The task 2 writing on the IELTS calls on students to express their opinion about a topic. This is not as easy as it sounds even for native speakers. There are many common pitfalls such as not responding to the question or not understanding what the question wants you to do. One of the first steps to take in writing a response to task 2 question is to break down the question to determine what you need to do.
Many Task 2 writing prompts have three components to them. They are listed below
- A statement that is a fact or opinion
- What you need to do (the job)
- Advice on how to complete the task
Let’s look at an example
- Schools should ask students to evaluate their teachers. Do you agree or disagree? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
In this example, we have all three components.
- Schools should ask students to evaluate their teachers. (This is the opinion you are reacting to)
- Do you agree or disagree? (Your job is to explain why you agree or disagree)
- Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer. (Here is the advice to complete the task)
In this example, our job is to agree or disagree about whether students should evaluate teachers. This example is a one job task. In other words, you have to only do one thing which explains why you agree or disagree. Some writing prompts call for doing more than one job such as compare and contrast in which you compare and then you contrast. One job tasks are the easiest to respond to.
Another important point is that if the prompt asks you to agree or disagree this is what you should do. It is too complicated to try and agree and disagree because it takes a much higher level of English to express a nuance opinion. Keep it simple and maximize your score through simply agreeing or disagreeing. Everybody knows the world is more complicated then that but if you need to take the IELTS you might not be ready to express this yet. Don’t try to show the reader how smart you are save that for the future.
The biggest mistake many students make is they jump right in to writing without developing any sort of outline. This is similar to jumping in your car to drive somewhere you have never been without directions. You’ll eventually get there but you journey is longer and unpredictable because of lack of preparation. It is important to make a simple outline of what you want to say.
Below is one way to approach a one job Task 2 writing prompt. It uses a traditional 5 paragraph essay format.
- Introduction-Paragraph has three component to it as explained below
- The 1st sentence should restate the statement or opinion. Indicate what the topic is even though the reader already knows.
- Indicate whether you agree or disagree. Tell the reader if you agree or disagree right away. There is no time to be indirect and mysterious
- Give your reasons for agreeing or disagreeing. In order to have five paragraphs you will have to develop three reasons why you agree or disagree. Each reason will have its own paragraph in which you explain it. It is common for students to struggle here. They have an opinion but they do not have any well thought out reason for the opinon. This is one reason why the IELTS is not only an English test but a test of thinking ability.
- Body paragraph-The three body paragraphs follow the same format as explained below
- 1st sentence should state the reason-Your first sentence in each body paragraph should restate one of your reasons why you agree or disagree.
- Example-Every reason needs some sort of illustration that further explains the reason. For example, if you think smoking is bad for someone because it causes health problems. You might share a story about how smoking killed a close relative. This illustration further clarifies why you think smoking is bad for you
- Conclusion-Restate your opinion and reasons using different English if possible. There are other ways to end an essay but this is the simplest.
Examples will be provided in the future
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