Category Archives: IELTS Writing Task 2 (lessons)

The 3 parts of a Task 2 IELTS writing question

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The 3 parts of a Task 2 IELTS writing question

Task II writing questions can often be divided into different parts.

Commonly, these are:

1. a situation which is generally accepted as being true
2. an opinion, speculation or suggestion about the situation
3. words telling you what you should do.

The 3 parts of a Task 2 IELTS writing questionPoint 1 introduces the general topic.
Point 2 focuses on the specific topic you should write about.
Point 3 refers to the task words – the words which tell you how you should respond to the topic.

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Here’s an example:

Advances in technology and automation have reduced the need for manual labour.
Therefore working hours should be reduced.
To what extent do you agree?

Here are three more IELTS writing questions. Can you divide them into the 3 parts?

High-salary jobs often include free health insurance as part of an employment contract. However, such private medical insurance is unfair, as it offers preferential treatment to the wealthy. Do you agree?

Show answer 1 The general topic: High-salary jobs often include free health insurance as part of an employment contract.
2 The specific topic you should write about: private medical insurance is unfair as it offers preferential treatment to the wealthy
3 The task words: Do you agree?

 

The number of elderly people in the world is increasing. This will lead to a number of social and medical problems. To what extent do you agree?

Show answer 1 The general topic:  The number of elderly people in the world is increasing
2 The specific topic you should write about: This will lead to a number of social and medical problems
3 The task words:To what extent do you agree?

 

Computer games have become the primary source of entertainment for most young children. As a result, children are not forming traditional social skills. What do you think could be done to reverse this trend?

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Show answer 1 The general topic:  Computer games and  children.
2 The specific topic you should write about:  children are not forming traditional social skills
3 The task words: What do you think could be done to reverse this trend?

So what is the difference between Do you agree or disagree? and To what extent do you agree?

Do you agree or disagree? This means you are free to completely agree or disagree if you choose to do so.

To what extent do you agree? This suggests that no sensible argument can be based on completely disagreeing with the proposition.


 

Not all Task II essays have three clear parts. Nonetheless, you still need to identify the topic and task words. When particularly difficult or technical vocabulary is used in the question, it will sometimes be explained.

What is the topic in each of the Task II titles below? What are the task words?

  1. Some people need medical treatment due to an addiction such as to smoking or drugs. Should they be treated regardless of the cause?
  2. Euthanasia* is a moral right. What is your opinion?
  3. The government fails to provide sufficient medical care for the elderly. Do you agree or disagree?
  4. We are becoming obsessed with diet and health. Suggest possible reasons why.
*the act of killing someone painlessly (especially someone suffering from an incurable illness)
Show the topic and task words 1. TOPIC: medical treatment because of addiction. TASK: Should they be treated?

2. TOPIC: euthanasia is a right. TASK: What’s your opinion?

3. TOPIC: Government medical care for the elderly. TASK: Is is sufficient?

4. TOPIC: Obsessed with diet and health. TASK: Give reasons why

 


Now you have identified both the topic words and the task words, it often helps to rewrite the question in a more logical order. For example:

A wide variety of vegetarian food is now available. However, although an increasing number of people are adopting a vegetarian diet, it is not healthy. Do you agree?

Could be re-written as: Is a vegetarian diet healthy?

The sentences above could be re-written as:

  1. Should people who smoke or take drugs have medical care?
  2. Should people morally be allowed to commit euthanasia?
  3. Is government care for the elderly sufficient?
  4. Why are people obsessed with diet and health?

 

About IELTS

Analysing paragraphs for Task 2 IELTS – lesson 2

Analysing paragraphs for Task 2 IELTS – lesson 2

We have already posted a number of pages about improving your writing in the IELTS test (see Writing more academically, Avoiding pronouns and Using the correct register).

In these lessons, we will be looking at specific paragraphs and how they can be improved.

