Top 20 Questions for Task 2 Writing (GT and Academic)

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1. What kind of questions will I have to answer for task 2?

2. Is it better to write about task 2 first?

3. What type of essays will I have to write about?

4. Are the questions on the general training test the same as the academic test?

5. What topics are there on task 2?

6. Do I have to prepare for all the topics?

7. Where can I get practice for all the different essay types and topics for task 2?

8. How do I know when to give my opinion in a task 2 essay?

9. If a question asks for my opinion, where do I give it in the essay?

10. Should I give my opinion if it is not requested?

11. Can I request extra paper in the test?

12. Should I use pen or pencil? 

13. What should I write in my introduction for task 2 writing?

14. How many body paragraphs should I write?

15. How many ideas should I write about in the body paragraphs?

16. Do I need to give examples to support my ideas?

17. Do I need to write a summary conclusion? 

18. Do I need to write the question title on the answer paper?

19. How important is spelling, vocabulary, punctuation and grammar? 

20. Do examiners really count the words for IELTS writing tasks? 

 

1. What kind of questions will I have to answer for task 2?

· Both academic students and general training students are required to write an academic-style essay of at least 250 words in 40 minutes.

2. Is it better to write about task 2 first?

· You have to answer both questions, so it doesn't matter which one you answer first. As far as planning is concerned, it is really a question of 'what works best for you?' You should practice writing task 1 and task 2 first and see if it makes any difference, but it probably won't. Personally, I find the task 1 to be an easier task and would want to get it out of the way so that I can then focus on task 2, but some people like to focus on task 2 first. You must decide for yourself, and I think it is important that you know exactly which question you will answer first before you go into the test. Make this part of your pre-test planning as it will save you time. You don't want to be thinking about this in the test itself.

3. What type of essays will I have to write about?

· You could be asked to write about a range of different kinds of essay types. There are advantage/disadvantage essays, opinion essays, discussion essays that ask you to consider two sides of an argument, essays that require you answer direct questions, and essays that ask you to write about problems and possible solutions. You can learn how to write about all the different essay types that could come up on the test by going to task 2 writing in the sidebar, where you will find videos, practice questions and advice on how to successfully complete task 2.

4. Are the questions on the general training test the same as the academic test?

· No. The questions on the general training test tend to be slightly easier questions than on the academic test. However, the range of questions is very similar, so candidates taking GT still need to learn all the different techniques for writing successful task 2 answers in the same way that academic module candidates will prepare for the test.

5. What topics are there on task 2? 

A wide range of topics could come up on the task 2 question. Some topics are more common than others, but you are advised to prepare for as many topics as possible because any topic could appear on your test. Here is a list of topics covered by this website.

  • work and success
  • nature and pollution
  • health and diet
  • crime and the law
  • education and languages
  • technology and the Internet
  • animals and pets
  • children and the family
  • architecture and buildings
  • business and finance
  • government and society
  • advertising and the media
  • travel and tourism
  • sports and leisure
  • music and the arts
  • consumerism and shopping

All these topics are covered in the task 2 video courses that can be found in the sidebar. There are also vocabulary practice exercises using Quizlet.

 

6. Do I have to prepare for all the topics?

· You should cover at least half the topics I have just mentioned (question 5). Try to write at least 10 practice essays before you go into the test and make sure you are not choosing the same question types every time. This will equal two essays per essay type that could come up on the test. Indeed, just because you have perfected how to write an advantage/disadvantage essay does not mean you will be able to write a problem/solution or a direct question essay. You must do some practice for all essay types to be properly prepared. Thus, if you haven't prepared for absolutely every topic, you should still be able to write a fairly good answer if you have practiced the correct technique. Obviously, if you haven't practiced the correct technique and you haven't practiced the topic, you will be at a significant disadvantage. 

7. Where can I get practice for all the different essay types and topics for task 2?

· On this website, you will find advice, practice questions, step be step guidance and video lessons on how to write at high band scores for all task 2 questions.

8. How do I know when to give my opinion in a task 2 essay?

· If you are required to give your opinion, it will be stated in the question. If the questions asks you "To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement" then it is asking for your opinion. Another question that asks your opinion will state "Consider both sides and give your own opinion". This is very clear, but other questions are less clear. For example, a direct question essay could ask you "How have gender roles in the family changed?" "Is this a positive or negative development?" Although it does not state that you should give your opinion, you are asked whether it is positive or negative, so you need to express what you think (your opinion). Other questions are easier to spot that they are asking for your opinion because they include the words " ... what do you think ... ?".  If a question asks for your opinion, you must give your opinion somewhere in the essay. 

9. If a question asks for my opinion, where do I give it in the essay?

· It is your decision where to give your opinion in a task 2 essay. This is a matter of writing style, which will vary from person to person. However, I usually state my opinion as the thesis statement in agree/disagree essays because the question asks to what extent you agree or disagree. Writing your opinion for this type of question at the end of the introduction seems to be a good idea because it asks for your opinion right from the start. By contrast, if a questions asks you to "Consider both sides and give your opinion", I tend to argue both sides first then give my opinion in the summary conclusion.  Finally, another tricky question is when you are asked whether you think the advantages of something outweigh the disadvantages. Again this is asking for your opinion. In this case I would present advantages and disadvantages then present my opinion in the summary conclusion. It is a good idea to get into the habit of re-reading the question before you start your summary conclusion to make sure you are clear about whether you should write your opinion or not. It is easy to forget. If you fail to give your opinion when it has been asked for then you get a lower score for task achievement as you will not have fully completed the task.

