When it comes to exams, preparation is the key to success – and the IELTS Writing Paper Part 2 is no exception! It is worth twice as much as Part 1 and is the longest part of the writing paper. So it’s important to perfect your technique before the big day.

We’ve put together some tips, examples, and useful language to help you prepare for Part 2 of the Writing Paper.


IELTS exam requirements


In both the General and the Academic papers, the IELTS Writing Task 2 requires you to write at least 250 words. You will be presented with a topic and tested on your ability to:

  • Respond by discussing it
  • Extend the ideas, giving an opinion
  • Support that opinion with reasoned arguments

Three tips to get a great mark in Part 2


1. Read the question carefully

Don’t be tempted to rush this part: identifying the topic correctly is a crucial first step.

Remember, you are required to give reasons for your answer and include relevant examples from your own knowledge. That means it’s really important that you make sure you understand the essay question fully.

2. Brainstorm ideas

Organising your ideas is an important step in the process. Before you start writing, take some time to make a short plan of what you are going to write. Think about your response to the question:

  • What are your opinions?
  • Why do you have this opinion?
  • What problems can you foresee?
  • What solutions can you suggest?

3. Don’t write too much

The more you write, the more chances there are that you’ll make mistakes. So don’t be tempted to write a long essay. In fact, structure and coherence are more important than length when it comes to marking. A good length to aim for is around 280 words.

You get an hour to complete the two tasks in the Writing Paper, but try to dedicate at least 40 minutes to Task 2, as it is worth twice as many points as Part 1 and you need to write a longer response.


Structuring your answer


The structure of your essay is important for the development of your ideas. Have a look at how we have answered the sample question, below. As you can see, the answer follows a clear structure. Bear in mind, your essay will need to be at least 250 words long, so try to dedicate at least 40 minutes to this task.

Here’s a sample essay question:

In some countries, it is thought advisable that children begin formal education at four years old, while in others they do not have to start school until they are seven or eight. How far do you agree with either of these views?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.


Beginning your essay

In the opening paragraphs, the main idea from the question is identified and developed, so the examiner can see that you have fully understood the essay question and can give a detailed summary with examples.

In this essay, the arguments surrounding early education and the best age to start school will be discussed.

One can see that education is different all over the world. In some countries, parents are content for their children to play and explore on their own, without the help of teachers. It’s considered normal for children to learn through play and they might not go to school, formally, until they are 7 or 8 years old.

In other countries, parents focus on academic education at a much earlier age. They put their children in pre-school programmes, try to help them learn songs, write simple things at home, and play educational games with them. This helps prepare them before they start attending their first school.


Writing the essay body

The following paragraph is the main body of the essay. It explains the student’s personal approach to the question and the way that they are qualifying their opinion . It extends their ideas and supports this approach with a relevant example. Finally, it ends with a concluding sentence which leads into the final paragraph.

In my view, I think a combination of the two approaches is the best answer. Learning through play is beneficial because students have fun and don’t ever find learning to be “boring.” Evidence suggests this method can lead to a life-long love of learning too: many students who start learning in this way go on to university and continue educating themselves for their whole lives. Nevertheless, there are drawbacks to this, such as a lack of direction, which might mean some children are unprepared for school. Having a professional teacher, who makes interesting, personalised lessons and follows a syllabus can solve this issue. In this way, through teacher-directed play, students are given equal opportunities to learn together and no child is put at a significant disadvantage.


Concluding your essay

The last paragraph is the conclusion, which presents an opinion and gives final supporting arguments.

To sum up, I would argue that students benefit from having a formal education at an earlier age. However, it seems to me that teachers should make play a priority because that is how children naturally learn.

By following this structure, you’ll produce a coherent and cohesive answer to the essay question, whatever it is.

You can see another sample answer for the question above here.


Useful language


While it’s not advisable to memorise entire sentences, it is good to have a stock of phrases that you can use to join ideas and make your writing flow more naturally. Here are some examples:

In the introduction:

This essay will outline _____

This essay seeks to ______

In this essay, the arguments surrounding _____ will be discussed.

When giving examples:

As can be seen from _____

Recent studies have shown that _____

One solution proposed by____ is _____

A good example of this is _______

Evidence suggests that _______

When sharing your opinion:

It seems to me _____

In my opinion _____

In my view _____

I would argue that _____

When giving an alternative perspective:

However, there are drawbacks to this, such as _____

Another approach is _____

However, it is important to consider _____

Having said that, _____

In spite of this, _____

In the conclusion:

To sum up, _____

Overall _____

In the end _____

Can you see any of these phrases being used in our sample answer above?

Can you see any of these phrases being used in our sample answer above?

A few final reminders


Take a few moments to plan the structure of your essay before you start writing, it will help your ideas flow.

Avoid contractions: the language of the essay should be academic and formal in tone.

Keep an eye on the clock: it’s always a good idea to leave yourself a few minutes at the end to quickly read over your answer in case of any mistakes.

Are you taking an IELTS exam soon? Feeling nervous about the writing paper? This blogpost has some top tips and useful language to help you with part 1 of the writing paper.

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

Perfect (v): to make something perfect, to bring to its final form.

Crucial (adj): very important, essential.

Foresee (v): predict, see something before it happens.

Coherence (n): logic, intelligibility.

Fully (adv): completely.

Qualifying your opinion (exp): explaining their position, justifying.

Drawbacks (n): disadvantage.

Advisable (adj): a good idea, prudent.


v = verb

adj = adjective

n = noun

pv = phrasal verb

adv = adverb

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