How to do IELTS academic writing task 2

IELTS academic writing task 2 is the second and longest part of the IELTS writing test. In this article we will look at how to do IELTS academic writing task 2 including how to structure your essay and how you are assessed.

In this article we will look at the following aspects:

  1. Task Requirement
  2. Structure of Essay
  3. Timing
  4. Assessment Criteria
  5. Types of Question

Task requirement

In this part of the writing module you have to write an essay about something general in society. You are given details of an opinion, an issue or a problem and have to write an essay in response.

There are lots of potential topics, but some examples include:

  • Education
  • The environment
  • Healthcare
  • Gender roles
  • Poverty

You will have to write at least 250 words. This is the minimum word count and if you write less than this it will affect your score.

Structure of the essay

My preferred structure for Writing Task 2 is to write a 4 paragraph essay as this structure suits most essays well.

The paragraphs for the essay are:

  • Introduction
  • Body Paragraph 1
  • Body Paragraph 2
  • Conclusion

The Introduction should be fairly short. I recommend that students write 2 sentences. The first sentence should be a general statement to introduce the topic and the second sentence briefly answers the questions and states your opinion if required.

The Body Paragraphs are longer and contain all the ideas. You should start the paragraph with a Topic Sentence, followed by Supporting Ideas that are developed to justify the points you have made.

The Conclusion only needs to be 1 or 2 sentences that summarise the main points and your opinion.

How many words in each paragraph?

  • Introduction (40 words approx.)
  • Body Paragraph 1 (100 words approx.)
  • Body Paragraph 2 (100 words approx.)
  • Conclusion (30-35 words approx.)


It is recommended that students spend 40 minutes on Task 2. This is because it is longer than Task 1 and you also have to generate ideas and offer an opinion.

Time management is essential to make sure that you complete the essay and answer all parts of the question, but also to make sure you write a sufficient number of words.

How should you use your time?

  • 7 Minutes – Read Question and Brainstorm Ideas / Plan
  • 5 Minutes – Introduction
  • 10 Minutes – Body Paragraph 1
  • 10 Minutes – Body Paragraph 2
  • 3 Minutes – Conclusion
  • 5 Minutes – Read through essay to check and correct

You should aim to finish writing after about 35 minutes, so you can allow 5 minutes to read through the whole essay to check it and correct any spelling and grammar mistakes that you notice.

Assessment criteria

The examiner will score your Writing Task 2 essay according to four criteria, and each of those is worth 25% of your score. These are:

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

Task Response is how well you have answered the question and have you addressed all parts of the question.

Coherence and Cohesion is assessing how well you have structured your answer. Is there good organisation of ideas and effective use of paragraphs?

Lexical Resource means vocabulary. The examiner will be looking at your range of vocabulary and your accuracy (avoid spelling mistakes).

In terms of grammar the examiner is looking for accuracy and also for you to use a range of structures (simple sentences and complex sentences).

Types of questions

There are four main types of IELTS Writing Task 2 essays. These can be categorised as:

  • Opinion Essays
  • Discussion (+ Opinion) Essays
  • Solution Essays
  • Two-Part Essays

This article will help you understand how to do IELTS academic writing task 2. However it is also very important to learn how to do each of the different task types you may be given. This is because each task will require you to include slightly different things when you write your essay.

If you would like lessons on completing each of the different IELTS academic writing task 2 questions you could be given, you should check out our online course by clicking on the button below.

IELTS Whiz online course


Joe Nicholson
Joe Nicholson

Joe is one of the co-founders of IELTS Whiz and has extensive IELTS teaching experience. He is originally from the UK, but has lived and worked in Europe, Latin America and Asia. He has helped numerous students around the world exceed their target IELTS scores and pursue their academic and professional goals.

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