In this post, we will focus on IELTS Writing Task 2.We will look at four key areas: facts and figures you need to know to properly prepare for the IELTS Writing test; common topics that you can expect to see; how to go about writing your essay; and finally, we will look at a sample essay question for you to answer.
Facts and figures
Every test-taker should know the basics of their test before they even think about preparation. So, what do you need to know? The IELTS Writing test lasts 60 minutes, and is in two parts. Part 2 accounts for two thirds of the points, so you should spend two thirds of the time on it: that’s 40 minutes. You will be graded on four areas: Task Response (Did you answer the question?); Coherence and Cohesion (Do your ideas hang together, making it easy for the reader to follow your argument?); Vocabulary (Is it appropriate? Is it correct?); and Grammar (do you use a wide variety of grammatical structures? Do you use them correctly?). These are your four keys to success. Each of these four areas is worth 25% of the marks. You must write 250 words.
For more detailed information on IELTS Writing Part 2, and the other papers, access these (free) study guides. Scroll down until you find them.
Look on the official IELTS website, or on the British Council’s TakeIELTS site and you will get virtually no information on what topics to expect. This is because the question could be about almost anything. Various IELTS prep websites will offer you lists of possible topics — but these lists can stretch into hundreds of items, so it is impossible to prepare for them all. That’s not to say reading about these different topics won’t help. It is useful to read about a range of subjects as it exposes you to different styles of writing too. But in any case, IELTS Writing is not testing your knowledge of a particular topic; it is testing whether you can write well in English.
So rather than trying to research different topics on the chance that the one you want might come up (almost zero chance), your time is much better spent ensuring that you understand the structure of the essay you are going to produce.
How to write an essay for IELTS Writing Task 2
Let’s put this in the context of a question. This one is taken from the Free Version of Road to IELTS.
Some people believe that teaching children at home is best for a child’s development while others think that it is important for children to go to school.
Discuss the advantages of both methods and give your own opinion.
As you can see, the topic — like all IELTS Writing topics — does not require any specialist knowledge. It just needs common sense to answer it.
Start by noting down your ideas like this:
|Learning at home
||Learning at school
Decide on your approach — which one do you think is better? Then plan out your paragraphs:
Give a background statement, paraphrasing the question, or putting it in different words; and a thesis statement saying what you believe. Like this:
The argument over whether learning at home or at school is better for children has not been settled yet. Where home education offers better protection with individual learning and opportunities for families to bond, schools have a superior range of material and human resources. Ultimately, I think the school experience is best for children.
Points for and against
It is important you give a balanced view of the topic. Provide points that support your argument but also some that counter it.
There are several advantages for children who learn at home. Firstly, they can spend more time with their parents and siblings. Many social problems are associated with families not spending enough quality time together. Teaching children at home also provides them with an individualised learning environment. Instruction is custom-designed and moves at the child’s own pace and in accordance with his or her individual learning style. Finally, home schooling protects children from bullies and others who might be a bad influence.
On the other hand, the school environment also offers advantages for children. Schools encourage children to socialise with their peers and learn how to cope with gossip, bullying and peer pressure. In addition, children will receive better tuition across a range of disciplines, as schools have teachers who are trained in special subjects. What is more, schools provide better access to physical resources such as sports equipment, musical instruments and library books.
Finish off with a conclusion, summarising your key points and ending with your stance on the topic.
I believe that children are better off in a school environment. Although family time and individual learning are important, the range of expertise and resources that schools offer cannot be matched in the home. School environments may present difficult social situations, but so too does the real world and children must learn to navigate these on their own.
Try it yourself
Now try writing an IELTS Writing Part 2 essay on the topic below (from the British Council website):
A person’s worth nowadays seems to be judged according to social status and material possessions. Old-fashioned values, such as honour, kindness and trust, no longer seem important.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion? Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.
Write at least 250 words.
Some people think IELTS Writing Part 2 is the most difficult paper. But the more you practise, the better you’ll get. Try the Free Version of Road to IELTS for IELTS Writing practice specially designed by British Council experts.