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6 Steps for IELTS Writing Task 2

Getting Started with IELTS Writing Task 2

When it comes to preparing for the IELTS, Writing Task 2 is something that you should probably focus a lot of energy on. This section of the exam, if prepared well can really help boost your mark.

You need to understand how to write an essay, because it is different from sending emails or using English in your day to day. You may feel that your English is at a high level and you can read a lot of English Literature and watch English TV series with ease, but writing English essays is much different.

If you follow my advice, my essay structure styles, you will increase your chances of getting that score.

In order to get a high mark in the Writing Task to you need to:

  • Answer the Question Correctly (The way the examiner wants)

  • Learn the right structures and techniques to write an excellent essay

  • Tick all the boxes of the IELTS rubric

Here is a break down of the basics that you need to know about Writing Task 2:

I have developed an easy step by step method to write each paragraph as well as a few lessons that can help you practice writing the essays quickly and with bigger and brighter ideas.

Steps to Follow:

  1. Understand your Essay Question

  2. Choose Your Essay Structure

  3. Plan Your Essay

  4. Write the Introduction

  5. Write 2 Main Body Paragraphs

  6. Write the Conclusion

Step 1: Understanding the Question

The format of the QUESTION is always the same.

  • A statement about a topic of general interest such as education, travel, medicine, the environment etc.

  • Pay attention because the statement will be referring to something specific within that general topic of interest.

  • You will be asked to respond to that statement


  • Do not speak generally about the topic of interest. For example, If the topic is related to education, do not just write about education in general.

  • Focus on the specific information

  • Keep asking yourself : “Am I answering the question?”

A common mistake that students make (and usually because of stress and nerves) is not focusing on the question specifically but writing about the general topic of interest. When marking essays with students I often ask the question, “How is this paragraph answering the question?”. If you are struggling to answer that question, then you know you need to change the way that you have written that paragraph. At the end of the day, your main goal is to answer the question.

Sample Question:

Some people think that hosting an international sports event is good for a country, while some think it is bad. Discuss both views and give your opinion

Let’s analyze the question:

General Topics of Interest:

  • Sporting Events

  • International Travel

  • Environment

  • Economy

Specific Information:

  • Why hosting international sports events are good for a country

  • Why hosting international sports events are bad for a country

In this question you need to discuss both views and give your opinion. Before you start writing away, pay attention to what type of essay it is, because there are 5 essay types. The type of essay will determine what type of writing you will need to do.

A “Discuss both views and give your opinion” essay is a discussion essay.

So, before you start writing you should ask yourself these 2 questions

Question 1: What are the general topics of this essay question?

Knowing this can help you prepare what type of vocabulary you are going to need for the essay.

Question 2: What specific information do I need to answer?

Knowing this can help you make sure that you are answering the question. This is important, because if you do not answer the specific information of the question of the essay, you can’t get higher than a Band 6, because you aren’t ticking a very important box in the IELTS rubric.

Step 2: Choose Your Essay Structure

Ask yourself: what type of essay is this?

When you identify the essay type, you can identify what essay structure you are going to use.

Using good structure in your essay will help you increase your band score.

A common mistake that students make is to use the SAME essay structure style for all kinds of essays.

Yes, they are very similar but it is important to change it according to the question.

For example, if the essay question says “what are the advantages and disadvantages”, the question is NOT asking for your opinion. I have marked many essays where students add their opinion in an essay that doesn’t ask for their opinion, which lowers their band score.

Remember you have 5 Essay Structure Options:

  1. Opinions Essays

  2. Discussion Essays

  3. Causes/Problems and Solutions Essays

  4. Advantages and Disadvantages Essays

  5. Double Question Essays

Learn more about how to write an essay based on the essay type here.

Step 3: Plan Your Essay:


Once you have understood the question, you can start planning your essay. And don’t skip the planning part. 5 minutes of planning can help you save SO MUCH time in writing the essay.

Not planning your essay is a common mistake that students make.

Students who plan their essays are more likely to have extra time to check their work than those who just start writing and try to think about what to write as they go along.

Step 4: Write the Introduction

I have a lesson that focuses on improving your introductions here. In general, this is something that is a good idea to practice separately from the other paragraphs.

Often we get nervous about how to begin writing an essay and this wastes a lot of precious time. If you have a step-by-step method in your head of how to write an introduction, you will save a lot of time!

Your introduction should include:

A sentence paraphrasing the question

A sentence talking about the topic in general

Depending on the essay topic: your opinion

A thesis statement: a sentence that explains what you are going to write about in the essay.

If you would like to know what vocabulary to use, how to write a band 7+ introduction and how to write an excellent thesis statement and how to practice all of this on your own, check out my lesson here.

Step 5: Write 2 Main Body Paragraphs

The structure of the two main body paragraphs depend a lot on the type of essay you’re writing, so it is vital that you do not skip Step 2.

For example, in a “to what extent do you agree or disagree question”, you would probably write your opinion FIRST and give reasons in paragraph one and two as to why you agree or disagree.

However, with a “discuss both view and give your opinion” question type, you wouldn’t put your opinion first because then your essay would be biased to one side.

Instead, you should write about each view FIRST and THEN give your opinion.

So, your essay structure makes a really big difference.

Each body paragraph should include:

A topic sentence

A reason

An example that links to your reason

A sentence that links both reason and example to your essay topic

A mini conclusion sentence

I have a great lesson here that helps you practice how to write body paragraphs that helps you improve your writing style, use of connecting devices and improves the speed of your writing in general.

Step 6: Write the Conclusion

There are two common mistakes that students make with the conclusion.

Firstly, they introduce new information in the conclusion that they didn’t talk about in the other paragraphs. NO NEW INFORMATION!

Secondly, they either leave out the conclusion because they run out of time, or only write one sentence as their conclusion. This won’t score you higher than a band 6 because you haven’t fully completed the task.

Your conclusion should include:

A summarized sentence for body paragraph one

A summarized sentence for body paragraph two

Concluding sentence that answers the essay question

If you have written a well organized and structured essay it will be easy to write a good conclusion.

Read my article on how to write the perfect conclusion here with the use of cohesive devices and figuring out ways to summarize your body paragraphs here!

So, to summarize:

Steps to Follow:

  1. Understand your Essay Question

  2. Choose Your Essay Structure

  3. Plan Your Essay

  4. Write the Introduction

  5. Write 2 Main Body Paragraphs

  6. Write the Conclusion

Mistakes to Avoid:

  1. Not answering the question

  2. Using the same essay structure

  3. Not planning your essay

  4. Adding new information to the conclusion

  5. Not putting in effort in the conclusion

Remember to have a look at the following lessons to help you improve your essay structures:

  1. How to write excellent Introductions

  2. How to write well structured body paragraphs

  3. How to write the perfect conclusion

Happy Studying,

Ciske & The Effective IELTS Team


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