Category Archives: IELTS Writing Task 2 (lessons)

Writing good topic sentences for IELTS

Writing a good topic sentence for IELTS

To write in a clear and logical way, the first sentence of your paragraph should define what the rest of the paragraph will be discussing.

For example:

Tighter gun control or even the abolition of firearms would lead to a decrease in the number of deaths and injuries. This is because in many countries, access to this type of weapon is relatively easy, and this can cause incidents or accidents. For example, in the USA alone, accidental death from firearms accounts for over 1000 deaths per year.

Notice how the sentence in bold identifies what the paragraph relates to.

Here are some more topic sentences:

Paragraph A:

Writing good topic sentences for IELTSReality television could be facing a revolt. Every night there is at least one on the television, more often two or three. Subjects can range from seeing a group of people living in a house together, with cameras watching them 24 hours a day, to more exotic locations where people, even celebrities, live on a deserted island and are required to complete certain tasks. While there is clearly a market for this kind of entertainment, there are a growing number of people who have become bored with this genre of programming and are refusing to watch, preferring instead to view other channels or even pursue other interests.

Paragraph B:

Computer viruses are becoming increasingly aggressive. Despite installing protective software, these threats continue to evolve, becoming increasingly sophisticated and damaging. This is an irritation to the home computer user, but is of far greater concern when they affect computers in government offices and banks, for example. In fact, it has been rumoured that certain software companies actively recruit the people responsible, thus turning the creation and implementation of viruses into something akin to a job interview.

Paragraph C:

The belief that we now have longer holidays is not always true. Take, for example, people working in the service industry. They are often required to work through what is traditionally considered to be the holiday period, and in many service industries, Christmas is one of their busiest times. Then there are people from the business world, constantly connected to their work through the Internet and mobile phones. The reality of the situation is that government legislation and laws regarding contracts have given us the impression of having more free time without actually reducing our workload.

Paragraph D:

An increasing number of women do not have to sacrifice their career in order to have a family. This is in part the result of legislation in favour of working mothers, in which companies are required to provide maternity pay to employees in the last stages of pregnancy and early motherhood. Returning to work is also facilitated by many of the larger companies providing crèches for younger children, meaning the parent is no longer housebound. There is also a trend towards having children later in life, once a career has been firmly established, or even not having children at all, giving the opportunity to follow career choices instead. A minor, and not yet substantial enough, role is also played by househusbands, men who take the responsibility for child care whilst the mother pursues her career.

 

Now practice! Read the paragraphs below and think of a suitable topic sentence for each one.

TOPIC SENTENCE 
It provides an important release from the tensions of the workplace, allowing us an outlet for our energies in an increasingly hectic world. There is also the social aspect, as people often use their leisure time to interact with others in a society that is becoming arguably less sociable.

Show a possible topic sentence for the paragraph above

FREE TIME IS INCREASINGLY VITAL THESE DAYS


 

TOPIC SENTENCE 
Traditional foods with better nutritional values are often overlooked as being time consuming and laborious and are often rejected in favour of more convenient options. Another reason that could account for this is the financial factor: the cost of a McDonald’s meal can often be considerably cheaper than a balanced and well-prepared meal cooked at home.

Show a possible topic sentence for the paragraph above  THERE IS AN INCREASING DEPENDENCE ON ‘JUNK’ FOOD

TOPIC SENTENCE 
The clearest indication of this is the brevity of most e-mails. In a letter, we would never consider communicating with a single word or phrase, yet it is perfectly acceptable to do so using a computer. There is also the personal aspect: reliance on e-mail communication is undeniably distancing us from more direct contact, even the telephone. However, we cannot underestimate the convenience of e-mail, especially in situations which involve long-distance communication.

Show a possible topic sentence for the paragraph above EMAIL IS NOT AS EFFECTIVE A MEANS OF COMMUNICATION COMPARED TO MORE TRADITIONAL FORMS

 

Task 2 IELTS writing – the basics Page 3

Task 2 IELTS writing – the basics Page 3

Before starting this lesson, make sure you’ve seen page 1 and page 2.

In the final page in this lesson, we will look at what might be the MOST important point regarding Task 2 writing – the 4 different types of Task 2, and the style you should use depending on which type it is.

Video 3 of 3

Narration:
Now let’s look at some examples of the four different types of Task II essays you may have to write about. The most common type of Task II requires you to give an opinion or challenge a point of view. Here is an example. The same question type could also be presented like this. You could also be given a question like this. The basic point of these questions is that you are presented with a situation or a statement that you have to give opinions about. The second type for Task II essay is when you are asked to compare points of view. Here is an example. Notice how the instructions tell us to discuss both the advantages and the disadvantages, then give an opinion. In this example, we are told to argue both opinions and give your view.

