ielts essay types task 2

IELTS writing task 2 requires you to write an essay of at least 250 words that responds to a given topic. You will need to summarise details, give your opinion and support your reasons and arguments with relevant examples from your own knowledge and experience.  This guide is an overview of each type of IELTS writing task 2 question and contains example questions, useful tips, essay structures and some common mistakes to avoid.

1. IELTS Writing Task 2 Explained

Writing task 1 asks you to write a report whereas IELTS writing task 2 asks you to write a formal report about a global topic. This is your opportunity to show that you can fully develop your ideas, given an opinion and support your reasons with examples.

1.1 Overview of IELTS writing Task 2

After you have spent 20 minutes on writing task 1, you will have 40 minutes left to focus on writing task 2.  Writing task 2 is worth about 66% of your overall writing score.

Your task is to write a formal essay that is at  least 250 words in response to an IELTS statement. We recommend that you aim for 270-290 words to sufficiently develop your ideas.

There are five main types of IELTS writing task 2 essay types:

Read on for tips, sample essays and common mistakes made for each of these essay types.

IELTS writing correction

2. Opinion Essays

2.1 Top tips

Opinion essay questions may be worded in various ways. Here are some of the most common:

  • What is your opinion
  • Do you think…
  • To what extent do you agree?
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
  • Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

To address all parts of the task, you need to do the following three things in your opinion essay:

  1. Choose one side of the argument
  2. To state your opinion about a given topic
  3. Support your opinion with clear reasons and examples

A common mistake is to treat an opinion essay in the same way as an advantage/disadvantage essay. To avoid this error, make sure you:

  • Pick one side of the argument and develop the best argument for this point using reasons and examples
  • Briefly acknowledge the other side of the argument throughout your essay
  • Do not give reasons or examples to support the other side of the argument
  • Focus on arguments to support your opinion rather than giving advice

2.2 Example questions

Some people think that more money should be spent on protecting endangered species while others think it is a waste of valuable money.

What is your opinion?

Systems of funding university education are different from country to country. While some countries charge students for studying at university, others offer university education for free.

Do you think students should pay for higher education?

Every school system in the world includes regular tests and exams, and many people think that it is important for students to take lots of exams.

What is your opinion?

Children should not start school until the age of six or seven because they need to have more time to play and develop before they go to school.

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

Scientists and technology experts seem to be more valued by modern society than musicians and artists.

To what extent do you agree?

2.3 Essay structure

Here’s our recommended structure for an IELTS opinion essay:

Introduction
  • Paraphrase the given IELTS statement and question
  • Show that some people have a different opinion to the writer (you)
  • Give your opinion
  • State what your essay will do
  • Main body paragraph 1
    • Topic sentence giving the first reason to support your opinion
    • Example
    • Result/consequence of example
    Main body paragraph 2
    • Topic sentence giving the second reason to support your opinion
    • Example
    • Result/consequence of example
    • Briefly mention the other side of the argument
    Conclusion
    • Paraphrase yourself: summarise the key points in your body paragraphs
    • Briefly show that you have understood the other side of the argument
    • Restate your opinion
    • Select the most convincing argument to support your opinion

    2.4 Sample Essay on IELTS Opinion Topic

    Every school system in the world includes regular tests and exams, and many people think that it is important for students to take lots of exams.

    What is your opinion?

    Nowadays, the growing trend in education is to have an increasing number of assessments like tests and exams. Some people argue that this is necessary to improve exam results. However, it is my view that testing in schools has become too frequent and has had a detrimental effect on students. This essay will explain my opinion in further detail.

    One reason I believe that students are completing too many tests is that the pressure of preparing and carrying out exams often leads to stress and illness among students. In many countries, it is a common practice to test children from a very early age, such as six or seven years old. As a result, an ever increasing amount of children are now suffering from anxiety and depression brought on by exam pressures. If there were fewer tests, students may have a more enjoyable experience at school and their overall learning outcomes may also improve.

    Another argument in favour of reducing the number of exams and tests students take is that children should not only focus on exam preparation, but also the development of other life skills. For instance, students should learn the importance of working together and cooperating as a team as these skills are not only important in their daily lives, but will also enhance their future job prospects. If schools reduced the number of tests they gave, teachers would be able to focus on enhancing and practising these skills in the classroom. Having said that, there are those who argue that frequent testing is essential as it raises the profile and the standards of a school. For instance, these people may argue that children who take tests at a young age will produce better results throughout their school years and raise the overall ranking of an educational institution.

