Skip to content

IELTS Writing Task 2: Information and advice for Band 7+

Before we begin unpacking Task 2, let’s review some key information advice for IELTS writing that was covered in the first article in this IELTS series:

  • The writing test includes two tasks in both IELTS Academic and IELTS General Training;
  • You have  1 hour to answer both questions;
  • Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1;
  • You should therefore spend about 40 minutes on Task 2.

IELTS Writing Task 2 – Public Band Descriptors

Just as they do for Writing Task 1, IELTS examiners use detailed assessment criteria when marking Task 2. These describe performance at each of the 9 IELTS bands.

Examiners award a band score for: 

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

These four criteria are equally weighted.

Task Response

You will be given a prompt in the form of a question or statement in both Academic and General Training Task 2. In both cases, you must formulate and develop a position in response to the prompt.  You should support your ideas with evidence and you can draw on your own experience when doing this.

In both Academic and General Training Task 2 you should write at least 250 words. There is no word limit but remember; the more you write, the more potential there is for errors. 


Your Task 2 response should be an essay. Just as in Task 1, you will be penalised if you use inappropriate format. 

If the format is inappropriate throughout the response, you will receive a Band 4 for Task Response. If it is inappropriate in places (for example, you use a few bullet points, numbered points or subheadings within the essay), you will receive a Band 5 for Task Response.

Fully addressing the task

In Task 2, it is very important to understand the different parts of the task and to fully address them all. If any part of your response is missing, you will be limited to a Band 5. Let’s have a look at an example question: 

In some countries, grandparents play a big role in raising their grandchildren. Why does this happen? What are the benefits of this?

Provide reasons for your answer. Include relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

There are several parts to this question; all of which need to be addressed. Aside from paying attention to key words like why, we also need to pay attention to plurals. In this case if only one benefit was presented, or only one reason given, regardless of how well you wrote, you would be limited to a Band 5 for only partially addressing the task.


If you want to score well in the Task Response criterion, you also need to make sure that the details you include in your essay are all relevant. All of the supporting ideas and examples that you include must be related to the essay prompt. If any of your main ideas lack relevance, you will not reach anything higher than a Band 6 for Task Response.

Worse still, if a response is tangential to the prompt, you will receive a Band 4 for Task Response. A tangential response is where you are on-topic, but you answer in an off-task way. In other words, you do not address any part of the task prompt.

The key message here then is to read the question carefully and plan your response well before writing. Ensure that all of the points and details that you plan to include are relevant.

Reaching Band 7

In order to reach Band 7 for Task Response, you will need to present a clear position throughout the response and present, extend and support your main ideas.

This is not easy, and it is even more difficult to do without prior thought. This is another reason why planning your response carefully is so important. You should spend time organising your argument, carefully selecting the evidence that you will use to support your main ideas and deciding where explanations are required.

Coherence and Cohesion

Much of what I mentioned about cohesion and coherence for Writing Task 1 is also relevant for Task 2. If you haven’t already listened to episode 1 of the podcast, it’s worth a listen. However, for now let’s review some basics from our analysis of Writing Task 1:

What is coherence?

In the public IELTS Writing assessment criteria, coherence refers to how sentences follow on from one another and whether or not the writing makes sense. 

What is cohesion?

Cohesion refers to how you connect your ideas at the sentence and paragraph level.


In order to score well in Coherence and Cohesion you need to use cohesive devices, or linkers, carefully. That means choosing the right ones and not using too many or too few. It is worth noting that one of the criteria for Band 9 states that the candidate ‘uses cohesion in such a way that it attracts no attention.’ This highlights the importance of learning the subtle differences between cohesive devices so that you can use them naturally in your writing. 

Remember that proficient users of English do not always place discourse markers at the beginning of a sentence. You will notice this, undoubtedly, when you look for examples of discourse markers in well-written model responses.

Just as in Task 1, if you produce a response that does not contain paragraphs, you will be penalised under Coherence and Cohesion. However, in Task 2 Academic and General Training, paragraphing is first mentioned much earlier in the public band descriptors – at Band 4. Here it states that the candidate ‘may not write in paragraphs or their use may be confusing’. 

A key message, therefore, is to make sure that you use paragraphs, and that there is a clear central topic within each one.

Reaching Band 7

At Band 7, you are required to have clear progression throughout your essay. When the examiner reads your response, they will be looking to see how well you connect your ideas to form a strong, complete argument. Sometimes you might think that the connections between your ideas are obvious, and so cohesive devices are not necessary. Don’t fall into this trap. You need to make the connections clear to the reader. Don’t force the examiner to work harder than they should by making inferences.

Lexical resource 

Much of the information and advice that I provided for Writing Task 1 also applies to Writing Task 2. Here are some key reminders:

  • Try to be precise with your use of vocabulary. Make sure that the language you use accurately describes the idea that you are discussing.
  • Make sure that you are confident about your understanding of the words you choose, and that they have a good fit with the style and context of your essay. Check that the words around your less common vocabulary items collocate, or go with them.
  • Vary your language where you can – use synonyms if they exist. Remember that some words don’t have synonyms, so don’t worry if there is some repetition of vocabulary.

Further reminders:

  • Pay attention to your spelling. Proofread your essay and make any necessary changes to typos or misspellings that you spot.
  • Finally, it’s a bad idea to learn ‘flash’ words that you think will impress the examiner and try to incorporate them into your essay somehow. YouTube is full of videos encouraging you to use specific words to get a Band 7 or 8. This is bad advice. Too often these flash words are used incorrectly and result in your essay sounding unnatural. Focus on the question in front of you and use the language suited to that particular task. 
  • I can provide you with the strategies you’ll need to expand your vocabulary, so that you can write with flexibility, accuracy and precision. Check out our website to find out how you can book lessons.

Grammatical range and accuracy

You need to ensure that you achieve both grammatical range and grammatical accuracy to score highly. If you play it safe and focus on writing short, accurate sentences, you will not achieve a high Band score for this criterion. This is due to the lack of complexity in your sentences. Of course the same applies if you try too hard to produce complex sentences and make a lot of mistakes as a result.

It takes time to improve your grammar. If you are a pre-intermediate level candidate, don’t try to memorise and use complex sentence structures that you perceive to be Band 8 or Band 9 language. The examiner will not be fooled. 

Remember also that long complex sentences can sometimes make it difficult for the reader to follow you. You are aiming for clarity and precision, so only use complex structures if they will help you to achieve this.

Final thoughts

The last thing I want to advise you not to do is to try and find or use templates for answering different types of Task 2 questions. The best thing you can do is read the question carefully and ensure that you fully address all parts of it. Experienced IELTS examiners will tell you that essay question ‘types’ do not exist. 

You do, however, need practice in answering a range of questions. This will help you to work on a range of useful language skills. In Front Foot English writing lessons you get practice and feedback on:

  • discussing the problems associated with an issue and suggesting possible solutions;
  • discussing and evaluating advantages and disadvantages; 
  • discussing different opinions and providing your own opinion;
  • discussing possible causes of problems and their effects.

Next steps

I really hope you found this information and advice useful. If you are serious about preparing properly for IELTS, we’d love to help! Contact us to book a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you.

Immigration New Zealand has more information on the English language requirements for various visas.

This Post Has 0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top