The paragraph is from an answer about whether formal tests are a good measure of English language ability:

Student answer:

Analysing paragraphs for Task 2 IELTS - lesson 2The International English Language Testing System IELTS is a really good measure of ability in English. They developed the first test in the early 1960s. You can do two types of test; Academic, if you want to study in English, and General Training for people who want to live in a country that speaks English as its first language. The examiners assess four different things and it is not marked by a computer, so it’s better.

Show feedback

On the negative side:

The main problem here is that the paragraph reads like an instructional leaflet, not a formal Task 2 response. The only reference back to the question is in the first sentence, and that is copied directly from the title. The paragraph does not have a suitable register. Phrases like ‘really good’ and ‘different things’ should definitely be avoided in Task 2. Although the grammar is accurate, it is basic, with simple, active phrases being used (‘They developed the first test’) where a passive sentence would have been better (‘The first test was developed’). The writer has used personal pronouns (‘You’) which would have been better presented as third person structures (‘test takers’ or ‘candidates’). The candidate has also used contractions (it’s) which should be avoided in formal writing.

On the positive side:

The paragraph has a mix of simple and complex sentences and there is some good punctuation. There are no grammatical errors and the meaning of each sentence is clear.

Show corrected paragraph

So how could this have been improved?

One common testing method that is used is the International English Language Testing System IELTS, which many believe is a reliable standard to benchmark language skills.  Developed in the 1960s and with two options available, the test could be said to be effective because it has both history and a range of options. Abilities are assessed based on four criteria and are evaluated by examiners, not automated systems, which arguably makes it more effective than other testing systems.

Analysing paragraphs for Task 2 IELTS – lesson 1

Analysing paragraphs for Task 2 IELTS – lesson 1

We have already posted a number of pages about improving your writing in the IELTS test (see Writing more academically, Avoiding pronouns and Using the correct register).

In these lessons, we will be looking at specific paragraphs and how they can be improved.

The paragraph is from an answer about reducing air travel:

Analysing paragraphs for Task 2 IELTSStudent answer:

Another negative factor that can be produced by this flying automotive is noise pollution. As this invention functions with the whole process of burning petrol and collaborating mechanical parts, it produces sound waves that are harmful to the surroundings. The land is affected by noise pollution, perhaps extinction will occur which later on have a harmful effect to the ecological system.

Show feedback

On the negative side:

Some of the attempts to find parallel expressions are not clear – changing air travel to ‘flying automotive’ is a good try, but not accurate. The second sentence of the paragraph focuses on the specifics of how noise pollution occurs, which is more than is needed in Task 2 – simply stating that noise pollution is a problem is enough, there’s no need to focus on exactly how that noise is produced. In addition, the support that follows isn’t clear – how is the land is affected the noise pollution?There should have been more focus on those living on the land, not the land itself. There is also some repetition of vocabulary (noise pollution has been used twice). The grammar in the final sentence also needs work, with ‘have’ being used instead of has’, the preposition ‘to’ used instead of ‘on’. There is also a run-on sentence where two sentences have been put together using just a comma.

On the positive side:

The linking words used are good – we can assume that the previous paragraph also referred to reasons to reduce air travel because this paragraph begins with ‘Another negative factor’. In the second sentence, the writer has used a good cause and effect construction with ‘as’. There is also some good use of vocabulary – ‘negative factor’, ‘produces sound waves’, ‘perhaps extinction will occur’, ‘ecological system’.

Show corrected paragraph

So how could this have been improved?

Another negative factor that can be attributed to flying is noise pollution, which can be harmful to animals and even people who are affected. There is even the potential that these unwanted sounds could cause significant changes in the ecological system, where perhaps extinction will occur among more fragile species.

