How To Think Of Ideas?

how to think of IELTS writing task 2 essay ideas

In this post, we will look at how to think of ideas for writing task 2 questions. Many of my students struggle to think of ideas when faced with a question, especially when it is on a topic they feel they know little about. 

They worry that their examples will not be relevant or they often find it difficult to think of any examples at all. I have marked many essays, where the student has said that they couldn’t think of an example. You must practice thinking of ideas for various questions, finding a method that suits you. Everyone has different ways of learning and retaining information, so find out your preferred method and apply it. 

Here are some ways that you can think of ideas for your writing task 2 essay :

Read More Materials

This is really obvious, to improve both vocabulary and knowledge reading is the best thing that you can do. If you are on Facebook, like the pages of well-known news sites, like BBC News, The Guardian, The Telegraph, The New York Times, The Economist, etc. This is a super-easy way to stay informed and read articles, as you scroll through your newsfeed. 

Reading the news will give you many ideas for your essays when giving examples to my students I often say ‘I read something about that the other day…’. Read around topics that come up again and again, like health, education, technology, the environment and crime. Also read articles that interest you, on art, movies and anything else. When you find words you do not know the meaning of, look them up and make a note. Most phones/tablets have a built-in dictionary, so it is very easy to look up the meaning of a word or cut and paste sections of an article. 

Here are some news websites that you should take a look at regularly:

Write Things Down

Before you start writing the essay, make a plan with your ideas in note form. When I plan any essays or blog posts I start by making a bullet list of my ideas. This helps me to visualise the information and organise it. It might not work for everyone, but it is a good way to start planning, getting those thoughts out onto the paper. 

It might look something like this :

IELTS task 2 essay plan

You could also create a mind map of your ideas, write a keyword in the middle of the page, then think about and link as many relevant ideas as possible.  

Mind Map

Be Positive

Many students when they are given a question, straight away say ‘I don’t know anything about this topic…’ almost shutting down before they have even started. If you have a question, with a topic that you feel you know little about, don’t stress out and don’t feel frustrated. Push yourself to generate ideas and keep it light and enjoyable. Negativity is death to creativity, meaning that if you have a negative mindset from the beginning, this will crush your ability to get those creative essay writing juices flowing! 

When you are thinking of ideas and examples, you are allowed to be creative, making up statistics/data from an article or survey. As long as the example is relevant and believable.


Imagine you are talking about this question with someone. Sounds simple, think about reaching out and chatting with other people who engage you intellectually and creatively. If you were discussing this question with a friend or work colleague, what would you say/they say? Thinking about conversations with others can help you to generate ideas. 


Think about what you know about the question/topic already……

  • What have I read about or seen that stands out?
  • What do I know about this topic?
  • What did I read/see that could be used as an example?
  • What is the main issue?
  • Why is this happening?

Use your responses to these questions as writing prompts. For example, if you know that obesity is becoming a huge strain on the NHS because of the increase in costs, think about how you could turn that information into an example. 

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