Writing task 1 presents one or two diagrams. They will ask you to summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features. And to make relevant comparisons. This is a very clear instruction that you must follow, and we will be looking at this in more detail later.
The most common instructions in Writing task 2 are as follows:
- To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?
- Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.
- Do you think the advantages of……… outweigh the disadvantages?
- Less commonly, they might ask you, for example. Has this become a positive or negative development?
All of these questions ask you to evaluate views and opinions about a common situation or a problem. The problem will always be familiar to you, and you will not need to know any specialist knowledge.
Common topics include:
- Universities Schools
- Health and fitness
- Bringing up children
- The environment
Another common kind of IELTS Task 2 question is one in which you are presented with a problem. You have to suggest solutions, for example:
In some countries, the average weight of people is increasing and their levels of health and fitness are decreasing. What do you think are the causes of these problems and what measures could be taken to solve them? Again, the instructions are clear.
Here they will ask you to give reasons for people gaining weight and some possible solutions to deal with this issue.
Sometimes they might ask you more specific questions. Such as: What factors contribute to job satisfaction? What, in your opinion, should be the main function of a university? Clearly, then, it is very important to read the question really carefully. The time you spend on this is very valuable and you should not rush this. Sometimes students miss an important part of the question.
Here is an example of a question in which students often make mistakes with:
Writing Task 2
You should spend about 40 minutes on this task. Write about the following topic:
Nowadays the way many people interact with each other has changed because of technology. In what ways has technology affected the types of relationships people make? Has this become a positive or negative development? Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience. Write at least 250 words.
Students often approach this question by writing about the general advantages and disadvantages. Such as making our life easier, and causing harm to our health. But the question clearly focuses on “the way many people interact”. And “the types of relationships people make”. So you must include examples and reasons for how and why relationships have changed because of technology. This might include relationships at work, as well as family and social relationships.
One useful way of making sure you focus on the question is to break it down into parts.
In the question above, the topic is the effects of technology. But the focus is on how relationships have changed. The topic will form the first sentence of your introduction. Where you will include some general background information. Whereas the focus will be the main area you develop in your writing.
The instruction tells you that you should give reasons and examples to support your opinion. Then write at least 250 words. If you do not write 250 words, it may well mean that you have not fully answered the question and developed your essay well.
Remember they mark your work according to four marking criteria.
For Writing Task 2 these are:
- Task Achievement – you should address all parts of the task.
- Coherence and Cohesion – you should organise your writing in paragraphs using linking words.
- Lexical Resource – you should use a wide range of academic or formal vocabulary.
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy – you should show control over your language.
You can find more information about the marking criteria from the following links:
To conclude, if your writing shows weaknesses in one of the categories, such as grammar. you can make up for this by really focusing on the question and by developing a good argument based on this focus, so making sure you fully achieve the task.
If, however, you have excellent language skills, but do not fully focus on the question. You may not achieve the score you are aiming for. So it is very important to take a few minutes to read the question carefully and to select the topic. And then focus before you start writing or making a plan.
If you are serious about taking your IELTS writing to the next level. Sign up for your FREE 3 part IELTS writing video course that takes you through both task 1 and task 2. The video lessons are led by our highly experienced UK native IELTS teacher, Katherine. We also provide you with exercises to test your understanding!