The way in which we approach essays that ask us to compare is slightly different to the type that asks us to give an opinion or challenge a point of view, as will be discussed later in the course. The final two types of Task II essay are the least common: we may be asked to give solutions to a problem or discuss a given situation; for instance, talking about benefits, causes or reasons. Here is an example of solutions essay. Here are examples of essays which require you to discuss a given situation. Knowing which type of essay you are writing about is important because it affects the way you plan and present your ideas. We will look at this in more detail later in the course, but on the next page you will see a list of common task words for the different essay types. You can often identify which type of Task II you are writing about from the task words themselves.


Here are some common task words that you might see for each Task 2 type:

Give an opinion / challenge a point of view

Do you agree or disagree?
Do you think…?
To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks?
Is this positive or negative?
What is your opinion?

Compare points of view

Discuss both views and give your opinion.
Consider both sides and give your view.
Argue both views and give your opinion.
Discuss the two points and give your opinion.
Discuss the advantages and disadvantages.
Discuss the two situations and give your view.

Give solutions to a problem

What measures should be taken…?
What can be done about this?
What is the solution to this?
In your opinion what are the solutions?
How can the situation be improved?

Discuss a given situation

What problems does this cause?
What are the advantages of….?
In your opinion what are the problems associated with this?
What are the disadvantages of….?
What benefits does this bring?
What factors contribute to…?

Now practice!

Look at the Task 2 title below and select the question type you think it is.

A lot of people do business internationally. Therefore we should abolish passports to make it easier to travel. Do you agree or disagree?

Give an opinion / challenge a point of view
Compare points of view
Give solutions to a problem
Discuss a given situation

Show the answer
The correct answer is give an opinion / challenge a point of view.

There is a rising rate of obesity among children in developed countries. What can be done about this?

Give an opinion / challenge a point of view
Compare points of view
Give solutions to a problem
Discuss a given situation

Show the answer
The correct answer is give solutions to a problem.

The internet now allows fast access to a huge range of information. Do you think that libraries are still important?

Give an opinion / challenge a point of view
Compare points of view
Give solutions to a problem
Discuss a given situation

Show the answer
The correct answer is give an opinion / challenge a point of view.

Some people believe that the government should support the arts. Others believe that the money would be better spent on basic services such as healthcare. Discuss both points of view and give your opinion.

Give an opinion / challenge a point of view
Compare points of view
Give solutions to a problem
Discuss a given situation

Show the answer
The correct answer is compare points of view.

The rate of childhood obesity is rising in many developed countries. Why do you think this is?

Give an opinion / challenge a point of view
Compare points of view
Give solutions to a problem
Discuss a given situation

Show the answer
The correct answer is discuss a given situation.

We hope this lesson has helped – if it has, please share our page using the buttons below – thanks!

Task 2 IELTS writing – the basics Page 2

Task 2 IELTS writing – the basics Page 2

Before starting this lesson, make sure you’ve seen page 1.

On the previous page, you answered some questions about Task 2. On this page, we will look at the marking criteria – that is, what the examiner is looking for when assessing your Task 2 essay.

Video 2 of 3

Narration:
The examiner is looking for your essay to demonstrate 4 different aspects in order to get a good result: task response (have you completed the task?), cohesion and coherence (does your answer make sense?), lexical resource (have you used academic vocabulary?) and grammatical range and accuracy (is your grammar correct and have you shown a number of different structures?).

First is whether you have completed the requirements of the Task. That is, have you ( written at least 250 words but not more than about 270? Also in this section, the examiner will be looking to see if you have presented a clear point of view, and also that you have supported your opinions.

The second area the examiner will be looking at is whether what you have written actually makes sense. This means that when you plan and write your essay, you must have a logical presentation with ideas that are linked together. You should also have a clear sentence and paragraph structure.

For lexical resource, you are being judged on whether the vocabulary you use is accurate and academic. You should avoid repeating vocabulary – especially using words taken from the question title.

The final area you are being marked on is your grammar – again, you should use an academic level of grammar and avoid repeating grammar structures. In this IELTS writing course, you will have plenty of practice in order to improve your skills in all of these areas.


Now look at the points below and decide which of the 4 writing criteria each one relates to.

If you repeat words, especially from the question, you will lose marks under…
Lexical resource
Cohesion and coherence
Task response
Grammatical range and accuracy

Show the answer
The correct answer is Lexical resource

You need to show the examiner that you can express yourself using a range of sentence structures and will gain marks under…
Lexical resource
Cohesion and coherence
Task response
Grammatical range and accuracy

Show the answer
The correct answer is Grammatical range and accuracy

If you write less that 250 words, you will lose marks under…
Lexical resource
Cohesion and coherence
Task response
Grammatical range and accuracy

Show the answer
The correct answer is Task response.

