An Introduction to Writing Task 2

The Academic IELTS Writing Test has two separate writing tasks in 60 minutes. For each part, you will receive a question paper and an answer sheet. You can make notes on the question paper, only the text on the answer sheet will be marked by the examiner. You can write your answers in pen or pencil and correct when necessary. You cannot use a dictionary or any electronic devices.

IELTS Academic and General Training students do different tests for part 1 but complete the same test for part 2. Both Academic and General Training students write a discursive essay in writing task 2 - but the difficulty of the question will differ. All students should learn how to write this type of essay. 

In writing task 2 you will be asked to write an essay (250 words minimum) on a specific topic. You should leave 40 minutes for this during the test, which includes time to check your work. Each essay has a slightly different structure, you can learn about those structures in the other posts in the writing task 2 section

Requirements from universities and immigration agencies vary. Most students will need at least a band score 6 for undergraduate study. For postgraduate study or immigration, a band score 7 is generally required. 

One of the first things you should do is read the marking criteria to see what the examiners expect. This is really important, as you need to know what they are looking for in the band 7+ boxes. 

You should be able to give the examiners exactly what they want, in order to get a 7+ band score. 

In the IELTS writing task 2 essay, you will be assessed on the four main areas >>

  • Task Achievement
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Band Score 7 Marking Criteria >> 

Task Achievement

In this section, you must be able to 'addresses all parts of the task, presents a clear position throughout the response, presents extends and supports main ideas but there may be a tendency to overgeneralise and/or supporting ideas may lack focus' this means that you are able to answer all parts of the question and that your information is relevant, but some of it may be too general or lack focus

Coherence and Cohesion

In this section, you must produce an answer that can be easily understood by the reader (the examiner!). The criteria states that you should be able to 'logically organises information and ideas; there is clear progression throughout' this means that you have organised your information in easy to read paragraphs and the paragraphs have a good structure.

The criterion also states that you should 'uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately although there may be some under/overuse'. This refers to the use of linking words and cohesive devices - such as; firstly, secondly, in addition, one the one hand, on the other hand, furthermore, therefore, etc. but there may be too many or too few. It also says that you should 'presents a clear central topic within each paragraph' this means that you write about one idea in each main body paragraph.

Lexical Resource

In this section the examiner will be looking at your vocabulary, making sure the words you have used are correct for this type of task. In the criteria, it states 'uses a sufficient range of vocabulary to allow some flexibility and precision'. It is therefore important for you to study terms and keywords that can help you to gain a 7+ score in this task. There may also be 'occasional errors in word choice, spelling and/or word formation' There may be some repetition of words and a few errors.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

In the marking criteria, it states 'uses a variety of complex structures, produces frequent error-free sentences, has good control of grammar and punctuation but may make a few errors'. You have to write clear error-free sentences in this essay, as many grammatical or spelling errors will make the writing unclear and hard to follow. If the text has more than 25% errors, this will bring the score down. You also need to show that you have used the appropriate sentence structures, necessary for a formal academic essay.


Band Score 8 Marking Criteria >>

Task Achievement

In this section, you must be able to 'addresses all parts of the task, presents a clear position throughout the response, presents extends and supports main ideas' this means that you are able to answer all parts of the question and that your response is relevant and well developed. This should be very clear in your answer. You should also support your views/arguments with specific examples

Coherence and Cohesion

In this section, you must produce an answer that can be easily understood by the reader (the examiner!). The criteria state that you should be able to 'sequences information and ideas logically, manages all aspects of cohesion well, uses paragraphing sufficiently and appropriately' this means that you have organised your information in easy to read paragraphs and the paragraphs have a good structure, with only one main idea in each of the main body paragraphs.

The criterion also states that you should 'manages all aspects of cohesion well'. This refers to the use of linking words and cohesive devices - such as; firstly, secondly, in addition, one the one hand, on the other hand, furthermore, therefore, etc.

Lexical Resource

In this section the examiner will be looking at your vocabulary, making sure the words you have used are correct for this type of task. In the criteria, it states 'uses a wide range of vocabulary fluently and flexibly to convey precise meanings'. It is therefore important for you to study terms and keywords that can help you to gain a 7+ score in this task.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

In the marking criteria, it states 'uses a wide range of structures, the majority of sentences are error-free, makes only very occasional errors or inappropriaces'. There will be clear error-free sentences in this essay and most of the writing will have the appropriate sentence structures, necessary for a formal academic essay.

There are practice tests you can download from the British Council.


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