IELTS Task 2 Writing – Question Types? – Answer Strategies:

There is a lot of confusion about the types of essay questions for Task 2 of the IELTS exam, and the correct structure for answering these. Some people believe there are four types of essays while other believe two and others still, believe many more. In fact, these are all true and false at the same time. A much better way to think about ‘Task 2’ writing in the IELTS is to understand the nature of the questions. Almost always, the essay task is persuasive and first person voice. This essay can be asked in either an open or closed question format. Of course, there are a few different types of open and closed questions possible, each of which is further defined below. Keep reading.

The primary goal of ‘Task 2’ writing in the IELTS is to evaluate whether or not you are able to make a clear and convincing argument related to a specific topic question. This type of essay is called a persuasive essay because your goal is to persuade the reader of your opinion. In addition, this essay is best written in the first person voice – the subjective voice of the writer – using “I, me, my, and myself” in sentences; especially examples in body paragraphs. The way to be sure about the first person voice is simply to pay attention to the part of the questions which states, “use your own knowledge and examples to support your opinion”. The thesis, usually last sentence(s) of the introduction should indicate first person voice and style, ex. I believe that physical exercise should be mandatory in public schools in order to benefit children’s health and mood. This thesis shows an opinion and personal voice. As long as you know what a first person persuasive essay should read like you are on the right track.

The next point to pay attention to is whether the question is open or closed. Simply, open ended questions are those which can have many answers like, “What did you do today?” versus closed ended questions like, “Do you prefer to ride your bike or drive your car to work or school?” – These questions force you to choose among only a few options. In IELTS Task 2 questions are often closed questions because they are easier to answer and mark. But be careful, about one from five is open ended questions like, “What is important for job satisfaction?” or “How have computers changed education?” The trick is to decide quickly. If the question is an open question, think of two or three points which will be body paragraphs. For example: A good salary, schedule and atmosphere are important for job satisfaction. If the question is a closed question, and does not ask you to discuss both sides of the argument then stick to one side with two strong points, ex. I prefer to ride my bicycle to school because it is good for my health and environment. Then, develop these points into strong body paragraphs. Whether the question is closed or open, make sure to have a clear opinion. There is nothing worse than a writer who sits on the fence in an argument.

Now, some more details for closed ended questions. Here are the different kinds of closed ended questions that you may see for Task 2: discuss both sides, describe the advantages and disadvantages of (both), do you agree or disagree, which do you support and why. In the case of the first two, you are asked to give both opinions or the benefits and deficits of each. For instance, “Some people believe that higher taxes are better for society while others argue that no tax is the approach. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of either tax or no tax systems…” In this case, body paragraph one should explain the advantages and disadvantages of no taxation, and body paragraph two should discuss the advantages and disadvantages of taxation; provided you believe that taxation is a better system. You should always emphasize the side you believe in more at the beginning (introduction/thesis) and end of your essay (last body paragraphs and conclusion). This is also true if you have to write about both sides of a debate, end with the side you believe in more. The logic is simple, leave your reader with the idea that you support. This is the law of first and last impressions. If the question does not ask you to explain both sides of the argument, stick to just one side with two or three strong supporting points outlined in your thesis. I have already given you an example in body paragraph two about ‘riding a bicycle to school’. Again, start body one with your weaker point (my health) and then end body two or three (depending if you have two or three points) with your strongest point (my environment). Again, you need to implement the law of first and last impression.

Given that all of the information provided in this essay is clear, you should now have a good idea about how to answer any type of Task 2 on the IELTS exam; regardless of the specific information or question that is being asked. The correct thinking is purely logical: know that the essay is first person voice and persuasive, the question is open or closed, asks to discuss both sides/pros and cons, or just one side of the argument. Based on the answers to this information you can formulate the right thesis with a good parallel grammar structure and begin to write. Just remember, stay on topic and give good examples! For lots more help with writing join our full course: JOIN NOW

14 Responses to “IELTS Task 2 Writing – Question Types? – Answer Strategies:”

  1. Harikrushna Solia

    It is inevitable that as technology advances, traditional cultures will be lost. It seems that we cannot have these two things together.
    To what extent do you agree or disagree?

    Can you make paraphrasing and critical thing for this example? And how?

