IELTS Academic Writing Task 2

By Phyllis Morales,2014-08-09 22:16
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IELTS Academic Writing Task 2

IELTS Academic Writing Task 2

    In the second part of the IELTS Academic Writing Test, you have to write 250 words. You should spend 40 minutes on this task. Writing Task 2 is worth more than Task 1, so you need to do it well.

    For IELTS Writing Task 2, you have to write an essay discussing a topic. You will be given an opinion/ argument, different points of view or a problem to discuss. Most students prepare phrases for introducing and linking ideas. However, not many students prepare good ideas and opinions for IELTS topics.

    We'll work on these areas:

    ; How to structure a good Task 2 essay.

    ; Preparation of ideas, opinions and good vocabulary for each IELTS topic.

    ; How to build and link sentences to create coherent paragraphs.

    ; Common mistakes in grammar and word usage.

    Some hard work on these areas can make a big difference to your writing score IELTS Writing Topics

    Here are some typical IELTS topics. You should prepare ideas, opinions and vocabulary for as many of these topics as possible. Tomorrow I?ll add some more.

    1. Advertising: positives and negatives

    2. Animal Rights: testing on animals, vegetarianism, zoos

    3. Cities: urbanisation, problems of city life, pedestrian areas

    4. Crime: police, punishments/prisons, rehabilitation, capital punishment,

    community service

    5. Education: studying abroad, technology in education, education in developing

    countries, higher education, home-schooling, bad behaviour, corporal

    punishment, single sex education, streaming (grouping children according to


    6. Environment: global warming, impact of humans on the environment,

    solutions to environment problems, waste/rubbish, litter, recycling, nuclear


    7. Family: family size, working parents, negative effects on children, divorce,

    care for old people

    8. Gender: gender and education, gender and work, women‟s and men‟s role in

    the family

    9. Genetic Engineering: positives, negatives, genetically modified foods

    10. Global Issues: problems in developing countries, how to help developing

    countries, immigration, multi-cultural societies, globalisation

    11. Government and Society: what governments can do, public services,

    censorship, video cameras in public places

    IELTS Writing Topics (part 2)

    Here is the second part of the IELTS Writing topic list. See yesterday?s lesson for the first part.

    1. Guns and Weapons: gun ownership and possession, police and guns, arms

    trade, nuclear weapons, armed forces

    2. Health: diet, exercise, state health systems, private healthcare, alternative

    medicine, stress

    3. Housing and Architecture: state housing, old buildings, modern/green


    4. International Language: English as an international language

    5. Money: money and society, consumerism

    6. Personal Development: happiness, success, nature or nurture

    7. Sport and Leisure: professional/competitive sport, sport salaries, sport and


    8. Tourism: positives, negative effects on environment, future of tourism

    9. Traditions and Modern Life: losing traditional skills, traditional customs

    10. Transport: traffic problems and solutions, public transport, road safety

    11. Television, Internet and Mobile Phones: positives and negatives, Internet

    compared to newspapers and books

    12. Water: importance of clean water, water supply, water should be free, bottled


    13. Work: same job for life, self-employment, unemployment, unemployment

    benefits, work/life balance, technology and work, child labour Look through the IELTS Writing Task 2 lessons on this website. Every week I try to add some good ideas and vocabulary about a different topic. The more topics you prepare, the better you will do in your exam.

    IELTS Writing Task 2: how to write introductions

    1. Make the introduction short and do it quickly. The main body paragraphs are

    more important.

    2. Two sentences are enough: i) introduce the topic; ii) give a basic answer to the


    Here's an example IELTS Writing Task 2 question:

    All high school students should be encouraged to take part in community service programmes.

    To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

    Here's my introduction:

    Some people believe that high school students would benefit from doing unpaid work in their local communities. I completely agree that community service programmes for teenagers are a good idea.

    You can see that my introduction is really simple. Practise this technique until you can do any introduction quickly and easily: introduction = topic + simple answer.

IELTS Writing Task 2: topic vocabulary + linking

    Today my students wrote a 'band 7' paragraph about the benefits of zoos. It was easy: they took my 'band 7' vocabulary ideas from this lesson (click here) and wrote their

    own sentences with good linking.

    Here's the simple structure that my students used:

    1. Simple topic sentence.

    2. "The main benefit is that..."

    3. "Another advantage of zoos is that..."

    4. "From a personal point of view,..."

