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Top 10 Mistakes IELTS students make in Writing Task 2

IELTS Writing Task 2 is a crucial component of the IELTS exam. Many students struggle with this section and make common mistakes that can affect their overall score.


Here are the top 10 mistakes students make in IELTS Writing Task 2:






1. Not understanding the question: Students often fail to understand the question and end up writing an irrelevant essay.


Writing an irrelevant essay can be frustrating for both the student and the teacher. It is important to understand the question before beginning to write. Here are some tips to help students avoid this common pitfall:

  • Read the question carefully and make sure you understand what is being asked.

  • Break down the question into smaller parts to better understand the key concepts.

  • Look for keywords in the question that can help guide your answer.

  • Take the time to brainstorm and organize your thoughts before starting to write.

  • If you are still unsure about the question, don't hesitate to ask your teacher or professor for clarification.

By following these tips, students can increase their chances of writing a relevant and successful essay.

2. Not planning the essay: Students sometimes jump straight into writing without planning their essay.


This can result in a disorganized and confusing essay. Also, I have found that when my students do not plan their essay, they actually run out of time, because they need to constantly stop and think what about they need to write next in their essay. If you're struggling with planning your essay, don't worry - it's a common issue that many students face. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Start by brainstorming ideas and jotting down notes. This can help you organize your thoughts and identify key points to include in your essay.

  • Create an outline to structure your essay. This will help you ensure that your ideas flow logically and that you don't miss any important points.

  • Take the time to research your topic thoroughly. This will help you back up your arguments with evidence and make your essay more convincing.

Remember, taking the time to plan your essay can save you a lot of time and frustration in the long run. Not only will it help you write a more organized and coherent essay, but it will also help you stay on track and avoid getting side-tracked by irrelevant information.




In our Mastering Writing Task 2 Course, I will show you a step-by-step method that you can use to write and prepare your essays, so that you do not have this problem. My 17 sentence-method will help you prepare and anticipate your next step, so you wouldn't have to waste time thinking about what to write. Its a 'Game Plan'. We all need a game plan.

3.Writing off-topic: Students sometimes write about a topic that is not related to the question asked. This can lead to a low score.

It's important for students to carefully read and understand the question before beginning to write their response. This helps ensure that they stay on topic and provide a well-organized and relevant answer. However, if a student finds themselves veering off-topic, there are a few strategies they can use to get back on track:

  • Pause and re-read the question to remind yourself of the topic at hand.

  • Take a moment to brainstorm or outline your response to ensure that each point you make is directly related to the question.

  • If you've already written a significant amount off-topic, consider starting over with a fresh response that is more focused on the question.

By staying on-topic and providing a thoughtful response, students can increase their chances of receiving a higher score on their written assignments.

4.Not providing examples: Examples provide evidence to support your argument. Students who fail to provide examples tend to lose marks.


I cannot emphasise this enough! Examples are really important to support your argument, so if you leave them out - your argument loses its strength.

In addition to providing evidence to support your argument, examples also help to clarify your point and make your writing more engaging. To ensure you are providing effective examples, consider the following:

  • Use specific examples that are relevant to your argument.

  • Include enough detail so that your reader can fully understand your point.

  • Vary your examples to demonstrate a range of perspectives and ideas.

  • Avoid using cliché or overused examples, as they may detract from the originality of your argument.

  • Avoid using statistics or percentages in your examples - as you cannot back up this with sources in an exam

By taking the time to provide thoughtful and relevant examples, you can strengthen your writing and increase your chances of earning top marks.

5.Not answering the question fully: Incomplete answers can result in a lower score. Students should ensure that they fully answer the question asked.

  • Write at least 250 words for Writing Task 2, but be careful not to repeat information.

Tips for fully answering a question:

  • Read the question carefully and make sure you understand what is being asked

  • Address all parts of the question, including sub-questions or multiple points

  • Provide enough detail to fully explain your ideas without going off-topic

  • Review your answer to ensure that it is clear and concise

  • Make sure that you have written an introduction, two main body paragraphs and a conclusion


6. Poor paragraph organization: Poor paragraph organization can make your IELTS essay confusing and difficult to read.


Students should ensure that their essay has a clear structure. To ensure that your IELTS essay has a clear structure, here are some tips that can help you organize your paragraphs effectively:

  • Start with a clear introduction that sets out the main ideas you will be discussing in your essay. This should provide a roadmap for the reader and help them understand what to expect from the rest of the essay.