    • geadmin

      Dear Harikrushna,
      Thank you for your questions. Please find my answer below:

      Critical Thinking/Planning
      What is the question about – What is the topic of the question?
      A: Loss of traditional culture
      Why does this happen?
      A: Because modern technology replaces traditional cultural practices
      How does this happen?
      A: For example traditional hand crafting is replaced by robotic manufacturing

      Q1: It cannot be avoided that as technology develops traditional practices will disappear. It seems that these two elements in society are unable to coexist. Do you support this belief or not?

      Critical Thinking/Planning
      What is the question about – What is the topic of the question?
      A: Government investment into public
      Why is this important?
      A: To use money effectively, for the benefit of society
      How does this happen?
      By investing into either arts, like music or theatre OR public services

      Q2: Government spending on arts like performance in music and theater is wasteful. Instead, governments should spend money for social services. Do you support or disprove this argument?

      In the full IELTS course there are step-by-step instructions on how you can improve the skills of paraphrasing and critical thinking. Go through these sections carefully. Should you have more questions do not hesitate to contact me.

  2. Harikrushna Solia

    Hello GEAdmin,

    Thank you for your reply, it is very good.
    But still, I am confuse. I gone through your writing task videos, In video you are mentioning Topic and Controlling Idea and then ansking What, Why and How questions for both (Topic and Controlling Idea).

    In your reply to my question, I am happy to get answer of Topic(What, why and How) but what about Controlling Idea?

    Reply, me what, why and how for controlling idea as well.

    Thanking you & Regards,

  3. Harikrushna Solia

    Hello Admin,

    For sometimes, I am confuse to ask What, why and how questions. About Topic I can do it will but confuse to do for controlling ideas.

    Herewith is one more example:
    There are many types of music in the world today. Why do we need music? Is the traditional music of a country more important and should it be preserved or is international music that is heard everywhere nowadays more useful to a society?

    For this can you tell me what is Topic and Controlling idea exactly.
    And Three questions (WWH) for both (Topic and controlling idea).

    This is humble request from my side, so I can complete writing task perfectly.


  4. Harikrushna Solia

    Some people think the most effective way to reduce industrial pollution is to tax those companies cause it. What are other alternatives?
    Discuss both and give you opinion.

    Pollution is vital problem worldwide. Developing countries are becoming industrialized that lead to increase polluted environment. In my opinion levying more duty on factories and another course of action, introducing environmental policies and controlling bodies, helps to minimize pollution.
    In some countries, government body collect additional tax from companies and builds special industrial zone away from town or residents, to balance business and environment damages. In such a specialized industry area having right channel for draining waste, facilities for destroying emissions and exhaust fumes minimizes environment causes. In New York, east-coast area declared as chemical industry zone, where government has provided tunnel to drain waste water in very deep level of sea. However, sometimes companies’ operator feels in-justice to paying additional taxes compare to other companies which are causes nations other way.
    In addition, introducing pollution policies and monitoring institutions force company operators to follow it. For example, set limits to produce emissions and exhaust fumes, companies encourage to think for alternative production method in lesser exhaust fumes. Periodically inspection by Monitoring bodies ensures that units have installed adequate emission control equipments. Furthermore, campaigning for economical products and giving more space to green factories, will be a good replacement of polluting industries in future. Green factories aims to manufacture recyclable products and minimum wastes of natural resources.
    All societies are equal responsible for increasing pollution. Penalties is somewhat right but not only the solution, are other substitutions considerable to replace harmful industries and make balance between development and environments.

    • geadmin

      Hi Harikrushna,

      Thanks for posting. Have you thought about submitting this essay to our editing and feedback services? Find the link in your “my student account”!

    • geadmin

      Hi James, Thanks for your question. What is confusing for you about the question? Please be as specific as possible and I will assist you further? Waiting for your reply, Adrian

  5. juvel querido

    Hi Admin Please inform me how long will it take if i buy the full course now to have an access in the web or they will send the materials (CD, etc.)? I am actually located in Saudi now and my exams will be this coming November 1. I might not have enough time to study.

    • geadmin

      Hi Juvel,

      We do not ship any products. Everything is available in your ‘my student account’ after purchase.

      This is good news for you, as it means you can start studying right away! Please let us know if you have any questions.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.