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The top 8 questions about Writing Task 2

We haven’t talked much about IELTS Writing Task 2 on the blog yet. (Remember, Writing Task 2 is the essay task on the exam.) So this week I decided to take some of my students’ most common questions and post them here along with some answers. Here are the top 8 questions I get. Read on to learn more!

1. There are two Writing tasks on the exam. How much time should I spend on Task 2?

You have 60 minutes to finish both Task 1 and Task 2. IELTS recommends 20 minutes for Task 1 and 40 minutes for Task 2. You can choose to spend more or less time on each task, but you must hand them both in at the end of one hour.

2. How many words do I need to write for Task 2?

You must write at least 250 words. About 275 words is a good length for most people. If you write fewer than 250 words your score will be lower. You do not get a higher score for writing more than 250 words.

3. What kind of topics might come up on Task 2?

Task 2 questions deal with a wide variety of topics. Some of the most common topics include education, the environment, culture, lifestyles, technology, social problems, the media, crime and sports. Other topics are possible too! You should read widely on a variety of topics so you’re prepared for whatever comes up on the exam.

4. What are the different types of Task 2 questions?

There are five different types of question you might get:

Agree/Disagree. The task will give you an opinion and then ask the question, “To what extent do you agree or disagree?”

Discussion. This type will give you two different opinions about an issue, and then tell you to “Discuss both views and give your own opinion.”

Advantage/Disadvantage. It will tell you to “Discuss the advantages and disadvantages” of an issue, or it might ask you “Do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks?” This question is similar to the Discussion type but is less common.

Problem/Solution. In this type, you are given a problem in society and you must discuss the problem and some ways to solve it.

Single-Question task. This type is similar to the Agree/Disagree and Discussion types, but the question will be worded differently.

5. How much time should I spend planning my essay? How much time writing it?

After you read the task, do not start writing immediately. You should first spend 5 – 10 minutes to think of ideas and plan your essay. Write an outline on the task paper—do not try to keep everything in your head! Then take about 30 minutes to write the essay, and leave three to five minutes at the end to check your essay for mistakes.

6. How does the examiner determine my score?

The examiner gives you a score based on four criteria: Task Response, Coherence and Cohesion, Vocabulary, and Grammar. If you get four 6’s, your overall Task 2 score will be 6. If you get two 6’s and two 7’s, your score will be 6.5.

7. Do I need to write a Conclusion for Task 2?

All IELTS essays have three parts: A short Introduction paragraph, two to three Body paragraphs, and a short Conclusion paragraph. If your essay does not have a Conclusion paragraph, your score will be lower. This is different from Task 1.

8. What should I do if I make a mistake?

Everyone makes mistakes! If you see you’ve made a mistake, you should fix. Don’t waste a lot of time writing and rewriting. Just cross out the mistake and write the correction above it. As long as the examiner can clearly see your correction, it will be OK.