Global strategies for the General Training IELTS Writing Task 2

Writing Task 2

First of all, make sure you understand what you are being asked to do. Identify the instruction, the topic, and the way to answer the question.

The Instruction

Often, Writing Task 2 begins with a statement like this:

As part of a class assignment you have to write …

Who is your audience if you are writing for a class assignment? A teacher? Another student? The general public? Although other students may read your work, it is primarily addressed to a teacher, and so your answer to this Writing Task should have the tone of an essay for a teacher.

How will this influence the language you use? Will your language be formal or casual? Will your language be intimate or distant? The language of the classroom assignment is formal and a little distant.

The Topic

What is the topic that you must write about?

The first part of Task 2 usually introduces the topic or subject matter of the question. It is usually in the form of a statement, although it is sometimes a question.

For example, look at the statement, Many people believe that education will solve the problem of poverty in the world. You can see that the subject matter of the statement, the topic, is education as it relates to poverty.

To explore the topic, you should ask yourself questions like these: How do the ideas relate to each other? Are badly educated people likely to be poor? Are well educated people likely to be better paid? What do you know about poverty?

Are there any words in the statement you do not understand? Look at the whole sentence. For example, you may not know what solve means. If you know what problem means, you can guess that solve is something to do with fixing or overcoming a problem.

The way to answer the question

The second part of the task usually asks you to consider the topic of the first part of the task in a special way. Here are four different ways of developing the topic in the statement, Many people believe that education will solve the problem of poverty in the world.

  1. Do you agree? Give examples to support your argument.
  2. Explain how your country uses education to overcome poverty.
  3. Other people, however, believe that only the richest people should be educated. Write an argument to support either of these ideas.
  4. How would you use education to solve the problem of poverty?

Look at the four endings numbered 1 to 4 above, and match them to these tasks:

A         provide general factual information

B         outline a problem and present a solution

C         present and possibly justify an opinion, assessment or hypothesis

D         present and possibly evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence and argument

 

The tasks match in this way:

A         Provide general factual information

Explain how your country uses education to overcome poverty.

This task asks you to give an explanation of how something is done. When you explain you could:

  • give examples of the education your country offers: is it free? for how many years?
  • describe what is taught in the schools
  • describe any programs which are specifically designed for poor people
  • describe any scholarships which are offered to poor people.

Remember to relate what you write back to the topic of education and its relation to poverty.

To recognise information and explanation questions, look for words and phrases like:

describe …       explain …         what are …?    e.g. What are the features …?

B         Outline a problem and present a solution

How can we use education to solve the problem of poverty?

This task asks you to suggest solutions to a problem. When you set out to consider and solve the problem you could:

  • give examples of training programs which help people to find work, e.g. literacy programs, language teaching programs, programs which help people update or change their skills so they can do new jobs, e.g. teach people different ways of farming. You could also talk about government planning for future employment needs and matching education to the skills that will be required.

When you are writing, think of how these things can be done.

Remember to relate what you write back to the topic of education and its relation to poverty.

To recognise problem solving questions, look for words and phrases like:

How can …?        How would…?         How should …?           Suggest ways to …

C         Present and possibly justify an opinion, assessment or hypothesis

Do you agree? Give examples to support your argument.

This task asks you to say whether you agree or disagree with a statement, in this case with the initial statement, Many people believe that education will solve the problem of poverty in the world.

In an opinion question you are expected to say what you think or feel about something. An assessment question asks you to say how important or valuable something is, and a question about a hypothesis asks you to consider a theory.

If you agree with the statement in the example, you could start by stating that you agree that education will solve the problem of poverty in the world. Then explain why. You could say that education will help people to get better jobs and to contribute more to society, that education helps people use natural resources better …; in short, you can give your opinion of the value of education as a weapon against poverty.

If you disagree, say so, and then say why. You could say that money spent on education w ill have no direct relationship to reducing poverty, that poverty has economic causes that education will not change, that there will always be poverty, that education is not going to change very much …

Remember to relate what you write back to the topic of education and its relation to poverty.

To recognise questions where you must present or justify an opinion, assessment or hypothesis, look for words and phrases like:

What do you think…? how do you think… ? To what extent do you agree/believe/think/feel…?

D         Present and possibly evaluate and challenge ideas, evidence and argument

Other people, however, believe that only the richest people should be educated. Write an argument to support either of these ideas.

This task is like the opinion question above but you do not have to originate the idea. Instead, you look at somebody else’s idea and evaluate it.

Choose the idea you prefer. If you believe that education will solve the problem of poverty in the world say why you believe this. Your ideas might include that education will help people learn new skills, move from job to job and even country to country, learn how to use natural resources better …

If you believe that only the richest people should be educated say why you believe this. For example, if the rich are educated their knowledge will give them power, they will be able to afford the very best of education, they will have the time and resources to study deeply, the poor won’t really mind because there are other ways of solving the problem of poverty …

Remember to relate what you write back to the topic of education and its relation to poverty.

To recognise questions which ask you to evaluate other people’s arguments, look for words and phrases like:

Discuss …        To what extent is/are …?                     (Statement) + Is this true?

These phrases may also appear in the statement:

However … On the other hand …

Be careful to look at the whole question. Read all parts of the question. It is possible that there will simply be one statement containing both topic and instruction.

The words and phrases that contain the task type and the topic need to be found.

You may like to write rough notes. You will not use all of them.

Choose the ideas you want to use. Organise these ideas into a passage of about 250 words. Write:

  • an introduction which makes a general statement of what you think
  • the body of the essay which gives reasons for your opinion, or the description or explanation asked for, and evidence to support what you say
  • a conclusion which sums up what you have said.

Global strategies for the General Training IELTS Writing Task 2
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