IELTS Writing Task 2

This article is about basics of IELTS Writng Task 2. For IELTS Writing Task 2 samples, click here.

In IELTS Writing Task 2 you have to produce a 250 word personal opinion essay.

There are three types of tasks in IELTS Writing Task 2:

  1. Argument. You are presented with an opinion that you have to agree or disagree with. You should explain your reasoning.
    The threat of nuclear weapons maintains world peace. Nuclear power provides cheap
    and clean energy. The benefits of nuclear technology far outweigh the disadvantages.
    To what extent do you agree or disagree?

  2. Point of view. You are given a statement and expected to give your opinion on it.
    There are many reasons why people choose to go to college (knowledge, connections, degree etc.). Why do you think people go to colleges and universities?
    Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.

  3. Problem. You are presented with an issue. You might be asked to discuss causes, effects or possible solutions for the problem.Famine remains number one problem in most African countries. Despite of all the help from various associations from all over the world, the situation has not improved much.
    Discuss possible causes for this and suggest a solution.

Your writing is assessed based on four criteria:
— Task achievement
— Coherence and cohesion
— Lexical resource
— Grammatical range and accuracy
Click here for detailed explanation of each criteria

Before looking at the example task, you might want to read through the essay writing basics here.

We will now take a free sample of IELTS Writing Task 2 from IELTS official website and analyse it:

The first car appeared on British roads in 1888. By the year 2000 there may be as many as 29 million vehicles on British roads.
Alternative forms of transport should be encouraged and international laws introduced to control car ownership and use.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?

The transport has been one of the most important problem for the last two centuries. The problem began with the development and the growing of the cities.

Before the eighth century the people lived in small villages or towns and did not have necessity to go too far. The people did not worry about the time to arrive in some where.

Nowadays the situation changed. Many cars on the streets and many people need to go to any place. The numbers of car has increased and as a result there are many problems: pollution, noise, car accidents, insufficient car park and petroleum problem.

On the other hand, people use car to go anywhere: to work, to travel, to spent holiday and to amusement. Meanwhile the car is important the cities must have another solution. It is important to organise its using and to meet alternative ways

In big cities there are some alternatives like undergrounds (metro), coach, train and bycicles. In China and Cuba for example they use a lot of bycicles for substitution the cars on coaches.

It would be better to think about others different kinds of transport. In Brasil the government has talked about transport on the rivers. In this country there are many rivers where it is possible to go to different places. In general they are flat rivers.

Another kind of transport is car that uses solar energy. Probably they don’t have pollution problem and it is cheaper than other cars.

In conclusion, the transport is a social problem in big cities but its pollution depend on new technologies, others kind of energy and political aspects.

(271 words)

This is a Band 6 answer. We will now go through all four criteria and see how this text can be improved.

Task achievement

(+) The author has clearly outlined the purpose of the text. He has raised a number of interesting points.
(-) Most of the mentioned points are not sufficiently detailed. The author dedicated too much text to introduction — the first three paragraphs.

Coherence and cohesion

(+) There is a good attempt at connecting the ideas in the text.
(-) Many points can be hard to follow because of poor cohesion. Only the most primitive cohesive devices are used. The author could use fewer paragraphs – that would allow to better develop their ideas.

Lexical resource

(+) The writer shows good knowledge of basic collocations. Vocabulary is fairly accurate.
(-) Frequent word repetition caused by lack of synonyms. More complex collocations are used but contain mistakes.

Grammatical range and accuracy

(+) Basic structures have no errors.
(-) There are many mistakes in more advanced structures. Sometimes writer uses wrong part of speech.

Now lets go over the mistakes and inaccuracies:

The transport has been one of the most important problems for the past1 two centuries. The problem began with the development and growing of cities2. Prior to that, people didn’t have to worry about travelling over long distances and how much time it takes.3

Nowadays the situation has changed4. There are many cars on the streets and great number of5 people going to different places. The number of cars has increased resulting in various problems6: pollution, noise, car accidents, insufficient car parking space and the petroleum problem.

Despite of this, people use cars for everything: work, travel and holidays. While automobiles are important, cities must come up with other solutions. It is important to organise its usage and to find alternative ways of transportation. England might want to look at the examples other countries have employed7.

Big cities offer such alternatives as coach, train and bicycles. In China and Cuba for example they use a lot of bicycles instead of cars and buses. In Brasil the government has considered using rivers as a means of transportation8. There are many rivers in this country, enabling people to go to different places by water9,10.

In conclusion, transport has become a real issue in big cities, however the amount of pollution it produces can be reduced. Development of new technologies, innovative approaches to transportation and political initiatives can greatly offset the environmental impact that we are currently facing.11

  1. “Past” instead of “last” fits better —”last” is overused, not to mention it sounds pessimistic. Think of a way to paraphrase “century” while you are at it.
  2. We can omit “the” for the second noun. “The cities” is also incorrect as it means some specific cities. See “Use of articles” entry for more info.
  3. I have taken the liberty of merging the second and the first paragraphs into one. In IELTS essay you are encouraged to keep your introduction in one paragraph – you have neither time nor word limit to make a multi-paragraphed opening. You also get higher points for grammar if you use longer sentences containing multiple clauses — provided that you do not make any serious mistakes, of course.
  4. We use Present Perfect because it is evident that the situation is now different.
  5. “Great number” is used as a synonym to “many”. Avoid word repetition whenever possible. See this list of most used words and their synonyms.
  6. A more complex and concise construction is used.
  7. We introduce the next paragraph topic to make the text more cohesive.
  8. Another two paragraphs are combined — the common topic is approach to alternative means of transportation in different countries. There is no need to separate that into several paragraphs, not with the 250 word limit.
  9. There is a need for clarification because without adding “by water” it’s hard to understand what does the author exactly mean.
  10. I have removed the last paragraph as it wasn’t developed sufficiently. It is better to concentrate on conclusion.
  11. I have rewritten the conclusion, sticking to the author’s original points, expanding on them and using more appropriate vocabulary to convey the ideas more coherently.

The resulting text is slightly underlength as a result of leaving out some of the paragraphs and combining several sentences into one.

Extra tips

  • Don’t copy the task’s text or parts of this text into your introductory paragraph. Instead, use synonyms. If you can’t think of any, then try to change word order, change active tense into passive or vice versa. Copied text will not be counted towards your total number of words
  • Stick to your topic. Your writing should be about the task and things that are related to it. Do not write about something completely unrelated trying to get up to the required 250 word mark — anything unrelated will not be counted towards your total number of words. Improvise, make facts up — as long as it has something to do with the topic of your task.
  • Plan your essay in advance — two minutes spent on an outline of your text will help you structure it better. A nice paragraphed text is much easier to read — and it makes writing more pleasant for you too.
  • Go from general to specifics. Your paragraph opening sentence sets the scene, giving a broad idea of what you will be talking about. The following sentences serve to expand on the topic by providing examples, describing various aspects and so on.
  • Do not make any draft versions — you will not have time to copy your draft to the exam sheet. If you are concerned about making mistakes — don’t be. You should be prepared to have a couple of minutes before the end of your exam to proof-read your work. It’s okay to correct your own mistakes — you are not penalized for that as long as it is easy to make out what you have written — so make sure your handwriting is easy to understand
  • You can’t afford spending too much time thinking about the first sentence — first sentence is the most difficult one. As soon as you have put it behind it gets much easier — trust me. Overcoming writer’s block is a serious challenge.
  • If you struggle with your conclusion, consider paraphrasing the main ideas of each paragraph – make sure you do not copy the exact saying but instead use synonyms and different word order.

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