Getting ideas for IELTS Task 2


Getting ideas for IELTS Task 2

With only 40 minutes to read the question, get ideas, plan your essay, write the essay and then proofread your work, you need to be quick getting ideas.

Here are some useful methods of getting ideas:


Getting ideas for IELTS Task 2

This simply means thinking about anything that is connected to the topic. It doesn’t matter whether or not the idea seems good at the time; the aim is to get your brain thinking about the topic and writing notes on the question paper. When you have finished brainstorming, you will find that some of your ideas don’t relate to the topic so need to be rejected, but at least you have a place to start.


If your Task II title was ‘Should parents be responsible for the criminal actions of their children?‘ you might think of the following ideas:

  • underage crime
  • bad parenting
  • crime rates in developed countries
  • young / busy parents
  • society
  • the child’s friends
  • TV and video games

Then when you look again through the list, you need to reject the ideas that are not directly relevant to the questions. In the example above, you would reject the idea about ‘crime rates in developed countries’, as this does not directly relate to parents or children. Then look again and see which ideas would be difficult to support or argue in 250 words / 40 minutes, and would probably reject ‘society’ as it is a very wide area.


Who’s involved?

Another method of getting ideas is to think about who is affected by the topic raised in the question. If you are thinking about ‘Should parents be responsible for the criminal actions of their children?‘, then the people involved would be:

  • parents
  • children
  • the police
  • the victims of crime
  • other criminals

Then you need to think about how each of the affected groups of people may react. Victims of crime, for instance, might want to see the parents punished as the child is arguably too young for prison. The police might also want parents to be responsible for the same reason.

Applying the questions words

A third useful method of getting ideas is to use the question words – who, what, where, when, how etc. In the example we have used so far (Should parents be responsible for the criminal actions of their children?‘), you could think about the following questions:

  • How could parents be punished?
  • What actions should the parents take responsibility for?
  • When is a child old enough to take responsibility themselves?

Here’s another example of applying question words:

TITLE: Everyone should be made to learn English. Do you agree or disagree?

You could consider aspects such as:

  • why should everyone have to learn?
  • what would happen to non-English people’s native language?
  • where would people study?
  • how would this be controlled/regulated?
  • who should pay for it?
  • when would many people find a use for English?


Always keep in mind that the ideas you support or argue against do not have to reflect your true opinion – if you find it easier to argue something that you don’t actually agree with, then do it!

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Previous comments:

    Hello, I will be taking the academic module of IELTS this coming saturday in Toronto. I feel confident about L\R\S, but writting terrifies me ! esspecially task 2..after I read the question, I try to brainstorm for some ideas but I feel nothing is good enough…even tough in my maternal language I am a good essay writer…even wrote for my highschool newspaper many times… Any suggestions that will help me get at easy with this anxiety ? Thanks a lot ! I appreciate your site and I find your practice tests very valuable as I have practice from Barrons or Cambridge ones before so I can make an honest comparation.

    Ieltsforfree says:

    Hi Monica – that seems like a good review of your test day. Technically the examiner should not have said ‘You did well’, but let’s see how you got on! Glad to hear you found the website useful, and I think you are right – being prepared for the test format is very important!

    Hi, thanks for answering. Yes, I had my exam last week and waiting for the results on Dec 23. I am confident I did well, even the Writing was not that bad…my general impression is that you really need to know english, to be sharp and fast in delivering ideas or answering the questions… the time is the biggest enemy, I was left with 5-10 seconds for each task, to review…no joking about this….and I was one of the fast ones, most of the people were still writing or correcting something…I am not happy with the Speaking, even though that’s my strongest skill…the examiner asked me about advertising…and how the government regulates this in my country… I mean, not even in my own language I would be able to answer such detailes questions…anyways, I felt into the trap of concentraiting on giving smart ideas instead of paying attention of using a range of vocabulary, grammar structure…also, when I am into a stresfull situation I tend to speak faster, so the pronunciation wasn’t the best…:( At the end, she said ” you did well “, but who knows…I hope to get a 7 overall with no less than 6.5 on each band. I will post here my marks when i will get them. Thanks for your website, really helped me a lot to get used to the exam format. In the end, thats the biggest tip: it’s not about how good your english is, but about being comfortable with the test format.

    Ieltsforfree says:

    Hi Monica – sorry I didn’t get to this in time to help you for the test 🙁 How did it go? You should be getting your results back in the next day or so, so let us know if you need to take the test again

    Aref Nahhas says:

    Hi can we use a personal example in task 2…… for example,my uncle jack can not find a job because of the unemployment problem in my country…… ? thank you.

    Ieltsforfree says:

    No – you need to make sure your examples are general and formally presented.

    what are the topics will appear in examination????????

    Ieltsforfree says:

    Very little chance of finding that out without a time machine Sreevikram!

    Can we expect sample essays from you?

    Ieltsforfree says:

    There are sample and model essays in the writing sections – use the links at the top of the page to go to the Academic or General Training modules, then click the ‘Sample’ or ‘Model’ answers links 🙂