 

 

Comparison and contrast in Task 2

Comparison and contrast in Task 2

Comparison and contrast in Task 2

To present your ideas and opinions clearly, it is important to know how to accurately use comparison and contrast in Task 2 of the IELTS writing test. Here are some the words that you can use:

Comparison and contrast in Task 2

  • while
  • as opposed to
  • however
  • likewise
  • equally
  • in contrast to
  • in the same way
  • in a similar way
  • as well as
  • like the…
  • as …as …
  • similarly
  • whereas
  • by contrast
  • although
  • instead

Practice your understanding of these words by deciding whether the statements that follow are TRUE or FALSE according to the text below.

Read the passage below. Are the statements that follow true or false? They are not in order.

Although they are both highly respected institutions, there are many factors to be considered when comparing the Louvre and the Guggenheim.

The most important factor is the quality of their displays. The Guggenheim is excellently organized and offers fine examples of most forms of art, including traditional, modern and impressionist. The Louvre, on the other hand, lacks this variety of art forms, concentrating more on the traditional.

As regards location, both museums are well situated with convenient access for the public, although they are both a little expensive to visit. The Louvre, however, is a piece of architectural history in itself, whereas the Guggenheim is far more of a modern building with no real sense of history.

Both The Louvre and The Guggenheim have something to offer the art lover.

    Show answer TRUE

 

Just as the Guggenheim museum displays impressionist works, so too does the Louvre.

    Show answer FALSE

 

Neither The Louvre nor the Guggenheim is cheap to visit.

    Show answer TRUE

 

Compared to the Louvre, The Guggenheim concentrates more on traditional art forms.

    Show answer FALSE

 

The Louvre and the Guggenheim are similar in that they are both well situated.

    Show answer TRUE

 

The Louvre is similar to The Guggenheim in that it has good public access.

    Show answer TRUE

 

The Guggenheim and the Louvre are equally respected.

    Show answer TRUE

 

The Guggenheim is an historic building, whereas the Louvre is relatively modern.

    Show answer FALSE

 

Contrast can also be shown by using specific verbs, adjectives and nouns. Use the table below as a guide (note how the word family changes depending on the word type).

Verbs: Adjectives: Nouns:
Compare to / with Compared to / with In comparison to / with
Contrast with Contrasting In contrast to
Differ from / differentiate between Different from Difference between
Distinguish between Distinct from Distinction between
Resemble Similar to Resemblance to / with
Vary from / between Variable Variation between

IMPORTANT NOTE: Be careful with the use of comparing and compared

Compared to the Guggenheim, the Louvre has a long history.

BUT

Comparing the Louvre and the Guggenheim, the former has a longer history.

More examples

Here are some more examples of comparison and contrast that you could to express comparison and contrast:

While both opera and ballet are considered to represent the finer end of the arts, the former involves more vocal musical content.

DVDs are a highly flexible, user-directed form of entertainment, whereas the cinema is considerably more rigid in its presentation.

Radio plays allow the listener to use their imagination, picturing the scenes and characters involved. By contrast, the theatre presents both characters and scenery.

E-mails are a common form of communication both personally and in business, in the same way as letters were some 20 years ago.

Museums, as opposed to theme parks and other such activities, can offer visitors far more of a cultural experience.

Traditional dances from my country, in the same way as the haka here in New Zealand, are something most people enjoy watching but can’t actually perform.

One of the more obvious changes in communication over the last 20 years is that people are using telephone booths less and less, opting instead for mobile phones.

Facts about the IELTS writing test

Facts about the IELTS writing test

Facts about the IELTS writing testHere’s a collection of some of the most common questions we are asked about the IELTS writing test. If your have a question that isn’t answered here, post it in the comments section at the bottom of the page and we’ll add it to the page with an answer.

Q: Do I write in pen or pencil during the test?

Most exam centres now only allow candidates to write with a pencil.

Q: Can I bring my own writing equipment?

No – you will not be allowed into the test room with your own pen, pencil or eraser.

Q: What should I do if I make a mistake?

Just put a single line through the word or words you want to remove and then continue writing. Don’t waste time with trying to erase anything.