    In conclusion, having looked at this topic in detail, although it is true to bear in mind the importance of testing, on balance my view is that schools should reduce the frequency of tests and examinations. By doing this, schools can dedicate more time to the development of essential life skills, as well as allowing children to have free-time to relax and play.

    363 words

    3. Discussion Essays

    3.1 Top tips

    Identify the question by looking at the instruction words. You should see something similar to:

    • Discuss both sides and give your opinion
    • Discuss both sides

    Choose if you want to take a thesis-led or an evidence-led approach to your essay. Remember:

    • Thesis-led- State your opinion in the introduction and restate in the conclusion
    • Evidence-led- Give your opinion in the conclusion

    A common mistake is that candidates do not discuss both sides of the argument or forget to state their opinion. Make sure to:

    • Discuss both sides in each part of your essay (introduction, main body paragraphs and conclusion)
    • If you are asked to give your opinion, take a thesis-led approach. If you are not asked for your opinion, it is still a good idea to give it in the conclusion (evidence-led)

    3.2 Example questions

    Here are some example discussion essay questions:

    Some people say that governments are responsible for dealing with environmental issues. Other people believe that it is the individual’s responsibility to take action to protect the environment.

    Discuss both views and give your opinion.

    Some people think that environmental problems should be solved on a global scale while others believe it is better to deal with them nationally.

    Discuss both views and give your opinion.

    There seems to be an increasing number of serious crimes committed each year. While some think the best way is to use the death penalty as a deterrent, many people believe that other measures will be needed.

    Discuss both sides.

    Some people feel that it is better to live in a city while others believe that life is better in the countryside.

    Discuss both views and give your opinion.

    Many people think governments should fund art, while others believe that artists should be responsible for funding their work.

    Discuss both views.

    3.3 Essay structure

    Thesis-led

    Introduction
    • Paraphrase the given IELTS statement and question
    • State both sides of the argument
    • Give your opinion
    • State what your essay will do
    Main body paragraph 1
    • Topic sentence- 1st reason for 1st opinion
    • Supporting sentence
    • Example
    • Topic sentence- 2nd reason for 1st opinion
    • Supporting sentence
    • Example
    Main body paragraph 2
    • Topic sentence- 1st reason for 2nd opinion
    • Supporting sentence
    • Example
    • Topic sentence- 2nd reason for 2nd opinion
    • Supporting sentence
    • Example
    ConclusionParaphrase yourself: summarise the key points in your body paragraphs

    Give your opinion

    Suggest a future consequence

    Evidence-led

    Introduction
    • Paraphrase the given IELTS statement and question
    • State both sides of the argument
    • State what your essay will do
    Main body paragraph 1
    • Topic sentence- 1st reason for 1st opinion
    • Supporting sentence
    • Example
    • Topic sentence- 2nd reason for 1st opinion
    • Supporting sentence
    • Example
    Main body paragraph 2
    • Topic sentence- 1st reason for 1st opinion
    • Supporting sentence
    • Example
    • Topic sentence- 2nd reason for 1st opinion
    • Supporting sentence
    • Example
    Conclusion
    • Paraphrase yourself: summarise the key points in your body paragraphs
    • Show you understand both sides of the argument
    • Clearly state your opinion based on the evidence in your body paragraphs

    3.4 Sample Essay

    Some people believe that governments should make laws about environmental issues and then strictly enforce those laws. Others say that it is better for governments to encourage and educate the population to make environmental changes.

    Discuss both views and give your opinion.

    There is no doubt that the world is facing numerous environmental problems. It is argued by some that the most effective way to address these issues is for the government to implement strict environmental protection laws. However, there are others that argue against government intervention and they should instead focus on promoting green practices by its citizens instead of enforcing legislation.

    One reason people believe that environmental laws should be legislated is that it ensures that everyone is aiming for the same standards and following the same set of rules. If these rules are only optional, it is likely that some people and organisations may opt out and choose not to follow them. Therefore, laws need to be put in place to ensure that everyone complies with the same environmental standards. Another argument that can be put forward is that by putting financial tariffs in place for non-environmental practices, positive changes could be seen more quickly. For example, if governments put a levy on plastic bags, people will be less likely to use single-use plastic bags as they will not want to pay.

    On the other hand, many people believe that educating the public about environmental changes they can make is more likely to promote change than enforcing laws. These people believe that encouraging people to form more sustainable habits, such as recycling, will be far more effective as people will likely encourage others to do the same as they are not being forced into green-practices by law and they feel a greater sense of autonomy. In addition, it can be argued that governments should value the intelligence of their citizens and treat them like adults that can make up their minds concerning environmental practices, for instance, letting people choose if they want to use a single-use or reusable water bottle.

