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The IELTS writing exam is a 60 minute test of your English writing ability and there are two parts – Task 1 and Task 2.

For Task 2 you will be given an essay question and you have around 40 minutes to write at least 250 words.

This format is the same for the general or the academic IELTS exam.

The basic task 2 essay structure is four paragraphs – an introduction, two main (or body) paragraphs) and a conclusion.

You are expected to give your opinion and support it with reasons and examples.

You should avoid using personal examples as you should use a semi-academic style.

What does a Task 2 question look like?

Let’s look at some example questions:

Example 1

Some people think that governments should spend money on railways. Others believe that there should be more investment into new roads.

Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

Example 2

Nowadays governments are investing more in public transport such as buses and trains rather than in building new roads.

What are the reasons for this?

Is this a positive or negative development?

Example 3

The first car appeared on British roads in 1888. By the year 2000, there may be as many as 29 million vehicles on the British roads.

Alternative forms of transport should be encouraged and international laws introduced to control car ownership and use.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

By looking at the three examples above, you can see that a Task 2 question is divided into two parts.

1. Statements giving you Information about the essay topic

2. The essay question(s) you have to answer.

There are different kinds of Task 2 questions.

Some give you more or less information about the essay topic.

Some questions require you to discuss both sides, agree or disagree, to explain a problem and suggest solutions.

However, regardless of the topic and the question, the format of the exam remains the same.

You have 40 minutes to write at least 250 words, and you are expected to give your opinion, present main ideas (reasons) and support those with explanation and examples.

And no matter the question, you can use a basic Task 2 essay structure of four paragraphs – an introduction, two body paragraphs and a conclusion.

How is Task 2 scored?

Your essay is marked by a qualified IELTS examiner.

They will score your writing equally using four criteria:

– TA – Task Achievement (Answering the the question)

 – CC – Coherence and Cohesion. (Clear and well organised)

– LR – Lexical Resource. (Vocabulary and spelling)

– GR – Grammatical Range and Accuracy. (Grammar and punctuation)

For each of the criteria you will get a ‘band score’ of 0-9.

For each task, these will be added together and an average overall score will be calculated.

These two figures will then be added together accordingly with Task 2 counting for twice as many marks as Task 1 ie. Task 2 = 66%, Task 1 = 33%).

Finally, this figure is rounded down to the nearest half band score.

For example, Donald Trump gets the following scores:





Overall scores

Final result

(rounded down)

Task 1






Task 2






Combined score (Task 1 = 33%, Task 2 = 66%).



KEY TIP: Task 2 is worth double the marks so make sure you don’t spend too long on Task 1. If you are a slow writer, do task 2 first!

Also notice that being marked down in one criteria can wreck your chances of getting the score you need.

Therefore it isn’t enough to be getting close to your target scores when you are practising at home or in class.

In the lead up to your test, you should ideally be achieving higher than your target scores so you can be sure to achieve your goals on test day, especially as some examiners are very strict.

Now it’s your turn! Put your answers in the comments

What score do you need for writing?

What are your strengths and weaknesses in your writing?

Need more help?

Check out our Facebook Group or our Instagram page for more tips and free resources about IELTS!



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