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You can ace IELTS Writing Task 2 on IELTS test day by being prepared and confident! To help you with both, in this article, we give you:

  • An easy three-step strategy that will boost your confidence by helping you plan and write a good IELTS Writing Task 2 essay;
  • IELTS Writing Task 2 sample topics for all IELTS Writing Task 2 question types;
  • An IELTS Writing Task 2 sample answer; and
  • A video that brings all this help together in an IELTS Writing Task 2 lesson.

To use all this help best, you need to practise with real IELTS Writing Task 2 sample questions. Sign up for our IELTS course on E2 Test Prep for a free trial to practice for your exam.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Overview

For both the IELTS General and IELTS Academic exams, Writing Task 2 is an essay. You are given 40 minutes to write an essay of over 250 words about a Writing Task 2 topic. This is what the Writing Task 2 essay topic will look like on your test paper.

Sample question for IELTS Writing Task 2 showing an agree / disagree essay question.

Writing Task 2 Tips & Strategy

Before we look at each part of the three-step strategy in more detail, a summary of this confidence building formula is:

Step 1 – Learn and identify all the question types. There are several different IELTS Writing Task 2 question types. If you learn all these to quickly identify the type of question you were given, you will save time on test day and can move to steps 2 and 3 below more quickly. In addition, if you are familiar with all the Writing Task 2 question types, there will be no surprises on test day, reducing the likelihood that you will panic during the test. We will set out all the different IELTS Writing Task 2 question types along with IELTS Writing Task 2 sample topics below.

Step 2 – Analyse the question to identify the subject of the Writing Task 2 topic. Identifying the subject of the question will help you focus your thoughts, making it easier to formulate your ideas more clearly and stay on point.

Step 3 – Plan and fit the content of your answer to a simple structure that has a clear beginning, middle and ending that align with the question type you are given. We will give you a Writing Task 2 sample answer by starting with an introductory paragraph, followed by two body paragraphs and a concluding paragraph.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Question Types

Step 1 of our strategy is to identify which IELTS Writing Task 2 question type you are given on your test. The question type will influence how you will structure your answer. The different IELTS Writing Task 2 question types you can expect to see on IELTS test day are:

i. Writing Task 2 Agree or Disagree Questions

The agree/disagree essay or opinion essay question gives you a topic and asks you to what extent do you agree or disagree with an idea related to that topic. An IELTS Task 2 agree or disagree sample topic is:

In the age of digital communication and social media, face-to-face interactions are becoming less common. Some people think that this is decreasing people’s ability to communicate well in person. Do you agree or disagree with this view?

Knowing right from the start that you are dealing with an agree/disagree topic gives you a big clue as to how you will structure your essay answer. This question type requires that you give your opinion supporting one side or the other – not both. It means that you must take a side. The body of your essay will focus on writing supporting ideas and examples.

ii. Writing Task 2 Advantages and Disadvantages

The advantages/disadvantages essay question gives you a topic and then asks you to discuss its advantages and disadvantages. A sample advantages and disadvantages essay topic looks like this:

The rise of online shopping has transformed the way many people purchase goods. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this. 

Here you will need to present both sides of the argument, one side per paragraph (discussed in more detail below) with supporting ideas and examples for each.

iii. Writing Task 2 Discuss Both Views

The discuss both views question type gives you two positions or opinions related to a topic and asks you to discuss both. A Writing Task 2 discuss both views sample topic is:

Some people think it is the government’s responsibility to tackle environmental issues. Others believe it is up to each individual to be environmentally responsible. Discuss both sides.

We will explain in more detail below that for this topic type, you should write one body paragraph on each opinion, giving explanations and examples in support of each view.

iv. Writing Task 2 Discuss Both Views and Give Your Opinion

The discuss both views and give your opinion question is very similar to the question type above. However, instead of asking you to discuss two views, it also asks you to state which one you agree with. A Writing Task 2 discuss both views and give your opinion sample topic is:

Some people believe that artificial intelligence (AI) has the power to improve our lives. However, others are worried that it could have a negative impact. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

To write a good essay, you need to discuss both opinions (one in each body paragraph) giving arguments and examples to support each view. You also need to say which view you agree with most.

v. Writing Task 2 Problem / Solution Question

The problem/solution essay question presents you with an issue that you need to discuss and then provide possible solutions for. A Writing Task 2 problem / solution sample topic is:

The overuse of plastic packaging has led to numerous problems. Identify one or two serious ones and suggest ways that governments can tackle these problems.

In a good Writing Task 2 problem / solution answer for this sample topic, you will write about the problems caused by the overuse of plastic packaging in the first body paragraph and suggest some government-led solutions in the second body paragraph.

vi. Writing Task 2 Double Question

In the double question essay, you are asked two questions, and you need to make sure you answer both. For example:

Nowadays, more and more people are shifting to a plant-based diet. Why is this the case?
What are some drawbacks of plant-based diets?

Here you have two questions to answer. 1. Why are people shifting to a plant-based diet? 2. What are the drawbacks of this diet? You should spend one paragraph answering each question, it is essential that you don’t forget to answer both!

