IELTS Writing Task 2: What It Is & How To Improve

Jun 23, 2019 | IELTS, IELTS Test, IELTS Writing

IELTS Writing Task 2 requires you to write 250 words or more on a supplied topic. We’ll discuss these topics in more detail later; however, because there are so many IELTS Writing Task 2 topics, it is crucial to plan ahead and know what to expect.

The IELTS partners recommend that you write your essay within a 40-minute window. In reality, you have 60 minutes to write both of the IELTS writing tasks and you can divide your time as you like between IELTS Writing Task 1 and IELTS Writing Task 2.

This Page Contains The Following:

  1. The Differences Between General & Academic IELTS Writing Task 2
  2. The Different Topics Of IELTS Writing Task 2
  3. The Different Types Of IELTS Writing Task 2 Questions
  4. The Marking Criteria Of IELTS Writing Task 2
  5. IELTS Writing Task 2 Corrections and Tutorials
  6. Books That Help Improve IELTS Writing Task 2
  7. Different IELTS Writing Task 2 Samples
  8. A Free IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer

Traditionally test candidates write their essay on paper with a pencil. If this will be you, we recommend that you practise writing your essay in exactly the same way. You can even download a PDF version of the exam paper here. Writing on paper or a computer involves a different thinking and editorial process – so practicing the test in the way you will take it is important.

It is also important that you can quickly judge how many words you have written. Writing too few words will cost you marks for each of the 4 criteria on which you are assessed.

Some candidates will count every word and then write that number at the bottom of the test paper–but this is wasting valuable time which could be used checking for errors. Instead of doing this, download the sample PDF linked above and then count how many words you have written on 3 lines. Divide this by three and you will have your average word count per line.

Then all you need to do is count how many lines you have written. If you are writing an average of 10 words per line, I would recommend aiming for 27 lines of essay – to make sure you are safely over the 250 word minimum. 

Over the last few years, computer delivered IELTS tests have become well established both in test centres and at home. 

The computer version of IELTS Writing Task 2 provides you with several advantages. For example, the software gives you a word count, and you can cut and paste. Click here for instructions on how to find a centre where you live.

IELTS Writing Task 2 is worth twice as many marks as Writing Task 1 and so is crucial for achieving your desired band score. Be sure to absorb all the advice on this page and elsewhere on our site to help increase your score on IELTS Writing Task 2.

IELTS Writing Task 2: General Test and Academic Test Differences

When you register for IELTS, you can choose to sit for the General or Academic version of the test. It will depend on your reasons for sitting the IELTS exam as to which of these is best suited to you.

The General IELTS exam is aimed at those who are simply looking to migrate and work in an English-speaking country. The General test helps to assess your level of proficiency in everyday English contexts, and how well you will be able to communicate in different social and workplace situations.

However, the IELTS Academic exam is a little more complex. It is mainly intended for those who are looking to migrate to an English-speaking nation in order to study at university, or who are going to be working in a highly skilled profession, such as in the medical field.

It is important to note that many of those who are emigrating for work, may have specific requirements from their new employer on which test to take. Whilst, the profession you are migrating for might not be classed as highly skilled, it is important that you check your employers requirements, as they may still want you to have passed the Academic IELTS test.

If in doubt, the Academic test will be accepted for almost everything the General test is accepted for. Taking the Academic UKVI test will cover you for almost all situations.

IELTS Writing Task 2 General

The format of IELTS Writing Task 2 is the same for both the General and Academic versions of the test. However, there are differences in terms of the questions and topics that are presented.

In the General test, Writing Task 2 will likely focus on a non-academic context. For example, you could be asked to write an essay about health or society—or both! 

Your essay will still need to be written in a formal layout and you should include examples that are relevant to the information that has been supplied in the question.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Academic

As the name suggests, the Academic questions are a bit more academically inclined. As mentioned previously, you will take this version of the test when planning to enter university or to work in a professional field. As a result, the topics often cover education or the kind of subject you might study at university. 

Since 2022, IELTS Writing Task 2 questions in the Academic test have often covered more than one topic area to test your ability to properly analyse multiple topics and how they interact. 

You can find a more complete list of the different IELTS Writing Task 2 topics below.

Purchase IELTS Writing Corrections

IELTS Writing Task 2 Topics

Below we have listed the most common topics covered in IELTS Writing Task 2. All the below topics could appear in either version of the test.

As you can see, there are a huge range of different topics for Writing Task 2–and the topics are constantly monitored and added to. 

Whilst preparing practice answers for all of these topics would take an incredible amount of time, it is crucial that you at least familiarise yourself with the subjects and read as much as you can on these topic areas. Check out our blog’s Spotlight Vocabulary series for some recommended reads. 

Wide reading  will help you pick up vocabulary and ideas for any topic you are likely to encounter…


  • Art
  • Automation
  • Childhood obesity
  • Crime and punishment
  • Climate change
  • Culture
  • Capital punishment
  • Cities
  • Charity
  • Education
  • Environmental problems
  • Employment



  • Food
  • Fast food
  • Fashion
  • Family and friends
  • Fossil fuels
  • Globalisation
  • Global warming
  • Health and fitness
  • Happiness
  • History
  • Hobbies
  • Housing


I – N

  • Internet
  • Immigration
  • Jobs
  • Junk food
  • Lifestyle
  • Languages
  • Modern technology
  • Money
  • Noise pollution
  • Nature
  • Natural disasters
  • Natural resources



  • Obesity
  • Pollution
  • Public transport
  • Recycling essay
  • Shopping
  • Tourism
  • Technology
  • Urbanisation
  • Video games
  • Vegetarianism
  • Working from home
  • Water
  • Zoos

IELTS Writing Task 2 Question Types

Because IELTS Writing Task 2 is designed to see how well you can analyse conflicting views and then formulate your own opinion on a subject, the questions are phrased in ways that require you to do this. It is important to read the instructions carefully to make sure you answer the question in the correct way.

The most common IELTS Writing Task 2 question types are as follows:

  • The To What Extent essay
  • The Advantages/Disadvantages essay 
  • The Discuss Both Sides essay
  • The Two-question essay

Many websites talk about different kinds of IELTS question types. In truth, IELTS exam writers do not confine themselves to the 4-5 categories that we have listed above.

However, separating the questions into the different categories we have mentioned, can help us to consider slight differences in the way we might answer them.

Click here to see our analysis of the different types of questions you might see and how best to answer them.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Marking Criteria

Examiners mark IELTS essays to strict marking criteria called descriptors. Knowing how your essay is graded will put you one step ahead of many candidates. You are not allowed to see the examiner version of the descriptors, but in true IELTS fashion the IELTS partners have paraphrased the descriptors and published them here

Being familiar with the criteria which examiners are marking you against is one of the best ways to plan your revision and know where you need to improve. 

However, Writing Task 2 is where so many students fail because they do not spot their own mistakes. If this sounds like you, then we certainly recommend that you speak with one of our expert tutors. They have the experience in spotting the common mistakes that let candidates down on IELTS Writing Task 2 and apply a tried and tested approach to fixing them.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Corrections and Tutorials

If you feel that lessons may be too much of a commitment, or if you prefer to self-study, then we also offer IELTS Writing Corrections. These are perfect for candidates struggling with Writing Task 2 as they can help you identify the mistakes that you’re making and then track your progress. 

If you would like feedback on your writing, click here to purchase feedback on your IELTS essay. All essays are marked by not one, but two IELTS professionals.

We also offer one-to-one IELTS Writing tutorials which help you to identify and remove the obstacles that are preventing you from reaching your target score. Our Writing tutorials are tailor-made to your needs – they can truly be described as unique.

We have designed both of the above services to fast-track you to IELTS success. 

Click here to read and listen to some of the success stories of our former students.

Purchase IELTS Writing Corrections


Books That Help Improve IELTS Writing Task 2

Because Writing Task 2 is one of the most important parts of the IELTS test, there are many different books which can help improve your score. By using tailored resources that focus on just Writing Task 2, you can streamline your revision into improving just this section of the test more effectively than if you were to use General IELTS revision books.

At English With An Expert, we have released an IELTS book that is specifically designed to improve your score on Writing Task 2.

It’s Not Rocket Science: IELTS Writing Task 2, contains more Writing Task 2 model answers than many other books of its kind. It contains over 20 chapters that help you to not only improve your writing skills, but also teach you about the band scores and what you need to do to achieve them.

To purchase a copy of It’s Not Rocket Science: IELTS Writing Task 2, please contact us here, or email

View Our Recommended IELTS Books

Read Different IELTS Writing Task 2 Samples

Many candidates will read through example answers for Writing Task 2 in order to practise. We post regularly on our blog, a range of different model answers for IELTS Writing Task 2. 

We explore a range of the different topics and question styles which could be covered in the exam itself. We also provide IELTS Writing samples that are for both the General and Academic questions in Writing Task 2, so we’re sure that these resources will be helpful to any aspiring IELTS candidate!

Visit our Blog to see our range of different IELTS Writing Samples and model answers. 

Free IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer (Band 9.0)

Analysing IELTS Writing samples is one of the best ways to begin your revision for IELTS Writing Task 2. By reading a sample answer to a Task 2 question, you can quickly spot key things that should be included when aiming for an answer that can achieve a high band score.

We have drafted a free IELTS Writing Task 2 answer which has been written to a Band 9.0 standard. Click below to view and download our free Band 9.0 model answer to a writing task 2 question, which follows the 4-paragraph model.

Download Our Band 9.0 Model Answer

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