Useful Tips & Strategies for IELTS General Training Writing Task 2

 Useful Tips & Strategies for IELTS General Training Writing Task 2

For Task 2 you must write a short essay, similar to the kind of task you might have to do for a teacher as part of a class assignment. The minimum number of words is 250.

As with Task 1, when the IELTS marker reads your essay, he or she will have three main questions in mind.

♦ Does the essay do what the question asks? (Is the content relevant?)

♦ Is the essay written in a welborganised, logical way?

♦ Is the language accurate and correct?

Many students concentrate on the third point, language, and neglect content and organisation. To make sure that the content and organisation of your essay arc satisfactory, you must spend a few minutes thinking about and planning your essay before you start to write. You will also be able to write your essay more quickly because you already know what you want to write about.

The strategy for Task 2 is the same as for Task 1.

+ Step 1: Analyze the question

+ Step 2: Make notes of ideas that might be included in the essay

+ Step 3: Make a plan by selecting the best ideas and organizing them

+ Step 4: Write the essay

+ Step 5: Check for mistakes and correct them


Sample Question 4

Television is now widespread in all communities. Almost everyone has access to this medium on a daily basis. However, the effects of television are not always positive.

What are some of the negative effects of television? What can be done to minimize these had effects?

Give reasons for your answer.

How to Answer

Step 1—Analyze the question “What is my audience?”

Task 2 questions are usually said to be ‘as part of a class assignment’. You should write the essay as though it was for a teacher.

What is the topic?

The key words in the first part of the question have been underlined below: Television is now widespread in all communities. Almost everyone has access to this medium on a daily basis. However, the effects of television are not always positive

The subject of the first two sentences is the general topic of television. This topic is limited or narrowed in the third sentence which specifies the ‘effects’ of television, in particular the negative effects (‘arc not always positive’ means are sometimes negative).

What is your purposc/task in writing?

The key words of the rest of the question are underlined below:

What are some of the negative effects of television’ What can be done to minimise these bad effects?

Give reasons for your answer.

Note rhat there are actually two questions or tasks in the one activity:

• to give some of the possible negative effects of television

♦ to explain how to prevent or limit these negative effects

Step 2—Make notes of ideas

The following is an example of the kind of notes you might write at this stage. The sample notes are written in the box. To the right is a brief explanation of what these notes mean.

The possible negative effects of television

expens.                                           expensive for the community

desir. cust.                                     destroys local customs

waste time                                     people (especially children) waste time

ads bad                                          bad influence of advertising

lazy                                                 people become lazy

fam. life                                         destroys family life

pol.                                                 can be used for bad political purposes

eyes                                                bad for the eyes

Am. cult.                                       spreads Western (especially American) culture including undesirable images: greed, violence, sex

How to minimize these effects

contr. TV                       control TV content

contr. ads                      ads control advertising

explain                          explain effects to people

alt. entert.                    encourage alternative entertainment

hours                            limit broadcasting hours

Step 3—Make a Plan

Decide which of the ideas will definitely be used in your essay. Organize these ideas logically.

In the box below right is a sample plan written on the basis of these notes. Not all of the ideas have been used in the plan. Related points are grouped together into paragraphs (marked with black dots).

Step 4—Write the essay

Follow the plan.

Step 5—Check for mistakes

Step 1—Analyze the question

The questions for Task 2 usually have two parts, a topic paragraph and a question paragraph. Look again at Sample question 1:

Television is now widespread in all communities. Almost everyone has access to this medium on a daily basis. However, the effects of television are not always positive. (introductory paragraph – gives you information or comment, helps to define the topic)

What are some of the negative effects of television? What can be done to minimize these bad effects? (question paragraph – contains one, two or three questions. Tells you what information you must give about the topic)

Give reasons for your answer.

You must read the question(s) carefully and do exactly what the task asks you to do. In order to answer the above Task successfully, this means:

1. Describe the possible negative effects of television.

2. Explain how these negative effects can be avoided or minimized.

In this task it is not relevant to, for example:

• discuss at length the benefits of television

• focus on other public media, for example radio or newspapers

• talk only about the effects of television on children

• discuss in great detail the fact that nearly everyone has access to television.


Sample questions 5 and 6 each have an introductory paragraph and a question paragraph. Read each Sample carefully and underline the key words. What do you have to talk about in your essays to answer the questions in a relevant way?

Sample Question 5

Many newspapers and magazines feature stories about the private lives of famous people. We know what they eat. where they buy their clothes and who they love. We also often see pictures of them in private situations.

Is it appropriate for a magazine or newspaper to give this kind of private information about people?

Give reasons for your answer.

Sample Question 6

Many young people choose to continue their education at colleges or universities in English-speaking countries such as Britain. Australia or America.

What are the benefits of studying abroad? What are some of the problems that students might experience when studying in a foreign country?

Give reasons for your answer.

Check your answers with the Answer Key.

Step 2—Make notes of ideas

As for Task 1, at this stage you should make brief notes of any ideas which come to mind and may be relevant. Later, in Step 3, choose the best ideas for your essay.

Candidates often have trouble thinking of ideas to include in their essay and waste a lot of time while they are writing trying to come up with more. If, before you start writing, you take two minutes to note anything which comes to mind, you will remember useful information and will also save time while you are writing.

Remember that these notes are only for your benefit. The assessor will not see them. The notes should be as brief as possible.

Giving your opinions

It will often be relevant to give your opinions in your essay. If the question can be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’, do not be afraid to give a direct answer (usually in the introduction or the conclusion of your essay).

Giving evidence or examples

You should use relevant evidence and/or examples to support any points that you make in your essay. This is very important. Your essay will be graded on the ideas you present and the way you support them. To understand how to do this, you should study the way that the sample Task 2 essays in this book support any points made.


You have already analyzed Sample question 5 and Sample question 6 by underlining the key words. Now, quickly note any ideas which may be useful in you answer to these questions. Note that tire question paragraph may have more than two questions in it.

Time target: 2 minutes for each question

Step 3—Make a plan

Decide which of the ideas you have noted above will definitely be used in the essay. Organize these ideas into logical groups.

Your essay should be divided into paragraphs. In an essay of 250 words there should be between 4 to 7 paragraphs.

In the normal style of writing in English, each paragraph is usually limited to one aspect of the topic you are writing about- When you are planning your essay you should try to put the information that you want to use into logical groups. Each of these groups will then become one paragraph. (Look again at the Demonstration essay on page 123 for an example.)

If there are two or more questions in the question paragraph of a task, you should have at least one paragraph addressing each question in your essay. The following are examples of the format to be used when answering such an essay question.

Plan 1 Plan 2
short paragraph introduction introduction
paragraph answer to question 1 answer to question 1
paragraph answer to question 2 answer to question 1 (continued)
paragraph answer to question 3 answer to question 2
short paragraph conclusion conclusion

The pattern of organization above in the right-hand column is used in the Demonstration essay.

Where you have two paragraphs answering one question, try to divide your ideas into two logical groups, one for each paragraph. In the Demonstration essay although there are two paragraphs talking about the first question (“What are some of the negative effects of television?”), the first of these paragraphs was about effects on individuals and the second was about effects on families and societies.

If there is only one question in the task (for example whether you agree or disagree with a statement given in the introductory paragraph), you could use the following patterns of organization.

To agree To disagree
short introduction short introduction
reasons why the statement is incorrect reasons why the statement is correct
reasons why the statement is correct reasons why the statement is incorrect
more reasons why the statement is correct more reasons why the statement is incorrect
short conclusion short conclusion

In these examples, both sides of a situation or argument are discussed. It is a good idea to talk about both sides because this will give you more things to write about. However, if you do this, in the conclusion of your essay you should say which side, in your opinion, is stronger.

Alternatively you could analyze only one side of an issue. If you decide to discuss only one side, it is a good idea to state clearly in your introduction that it is the best point of view in your opinion.

To agree To disagree
short introduction short introduction
reason 1 supporting the statement reason 1 opposing the statement
reason 2 supporting the statement reason 2 opposing the statement
reason 3 supporting the statement reason 3 opposing the statement
short conclusion short conclusion


Using the ideas you noted in the previous activity, make a brief plan for each of Sample questions 5 and 6. Remember that the plan is only for you—the marker will not look at it—so be as brief as possible.

Note: Most essays written by native speakers of English have an introduction and a conclusion. However, for your essay the introduction and the conclusion should be very short and you do not actually need to mention them in your plan. They are mentioned in the patterns of organisation above just to remind you of the overall structure of the essay. (We will discuss what to write in introductions and conclusions in Step 4.)

Time target: 2 minutes for each plan

Compare your plans with the sample plans in the Answer Key.

Step 4—Write the Essay The introduction

You should try to write a short (one or two sentences) introduction for your essay. The main purpose of an introduction is to tell the reader what you are going to write about. Your introduction must state the main issue (or the main focus) of the essay. Look at the first paragraph of the Demonstration essay again:

With modem telecommunications. even people who live m very remote areas hate access to television. However, even though television is clearly very popular, the effects on people of watching television are often negative.

Notice that the second sentence of this introduction talks about the main issue—the negative effects of television. The main issue sentence is usually at the end of the introduction. When you mention the issue here you should avoid copying too many words from the question paragraph. If you copy long phrases or sentences, these will be ignored by the marker and they will not count towards the 250 words you need to write.

Apart from giving the main issue, if you want to write a slightly longer introduction you could add a first sentence which says something very general about the topic. In the example from the Demonstration essay, the first sentence does this.

The conclusion

Like the introduction, the conclusion of your essay should be short, just one or two sentences. The content of the conclusion is more flexible. You can:

• mention the main point of your essay again fin different words)

• give your opinion strongly

• talk about fiiture effects or consequences

• make any other comment that you think is relevant.

Because your essay is relatively short, it is not necessary to summarise the ideas or arguments you have used in your essay. Look at the conclusion from the Demonstration essay:

In conclusion, I think that something should he done as soon as possible to protect the community from the negative effects of television. If the situation is left to continue os it is, many new problems for individuals and societies util arise m the future.

The first sentence gives the writer’s opinion about one of the main points in the essay. The last sentence talks about future effects or consequences.

Later, when you arc working through the sample essays at the end of this section, pay attention to the kinds of things that axe mentioned in the conclusions. Eventually, what is relevant to put into the conclusions of essays in an English style will become clearer to you.

The body of the essay

This is the most important part of your essay because it contains your arguments and evidence or examples.

The first sentence of each paragraph in the body of your essay should give the main point of the paragraph, or otherwise indicate dearly to the reader what topic will be discussed in the paragraph. This kind of sentence is called a topic sentence. You have seen in the Reading section of this book that the English style for most paragraphs is to have a topic sentence as the first sentence.

In the Demonstration essay, you will see three good examples of paragraphs that start with dear topic sentences.

    Paragraph 2: Individuals can be negatively affected m three ways.

    Paragraph 3: There are also various negative effects on families and societies.

  Paragraph 4: There are two key ways to minimize the negative effects described. Almost all the body paragraphs written in the sample answers follow this pattern. Having topic sentences at the beginning of paragraphs is the clearest form of organization in English. It will help the reader follow your line of thinking.

While you are writing your essay, you should show clearly where new paragraph begin by starting the first line of each paragraph two or three centimetres from die left-hand side of the page. This is called indenting. If you do not indent in handwritten work, it may not be clear to the marker where the paragraph divisions are. As a result, the organization of your essay will not be clear either.

Linking words

Use appropriate linking words to make your writing more cohesive. Linking words such as firstly, secondly, also, in addition, however, on the other hand, will help the reader understand your writing. Make sure you know how to use the most common linking words. There is an exercise on linking words at the end of Reading Section 3.


Using the plan you have already written for Sample question 5, write the essay. Remember to include:

• an introduction

• paragraphs in the body of die essay that start with topic sentences

• a conclusion.

Don’t forget the linking words and don’t forget to indent.

Time target: 35 minutes per essay

Step 5—Check for mistakes

You should allow two minutes at the end of the test time to read through your essay and make corrections. This could make a difference to your final score. Use the checklists in Activity 30 (page 116) to help you.


The following is a sample essay for Sample question 2. The essay has a broad range of grammatical errors in it. Find the errors and make corrections by crossing out and rewriting.

       People generally read newspapers to find out world current affairs, and they read magazines to get entertainment. One would expect therefore to find the type of articles that feature the private lifes of famous peoples in magazines, not newspapers. However nowadays, more and more newspapers including stories like these that they are neither informative nor useful.

       According to my opinion I think this type of gossip about peoples private lives should not be in newspapers for several reasons. Firstly, the fact for example,  Princess Diana is going out with sportsman is not important news. Secondly, if newspaper want to publish articles about the famous people, they should focusing on their public events and achievements. Such as, if there is an article about Princess Diana, it will be about her charity works, which will increase public awareness of important problems. In addition, journalists should made sure that only write about true facts, not just rumour. One should be able to be reliable on newspapers in factual truth.

         Magazines on the one hand, focus on social news and therefore I felt it is acceptable for them to contain some features about famous personalities. In addition to being popular reading, these stories often benefit the stars by being free publicity for them, thereby so helping their career. However I’m also believe that magazine stories should not have mention things that are too embarrassed or nuture, just to attracted people to buy the magazine. Sensational stories like these and causing  great unhappy to the person concerned.

            In conclusion I think newspapers should concentrate on really news, but magazines can feature some articles on people private lives.

Check your corrections with the Answer Key.


Read the essay you wrote for Sample question 5 (Activity 37) and correct any mistakes you Find. Remember: the quickest way to make corrections is to draw a line through the old word(s) and write the new one(s) above.

Time target: 2 minutes per essay


Using your own plan for Sample question 6 (from Activity 36), write the complete essay. Then check what you have written and make changes as necessary.

Time target: 40 minutes

When you have finished, compare your essay with the sample in the Answer Key.

Useful Tips & Strategies for IELTS General Training Writing Task 2
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