Identify the Subject – Focus Your Answer

Step 2 of our three-step strategy is to identify and focus on the subject of the question. Although this seems obvious, pausing for a second and forcing yourself to identify the subject of the question helps avoid misreading the question and has planning benefits. The mental process of ‘identifying and focusing’ will help you plan your ideas and, importantly, keep your essay on point. Staying on point is key because the clearer your answer, the easier for an IELTS examiner to grade it and give you a better mark. 

For example, let’s looks at the ‘Discuss Both Views’ topic presented above:

Some people think it is the government’s responsibility to tackle environmental issues. Others believe it is up to each individual to be environmentally responsible. Discuss both sides.

For step 2, we need to ask ourselves: what is the core idea, or subject, of this question? On first read, ‘the government’s responsibility’ seems important. Then we see ‘environmental issues’, followed by ‘individual … environmentally responsible’. Which of these is the core subject? In this topic, the core subject is ‘responsibility for environmental issues’. This is the centrepiece of the topic and will be the anchor for your answer. 

Given that we know that it is a both views question type, we can also see the question has given us the two sides of the argument, being: i. government responsibility for environmental issues; and ii. individual responsibility for environmental issues. These clues are important because they are the two sides of the argument impacting on how we fit our written arguments within a good IELTS Writing Task 2 essay structure. You will need to practice identifying and focusing several times by looking at the IELTS Writing Task 2 sample topics given above, as well as in the IELTS Writing Task 2 practice questions you will find when you sign up to E2 Test Prep. The better you get at this, the more confident tackling any essay topic you will become.

Writing Task 2 Essay Structure and Sample Answer

Step three of the strategy is to plan the structure of your essay depending on the question type and the core subject of the question. Once you know this, you can fit the content of your answer to this structure. Don’t try to be fancy; a simple structure is best. Your essay should include four paragraphs:

  1. An introduction
  2. Body paragraph 1
  3. Body paragraph 2
  4. A conclusion

Let’s go back to the IELTS Writing Task 2 sample topic we looked at above. Here it is again:

Some people think it is the government’s responsibility to tackle environmental issues. Others believe it is up to each individual to be environmentally responsible. Discuss both sides.

At this point, we know that:

  • it is a Writing Task 2 discuss both views question type
  • the subject of the sample essay topic is ‘responsibility for environmental issues’ 
  • we need follow a simple essay structure with:
    • an introduction that clearly identifies and states the subject (responsibility for environmental issues) of your essay as well as introduces the two points of view (government responsibility and individual responsibility) to be discussed in your essay
    • body paragraph 1 which gives reasons why governments should be responsible
    • body paragraph 2 which gives reasons why individuals should be responsible
    • a conclusion that summarises and concludes the essay.

Note: for discuss both views, even if the question doesn’t say ‘discuss both views and give your opinion’, you should still give your opinion The IELTS Task Two Writing Descriptors for Task Response state that in order to get the highest marks, you need to present a ‘clear and fully developed position’. 

Pulling it all together, here is a brief Writing Task 2 sample answer:

Who should take responsibility for environmental issues? Should governments take the lead and act to solve environmental problems? Or should individuals take responsibility for their choices and actions to avoid harming the environment as much as possible? By looking at both sides of this issue, this essay will aim to show that it is, in fact, individuals that can make the biggest impact on the environment and therefore should take the most responsibility.

Some people argue that governments are in the best position to deal with environmental issues. Governments have the power to make laws that prohibit businesses and individuals from taking actions that harm the environment. For example, they set legal limits for the amount of carbon emissions a company is allowed to produce. Governments also have access to funding, experts and resources that are needed to launch environmental initiatives, such as using greener fuel, and to promote environmentally friendly lifestyles among the general public.

On the other hand, avoiding environmental issues and damage before any harm occurs is something that all individual citizens and individuals in businesses have within their power to achieve. We, as individuals, can reduce our power consumption and waste production. We can choose to install solar energy for our homes and businesses, or buy electric or hybrid cars and trucks. Also, we can also avoid spraying pesticides on our gardens or fields, and disposing of dangerous chemicals into public drains and sewerage systems. Through all of these small acts, collectively, we can have a wide-reaching impact. What is more, individuals can take this action today, without having to wait for long-winded government projects to eventually get the funding and backing to actually get off the ground. 

In summary, it can be argued that governments have a large responsibility for environmental issues because they hold the power and resources needed to deal with them at a leadership level. However, it is clear that individuals can have the greatest impact on the environment, so the duty must fall on them to be more environmentally responsible.

Summary and Next Steps

Firstly, if you feel you need more help with IELTS Writing Task 2, you should watch this E2 IELTS Youtube video and subscribe to our channel.

Watch our video about 7 mistakes to avoid in IELTS writing. Subscribe to Youtube channel for more content.

Secondly, you need to go to our IELTS info page and sign up for a FREE trial to access the best quality IELTS practice questions and activities. 

Preparing online for your IELTS with E2 Test Prep gives you effective methods, practice essays and expert feedback to feel confident and prepared for writing and every other exam task.

Author Bio: 
E2 is the world’s leading test preparation provider. Our expert teachers are fully accredited English teachers with TESOL, British Council or IELTS certification, and years of IELTS examiner or IELTS teaching experience.

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