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Stuck for ideas on Task 2? Ask yourself these 3 questions


A lot of people don’t know what to write for IELTS Task 2. They start writing and then…get stuck after a few words. Is this a problem for you? The solution is to ask yourself questions–in particular, there are three specific questions that will help. As long as you have a few basic ideas, these questions will help you to keep writing and increase your score.

A good IELTS Writing Task 2 score is about more than just your English level. It’s also about your ideas. Not whether your ideas are right or wrong. (Don’t worry—the examiner won’t give you a low score because they disagree with your opinion!)

Instead, it’s about how well you extend and support your ideas. This is a big part of your Task Response score. (Task Response is one of the four criteria examiners use to give you your band score on Task 2. The other three are Coherence & CohesionLexical Resource (Vocabulary), and Grammatical Range & Accuracy. You can read more about them on the Writing Task 2 public band descriptors here.)

The better you support your answer, the higher your score in this area. Look at the Task Response category on the public band descriptors. To achieve a Band 7 in Task Response, your essay needs to “present, extend and support main ideas.”

So how can you do this? If you’re not familiar with writing essays, this might not be clear. But it’s simple. You just need to ask yourself 3 key questions about your ideas.

Why?

Such as?

So what?

These three questions help us develop our ideas. Why? leads to a reasonSuch as? leads to an example. And so what? leads us to a result. It shows us the effect of our idea on society—for good or for bad. This is how you can extend and support your main ideas—and increase your Task Response score.

Let’s look at a Task 2 question.

Many jobs that used to be done by humans are now being done by robots and other machines. Many people believe this is a negative development for society.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

What’s your own opinion? Do you agree or disagree? Take a minute to think about this question before you continue reading.

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What do you think? I’ve decided to agree with this answer. I think it’s bad for robots to take humans’ jobs. (Don’t worry if you have a different opinion. It’s perfectly OK to disagree with this idea too.)

So I think robots doing jobs is harmful to society. Here are my three main ideas to support my opinion.

  1. many people are losing low-skilled jobs
  2. higher-skilled jobs are starting to disappear too
  3. interacting with robots is impersonal (imagine getting a checkup from a robot doctor!)

Let’s look at these one at a time, starting with the first main idea. We’ll ask our three questions for each idea.

  1. many people are losing low-skilled jobs

Why?

robots can do their work faster and cheaper

Such as?

Factory work, like manufacturing cars

So what?

people who lose their jobs can’t support themselves

 

Once we have our basic answers to these questions, we simply turn them into a body paragraph.

Firstly, thousands of humans in low-skilled jobs are losing them because robots can do the same tasks more efficiently and for less money. This happens, for example, in automobile factories. Where people used to be employed to install car doors and tighten tire bolts, these tasks are now done by machines. Many of the people who lose their jobs find it difficult to get a new one, and so have no way to support themselves or their families.

Can you see the answers to the three questions in the paragraph? Notice that we added more details—installing car doors, tightening tire bolts. We also added more academic language—”more efficiently” instead of “faster”, and “for less money” instead of “cheaper”. In addition, we added some linking words to help connect the ideas: because, for example, and so.

Let’s look at the second main idea, and ask our three questions again.

  1. even higher-skilled jobs are disappearing

Why?

robots can do more and more tasks

Such as?

diagnosing diseases, teaching online courses

So what?

people can’t just re-train—eventually no work left for humans to do

Again, look at these ideas turned into a body paragraph.

Secondly, this trend does not stop with low-skilled jobs. Even higher-skilled lines of work are disappearing, as technology advances to dominate increasingly complex fields such as medicine and education. Medical robots can diagnose some diseases more accurately than human doctors, and a growing number of students are being educated through online courses rather than face-to-face lessons with professors. This means that people who lose their jobs cannot simply re-train to do new ones. Eventually, there may be very little work left for humans to do.

Again, we’ve added some more details and some academic vocabulary. Did you notice the linking words this time? as, such as, this means that, eventually

It’s your turn now. Look at the third main idea again. Ask yourself the three questions. What are your answers?

  1. interacting with robots is impersonal (robot doctors!)

Why?

Such as?

 So what?

Now turn your answers into a body paragraph. Remember to add some additional details, and to make sure you use a good range of academic vocabulary. And don’t forget to add linking words to connect them together.

You can ask the same three questions for any IELTS Task 2. This will help you with your Task Response score, and also keep you from getting stuck!