    In conclusion, having looked at both sides of the argument, my view is that the government should both enforce laws in addition to educating the public. They should make sure rules are followed in important areas such as reducing speed limits around cities to reduce levels of pollution. Furthermore, they should also undertake more educational events to persuade the public to choose to act in green ways, rather than do it out of obligation or because they are forced to by law.

    383 words

    IELTS writing correction

    4. Problem Solution Essays

    4.1 Top tips

    Make sure you understand the task requirements for different types of problem/solution essays. There are three question types:

    1. Write about a problem and possible solutions to that problem
    2. Write about a cause of a problem and possible solutions
    3. Only write about the solutions

    A common mistake made by test takers is incorrectly identifying the question. You should also be able to recognise typical wording for each problem/solution question type using these examples:

    1. What problems arise from this and how can they be tackled?
    2. What do you think the causes are? What are the solutions?
    3. What solution can you suggest to deal with this problem?

    Another useful skill for this essay type is to be able to notice synonyms, for example:

    Problem: Situation; resulting in…; issue

    Cause: Reason; why

    Only solution: address; present; solve; improve; tackle; remedy; deal with

    4.2 Example Questions

    The internet has transformed the way information is shared and consumed, but it has also created problems that did not exist before.

    What are the most serious problems associated with the internet and what solutions can you suggest?

    Overpopulation of urban areas has led to numerous problems.

    Identify two serious ones and suggest ways that governments and individuals can tackle these problems.

    On problem faced by almost every large city is traffic congestion

    What do you think the causes are? What solutions can you suggest?

    More and more wild animals are on the verge of extinction and others are on the endangered list.

    What are the reasons for this? What can be done to solve the problem?

    In many developing countries, there is a problem with declining quality of air and water from both industry and construction.

    What measures could be taken to prevent this?

    4.3 Essay structure

    Essay structure 1

    Introduction Paraphrase the given IELTS statement and question

    State the problem/cause/solution

    State what your essay will do

    Main body paragraph 1
    • Topic sentence giving the first problem
    • Explain the first problem
    • Give an example
    • Give a solution solution to the first problem
    Main body paragraph 2
    • Topic sentence giving the second problem
    • Explain the second problem
    • Give an example
    • Give a solution solution to the second problem
    ConclusionParaphrase yourself: summarise the key points in your body paragraphs

    Give your opinion

    Suggest a future consequence

    Essay structure 2

    Introduction
    1. Paraphrase the given IELTS statement and question
    2. State the problem/cause/solution
    3. State what your essay will do
    Main body paragraph 1
    • Topic sentence giving the problem(s)/ cause(s)
    • Explain the problem(s)/ cause(s)
    • Give example(s) to support your claims
    Main body paragraph 2
    • Topic sentence giving the solution(s)
    • Explain the solution(s)
    • Give example(s) to support your claims
    Conclusion Paraphrase yourself: summarise the key points in your body paragraphs

    Give your opinion

    Suggest a future consequence

    4.4 Sample Essay

    Many people find that modern life is faster, busier and more stressful than the past. More and more people are suffering with stress in their daily life, and the rates of stress-related illness are increasing.

    What are the main causes of stress in modern life?

    How can these problems be tackled?

    In recent times, there has been a sharp increase in the number of people who are suffering illnesses connected to a stressful lifestyle. There are several reasons why stress is increasing in modern society, including employment insecurity, the increased reliance on technology and excessive working hours. This essay will examine these issues in more detail and propose possible solutions.

    One factor behind stress in modern life is the lack of job security. Nowadays, it is common for people to be employed on zero-hours contracts asn, as a result, this could lead them to worry about the availability of hours and subsequent pay they will receive each week. To deal with this problem, governments could implement laws that would forbid these types of contracts. If this was enforced, workers would be more secure and have less financial stress in their daily lives.

    A further cause of stress is the increased use of technology. Although there are a multitude of benefits brought about by technology, it can also have negative effects on the working patterns of employees. For example, many workers feel pressured to check their emails during their free time which can impact their ability to have a healthy work-life balance. One way forward would be for organisations to enstate company policies that prohibit the answering of emails outside of working hours. A further contributing factor to stress can be the long working hours expected of employees. In many cases, people are working increasingly long hours  and there is often a social pressure to work late to be deemed as a good employee. To counteract this problem, governments could put measures in place to monitor maximum working hours of staff.

    In conclusion, it is clear there are a range of causes behind the stresses of modern life, many of which are connected to the workplace and technology. Unless these issues are addressed, I believe that stress-related illnesses will continue to rise  and therefore, both governments and employers need to take responsibility and implement measures to take care of employees’ physical and mental wellbeing.