Q: What does the IELTS writing answer sheet look like?

Click a thumbnail below to see a larger image of the writing test answer pages (note that these pages are white, but recent changes in the test mean that you could also have yellow, blue or green pages).

Q: What if I need more paper?

No problem – simply raise your hand until the invigilator approaches, then request more paper. There is no limit to the amount of paper you request, but ALL pages will be collected at the end of the test, even if they were only used for making notes (see below).

Q: Can I get any paper for writing notes / preparing a plan?

Yes, but all the paper you are given is collected and given to the examiner when they are marking your work. We recommend writing your plan or making any notes on the question paper, not the answer sheet. Although the question paper is also collected at the end of the test, it is not submitted to the examiner.

Q: So what counts as a ‘word’ in the writing test?

Take a look at this page: https://ieltsforfree.com/word-count-ielts-writing/

Q: My handwriting is not very good. Will I lose points?

Your writing would have to illegible (can’t be read) before you lose points, but if you are concerned then get in the habit of writing in print (single letters) instead of cursive (joined letters).

Q: Can I write all of my test in CAPITAL LETTERS?

Surprisingly, yes! We recommend it as it avoids you needing to worry about capitalisation of particular words. For confirmation of this, take a look at the official IELTS website here: http://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-your-test/test-day-advice/writing-test-advice

Got a question we haven’t answered? Post it below!

Supporting and opposing the topic in Task 2

Supporting and opposing the topic in Task 2

With many IELTS Task 2 writing topics, you are asked to give your opinion on a subject. A common mistake that IELTS candidates make in this situation is to focus purely on one side of the argument without thinking about the opposite point of view.

So what’s the best approach?

We recommend the ‘2 points / 1 point’ approach with essays that require you to present an opinion. That means that you should consider the essay as having three body paragraphs – the first 2 body paragraphs supporting one side, and the third body paragraph supporting an opposing point of view.

To illustrate, imagine this Task 2 title: Private vehicles should not be allowed in city areas. Do you agree or disagree?

This is one possible response – note that the first two body paragraphs disagree while the third body paragraph agrees.

Supporting and opposing the topic in Task 2

 

 Why present the opposing point of view at all?

Remember that the IELTS test is assessing your ability to write in a formal manner, and focusing 100% on only one side does not present a well considered or balanced essay. By showing a conflicting point of view, you get to show the examiner that your English has sufficient flexibility and vocabulary to write a well rounded task.

The third body paragraph – the concession

This is possibly the most important paragraphs as you need to show that you have the flexibility to consider the opposing point of view, but at the same time you don’t want your argument to be unclear by disagreeing and then agreeing. That is why it is called the ‘concession’ paragraph – you are admitting that there may be another point of view, but that this point of view has weaknesses.

In the example above, the concession paragraph states that preventing private vehicles from entering city areas would help reduce problems for pedestrians, but then identifies the weakness of this argument by stating that this does not necessarily require a complete ban on vehicles.

Some useful language for the concession paragraph

Part of getting a good result result for cohesion and coherence (one of the four elements your work is assessed by) is to make sure the reader can clearly follow the flow of your writing.

That means for the concession paragraph, you need to clearly indicate that you are now presenting an alternative point of view.

Here is some useful language for presenting a concession:

  • ‘However, it could also be argued that….’
  • ‘On the other hand, there is a school of thought that argues that…’
  • ‘Admittedly, there is a case to be made for…’
  • ‘Granted, it must be taken into account that…’
  • ‘Yet there is an alternate point of view that suggests…’

Preparing the Task 2 answer Seven tips

Preparing the Task 2 answer Seven tips

Preparing the Task 2 answer Seven tipsHere are the 7 steps you should take to plan your answer for IELTS writing Task 2. To illustrate the steps, we will be using this question:

Advances in technology and automation have reduced the need for manual labour.
Therefore working hours should be reduced.
To what extent do you agree?

