Tag Archives: Task 2

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 agrees 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 do 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 loss 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 smokes cigarettes for years. Eventually, he becomes 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 wastes money. I have a friend who smokes. He spends several dollars a day on this habit. Since he is always spending money on 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.


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

Beat the IELTS Task 2 Writing

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

  1. A statement that is a fact or opinion
  2. What you need to do (the job)
  3. 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.

  1. Schools should ask students to evaluate their teachers. (This is the opinion you are reacting to)
  2. Do you agree or disagree? (Your job is to explain why you agree or disagree)
  3. 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.

  1. Introduction-Paragraph has three component to it as explained below
    1. The 1st sentence should restate the statement or opinion. Indicate what the topic is even though the reader already knows.
    2. 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
    3. 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.
  2. Body paragraph-The three body paragraphs follow the same format as explained below
    1. 1st sentence should state the reason-Your first sentence in each body paragraph should restate one of your reasons why you agree or disagree.
    2. 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
  3.  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