    342 words

    5. Advantage Disadvantage Essays

    5.1 Top tips

    Advantage/disadvantages essays are usually worded in the following ways:

    1. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your opinion.
    2. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of _____ and give your opinion.
    3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of _____ ?

    It is also useful to be able to identify IELTS synonyms for advantages and disadvantages:

    • What are the benefits and drawbacks of…?

    A common mistake is that candidates do not express their opinion at any point in the essay. There are two methods you could take depending on the question. Take these examples:

    1. What are some advantages and disadvantages of living in a foreign country? You are not being asked to give your opinion but you should still give your opinion in the conclusion (evidence-led approach)
    2.  Do the advantages of living in the country outweigh the disadvantages? You should give your opinion in the introduction and then restate this in the conclusion

    5.2 Example questions

    In the past, when students did a university degree, they tended to study in their own country. Nowadays, they have more of an opportunity to study abroad.

    Do the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?

    Today children spend a lot of their free time watching TV.

    Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages of this practice?

    The threat of nuclear weapons maintains world peace. Nuclear power provides cheap and clean energy.

    The benefits of nuclear technology far outweigh the disadvantages.

    To what extent do you agree or disagree?

    In the past, when students did a university degree, they tended to study in their own country. Nowadays, they have the opportunity to study abroad.

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of this development?

    More and more people prefer to read news online rather than on paper.

    Do you think  the advantages of this trend outweigh the disadvantages?

    Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge and experience.

    5.3 Essay structure

    Thesis-led approach

    Introduction
    • Paraphrase the given IELTS statement and question
    • Describe the two different opinions on the topic
    • Give your opinion
    • State what your essay will do
    Main body paragraph 1
    • Topic sentence and example
    • Supporting sentence
    • Explanation of the benefit/advantage
    • Consequence/ result of the benefit/advantage
    Main body paragraph 2
    • Topic sentence and example
    • Supporting sentence
    • Explanation of the disadvantage/drawback
    • Consequence/ result of the disadvantage/drawback
    Conclusion
    • Paraphrase yourself: summarise the key points in your body paragraphs
    • Restate your opinion given in the  introduction

    Evidence-led approach

    Introduction
    • Paraphrase the given IELTS statement and question
    • Describe the two different opinions on the topic
    • State what your essay will do
    Main body paragraph 1
    • Topic sentence about one benefit/ advantage
    • Explain the benefit/ advantage
    • Example of the benefit/ advantage
    Main body paragraph 2
    • Topic sentence about one disadvantage/ drawback
    • Explain the disadvantage/ drawback
    • Example of the disadvantage/ drawback
    Conclusion
    • Paraphrase yourself: summarise the key points in your body paragraphs
    • Give your opinion

    5.4 Sample Answer

    Some people find living in the country enjoyable and relaxing, whereas others would not like to live in the country and prefer living in a big city instead.

    What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in the countryside?

    In recent years, a significant number of people have decided to move out of large cities in favour of living in more rural areas. Many believe there are significant benefits of doing this, while others think that there are drawbacks connected to living in the countryside. This essay will examine both points of view before I give my opinion.

    One advantage of living in the country is that the pace of life is slower. If you live in the countryside, there are less daily pressures and you are not stuck in the rat race as you might be in a busy city. Furthermore, people have more time in their daily lives to dedicate to their physical and mental health. As a result, people living in the countryside have a greater quality of life and sense of wellbeing. Another benefit of living in the countryside is that there is less traffic congestion and more space dedicated to cycle paths and pedestrian areas. In other words, the air quality is better in the country which is also enhanced by the larger amount of green spaces.

    On the other hand, there are some disadvantages of living in the country. One drawback, especially for younger people, is that there are less amenities and forms of entertainment than the city. For example, there is often a lack of nightlife which means that life for teenagers and young adults may become boring and monotonous. ANother drawback is that there are less job prospects. Living in the country means that it is generally difficult to acquire high-paying job opportunities, particularly if you want to climb the ladder and progress.

    To sum up, it is clear that there are both advantages and disadvantages of living in the countryside. In my opinion, the drawbacks outweigh the benefits, especially from the point of view of young people. Although it is true that busy cities can be more stressful, on balance, I believe that cities provide more opportunities and excitement than living in the country.

    IELTS writing correction

    6. Double Question Essays

    6.1 Top tips

    For a double question essay, you must address both questions. A common mistake people make is to only address one question. To avoid this, make sure to:

    • Identify that you have been given two questions to answer
    • Give yourself enough time to dedicate to each question
    • Address both questions in your introduction and conclusion
    • Focus on one question in the first body paragraph and the other question in the second body paragraph

    6.2 Example questions

    The internet is a good source of information and has opened up opportunities for people all over the world.