Step 1: identify the parts of the question (the topic and task words)

Task 2 writing questions can often be divided into different parts. Commonly, these are:

  1. a situation which is generally accepted as being true – the general topic of the question
  2. an opinion, speculation or suggestion about the situation – the specific aspect you should focus on
  3. the task words which tell you what you should do / how you should respond to the topic.

In the example question above, this would be

  1. Advances in technology and automation have reduced the need for manual labour.
  2. Therefore working hours should be reduced.
  3. Do you agree or disagree?

Step 2: Re order the specific aspect of the question and the task words into a direct question

By creating a direct question, you will have a clearer idea of what you are writing about. In the example above, this could become:

Do you agree that working hours should be reduced because of technology and automation?

Step 3: Brainstorm ideas related to point B – the specific topic

In the example we have been using, this could be the following points:

Most people would be happier – earn less money – more free time – more job availability if people work less – a wider range of people working in the same place = a wider perspective – difficult to complete a project quickly – time spent commuting – less time to socialise with colleagues – more time at home with family / friends – chance to learn new skills when not working – should be a personal choice

Step 4: Remove the weaker ideas from your brainstorming

For example, the idea of having less time to socialise with colleagues is not particular strong, so could be removed.

Step 5: Group similar points together into three sections

This means that you have a clear idea of what you will write about in the three body paragraphs. In the example above, it could be:

Group 1: positive reasons relating to how people feel

  • more free time
  • most people would be happier
  • more time at home with family / friends

Group 2: negative reasons

  • earn less money
  • difficult to complete a project quickly
  • time spent commuting

Group 3: positive reasons relating to the workplace

  • more job availability if people work less
  • a wider range of people working in the same place = a wider perspective
  • chance to learn new skills when not working

 

Step 6: Order your paragraphs

Once you have your three groups, you should order your paragraphs logically, with the third paragraph being the concession or balancing paragraph. Remember that the IELTS writing test does not have to be your personal opinion – it should be from the position that is easiest to write about. From this point, organise them so that the concession paragraph is last.

Paragraph 1: positive reasons relating to how people feel

  • more free time
  • most people would be happier
  • more time at home with family / friends

Paragraph 2: positive reasons relating to the workplace

  • more job availability if people work less
  • a wider range of people working in the same place = a wider perspective
  • chance to learn new skills when not working

Paragraph 3: negative reasons

  • earn less money
  • difficult to complete a project quickly
  • time spent commuting

 

Step 7: add a title for each group of paragraphs

By thinking of a title or heading that covers all of the points in your paragraph, you will be able to write a clear topic sentence (the first sentence of each paragraph that explains what you will present in that particular paragraph). In the example we have been using, this could become

Paragraph 1: quality of life

  • more free time
  • most people would be happier
  • more time at home with family / friends

Paragraph 2: better for the workplace

  • more job availability if people work less
  • a wider range of people working in the same place = a wider perspective
  • chance to learn new skills when not working

Paragraph 3: (the concession or balance paragraph)

  • earn less money
  • difficult to complete a project quickly
  • time spent commuting

You should now be ready to write your essay!

Let’s run through all of the steps once more on another question:

A wide variety of vegetarian food is now available. However, although an increasing number of people are adopting a vegetarian diet, it is not healthy. Do you agree?

Step 1: identify the parts of the question (the topic and task words)

  1. A wide variety of vegetarian food is now available.
  2. A vegetarian diet is not healthy
  3. Do you agree?

Step 2: Re order the specific aspect of the question and the task words into a direct question

Is a vegetarian diet healthy?

Step 3: Brainstorm ideas related to point B – the specific topic

Preservatives in meat – depends on freshness of vegetables – lots of alternative to meat these days – animal cruelty – vitamins and minerals only found in meat products – traditional misunderstandings about vegetarian diets – not a balanced diet – organic farming and free range animals – level of vegetarianism (vegans) – negative attitude to vegetarians – health issues related to meat eating – obesity more common in meat eaters

Step 4: Remove the weaker ideas from your brainstorming

Remove animal cruelty and negative attitude to vegetarians – they do not relate to whether a diet is healthy.