    Finally, we wrote a good paragraph together:

    Zoos have several benefits. The main benefit is that zoos play an important role in wildlife conservation. They help to protect endangered species, such as pandas or rhinos, and allow scientists to study animal behaviour. Another advantage of zoos is that they employ large numbers of people, therefore providing job opportunities and income for the local area. Also, the money that zoos make can be used for conservation projects. From a personal point of view, zoos are interesting, educational and fun. They are entertaining for families, and teach children to appreciate wildlife and nature.

    IELTS Writing Task 2: health topic (obesity)

    Childhood obesity is becoming a serious problem in many countries. Explain the main causes and effects of this problem, and suggest some possible solutions.

    Here are some vocabulary ideas for this topic. (My students: this is your homework!)

IELTS Writing Task 2: higher education

    My students have been working on last Saturday's exam question:

    Some people believe that studying at university or college is the best route to a successful career, while others believe that it is better to get a job straight after school.

    Discuss both views and give your opinion.

    We did some brainstorming and some internet research to get ideas, then we planned the essay. We did the introduction, first sentence of each paragraph and conclusion together. Here is the simple structure that my students are using to write the essay: Introduction

    When they finish school, teenagers face the dilemma of whether to get a job or continue their education. While there are some benefits to getting a job straight after school, I would argue that it is better to go to college or university. Paragraph 1: benefits of getting a job

    The option to start work straight after school is attractive for several reasons. (IDEAS: start earning money, become independent, gain experience, learn skills, get promotions, settle down earlier, afford a house, have a family)

    Paragraph 2: benefits of higher education (my opinion)

    On the other hand, I believe that it is more beneficial for students to continue their studies.

    (IDEAS: some jobs require academic qualifications, better job opportunities, higher salaries, the job market is very competitive, gain knowledge, become a useful member of society)


    For the reasons mentioned above, it seems to me that students are more likely to be successful in their lives if they continue their studies beyond school level. IELTS Writing Task 2: sample essay (higher education)

    Last week I gave you a simple structure and some ideas for the task 2 question below. Here's my example of a good essay (higher than band 7).

    Some people believe that studying at university or college is the best route to a successful career, while others believe that it is better to get a job straight after school.

    Discuss both views and give your opinion.

    When they finish school, teenagers face the dilemma of whether to get a job or continue their education. While there are some benefits to getting a job straight after school, I would argue that it is better to go to college or university. The option to start work straight after school is attractive for several reasons. Many young people want to start earning money as soon as possible. In this way, they can

    become independent, and they will be able to afford their own house or start a family. In terms of their career, young people who decide to find work, rather than continue their studies, may progress more quickly. They will have the chance to gain real experience and learn practical skills related to their chosen profession. This may lead to promotions and a successful career.

    On the other hand, I believe that it is more beneficial for students to continue their studies. Firstly, academic qualifications are required in many professions. For example, it is impossible to become a doctor, teacher or lawyer without having the relevant degree. As a result, university graduates have access to more and better job opportunities, and they tend to earn higher salaries than those with fewer qualifications. Secondly, the job market is becoming increasingly competitive, and sometimes there are hundreds of applicants for one position in a company. Young people who do not have qualifications from a university or college will not be able to compete.

    For the reasons mentioned above, it seems to me that students are more likely to be successful in their careers if they continue their studies beyond school level. (271 words)

    IELTS Writing Task 2: 'gun control' topic

    Today I'm going to write a paragraph about gun control. I'll start with some vocabulary ideas, then I'll make them into full sentences.

    Ideas: why should the ownership of guns be limited/controlled?

    1. Topic sentence to introduce the idea of gun control

    2. risk of accidents, danger to children

    3. more violent crimes, criminals will use guns, police will need guns

    4. higher suicide rates

    5. guns create violent societies

    Here's my paragraph using the ideas above. I've divided the paragraph into separate sentences so that you can see what I have done more clearly.

    1. In many countries, gun ownership is strictly controlled.

    2. Supporters of this policy point out the risk of accidents with guns, especially

    when children can gain access to them.

    3. They also argue that the number of violent crimes increases when guns are

    available, and that police are forced to use guns to combat armed criminals.

    4. Furthermore, suicide rates have been shown to rise in places where guns are


    5. All in all, gun control advocates believe that guns create violent societies with

    high murder rates.

    Of course, in the IELTS exam you would probably have to explain the opposite view: the arguments in favour of gun ownership.

IELTS Writing Task 2: 'happiness' topic

    Ibis wrote to me asking about the following question (from Cambridge IELTS 4). Happiness is considered very important in life.

    Why is it difficult to define?

    What factors are important in achieving happiness?

    My students are working on this question at the moment. Here is the essay structure they are using, plus some ideas that we had for each paragraph:

    1. Introduction - topic + simple answer

    2. Paragraph - explain why happiness is difficult to define

    Some ideas: Explain that happiness means different things to different people; the same situation can make one person happy but another person sad/bored etc. Give examples of what makes different people happy (money, success, family, friends, hobbies). Give an example from your experience e.g. a hobby that makes you happy but that your friend hates.

    3. Paragraph - give your opinions about how to achieve happiness

    Some ideas: Try to organise your ideas logically - you could begin with humans' basic needs (in order to be happy we need to be healthy and have somewhere to live, food to eat etc.) then talk about the importance of family and friends. You could then write about career, money, success, status etc. - maybe you could explain that these things mean nothing if we do not have family and friends to share our experiences with. Give an example from your own life - what will make you happier than you are now? 4. Conclusion - repeat/summarise the main ideas

    IELTS Writing Task 2: conclusions

    Several people have asked me about conclusions for IELTS Writing Task 2. The main body paragraphs are much more important, so don't worry too much about the conclusion; make it short, simple and fast.

    Here are some example conclusion phrases for different types of question: 1. Opinion

    For the reasons mentioned above, I believe that... (+ repeat your opinion). 2. Discussion (+ Opinion)

    In conclusion, there are convincing arguments both for and against... (topic), but I believe that... (if the question asks for your opinion).

    3. Advantages and Disadvantages

    In conclusion, I would argue that the benefits of... (topic) outweigh the drawbacks. 4. Problem and Solution

    In conclusion, it is clear that there are various reasons for... (topic), and steps need to be taken to tackle this problem.

    IELTS Writing Task 2: how to answer any type of question ***

    Several students have asked me for advice about answering different types of question: How do you answer an agree/disagree question, or a cause/effect question, or a 'both views + opinion' question?

    Today I want to show you what happens in my brain when I see any IELTS Writing Task 2 question. If you follow my thinking steps, it might help you too. Here are my thinking steps:

    1. I read the question very carefully, maybe three times. I ask myself "What's the

    topic? What is the question asking me to write about?"

    2. I underline the key things that must be included in the essay. I always answer

    every part of the question.

    3. Now I think about my 4 paragraph structure. I can write any type of essay in 4

    paragraphs; I just need to decide what to put in each paragraph.

    4. If I need to give my opinion, I think "What is the easiest opinion to explain?

    What good vocabulary could I use?"

    5. Then I write down some vocabulary ideas that are related to the topic (not

    phrases that I've memorised for any essay).

    6. I try to write 2 sentences for the introduction: I introduce the topic, then give a

    simple answer (including my opinion if the question asks for it).

    7. I write short topic sentences to start each paragraph, then develop my ideas by

    explaining and supporting with examples.

    8. I look at the question from time to time in order to check that I'm answering

    every part of it.

    9. I know that I write about 10 words per line; I can quickly check the

    approximate number of words that I've written.

    10. If I need more words (to reach 250), I expand one of my examples in the main

    body paragraphs. If necessary, I draw an arrow to show where I want to add

    the extra words.

    IELTS Writing Task 2: 'global warming' topic

    Many students seem to be worried about the global warming topic. How would you describe or explain the problem or causes of global warming?

    Here is a paragraph explaining the problem (causes) of global warming:

    Perhaps the biggest issue in relation to the environment is global warming. Gases such as carbon dioxide trap heat from the sun within the earth‟s atmosphere, and this causes global temperatures to rise. This process is known as the greenhouse effect,

    and human activity is a major factor in the rise of the greenhouse gases which cause it. For example, factories and vehicles produce emissions and exhaust fumes. As many developing countries are becoming industrialised, emissions from factories are expected to increase. Furthermore, the number of cars on our streets is growing all the time, and cheap air travel is making flying accessible to more and more people. Consequently, the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere shows no signs of decreasing.

    You can learn a lot from this paragraph if you analyse it:

    1. How many sentences are there? What does each sentence do? (e.g. The first

    sentence introduces the topic)

    2. Can you find some "band 7 vocabulary"?

    3. Look at how the ideas are linked. Can you see that the word "this" is an

    important linking word?

    Have a look at the first paragraph in this lesson for some solutions to the global

    warming problem.