    Is all the information reliable online?

    What could be done to control information online?

    Many people prefer to watch foreign films rather than locally produced films.

    Why could this be?

    Should governments give more financial support to local film industries?

    Nowadays, many people have easy access to computers and a large number of children play computer games.

    What are the negative impacts of playing computer games?

    What can be done to minimise these effects?

    In spite of the advances in medicine, many people around the world still die from preventable diseases.

    Why is this the case?

    What can be done about this problem?

    6.3 Essay structure

    Introduction
    • Paraphrase the given statement
    • Rephrase both questions
    • Give your opinion (which side do you agree with more)
    • Explain what your essay will do
    Main body paragraph 1
    • Topic sentence addressing first question
    • Supporting sentence
    • Example
    Main body paragraph 2
    • Topic sentence addressing second question
    • Supporting sentence
    • Example
    Conclusion
    • Summarise your main points
    • Restate your opinion

    6.4 Sample Essay

    In most countries, the major museums are owned by the government, and some governments have decided not to charge people to enter those museums.

    What are the pros and cons of making museums free to enter for everyone?

    Do you think all governments should make major museums free for everyone?

    The majority of governments around the world have decided to abolish entry fees to their most important museums. Some people believe that this puts a financial burden on the taxpayer and that the government should focus their spending on more significant projects. However, it is my view that making museums free is an effective use of government spending that has financial and cultural benefits.

    One argument in favour of ensuring all museums are free to the public is that it will increase tourist numbers. Tourists are often attracted to cities with free cultural attractions, therefore, fee-free museums could be one determining factor that causes tourists to visit a country. In addition, local people can also benefit from this scheme as it opens opportunities to access culture and learning for those living in that city, particularly for those from low-income families that may otherwise be unable to access these experiences.

    On the other hand, some argue that the government should reevaluate its priorities and spend less money funding museums and more expenditure on important sectors like education and health. These people believe that education and health are more fundamental to people’s lives. In times of austerity, it is often argued that spending on art and culture is not justified. Furthermore, the entrance fees for museums are often low and considered affordable for most people.

    In conclusion, although I believe it is true that the allocation of government resources should prioritise important sectors such as health and education, on balance I believe that museums should be made free as it allows people from all socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to learn and experience a country’s cultural treasures. If governments do decide to charge people to enter museums, this will only benefit those who can afford to pay whilst excluding those on lower incomes.

    300 words

    7. Writing Task 2 Band Descriptors Explained

    7.1 Task Response (25%)

    To achieve a high band score in task achievement, you must:

    • Produce a formal essay (unlike writing task 1, you are allowed to use the first person ‘I’ to give your opinion in this essay)
    • Write at least 250 words (you need to be able to sufficiently develop your ideas)
    • Address all the issues given in the essay question (e.g. if the question asks you to discuss both sides of the argument, you should not only write about 1 side)
    • Make sure your essay focuses on the specific issues in the statement question, not just the general essay topic
    • Support your ideas with relevant examples

    7.2 Coherence and Cohesion (25%)

    To achieve a high band score in Coherence and Cohesion, you must:

    • Organise your essay logically
    • Use paragraphs (ideally four-five paragraphs: an introduction, two/three main body paragraphs and a conclusion)
    • Only focus on one issue per paragraph and develop your argument
    • Use a range of linking devices accurately and appropriately
    • Use referencing effectively to avoid repetition (e.g., using ‘this’ or a pronoun to refer to refer back in your text to a noun/noun phrase)

    7.3 Lexical Resource (25%)

    To achieve a high band score in Lexical Resource, you must:

    • Paraphrase carefully using a range of synonyms/antonyms/ collocations
    • Use a range of vocabulary appropriate to the topic
    • Show understanding of collocations (e.g. verb noun collocations)
    • Avoid making spelling mistakes
    • Avoid making errors in word choice
    • Avoid informal language (e.g. slang and contractions)

    7.4 Grammatical Range and Accuracy (25%)

    To achieve a high band score in Grammatical Range and Accuracy, you must:

    • Use a range of grammar tenses (e.g. past, present, future and perfect tenses; conditionals;)
    • Make sure you use appropriate words order
    • Use a range of sentences structures (e.g. simple and complex; active and passive voice)
    • Use the correct punctuation (capital letters, full stops, commas etc.)
    • Avoid grammatical errors, especially those that cause difficulty for the reader (give yourself time to read through your essay at the end of the test and check for errors)

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *