Beat the IELTS Task 2 Writing: Application

In the last post, I provided some basic tips for dealing with the IELTS Task 2 writing prompts. In this post, I will apply these tips in order to show how they can help someone to perform better on the IELTS.

Below is an example of a potential writing prompt for the Task 2

Smoking is bad for you. Do you agree or disagree. Use reasons and examples to support your answer.

Writing Process
Step 1: Break down the prompt to determine what to do

The prompt has three components to it
An opinion: Smoking is bad for you
Your job: Do you agree or disagree
Advice: Use reasons and examples to support your answer

This prompt is a one job task as we only have to do one thing, which is agree or disagree that smoking is bad for you.

 Step 2: Develop outline

You need to think and plan before writing. It is common for people to take off and start writing without any idea of what they will say. Writing is different from speaking. We can speak without thinking but our body language can help in expressing what we want to say. In addition, when speaking to people, they can ask us for clarification. Both body language and follow-up questions are not possible when writing. This is why planning is so important. If you are unclear there is nothing that can be done.

Your thesis is whether you agree or disagree. It is the ultimate main idea of your essay. Your reasons are explanations of your thesis. Lastly, examples help illustrate your reasons. Keeping this in mind helps with the internal consistency of your argument. Many times students make unrelated points that do not support each other. Remember your thesis is supported by your reasons and your reasons are supported by your examples. This has less to to with your English ability as it has to with thinking and organizational skills. There are native speakers who cannot organize their thoughts to pass the IELTS. 

Outline Example
The standard five paragraph essay will be employed in the outline below.

  1. Introduction
    1. Topic sentence-There are people who believe that smoking is bad for you
    2. Thesis-I agree that smoking is bad for (remember agreeing or disagreeing is the easiest way to write)
    3. Reasons
      1. Causes health problems
      2. Is a waste of money
      3. Is a bad example for children
  2. Reason 1-Smoking causes health problems
    1. Example-grandfather smoked many years. He got cancer and died a terrible death (NOTE: examples do not have to be true. The goal is to illustrate the reason)
  3. Reason 2-Smoking waste money
    1. Example-Friend spent money on cigarettes and hand constant financial problems
  4. Reason 3-Smoking is a bad example for children
    1. Uncle smoked. Eventually his kids smoked. My uncle always regretted that his children smoked even though he did it. His kids said that they smoked to be like him. 
  5. Conclusion
    1. Smoking is not good for a person because it leads to many problems

Your outline does not have to be this formal. A few notes on a scratch piece of paper is enough for most people. You do need to think before you write. Since people who take the IELTS are non-native speakers they must be much more careful in how they approach writing. Planning allows them to focus on English while writing. Failing to plan leads to trying to plan and worrying about the English at the same time. This leads to cognitive overload and lost of points. 

One other point, the Task 2 prompt requires at least 250 words. Give them only about 250 words. The more you write the more mistakes you will make as a non-native writer, which will lead to an irritated reader. Writing 500 lousy words is not going to help you pass if instead you write 275 excellent words. It is quality with a minimum amount of quantity that matters. 

Step 3: Write the Essay 

Essay Example
Below is a write up of the outline

Smoking is bad for you. Do you agree or disagree. Use reasons and examples to support your answer.

There are people who believe that smoking is bad for. I agree that smoking is bad for you. I have three reasons why I believe this. First, smoking leads to health problems. Second, smoking waste a lot of money. Lastly, smoking is a bad example for kids.

One reason smoking is bad for you is that it harms your health. For example, I know of someone’s grandfather who smoke cigarettes for years. Eventually, he become really sick with cancer. The disease destroyed his body and made his life miserable. After suffering for some time, he died. His death was caused partly by his decision to smoke cigarettes for many years.

Smoking is also bad for you because it waste money. I have a friend who smokes. He spends several dollars a day on this habit. Since he is always spending money for cigarettes he is constantly short of cash. Even though he has a good job his habit is eating a hole in his finances. He is always asking people if he can borrow money. If he stopped smoking he might have more money.

Lastly, smoking is a bad example for children. I have an uncle who smokes. When his children grew up, they started to smoke as well. My uncle always regretted that his kids smoke even though he smoked himself. He was worried about their health. His kids told him that they smoked because they wanted to be like him. His influence led to their poor choice.

I believe that people should avoid smoking. There are physical, financial, and social concerns when people choose to do this. It benefits everyone if people choose not to smoke. 

Conclusion

In this post we learned that there are three steps to writing which are breaking down the prompt, developing an outline, and writing the essay. These steps will hopefully help anyone who needs to take the IELTS

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