10. Should I give my opinion if it is not requested?

· If a question does not ask for your opinion, then there is no need to give it. You could nevertheless suggest what you think indirectly in the summary conclusion. For example,  suppose you are asked to write about what are the advantages and disadvantages of having a free health service, but you are not asked to give your opinion. For this type of question, you might write in the summary conclusion something like ... " On balance, it would seem that although there are a number of advantages to having a free health system, there are more disadvantages in terms of ...". As you can see, the writer is leaning towards saying there are more disadvantages even though this is not stated as an opinion directly. This is a good technique to use and one that you will find explained further in my video lessons for task 2 writing.

11. Can I request extra paper in the test?

· Yes. Just tell the exam supervisor, who will provide additional answer sheets as needed.

12. Should I use pen or pencil? 

· Either. You can use pen or pencil. You decide. Don't forget to take an eraser and a pencil sharpener if you are writing in pencil. 

13. What should I write in my introduction for task 2 writing?

· Your introduction should include a sentence that introduces the topic. You can usually do this by paraphrasing the question. If the question doesn't give much vocabulary, just spend a minute or so brainstorming some key vocabulary about the topic, which will help you to write a more effective introduction. If the question presents two points of view, which most essays will, you should include a contrast between thee two viewpoints in your introduction. Try to include at the end of the introduction a statement that makes it clear what you are going to write about in the body paragraphs as this will create good cohesion of your introduction with your body paragraphs. To see how to write effective introductions at band 8/9, watch my video lessons located in the sidebar.

14. How many body paragraphs should I write?

· Try to write at least 2 body paragraphs. I would try to write 2 body paragraphs for most essays. If you only write one body paragraph, you will probably get a lower band score for the writing descriptor of cohesion and coherence because it refers specifically to managing paragraphing 'skilfully' in order to get a band 9, and 'appropriately' for a band 8. For a band 7, it mentions including a central idea in each paragraph and if your paragraphing is not always logical, this mirrors the band 6 descriptor. Of course, there are other points for the examiner to consider in each descriptor, but not writing 2 body paragraphs is giving the examiner a reason to identify your writing as band 6 or 7 and not as a band 7 or 8. If your essay has only one body paragraph then it will look like you have crammed all your ideas into one paragraph when the main ideas should logically be separated into 2 body paragraphs. 

· When will you need to write 3 body paragraphs? If the essay asks you to answer 3 direct questions, then this is clearly a situation where 3 body paragraphs are appropriate. For example, the essay might ask you to write about 1) the causes of a social problem, 2) the effects of this problem, and 3) some suggested solutions. In this case, your essay will have a short introduction, 3 body paragraphs and a summary conclusion.

 15. How many ideas should I write about in the body paragraphs?

· I normally brainstorm 4 or 5 ideas for each body paragraph (sometimes more), but I don't always use all those ideas. I might only use 3 ideas, so I will have a main idea and about 3 supporting ideas. However, I will usually add another idea while I am writing -  in the form of an example. Also, if it is the first body paragraph, I often add a summary sentence at the end of the paragraph to 'round off' the paragraph. Altogether, I might have approximately 5 to 6 ideas I want to express in the first body paragraph. Having said that, the number of ideas could be fewer or more depending on how much detail you include when you express those ideas in your writing. The more detail you add, the fewer ideas you will need. In my opinion, you should aim for 3 supporting ideas in each body paragraph with a supporting example in each body paragraph appearing just after the first or second supporting idea. Try not to use a summary sentence at the end of the second body paragraph as this is not necessary immediately before you write the summary conclusion.

16. Do I need to give examples to support my ideas?

· Yes. The question specifically requests you provide examples from your knowledge or from personal experience. To introduce the examples use correct signal phrases like " For example, " or " For instance, ". You can also introduce quick examples with the linking words ' like '   and 'such as '. For example: 1)  "Many people suffer from chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancers".  or 2) "Many people suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or cancers"

17. Do I need to write a summary conclusion? 

· Yes. Even if you write 3 body paragraphs and have exceeded the word count, you should still write a summary conclusion because you are expected to write a 'fully developed response'. Failure to write a conclusion would seem like the answer is incomplete, not fully developed (band 8) or fully extended (band 9) for task achievement. Therefore, if you are running out of time while writing your final body paragraph, it is better to cut the body paragraph short and write a quick summary conclusion. This will make your answer look more complete. It is better to have a shorter body paragraph and a short summary conclusion than no summary conclusion at all.

18. Do I need to write the question title on the answer paper?

· There is no need to do this as there is only one question. In fact, this would just be wasting time. The examiner knows what the question is, so just write your answer. Writing the question would be copying, so don't think it will help to boost your word count, It won't. Many students write " Task 1 Answer" and then "Task 2 Answer" to distinguish which task the answer is for, and while this is okay, it is not really necessary. The examiner will know what you are writing about. 

19. How important is spelling, vocabulary, punctuation and grammar? 

· Very. You could write an essay with excellent structure and ideas written with excellent cohesion, but if your vocabulary and grammar are not equally effective, you will get a much lower band score. This is because vocabulary and grammar count for 50% of the marks. Another 25% is for task achievement and 25% for cohesion and coherence. Therefore, if you have weak vocabulary and grammar, you will need to spend some time improving in those areas in the context of the IELTS task 2 writing test. Improving in these areas could significantly increase your band score.

20. Do examiners really count the words for IELTS writing tasks?

· Yes, and if your answer is below the word count, you will automatically lose half a band. The fewer the words you write, the more your band score will go down. To make sure you are writing enough, spend time writing practice tests according to proven strategies. Watch my video lessons, which provide timed writing demonstrations o see how I plan and write answers at 8/9 band score.