The second part of the IELTS writing task 2, is one that can seem a little difficult for students to attempt. Writing a 250 word essay in 40 minutes can be a difficult task. We don’t have much time, so how should we write our answer?

In order to be successful, it is important to be able to write quickly and accurately, while remaining calm and following a simple essay structure. It is particularly important in the writing section of your exam to demonstrate a clear structure and a wide vocabulary. In addition, it is crucial to write with correct spelling and take time to check your work when you finish.

Writing for the question…

When you first look at your IELTS Task 2 question, it could be about a range of different topics, for example something general like society, education, or health. As a result, it is important to use a structure that can help you answer any of these questions.

So, it is not possible to learn or memorize a sentence or sentences you can put into all of your responses. It is very unlikely that you will be able to do this as there are many different types of question and you need to answer the question specifically.

25% of your final grade is based on Task Achievement – Answering the question! Many IELTS candidates fail to do this, as some prefer to try and use long words or complex sentences, that do not make sense and do not answer the question. If you do not focus on the main ideas in the question, do not give your own view and do not support your ideas with clear examples and explanations, you will not be able to achieve a high band score.

To help you write the best possible answer, you can complete these steps below:

STEP 1: A solid introduction

Be sure to paraphrase the question in your own words!

When you introduce, it is important to restate the question in your own words. This NEEDS to be in the form of a paraphrase. You cannot copy the question again. To paraphrase, you can combine the use of synonyms, change sentence order/focus or use different word or verb forms.

For example, if your question is: Some people believe that capital punishment should never be used. Others believe that it should only be used for the most serious crimes. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

Your paraphrase might look something like this: Many in society think that capital punishment or death penalty is old fashioned, and not needed anyone, however, others believe that very serious crimes should still be punished this way.

It’s possible that you may not have the vocabulary or accuracy to paraphrase like this. Just remember that the paraphrase should be similar in meaning to the question in Task 2. Simply focus on keep your opening sentence clear and simple, using your own words. This sets up the rest of your essay and makes sure you make a good impression on the examiner.

So, what do you think?

Once we have restated/paraphrased the question, we need to say what we think, and outline the rest of the essay. This guides the reader on what to expect in the following paragraphs.

There is no right or wrong opinion, so only think about what you want to say. The examiner is not interested in how accurate or correct your opinion is, only how you express and write down your ideas in English. So once you have decided on your opinion you can start to outline this.

Many, many students like to start giving their opinion with phrases like:

  • In this essay I will…
  • According to me…
  • In the following essay, I will discuss…
  • This essay will talk about…
  • According to my opinion…
  • The following paragraphs will… and so on.

Please avoid using these phrases as they appear memorized, and communicate nothing related to the Task. You need to write 250 words, so do not waste time and energy writing meaningless phrases that do not support your essay.

STEP 2: Supporting your stance

Now that you have given your opinion, you need to back it up. You can do this through simple definitions, examples and explanations. You could use some simple phrases to support your ideas, such as:

  • This can be defined as …
  • From a political perspective…
  • An example of this is…
  • In other words…
  • Another way of looking at this could be…

STEP 3: What’s the other side of the argument?

In the next paragraph, you should then look at the question from the other side of the argument. This is important to show the examiner that you can fully answer the question in the task and balance your arguments.

You may want to start this paragraph with phrases like:

  • Others may argue that…
  • An opposing view could be…
  • However, another side to this issue is….
  • In contrast, some people believe that…

STEP 4: Conclusion – Summarise your opinion

To finish Task 2, you need to summarise the ideas you have discussed in your essay, to form your conclusion.

First of all, you should re-state your opinion/stance, that you mentioned in your introduction. Again, to avoid repeating this, you should aim to paraphrase using synonyms, changing word order or word/verb forms. You can also briefly summarise the main points you talked about in your earlier paragraphs.

To finish off, you could use a concluding sentence, which provides a suggestion or a prediction. This could evaluate the arguments you have made, and give a little more detail.

An example of a simple, clear conclusion might look like this:

If capital punishment was adopted by many countries, it is difficult to believe that it would stop people commiting serious crimes. Many people strongly believe that the death penalty should not exist, and if it does, will continue to punish many innocent people.

So how does this structure work for you? Do you use any different structures to help you in Task 2? Feel free to comment or post any questions below.

If you are looking for personal 1-1 feedback and assistance with your IELTS Speaking or Writing, I also offer a premium feedback service. You can find more information here.

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