IELTS WRITING TASK 2 TIPS
The second task involves about a social issue. Again, adopt a ‘professional persona’ by imagining you are presenting a formal and reasoned viewpoint on the issue to an academic colleague. Don’t view yourself negatively as just a person taking a difficult test.
3 STEPS BEFORE WRITING
1. Study the words in your IELTS Writing Task 2
The same issues apply to Task 2 as to Task 1. You need to read the task carefully, know clearly what the topic is and what precise aspect of the topic you have to give your view on. This will help your answer to be relevant.
EXAMPLE: Imagine this is an ILETS Task 2 question. ‘Many people keep pets in small apartments. To what extent is this cruel?’
The topic is keeping pets. To be relevant, you would focus your discussion of pets on:
– types of pets (The expression ‘pets covers many types of living creature)
– where the pets are kept (specifically in this essay, in small apartments)
– how cruel this is (You need to offer a clear, precise point of view)
2. Decide upon a clear, precise and relevant point of view
This can be achieved by offering enough detail to explain why you have that opinion.
In the Task 2 essay, having a clear and precise point of view on the task topic enables the assessor to feel more connected to the strength of your writing ‘voice’.
Example A: An unclear and not very precise point of view might be:
‘It is sometimes cruel to keep pets in apartments but sometimes it is not cruel’.
This point of view sounds as though the writer doesn’t clearly know what their point of view is about cruelty, and so it is less convincing, less powerful.
Example B: A clearer and more precise point of view might be:
‘It is cruel to keep pets in small apartments if the pets are large and need more space, more attention or a different environment in order to be happy and healthy.’
The point of view is clear because it gives the precise conditions in which the writer thinks it is cruel (that is, the writer says it is cruel, if pets are large and if they can’t be healthy and happy in small apartments)
3. Make a quick plan of the paragraphs and the topic of each paragraph.
Remember that the first sentence in each paragraph (often called the ‘topic sentence’) tells the reader what the paragraph is about so if the topic sentence is clear, it gives a positive impression to the assessor, because it means the assessor can predict the content of the rest of the paragraph more easily. An important aspect of reading an essay easily is predicting what will come next.
In your Task 2 plan:
• show an introduction which contains a relevant viewpoint on the essay task
• list 2 or 3 paragraph headings each with a key reason connected to your own viewpoint, plus one or two examples to support that reason
• show a concluding paragraph that will summarize what your essay has shown.
NOTE: If you write the plan in the IELTS Answer book, just put a line through it and underline it to show that it is not your actual answer. Then begin the actual essay.
What was said about Task 1 is also important here. A few minutes spent planning your Task 2 response helps you to write systematically and smoothly, and in clear paragraphs, it is not wasted time.
WHILE Writing – Organizing paragraphs & sentences for a higher score
1. Develop each paragraph by linking each supporting point to the next point.
Don’t just state one point and then move on to an entirely new point as this seems mechanical and prevents you from developing your opinion in more detail.
2. Use a variety of linking words between sentences, rather than just the simpler, ‘shopping list style links such as: firstly, secondly, thirdly, finally
Read this mini paragraph:
Keeping pets such as large dogs in small apartments can easily lead to unintended cruelty. An obvious example of this is that limited space makes large animals frustrated because they can’t use enough of their physical energy. This may result in possible aggression. Linked to this lack of exercise is the issue of health. A dog that has insufficient space and lacks exercise can easily become obese which, in turn, may shorten the pet’s life.
The linking words in bold type show how writers can direct their thoughts and express relationships between the content as they move from sentence to sentence. This also helps the assessor to connect with the point of view that is developing. Test candidates who list one point after another without any development, and without relevant, considered linking expressions may seem less natural and less mature writers in the mind of the assessor.
3. Leave a line between each of your paragraphs when you write your essay, so that the assessor can easily see the way your essay is organized.
8 KEY GUIDLINES for language use to change a higher score in Task 2
1. Avoid generalizations that are simplistic and thus too strong (simple generalizations seem unsubtle or strong, and often don’t reflect a mature viewpoint)
Example: Compare these 2 generalizations:
1) All dogs like people,
2) Most dogs are sociable and seem to enjoy human companionship.
Which example above seems less simplistic and more considered? ANSWER: No. 2
A more considered general view usually needs to be expressed in a sentence that is:
• more grammatically complex.
• more detailed and therefore more precise
• written using ‘cautious’ language forms (e.g. ‘may’, ‘possibly, ‘perhaps’, ‘seem’)
2. Avoid using idioms or sayings which state the obvious or seem out of place in an essay where a formal viewpoint is being systematically developed.
Examples: ‘Every coin has two sides! ‘Every cloud has a silver lining
3. Avoid using clichés, as they can communicate too much informality.
Example: With most pets, what you see is what you get.
4. Avoid using informal expressions in this formal type of writing.
Keeping pets is a very hot topic
Petrol-driven cars are past their sell by date
Keeping pets is a significant issue
…are fast becoming obsolete
5. Avoid using lazy or vague expressions to complete sentences, especially ones that belong more to spoken conversation.
Examples: … etc’;…and so on’; …and things like that’; …that sort of thing’
6. Avoid imprecise, general expressions that make views sound too simple.
Example: Compare these expressions in a) and b)
a) Walking a dog is a good thing and…
b) Walking a dog is a necessary, daily activity and …
Example b) offers more precision (necessary, daily) than example a) (good)
7. In the final paragraph, come to a conclusion about the point of view in your essay
This helps to round off your answer. Here are one or two examples of how to begin: Overall then, the point of view developed in this response is that…’
Or, for a different type of essay question,
“To sum up, the solution to this problem might best involve…
8. Make a quick check of your grammar and spelling
In the last minute or two read your essay quickly and try to find those elementary grammar or spelling mistakes which do not impress assessors
Examples: ‘Pet are… (should be, ‘Pets are…) or, ‘Keep pets in small apartments is sometime cruelty! (‘Keeping pets in small apartments is sometimes cruel’)