IELTS Writing Task 2: Three things you should write on your Question Paper

IELTS Writing Task 2: Three things you should write on your Question Paper

So many students lose a lot of marks because they don’t know or forget to do the basic things that examiners want to see in your writing for a band 7 or even 6.

In this article, I’m going to share with you a tip that can help you remember easily, and therefore save you a whole band score.

You can see how it works out in all my sample answers here.

 

The Basics for a Band 7 

According to examiners I know, so many students lose marks for their Task Achievement and Coherence and Cohesion because they don’t do the basic things that are needed for a band 6 or 7. This includes things like:

clear introduction

clear conclusion

clear overall opinion

main ideas supported well

one main idea per body paragraph.

Don’t know how? Let us help

If you’re not sure how to write a band 7+ introduction or conclusion, please check out the other blog posts in our Task 2 Writing section.

Once you know clearly what you need to do to make the examiner super happy, then of course the next step is to spend weeks, even months practising so you can do it for any topic or question type.

Don’t forget in your exam!

But then, there is one last challenge – remembering to do it in the exam.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that based on the examiners I talk to, more than half of IELTS students fail to do these basic things in the exam.

So why do many students fall at this hurdle? Is it a lack of practice or could it be nerves?

Whatever the reason, all of that study and practice will go to waste if you don’t remember to do it in the exam.

Write a Mini Checklist!

The solution is to write a quick checklist to remind you of all this basic stuff. So as soon as you open your question paper, quickly write down the following notes:

POS 242 OWE

And this is code for…

Your introduction – POS

Paraphrase the question, give your opinion, and then signpost to the examiner what you will do in the essay.

Your Body paragraphs – 242

2 main ideas for 2 body paragraphs – one main idea per body paragraph, supported with relevant explanation and examples.

Your conclusion – OWE:

Restate your opinion, say why Reasons, then finish with a related extra thought or idea.

Customise it!

You could add to it or even come up with your own version.

Whatever you do, just make sure you find a way of remembering to do the basic things that will help you to get a band 7 for your Task Achievement and Coherence and Cohesion.

Now it’s Your Turn! Comment below!

Which of these basic things do you forget to do?

Try this out and comment below how it went.

You can also check out our Facebook Group or our Instagram page for more information about IELTS!

IELTS Writing Task 2: How to Structure a ‘Discuss Both Sides’ Essay

IELTS Writing Task 2: How to Structure a ‘Discuss Both Sides’ Essay

 

 

A lot of my IELTS students struggle with how many ideas they need and how to structure their essay.

This article with explain clearly what you need to do and why.

It may also help your to read some sample essays from the real test to get a better sense for these types of questions.

Let’s look at an example:

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.

Clear Position

The first thing to remember is that you need to discuss both sides.

But you must also clearly state whether your opinion is agree or disagree.  This is very important for your Task Achievement score.

If you don’t have a clear opinion, you will lose marks. Therefore you must choose a side.

If you don’t clearly choose a side you won’t score above a 5 for task achievement  – no matter how good the rest of your writing is.

 

Clear Structure

I always recommend to my students that they give their opinion in the introduction as well as the conclusion (for all IELTS Task 2 questions).

Technically, it’s OK to write a very general introduction and leave your opinion to the end.

But I strongly suggest that you don’t do this because it’s not as clear.

Also, you might run out of time before you’ve got to your conclusion, so overall it’s a risky strategy.  

Therefore my suggested Task 2 essay structure is four paragraphs – an introduction, two main (or body) paragraphs and a conclusion.

The opinion is presented in the introduction and re-stated in the conclusion.

Ideally each body paragraph should discuss one main idea.

Example Essay Structure

Now let’s look at the essay structure in more detail.

Discuss both sides – You think one side is important but overall the other side is more important.

You need one good reason for each side.

In the example below you feel the reason for supporting rail is more important than the reason supporting roads.

Paragraph 1 (intro)

Paraphrase the question and state your overall opinion

(you feel roads are important but rail is more important)

Paragraph 2 (body 1)

Explain and support your reason why one side is important.