Step 5: Group similar points together into three sections

Group 1: vegetarian diet is not healthy

  • vitamins and minerals only found in meat products
  • Not a balanced diet

Group 2: vegetarian diet is healthy

  • Preservatives in meat
  • Health issues related to meat eating
  • Obesity more common in meat eaters

Group 3: points to consider

  • depends on freshness of vegetables
  • lots of alternative to meat these days
  • organic farming and free range animals
  • level of vegetarianism (vegans)

 

Step 6: Order your paragraphs

Group 2 has more points to write about than group 1, and group 3 would make a good balancing paragraph, so the most logical order would be:

Paragraph 1: vegetarian diet is healthy

  • Preservatives in meat
  • Health issues related to meat eating
  • Obesity more common in meat eaters

Paragraph 2: vegetarian diet is not healthy

  • vitamins and minerals only found in meat products
  • Not a balanced diet

Paragraph 3: points to consider

  • depends on freshness of vegetables
  • lots of alternative to meat these days
  • organic farming and free range animals
  • level of vegetarianism (vegans)

Step 7: add a title for each group of paragraphs

Group 1: negatives of vegetarian diet

  • vitamins and minerals only found in meat products
  • Not a balanced diet

Group 2: reasons not to eat meat

  • Preservatives in meat
  • Health issues related to meat eating
  • Obesity more common in meat eaters

Group 3: depends on specifics of food

  • depends on freshness of vegetables
  • lots of alternative to meat these days
  • organic farming and free range animals
  • level of vegetarianism (vegans)

For more instructional videos, lessons, exercises and practice tests to help you write better essays, take a look at our free online course

Phrases to avoid in Task 2 IELTS writing

Phrases to use and phrases to avoid in Task 2 IELTS writing

 

Phrases to use and phrases to avoid in Task 2 IELTS writing

There are a number of IELTS preparation institutions that will teach you set phrases to use in IELTS writing test. However, it is important to remember that the examiner assessing your work will be able to identify which phrases you have used accurately and in the correct context and which ones are not so good. In this post, we are going to look at some phrases to avoid in Task 2 IELTS writing, as well as some good options.

Phrases to avoid in Task 2 IELTS writingPhrase: In my judgment

Comment: This is a good phrase, although a minor point is that the most academic language avoids personal pronouns. You could rephrase this to. ‘As an overall judgement, it could be said that….‘. Regarding spelling – judgment is US English, judgement is UK English – both are acceptable for IELTS.

Phrase: Every coin has two sides

Comment: We strongly recommend avoiding this. Although it is an English expression, it is now quite old fashioned and the majority of people that use it are English learners. It is not particularly academic and is so overused by candidates in the IELTS test that it will not help your performance. Better would be to use an expression like ‘However, there is an alternate point of view to consider‘.

Phrase: I reckon

Comment: Avoid this – it is too conversational and used only in informal writing and speaking. In addition, try to avoid using personal pronouns (I) wherever possible. Change this to ‘It can perhaps be most strongly supported that

Phrase: As I said before

Comment: Again, this is more used for spoken English or informal writing. Better would be ‘As previously mentioned‘ or to be even more academic, ‘As previously alluded to‘ or ‘As previously referred to‘.

Phrase:  by and large

Comment: This is a good construction for Task 2 (meaning ‘overall’, ‘considering everything’, ‘in general’).

Phrase: there has been heated debate (about something)

Comment:  Be a little careful with this ‘ a ‘heated’ debate is one on which people become emotional, arguing very strongly about a principle they believe in or are against, and the phrase is often overused and mistakenly used for minor issues (eg “there is a heated debate about home cooked food” doesn’t suit as this debate is unlikely to be ‘heated’). If you do use it, make sure that it is something that is truly likely to generate a heated debate – legalising marijuana, for example, or the death penalty.

