IELTS Writing Task 2: Information (FAQ)

Below are IELTS writing task 2 frequently asked questions with answers. Click the questions below to see the answers.

  1. What is IELTS Writing Task 2?
    For writing task 2, you must write an essay which is over 250 words and you have 40 mins to do this. IELTS will provide you with the essay question.
  2. How long does writing task 2 take?
    It is recommended to take 40 mins to plan and write your essay.
  3. Can I spend more than 40 mins on my essay?
    You can decide the length of time to spend on your essay but I wouldn’t recommend spending more than 40 mins on it.
  4. Should I write task 1 or task 2 first?
    It is your choice. You can decide which one to do first. Most students do task 1 first and I would recommend that. However, it is your choice.
  5. What is the difference between the General Training writing task 2 and the academic task 2?
    There is little difference. Both the GT writing task 2 and the academic are essays which have similar topics, the same format and techniques. The only difference is that the GT essay question is slightly easier than the academic test.
  6. How much is writing task 2 worth?
    It is worth double the marks of writing task 1. So, make sure you give yourself the full 40 minutes to write your essay.
  7. What kind of essays are there in writing task 2?
    There are a number of different essay types: opinion essays, discussion essays, advantage /disadvantage essays, solution essays and direct question essays. Some teachers give these essay types different names. My 100 IELTS essay questions page has essay questions divided by type of essay at the bottom of the page.
  8. How is writing task 2 scored?
    It is marked by an examiner who will assess you on 4 criteria: Task Response, Coherence and Cohesion, Vocabulary and Grammar. Each criteria is equal and worth 25% of your task 2 marks. Here is a link to learn more about the assessment criteria
  9. Do I need to give my opinion in the essay?
    Only give your opinion if the instructions ask for your opinion. For example, Do you agree or disagree? this is clearly asking for your opinion. Don’t give your opinion if it doesn’t ask for it. Read the instructions carefully. Here’s a lesson to help you learn when you should and shouldn’t give your opinion in IELTS writing task 2. Also here’s a link to a video tutorial about how to give your opinion in an IELTS  essay.
  10. How long should my essay be?
    You must write over 250 words but there is no upper limit. For more advice, please watch this free video lesson on how many words to write.
  11. What happens if I write under 250 words?
    You will receive a penalty from IELTS if you are under the word count. This will affect your band score for the criterion of Task Response. Here’s a link to learn more about the penalty for writing task 2. 
  12. How many paragraphs should I have?
    You can have either 4 or 5. You must have an introduction and conclusion. You can have either two or three body paragraphs.
  13. Do I need a conclusion?
    Yes, you do. It is vital that you conclude your essay. If you think you are running out of time, then jump to your conclusion. Follow this link to learn the best linkers to use for your conclusion paragraph.
  14. What kinds of topics will I get in writing task 2?
    There are common topics which appear frequently in the test. Follow this link to see a list of common topics for writing task 2.
  15. Should I write the title of the essay on my answer sheet?
    No, you shouldn’t. The examiner has the essay title so you do not need to repeat it on your paper. Your first sentence should be the beginning of your essay.
  16. Is spelling important?
    Yes, the examiner will check your spelling. It is part of the criterion of vocabulary.
  17. Is punctuation important?
    Yes, it is. This is part of the grammar marking criterion. Try to avoid using ; or : because they are not necessary. Just use commas and full stops.
  18. What's the difference between an IELTS essay and a normal essay
    There are quite a lot of differences. Firstly, you’ve got a time limit of only 40 minutes. Secondly, you’ve got a specific word count of over 250 words. Thirdly, IELTS is testing your English grammar and vocabulary – you have to demonstrate particular skills and ability to get a particular band score. Fourthly, there is a particular essay structure and use of linking devices that is recommended to follow. Lastly, you need to get used to the different types of essay questions and how to address the tasks fully to get more marks. So quite a lot of differences really.
  19. What's the difference between an opinion essay and an argumentative essay?
    There’s no difference. Teachers give essays different names. Some teachers call them opinion essays and some teachers call them argumentative essays. They are both essays in which you need to give your opinion because the task states “To what extend do you agree?” or something similar, directly asking what you think.
  20. Can I use a pen or a pencil for writing?
    For IELTS writing, you can choose whether to use a pen or pencil – it’s your choice.
  21. Can I get extra writing paper if I run out of space on my answer sheet?
    Yes, you can.  Put your hand up and the exam supervisor will come to you. You can then ask for more writing paper.
  22. Can I get the official writing paper to practice with?
    Yes, you can.  Here’s a link to the official IELTS answer sheet for writing task 1 and 2. You should practice writing on it before you test to estimate the number of lines you need to fill in order to complete the word requirement. Watch this video lesson to get tips about using the answer sheet.

Other Useful Pages: Information & Tips for IELTS (FAQ)

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