Paragraph 3 (body 2)

Explain and support your reason why the other side is important.

Paragraph 4 (conclusion)

Re-state your overall opinion (you feel roads are important but rail is more important) and  summarise your main reasons.

Notice that this essay has a clear structure and the opinion is clear throughout the essay.

A clear position and clear structure mean your essay is easier to mark which should mean a higher score.

Other similar types of questions than you can answer in the same way include:

– Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

– Discuss the advantages and disadvantages.

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

Look at the question below then compare your ideas with this sample answer (written by an ex-examiner).

Check out our expert sample answer with line by line analysis and key vocabulary

Some are of the opinion that people are naturally born as good leaders while others feel that leadership skills can be learned.

Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Brainstorm some main ideas:

  • Can you think of some examples of leadership skills?

  • What kind of a person makes a good leader?

  • Why do some people think great leaders are born that way?

  • Can you think of any famous leaders that appear to have natural talent?

  • Do you know anyone who became a better leader through taking a leadership course?

  • Do you think people can become a great leader through hard work, study and experience?

Follow us  on FacebookInstagram and YouTube for more free IELTS sample answers, expert tips and more!

 

IELTS Writing Task 2: How to Structure an ‘Agree or Disagree’ Essay

IELTS Writing Task 2: How to Structure an ‘Agree or Disagree’ Essay

A lot of my IELTS students struggle with how many ideas they need and how to structure their essay.

This article with explain clearly what you need to do and why. If you want to read some examples of different essays you can click here.

Let’s look at an example:

Governments should spend money on railways rather than roads.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Clear position

The first thing to remember is for the question above you don’t need to discuss both sides but you can if you want.

Therefore you have a choice about whether to discuss the ‘agree’ side, the ‘disagree’ side or discuss both sides. We’ll examine these options later.

Even if you choose to discuss both sides you must clearly state whether your opinion is agree or disagree. This is very important for your Task Achievement score.

You can see from the table below that if you don’t clearly choose a side, you will not score above a 5 for Task achievement – no matter how good the rest of your writing is.

Band Score

Official IELTS description

(Task Achievement)

What it means

7+

“Presents a clear position throughout the response”

Your overall opinion is very clear and is well supported by all your reasons and examples in your whole essay.

6

“Presents a relevant position, although the conclusions may become unclear or repetitive.”

Your overall opinion is good but you don’t always clearly support it with reasons or have clear conclusions.

5

“Expresses a position but the development is not always clear and there may be no conclusions drawn.“

You have an overall opinion but you often don’t support it with reasons or have conclusions.

4

“Presents a position but this is unclear.”

You have an opinion but you don’t explain or support it clearly.

So to summarise, for the question above you must have a clear position and you have three possible options:

1. Strongly agree. You think it’s better for governments to spend money on rail rather than roads. You discuss only this side.

2. Strongly disagree. You think it’s better for governments to spend money on roads rather than rail. You discuss only this side.

3. Discuss both sides. You discuss both sides but you have a clear opinion about rail or road.

Clear essay structure

As you can see from the table above a clear position throughout your essay is very important for your Task Achievement.

So I always recommend to my IELTS students that they give their opinion in the introduction as well as the conclusion (for all Task 2 questions).

Technically, it’s OK to write a very general introduction and leave your opinion to the end.

But I strongly suggest that you don’t do this because it’s not as clear.

Also, you might run out of time before you’ve got to your conclusion, so overall it’s a risky strategy.  

Therefore my suggested IELTS Task 2 essay structure is four paragraphs – an introduction, two main (or body) paragraphs and a conclusion.

The opinion is presented in the introduction and re-stated in the conclusion, and each body paragraph should only discuss one main idea.

Now let’s look at the options in more detail.

Possible Essay structures

1. Strongly agree – you feel rail is much more important than roads.

You need two good reasons why rail is more important.

Paragraph 1 (intro)

Paraphrase the question and state your overall opinion

(you feel rail is more important)

Paragraph 2 (body 1)

Explain and support your first reason why rail is more important.

Paragraph 3 (body 2)

Explain and support your second reason why rail is more important.

Paragraph 4 (conclusion)

Re-state your overall opinion (rail is more important) and  summarise your main reasons.

2. Strongly disagree – you feel roads are much more important than rail.


You need
two good reasons why roads are more important.

Paragraph 1 (intro)

Paraphrase the question and state your overall opinion

(you feel roads are more important)

Paragraph 2 (body 1)

Explain and support your first reason why roads are more important.

Paragraph 3 (body 2)

Explain and support your second reason why roads are more important.

Paragraph 4 (conclusion)

Re-state your overall opinion (roads are more important) and  summarise your main reasons.

3. Discuss both sides – You think one side is good but overall the other side is more important.


You need
one good reason for each side.

In the example below you feel the reason for supporting rail is more important than the reason supporting roads.

Paragraph 1 (intro)

Paraphrase the question and state your overall opinion

(you feel roads are important but rail is more important)

Paragraph 2 (body 1)

Explain and support your reason why one side  is important.

Paragraph 3 (body 2)

Explain and support your reason why the other side is  important.

Paragraph 4 (conclusion)

Re-state your overall opinion (you feel roads are important but rail is more important) and  summarise your main reasons.

 

So in summary, one thing that all three options have in common is that each essay clearly chooses a side and that is clear throughout the essay.

None of these options ‘sit on the fence’ (stay in the middle), because you should never write a 50/50 essay.

You should never say “Both roads and rail have benefits and drawbacks.”

That is not a clear conclusion, so you will definitely lose marks for your Task Achievement.

Also, you shouldn’t say “Overall I think roads are important and rail is also important so governments should spend money on both.”

Technically this is OK as your opinion is clear, but some examiners might not agree so this is risky.

So the safest strategy is to choose a side, even if that isn’t your real opinion.

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

Look at the question below then compare your ideas with this sample answer (written by an ex-examiner).

Check out our expert sample answer with line by line analysis and key vocabulary.

Plastic shopping bags are used widely and cause many environmental problems. Some people say they should be banned.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Brainstorm some main ideas – what are the main benefits and drawbacks of banning plastic bags.

What’s your overall position – do you agree or disagree?

Which essay structure will you choose – will you discuss one side or both?

Follow us  on FacebookInstagram and YouTube for more free IELTS sample answers, expert tips and more!

IELTS Writing Task 2: How to Structure a ‘Problem and Solution’ Essay

IELTS Writing Task 2: How to Structure a ‘Problem and Solution’ Essay

 

 

A lot of my IELTS students struggle with how many ideas they need and how to structure their essay.

This article with explain clearly what you need to do and why. Read some examples of actual IELTS essays here.

Let’s look at an example of this kind of question:

The price of rail travel in some countries increases annually while average incomes remain relatively stable. This causes a problem for many people who rely on trains for travelling to work.

What do you think are the causes of this problem and what measures could be taken to solve them?

How many causes and solutions?

You are being asked to discuss causes and solutions (measures) but in fact it’s better if you can think of just one or a maximum of two main causes and solutions.

This means you will be able to spend more time developing those ideas which will then improve your Task Achievement score.

Possible Essay structures

1. Separately – you discuss the main cause first then discuss the main solution.

You need one or two main causes and one or two main solutions.

Paragraph 1 (intro)

Paraphrase both questions and state the main cause and solution.

Paragraph 2 (body 1)

Explain the main cause(s). Support your ideas.

Paragraph 3 (body 2)

Explain the possible solution(s) . Give reasons to support your ideas.

Paragraph 4 (conclusion)

Re-state the problem and  summarise your main ideas.

2. Together – you discuss the causes one at a time together with its solution.

Again, you need at two main causes and two main solutions.

Paragraph 1 (intro)

Paraphrase both questions and state you will discuss some causes and solutions.

Paragraph 2 (body 1)

Explain the first main cause and suggest a suitable solution. Give reasons to support your idea..

Paragraph 3 (body 2)

Explain the second main cause and suggest a suitable solution. Give reasons to support your idea..

Paragraph 4 (conclusion)

Re-state the problem and  summarise your main ideas.

