How To Prepare For IELTS Writing Task 2

Introduction

Are you preparing to take the IELTS test? Are you worried about writing your Task 2 essay? You’re not alone! For most students, IELTS Writing Task 2 is the hardest part of the test, so in this article I will give you some tips to help you prepare for it.

1. Understand The Assessment Criteria

The first thing you should do is find out how IELTS examiners assess Writing Task 2. You can download the public version of the assessment criteria from the IELTS website.

In this document, you will see 4 assessment areas: Task Response (TR), Coherence and Cohesion (CC), Lexical Resource (LR), and Grammatical Range and Accuracy(GRA). TR and CC mainly assess your academic writing skills; LR and GRA assess your English language skills. So getting a high band score in Task 2 is not only about your language skills, it’s also about your academic writing skills. This means your ability to develop and support your ideas in a logical way. This is difficult for many students so…

2. Read IELTS Model Essays…and IELTS Reading Texts

One way to help you develop your academic writing skills is to read academic texts. One very good source of these are model IELTS essays. You can find these online, but be careful…many websites containing “Band 9 model essays” are often not even close to a Band 9…or even a Band 7!

Another source of academic reading material are the texts used in the Academic IELTS Reading Test. These texts are written in an academic style, so reading these will show you how to write in an academic style yourself.

3. Build your vocabulary

If you want a high band score for Lexical Resource, you need to use vocabulary that conveys your ideas in a clear, precise way. This means using topic-specific vocabulary. So you should try to learn vocabulary that is related to topics that  often come up in the IELTS writing test, such as the environment, education and jobs.

One way to do this is to read model essays and IELTS reading texts. Look at the vocabulary used in these texts. How are the words and phrases used? What words are often used together?

4. Practise Using Authentic Essays

It is very important to practise writing IELTS essays, but be careful when looking for essay questions to answer. Some essay questions which you can find online are very badly written: they can be badly worded, and on topics that are almost impossible to write about.

Instead, try to use authentic IELTS essay questions: the best source of these are questions found in the Cambridge English Authentic Papers series. I have included some of these IELTS sample essay questions on my website. I’ve also included suggestions on how to answer each question.

5. Practice Planning Essays

Don’t just practise writing essays, practise planning essays.

To get a high band score, you need to write a well-structured essay with well-developed and supported ideas. To help you do this, you should plan your essay carefully before you write anything.

So find an essay question and spend 10 minutes planning it. Then look at another question, and plan that. You don’t need to actually write these essays – simply practise planning them. If you practise planning essays, your planning skills will improve…and so will your essays.

6. Use the official answer writing sheet

You should write at least 250 words in your Task 2 essay. But don’t waste time in the exam counting your words. Instead, you need to know roughly where on the answer sheet you will reach 250 words.

How do you find this out?

Count your words – where, on the answer sheet, do you reach 250 words? Maybe you need to write 25 lines, maybe 30. You will probably find that you hit the 250 word point at around the same with each essay.

This means that in the exam, you won’t need to count your words – you will know where on the sheet you should write to. This will save you time – time which you can spend planning, writing or checking your essay!

7. Get Feedback On Your Writing

You should try to get feedback on your essays, ideally by a teacher who has a good understanding of the IELTS writing assessment criteria. Getting feedback is the most effective way to improve your band score, because you will find out what you are doing wrong, and how you improve.

If you enrol in an IELTS class, ask the teacher for feedback on your essays. Alternatively, find a teacher online who offers IELTS tutoring or an IELTS writing correction service. These services can be quite expensive, but they are cheaper than having to re-sit the IELTS exam.

There are also free options. The best one is to join an IELTS group on Facebook, where you may be able to post essays and get feedback from teachers in the group. However, these groups usually have lots of students, and very few teachers, so you may not be able to get feedback immediately, so….

8. Read The Feedback Given To Other Test Takers

In these Facebook groups, read the essays that other students post, and look at the feedback they get from teachers. Many students will have the same problems as you, and they will make the same mistakes as you, so the feedback given to one student may also be useful for you.

Conclusion

So use these 8 tips to help you prepare for Task 2 of the IELTS Writing Test. I hope they help. Tell me what you think of these tips in the comments below, and please add any of your own preparation tips. Best of luck in the IELTS exam!

Written by Charles Cornelius for EnglishClub January 2020
Charles Cornelius is an experienced IELTS tutor from England. He helps students prepare for the IELTS test through his website, ieltscharlie.com.

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