You need to express your arguments and ideas clearly to gain marks under…
Lexical resource
Cohesion and coherence
Task response
Grammatical range and accuracy

Show the answer
The correct answer is Cohesion and coherence.

Task 2 IELTS writing – the basics

Task 2 IELTS writing – the basics

Before you begin this lesson, you will need to know the meaning of the words below as they are part of the lesson.

POINT OF VIEW: (noun phrase) An opinion . Example: ‘It can sometimes be difficult to understand other peoples’ points of view.’

CHALLENGE: (verb) To argue against an opinion. Example: ‘In IELTS writing, you may need to challenge an opinion by giving a different point of view’.

(noun) A difficult situation. Example: ‘Studying in a second language can be a challenge for many students’.

PROVIDE: (verb) To give or offer. Example: ‘IELTS students need to provide evidence and examples to support their opinions.’

COHESION: (noun) Joining ideas together. Example: ‘A good essay will be easy to understand because of its cohesion’

COHERENCE: (noun) Able to be understood. Example: ‘An essay needs to show coherence; that is, a logical flow of ideas’.

INSTRUCTIONS: (noun) What you have to do. For example: His instructions were to deliver the package to Mr Jones.

DEMONSTRATE: (verb) To show. Example: ‘It is important to demonstrate a range of accurate grammar in your IELTS essay’.

STRUCTURE: (noun) The way in which parts are arranged or put together. Example: ‘A good essay should have a clear structure’.

(verb) To arrange something into clear parts or order. Example: ‘It is important to structure your answer clearly in the IELTS test’.

LEXICAL: (adjective) Talking about vocabulary (words). For example: ‘He has a good lexical ability – he knows a lot of words’


How much do you know already?

Before watching the video below, see what you know about writing a Task 2 essay.

Are the following statements TRUE or FALSE?

You should write the title of the essay at the top of your answer sheet.

Click here for the answer.

This is false. There is no need to write the question again. It does not count towards your 250 words and you do not have time to waste.

You do not have time to plan your essay.


Click here for the answer.

This is false. With practice, you will have time to plan before you write. If you start writing without a clear plan you can find that your essay is not logically and clearly presented.

You should write your plan on the question sheet, not the answer sheet.


Click here for the answer.

This is true. The examiner will not mark your plan (although it helps you to write a better essay). It also does not count towards the 250 words. By writing it on the question paper you do not have to keep it tidy and your essay is presented more clearly for your examiner to read.

You can request extra paper to write on if you need to.

Click here for the answer.

This is true. In the examination room, if you find you need extra paper to write on then simply raise your hand.

There are two choices for each Task 2 essay.

Click here for the answer.

This is false. You are only given one Task 2 and one Task 2. You have no choice and have to write on whatever topic you are given.

Articles (a/an/the) do not count towards the word limit.

Click here for the answer.

This is false. All words written in your essay are included in the word count, unless they are copied directly from the question title.

Video 1 of 3

Narration:

There are two sections to the IELTS writing test – Task 1 and Task 2. Each comes with a different set of instructions, telling you how you should complete the Task. IN Task 2 you are given four different instructions as well as the essay title.

The first instruction is that You should spend about 40 minutes on this task. The writing test takes one hour in total – 20 minutes for Task 1 and 40 minutes for Task 2. This is because Task 2 is more heavily weighted – meaning that Task 2 is worth more to your final result than Task 1.

The second instruction is that you should Write about the following topic. After this, of course, comes your essay title.

The third instruction is that you should Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples or evidence from your own knowledge and experience. This means that you whatever comments or opinions you put in your essays, they must be supported with examples.

The final instruction is You should write a least 250 words. This is very important as writing fewer than 250 words is a certain way to lose points.


Now you’ve watched the video, answer the questions below.

Are the following statements TRUE or FALSE?

You should spend about 40 minutes on Task 2.

Click here for the answer.

This is true. The IELTS writing test takes one hour for Task 1 and Task 2. You should spend about 20 minutes on Task 1 and about 40 minutes on Task 2.

Task 2 is worth more points than Task 1.

Click here for the answer.

This is true. Task 2 is two thirds of your final result; Task 1 is only one third.

In Task 2, you are giving information. You will not be expected to give and support opinions.

Click here for the answer.

This is false. Task 1 essays ask you to transfer information. Task 2 essays ask for opinion, as well as evidence & examples to support your points.

You should write up to 250 words.

Click here for the answer.

This is false. It’s a little bit of a trick question – the statement says ‘up to 250 words’, whereas the correct statement should read ‘at least 250 words’.

You have to start the writing test by completing Task 1.

Click here for the answer.

This is false. Because Task 2 is worth more points, it’s actually better to start with this task and then finish with Task 1. If you run out of time, you lose fewer points!

The 3 parts of a Task 2 IELTS writing question

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.

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?

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…’