Do not write an opinion essay

A lot of IELTS students are very good at writing agree or disagree essays, so they misunderstand problem/solution questions.

Instead of discussing causes and solutions, they discuss the benefits and drawbacks of  expensive tickets.

This would mean a 4 for Task Achievement.

Make sure you read and understand the question carefully.

Other similar types of questions than you can answer in the same way include:

– What do you think are the causes? / What are the solutions?

– Explain some possible reasons for this problem and suggest some solutions.

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

Is travelling by train in your country more expensive than in the past? Why?

How could train companies save money?

Follow us  on FacebookInstagram and YouTube for more free IELTS sample answers, expert tips and more!

IELTS Writing Task 2: How to Structure a ‘Two Question’ Essay

IELTS Writing Task 2: How to Structure a ‘Two Question’ Essay

A lot of my IELTS students struggle with how many ideas they need and how to structure their essay.

This article with explain clearly what you need to do and why. Read some real IELTS essays that I wrote by clicking here.

Let’s look at an example of this kind of question:

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?

Clear position

For this kind of task you need to discuss both questions.

For the first question, you are given a situation and asked to explain why.

The second question requires a clear opinion so you must choose a side.

This is very important for your task response score.

If you don’t choose a side and support that ‘position’ clearly, you will lose marks for your task response. You will get a maximum of a 5 for task achievement if you do not choose a side.

It’s not important which side you choose as long as you choose one.

Here are the options for the second question:

1) Agree. You think it’s a positive development that governments are spending more money on public transport. You support r this opinion.

2) Disagree. You think it’s a negative development that governments are spending more money on public transport. You support this opinion.

Clear essay structure

I always recommend to my students that they give their opinion in the introduction as well as the conclusion (for all IELTS Task 2 questions).

Technically, it’s OK to write a very general introduction and leave your opinion to the end.

But I strongly suggest that you don’t do this because it’s not as clear.

Also, you might run out of time before you’ve got to your conclusion, so overall it’s a risky strategy.  If you don’t choose a side and support that ‘position’ clearly, you will lose marks for your task response.

Therefore my suggested IELTS Task 2 essay structure is four paragraphs – an introduction, two main (or body) paragraphs and a conclusion.

The opinion is presented in the introduction and re-stated in the conclusion.

Ideally each body paragraph should discuss one main idea.

Now let’s look at the options in more detail.

Possible Essay structures

1) Agree – you feel it’s a positive development that governments are spending more money on public transport.

You need at least one good reason why it’s happening and one good reason why it’s a positive development.

Paragraph 1

(intro)

Paraphrase both questions and state your overall opinion (you feel it’s a positive development)

Paragraph 2

(body 1)

Explain and support your reason why governments are spending more money on public transport.

Paragraph 3

(body 2)

Explain and support your reason why this is a positive development.

Paragraph 4 (conclusion)

Re-state your overall opinion (you feel it’s a positive development) and  summarise your main reasons.

2) Disagree – you feel it’s a negative development that governments are spending more money on public transport.

You need at least one good reason why it’s happening and one good reason why it’s a negative development.

Only the parts highlighted below are different from the first essay

Paragraph 1 (intro)

Paraphrase both questions and state your overall opinion

(you feel it’s a negative development)

Paragraph 2 (body 1)

Explain and support your reason why governments are spending more money on public transport.

Paragraph 3 (body 2)

Explain and support your reason why this is a negative development.

Paragraph 4 (conclusion)

Re-state your overall opinion (you feel it’s a negative development) and  summarise your main reasons.

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

Look at the question below then compare your ideas with this sample answer (written by an ex-examiner).

Check out our expert sample answer with line by line analysis and key vocabulary.

Living in large cities today poses many problems for people.

What are these problems? Should governments encourage more people to live in smaller towns?

Brainstorm some main ideas:

  • What are the biggest problems for people living in a big city?

  • What causes these problems? What are the effects on people’s lives?

  • Do think think the government should help people to move out of big cities to live in smaller towns?

  • Is this a good or bad idea? Why?

Follow us  on FacebookInstagram and YouTube for more free IELTS sample answers, expert tips and more!