Phrase: The point I am trying to make is

Comment:  This is not so good. The first issue is the use of ‘I’ – avoid using personal pronouns if possible. The other issue is that ‘trying to make‘ suggests that your point of view has, up to that point, not been very clear. Change this to ‘The relevant point is that‘ or ‘the primary point is that

Phrase: owing to the fact that

Comment: This is a good expression. It shows more flexibility than simply saying ‘because’ and has the added advantage of being 5 words, which will help you reach the 250 word minimum limit.

 

Avoiding pronouns in Task 2 writing

Avoiding pronouns in Task 2 writing

Avoiding pronouns in Task 2 writingAs you probably know, it is important to write formally in Task 2, using an academic writing style (even in the General Training module). We have looked at some aspects of this in previous posts (such as using the correct register and writing more academically) but in this post we are focusing on avoiding using pronouns too often in the writing test.

So what are pronouns?

For this post, these are the pronouns that are not considered particularly academic.

  • Personal pronouns: I / you / we
  • Possessive pronouns: my / mine / his / her / hers

Although the sentence may be grammatically correct using pronouns, it is important to remember that you should aim for a formal, academic style, and that means finding alternatives to being too informal.

Personal pronouns in the introduction

It is very common to see pronouns being used in the introductory paragraph. For example:

‘There are strong arguments to be made in support of the complete ban on smoking in all areas, as I will now explain’.

In this example, and in most uses of the personal pronoun in the introduction, this can be solved by simply replacing that section of the sentence with a passive construction. For example:

‘There are strong arguments to be made in support of the complete ban on smoking in all areas, as will now be explained’.

Personal pronouns when expressing a point of view

Over the years that we have helped people achieve their IELTS goals, this is an error we have seen many times. Here are some examples:

‘I think that the government should support students rather than requiring them to apply for loans.’

‘To a large extent, I am in favour of the statement that zoos should be abolished.

Although these sentences are grammatically correct, it would be more academic to present your Task 2 opinions from a more ‘detached’ perspective. For example:

‘It would perhaps be more effective if the government supported students rather than requiring them to apply for loans.’

‘To a large extent, there is a strong argument to be made supporting the statement that zoos should be abolished.

Personal pronouns when giving examples

It is very important to support your argument with examples, but again this is a common area where more informal pronouns can slip in. For example:

This could be achieved by providing not only a better salary but also some additional incentives. For example, my friend is a nurse, and she feels that longer holidays are just as important as the money because it helps her reduce stress.

This would have been much better phrased using a different structure. As a general guide, if you are using a pronoun to give an example, then rephrase it to a more general subject. In the example above, the writer could have avoided referring to a friend but focus more generally on nurses. To illustrate:

This could be achieved by providing not only a better salary but also some additional incentives. Nurses, for example, often state that longer holidays are just as important as the money as it provides an opportunity to reduce stress.

Personal pronouns in the conclusion

As you know a conclusion in Task 2 should summarise the main arguments of the essay (and ideally include a recommendation or speculation). However, be careful of using personal pronouns here too. For example:

As we can see the subject of school uniforms remains a subjective issue.

To conclude, we should be investigating mthods in which we can cause less damage to our environment.

Once again, these sentences could have been better phrased using the passive voice:

As can be seen, the subject of school uniforms remains a subjective issue.

To conclude,  methods should be investigated which would cause less damage to the environment.

 

 

IELTS writing

Writing an introduction for Task 2 IELTS

Writing an introduction for Task 2 IELTS

Writing an introduction for Task 2In Task 2, the first paragraph of your essay, the introduction, is very important as it is where the examiner will make their first judgment about your ability in written English.

Below is an introduction to a Task 2 essay, but it isn’t very good. Have a look at the introduction and then the points that follow.