  • Use topic sentences to introduce each new paragraph. This will help the reader understand what the paragraph is about and how it relates to the overall argument of the essay.

  • Ensure that each paragraph has a clear focus and only deals with one main idea. This will help prevent your essay from becoming confusing and difficult to follow.

  • Use transition words and phrases to connect your paragraphs and guide the reader through your argument. Examples of transition words include "however," "therefore," and "in addition."

  • End with a clear conclusion that summarizes the main points you have made in your essay. This will help the reader understand the significance of your argument and how it relates to the broader topic you are discussing.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your IELTS essay is well-organized and easy to read, which will help you achieve a higher score on the exam.

7.Using informal language: The IELTS exam requires formal language. Students who use informal language may lose marks.

It's important to remember that the IELTS exam is a formal assessment of English language proficiency. While informal language may be more common in everyday conversations, it is not appropriate for this type of test. Here are some tips to help you avoid using informal language on the IELTS exam:

  • Avoid contractions (e.g. "don't" instead of "do not")

  • Use formal vocabulary instead of slang or colloquialisms

  • Using phrasal verbs - these are considered to be more informal and are more appropriate for speaking context or in informal letters

  • Pay attention to your grammar and sentence structure to ensure that your writing and speaking sound polished and professional

Remember, using formal language on the IELTS exam is key to achieving a high score. By practicing your formal language skills, you can increase your chances of success on test day.

8.Spelling and grammar mistakes: Spelling and grammar mistakes can affect the overall score of an essay.


Students should proofread their work carefully. Sometimes you have written a beautiful essay, but small and silly grammar or spelling mistakes stop you from getting the band score that you deserve.



In addition to proofreading, there are a few other strategies that can help students catch spelling and grammar mistakes:

  • Reading the essay out loud can help students catch mistakes that they might not notice when reading silently.

  • Taking a break between writing and proofreading can help students approach their work with fresh eyes.

  • If you know that there are some words that you misspell frequently, give yourself a spelling test to make sure that you don't make the same mistakes on Exam-Day

By taking the time to carefully review and edit their work, students can ensure that their essays are polished and error-free. This can ultimately lead to higher scores and more successful academic outcomes.

9.Overcomplicating the essay: Students sometimes try to use complex vocabulary and sentence structures that they are not comfortable with. This can make the essay difficult to read and understand.

One of the most common mistakes students make when writing essays is trying to overcomplicate their writing, often in an attempt to impress their professors or peers. However, this approach can actually detract from the clarity and effectiveness of their message. Here are some reasons to avoid overcomplicating your essay:

  • It can make your writing seem pretentious or overly academic, which can be off-putting to readers who are looking for a clear and concise explanation of your ideas.

  • Complex vocabulary and sentence structures can be distracting, leading readers to focus more on deciphering your meaning than on engaging with your argument.

  • Overcomplicating your writing can also lead to errors in grammar and syntax, which can further detract from the clarity of your message.

Instead of trying to impress your readers with overly complex writing, focus on communicating your ideas as clearly and effectively as possible. This will not only make your essay easier to understand, but it will also make it more engaging and persuasive to your audience.

10.Not managing time effectively: Time management is crucial for the IELTS exam.


Students who do not manage their time effectively may not be able to complete the essay or may rush through it, resulting in a lower score.



By avoiding these common mistakes, students can improve their chances of achieving a high score in IELTS Writing Task 2.


Do you need a game plan for the IELTS Writing Task 2? After years of coaching students and helping them achieve their band scores for the IELTS Exam, I have developed a method that can help students go into their exam, feeling calm, confident and prepared because they know what to write, how to write it - all within the allotted time. Contact us to find out more about our Mastering IELTS Writing Task 2 Course and Method.



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