide
IELTS Writing Task 2 Essential Information
- You must write an essay in response to a question.
- It is important that you write 250 words or more.
- Task 2 is worth 2/3 of your total mark on the Writing test.
- You should spend around 40 minutes on this part of the test.
- General Training and Academic are essentially the same for Task 2. However, they are different for Task 1.
- There are certain types of questions that you will be asked, for example, opinion, discussion etc. See below for more detail on these.
- You will be assessed in four areas:
- Task Achievement (25%)
- Coherence and Cohesion (25%)
- Lexical Resource (25%)
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy (25%)
Grammar and Vocabulary
Grammar is one of the four things you will be marked on in the Writing Task 2 test. Finding out what your common grammar mistakes are and then fixing them is a very powerful way to boost your score in this area. Here are some common grammar mistakes I have found after making hundreds of tests.
For most IELTS students, the problem is not grammar in general. In fact, it is usually just 1-2 problem areas. Therefore, when you fix these main weaknesses, you’ll be able to improve your grammar and your writing score dramatically.
Hint- They aren’t as big of a deal as you think.
See the interactive tool below for the answers to the most commonly asked questions we receive about IELTS Writing Task 2:
IELTS Writing Task 2 FAQs
How can I improve my writing?
You will find all the resources you need on our Writing Task 2 page. Click the link below:
We also have two Task 2 courses for those that need to improve their Task 2 skills and strategy. They are both based online and completely free of charge. Learn more about them below:
If you need serious help or personalised feedback, you should check out our VIP Course. There is a waiting list, but you can add your name here:
How can I get a Band 7, 8 or 9?
The answer to this question is different for every individual IELTS student, as it depends on a number of factors, including your work ethic, English skills and exam strategy. You'll find a guide to answering this question in this article
If you need serious help with improving your IELTS scores, you should check out our online writing course. There is a waiting list, but you can add your name by clicking the link below:
Can you correct my writing?
Please click the link below and it will give you all the information you need about our writing correction service:
Do you have any sample answers?
Yes, you will find them at the link below:
Will using 'high level' or 'academic' words help me improve my score?
Read my recent article about IELTS vocabulary here:
Can I use idioms?
No, you should not write idioms for Task 2.
Can I use personal pronouns?
You should avoid using personal pronouns, but it is fine to use them when giving your personal opinion.
Do you write a conclusion for Task 2?
Yes, it is very difficult to get a good score in Task 2 if you haven't finished your essay with a conclusion. You will find an in-depth lesson on conclusions here:
How many paragraphs should I write?
Most IELTS task 2 essays follow the same basic four paragraph structure:
- Supporting Paragraph 1
- Supporting Paragraph 2
However, you can find more comprehensive help with structuring your Task 2 essays here:
Do I need to plan my essay?
I would highly recommend planning your essay.
A good plan acts like a map that guides you through the essay, ensuring that you give the examiner exactly what they need to award you the score you need. You can find help with planning your essays here:
How to Plan an IELTS Essay
How many words should I write?
You must write at least 250 words in Writing Task 2.
I would suggest that you aim to write around 270-280 words in total. Aiming for 20-30 words more than the required amount makes you more likely to reach the word limit without setting an unrealistic goal.
Will I lose marks if I don't write enough words?
Yes, if you don't write the required number of words, you will lose marks in 'Task Achievement' for not answering the question fully. Read more here.
Can I use contractions?
No, should not use contractions when you are writing an academic essay.