Writing Task 2
Information & Grading
In task 2 for General Training and Academic modules you are asked to write an academic essay, giving your opinion or discussing a topic, in response to a task. For example…
The topics of task 2 are social and academic and no specialized knowledge is needed. You won’t be asked if you agree or disagree with Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
Included in the instruction is “You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.” This is just some friendly advice from IELTS and not one of their regulations.
There is also no IELTS regulation stating that you must do the tasks in order. So, if you want to start with Task 2, that’s fine.
Try to aim for 250 – 270 words in Task 2 and keep in mind that even though there is no IELTS restriction on the number of words you can write, writing 300 + words is really not necessary and is not effective time management.
Some candidates ask if there is a penalty for writing too many words... there isn’t.
However, answers under the word count are penalized in the Task Response criterion. When the examiner sees that your answer is short, they will count the number of words and must follow the IELTS rules for word count.
Understanding the Question
Before you start writing anything it is vital that you fully understand exactly what the task requires. Don’t worry about the time limit of 40 minutes, make time to analyse the question. Failure to do so can mean a lower band score even though your general writing ability is quite high.
Candidates who fail to understand the question usually discuss the topic generally rather than answering the task or the fail to follow the instructions.
Highlight the key words in the statement first of all and then analyse the instructions. For example....
Many people believe that the current system of both teachers and students in the classroom will no longer exist by the year 2050.
In other words, the statement says that traditional classroom learning will disappear by 2050.
Analysing the instructions seems obvious but you would be surprised by the number of candidates who, for whatever reason, don’t actually follow them.
To what extent do you agree with this opinion?
The instruction is what’s your opinion about this topic. Do you agree or disagree?
Once you have decided on your opinion (position) you can begin to write your answer. it’s essential that you take some time before you start writing to analyse and understand the task.
Task 2 is worth 67% of your overall writing band score.
You are graded in 4 criteria – Task Response, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource and Grammatical range & accuracy. Click on the link to view the official IELTS band descriptors (public version).
There are some IELTS myths about a hidden or a secret set of band descriptors for examiners’ use. This is simply not true.
The criteria are equally weighted with 25% awarded for each category and the overall writing band score is the average of the four. For example…
If you want to calculate your overall band score…
Even though each criterion is equally weighted at 25% each, Task response is the most important category as it is possible to get a lower band score than the other criteria if you do not answer the question.
The sub categories (bullet points) in Task response are…
Addressing the task.
Stating a clear position.
Presenting, extending and supporting your main ideas.
Addressing the task
Addressing the task is basically, answering the question through a balanced and appropriate format.
Band 7: Addresses all parts of the tasks.
Band 5: Addresses the task only partially, the format may be inappropriate in places.
It is possible to get a band score of 4 in Task response if your answer is “tangential” which means you have gone off topic. However, you will still be graded in the other criteria according to your response.
Band 4: Responds to the task only in a minimal way or the answer is tangential.
Stating a clear position
It’s important that your opinion or “position” is clearly stated and your reasons to support it are consistently given throughout your answer. You also need to draw conclusions based on your position.
Band 7: Presents a clear position throughout the response.
Band 5: Expresses a position but the development is not always clear.
Presenting, extending and supporting your main ideas
Your main ideas will be stated in your body paragraphs. These ideas should be supported by “any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience” as stated in the instructions.
Band 7: Presents, extends and supports main ideas.
Band 5: Presents some main ideas but these are limited and not sufficiently developed.
Coherence and Cohesion
The Coherence and cohesion criterion is exactly the same for General Training and Academic tasks 1 and task 2.
Click on the following link for detailed a discussion of Coherence and cohesion.
Click on the following link for a list of cohesive devices
The only exception in the band descriptors for task 2 is the sub category of “paragraphing”.
Task 2 is an academic essay and you are expected to have distinct paragraphs that include an introduction, body paragraphs and a conclusion.
Coherence and cohesion:
Band 7: Presents a clear, central topic within each paragraph.
Band 5: May not write in paragraphs, or paragraphing may be inappropriate.
Lexical resource is the range of your vocabulary, your awareness of style and collocation and spelling ability.
For a more detailed discussion and tips for Lexical resource, click on Vocabulary on the blue bar at the top of the page.
Grammatical Range and Accuracy
The Grammatical range and accuracy criterion is exactly the same for General Training and Academic tasks 1 and task 2.
Click on the following link for a detailed discussion of Grammatical Range and Accuracy.