    IELTS Writing Task 2: 'sports salaries' topic

    Here are some ideas for a discussion essay about the following question: Some people believe that the salaries paid to professional sportspeople are too high, while others argue that sports salaries are fair.

    Discuss both views and give your opinion.

    View 1: sports salaries are too high

    ; Sports professionals earn too much money.

    ; They do not provide a vital service.

    ; Football players earn enormous salaries by simply kicking a ball.

    ; We could all live happily without professional football.

    ; We should value professionals such as nurses and teachers more highly. View 2: sports salaries are fair

    ; It is fair that the best sportspeople earn a lot of money.

    ; Sport is a multi-million-pound industry.

    ; There is a large audience of sports fans who are willing to pay.

    ; Televised games or events attract many viewers.

    ; Being a top sportsperson requires hours of practice.

    PS. I'm trying to write a book with ideas for all the IELTS Writing topics. I'll let you know when it's finished.

    IELTS Advice: the "Firstly, Secondly, Finally" structure

    I've had some great responses about the video lesson, but some students were surprised that you can get a band 9 using "Firstly, Secondly, Finally".

    Is the phrase "First and foremost" better than "Firstly"?

    The answer is NO.

    Using simple organising language like "Firstly, Secondly" makes you focus on the REAL CONTENT of what you are writing - topic vocabulary, collocations, examples. This is what the examiner wants to see.

    Spend your time preparing ideas, opinions and examples for IELTS topics, not learning alternative ways to write "Firstly".

    Example from website youtube lesson (Page 2)

    City life has several drawbacks. Firstly, the cost of living in a city is usually much

    higher than in a small town or village. Inhabitants of cities have to pay higher prices for housing, transport, and even food. Secondly, urban areas tend to suffer from social

    problems such as high crime and poverty rates in comparison with rural areas. Finally,

    the air quality in cities is often poor, due to pollution from traffic, and the streets and public transport systems are usually overcrowded. As a result, city life can be unhealthy and stressful.

    IELTS Writing: organisational phrases

    Do not use the following phrases instead of "Firstly" when you are organising ideas in an essay:

    ; At first

    ; Initially

    ; In the beginning

    ; At the beginning

    ; In the first place

    These phrases do exist in English, but they are not the same as "Firstly". In the same way, do not use these phrases instead of "Finally":

    ; At last

    ; At the end

    ; In the end

    ; In the last place

    As I said yesterday, you don't need to learn different ways to say "Firstly" or "Finally". The examiner is not looking for 'difficult' organisational phrases. Spend your time learning good 'topic vocabulary' instead.

IELTS Writing Task 2: 'traffic' topic

    Today I'd like to show you a good essay by one of my students. This is the essay question:

    Traffic congestion is becoming a huge problem for many major cities. Suggest some measures that could be taken to reduce traffic in big cities.

    I gave the student's essay a band 7, mainly because it contains some really good topic vocabulary. Open the file below to see the full essay, grammar corrections and my comments.

    Download Essay SEE STUDENT ESSAY

    Hopefully you can see that the student has followed my advice. He focuses on answering the question, there is a clear structure, and there is enough 'band 7' vocabulary.

    IELTS Writing Task 2: advertising

    'Advertising' has been the topic of IELTS writing task 2 several times this year. It's a popular topic, so you need some ideas and opinions about it.

    Here are some opinions about advertising, taken from my ebook.

    ; Advertising should be ______.

    ; Advertising ______ children should be controlled or even banned.

    ; Unhealthy foods should not be marketed ______ attracts children.

    ; Products that can be a risk to health should ______ warnings.

    ; However, advertising is necessary in free ______ economies.

    ; It creates ______ products.

    ; Governments should only ______ false information or products that are


    Fill the gaps with these words/phrases:

    market, in a way that, regulated, display, censor, demand for, aimed at PS. 'Advertising' is uncountable (you can't say "an advertising" or "advertisings"). 'Advertising' is the name of the industry, activity or profession (like 'marketing'). 'An advertisement' (or 'advertisements') is what you see on TV, in the street, in newspapers etc.

    IELTS Writing Task 2: 'vegetarianism' topic

    Today I asked my students about the vegetarianism topic. They found it quite difficult to give both sides of the argument. It's important to be able to discuss both sides of an issue, even if there are points that you don't agree with.

    Here is a summary of the arguments in favour of a vegetarian diet, according to the speaker in yesterday's video:

    ; A vegetarian diet is healthier.

    ; Eating a hamburger a day can increase your risk of dying by a third.

    ; Raising animals in factory farm conditions is cruel.

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