No, I don’t agree. I don’t think we should worry about exercising. I think people should live how they want and thats it. Just a bit of running or something isn’t going to help much. And nobody really has the time to do it regularly! it’s more important to watch what you eat and drink, and get enough sleep.

Problems with this introduction:

  • register (the introduction is too informal)
  • the punctuation is incorrect in places (capital letters missing, apostrophes are missing)
  • contractions have been used (that’s instead of that is)
  • the sentences are too short (sentences could have been combined with relative clauses)
  • there is no clear topic sentence
  • only the most basic linking words are used

 

Here’s is how the introduction could have been improved:

It is arguable that being overly concerned with exercising is not necessarily worthwhile. More importance should be given to living comfortably, as there is often insufficient time in the day to follow an effective exercise regime. Care in what is consumed and getting sufficient sleep are two factors, however, that should be considered as will now be discussed.

There are a number of steps which need to be covered in the introduction, and also a number of common errors to avoid.

Good techniques:

  1. Paraphrase the title into a sentence, including the task words
  2. Write no more than 40 words
  3. Show the examiner the ‘direction’ the essay will take
  4. Use formal language and grammar

Consider this title:

The arts should be rejected in favour of more practical studies. Do you agree?

Here’s an example of a good introduction to the title above:

Some people feel that studies involving the arts are insufficiently practical to pursue. However, there is an argument to be made against this and that education is valuable regardless of the discipline, as will now be discussed.

Why is it good?

  1. The title has been rephrased (rejected > insufficiently practical to pursue) including the task words (‘Do you agree?’ > ‘There is an argument to be made against this’)
  2. It is 37 words.
  3. The writer has told the examiner that the essay will take the position of disagreeing with the topic
  4. The introduction uses the passive (‘will now be discussed’) to avoid personal pronouns (‘As I will now discuss’).

Common errors when writing an introduction to Task 2

There are a number of common errors that will immediately cost points when writing an introduction. Consider this example (it is based on the Writing title above).

The arts should be rejected in favour of more practical studies. I agree with this. The arts have been studied for centuries and many famous and well respected people have studied them.

  1. The writer has copied the question title directly. It is important to show the examiner that you have a range of vocabulary, and copying from the question will not demonstrate this.
  2. Personal pronouns have been used (‘I agree’). It is better to use the third person (Some people would agree with this) and passive constructions (an argument can be made for…)
  3. Irrelevant detail has been added (‘the arts have been studied for centuries’). Keep your introduction relevant and direct.
  4. The writer has not indicated to the examiner what will happen next. It is important in the introduction that you show the examiner the direction your essay will take – this shows that you have planned your answer and lets the examiner know how you are going to structure your work.

 

Here are four more good introductions to the essay topic above.

  • Many people want to study a subject that has a definite value in the workplace. The arts should therefore be studied more for personal interest than as a course as such studies do not offer anything practical, as will now be discussed.
  • Further education should be an opportunity for people to extend their knowledge of whatever appeals to them. Thus arbitrarily limiting the courses available only to what is deemed ‘practical’ is unfair, as will now be presented.
  • Many students of the arts are able to contribute as much to society as any other graduate regardless of career opportunities. Accordingly, they should not be made to feel that only practical education has any worth, as this essay will now consider.
  • For most people, further education means an improvement in career opportunities. It seems clear, however, that studies with an arts-related focus often fail to train people for a specific job, as will now be argued.

Tips and hints for writing an introduction for Task 2

It is important to be able to write your introduction quickly and simply, as you only have 40 minutes to complete the task. Use these tips and hints to help you improve your introductions.

  1. Avoid using personal pronouns (I, we, you)
  2. Use parallel expressions to rephrase the questions (don’t copy vocabulary)
  3. Show the direction your essay will take (whether you will agree or disagree, for example).
  4. Keep your point relevant – you are looking at between 25 and 45 words for the ideal introduction to Task 2