Today, I want to show you a sample band 9 answer for an IELTS writing task 2 question that discusses interpersonal skills. I’ll try and show you a little vocabulary and grammar, as well as how to handle some issues of structure.

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Analysing the Question

Before we begin planning or writing, we must always analyse the question. Here’s our question for today:

Many businesses think that the new employees who have just graduated from schools lack interpersonal skills, such as working with colleagues as a team.

What has caused this and what are the solutions to this problem?

This is a cause and solution question, as we can see from the second part. The main topic, of course, is the supposed lack of interpersonal skills in recent graduates. Thus, we must write about:

  1. Why recent graduates lack interpersonal skills.
  2. What can be done to give graduates more interpersonal skills.

We need to think of realistic answers and specifically ones that we can develop a little. It is not a good idea to list 10 reasons why graduates don’t have these skills. Instead, focus on one or two, with plenty of explanation and maybe examples.

Likewise, your solutions should be realistic. Some people use really silly ones, like “Governments should force all graduates to study interpersonal skills.” This is not likely and is hard to justify and explain.

Note also that this is not an opinion essay, so you can’t say anything like “I disagree that graduates lack interpersonal skills…”

Planning your Essay

For my essay, I will argue that universities put too much emphasis on theoretical knowledge. I feel that this would be easy to explain, but more importantly it is also easy to suggest a realistic solution – that universities then incorporate more groupwork into their curricula.

Therefore, I will structure my essay like this:

IntroductionState the main idea
Give an essay outline
Body paragraph 1Say that there’s too much theoretical knowledge
Body paragraph 2Say that there should be alternatives to theoretical knowledge
Explain how groupwork would help
ConclusionSummarise the essay

This is really easy because cause and solution essays can almost always be divided like this – BP 1 for the causes and BP 2 for the solutions. Simple!

ielts writing task 2 essay structure for cause and solution

I have also chosen just one idea for each body paragraph. This allows me to develop those ideas carefully. It is not good to list lots of ideas or name one, say a little, and move on to the next. It is better to choose the strongest idea and explain it intelligently.


This essay touches on the topics of education and business, so we should think of related vocabulary. Specifically, we should think about good words and phrases for people working together. Think “groupwork” and “teamwork” and “cooperation.” These are exactly the sorts of terms that would fit well into this essay. This sort of essay would also benefit from good language related to causing and solving problems.

Here are some words and phrases I will use in my essay:

  • recruiters
  • remedied
  • the modern workplace
  • theoretical knowledge
  • stringent
  • hinders
  • socialise
  • university faculties
  • implement solutions
  • group presentation
  • peers
  • communicative abilities
  • group-based tasks

These are all going to be really helpful for giving precise and effective ideas. We can see how I will use them in the next section.

Sample Band 9 Answer

It is claimed by some business owners and recruiters that graduates nowadays tend to lack interpersonal skills. This essay will first explore why this is the case before then suggesting how it may be remedied.

If it is true that graduates now lack the interpersonal skills necessary to succeed in the modern workplace, then that surely can be blamed on the exceptionally high level of theoretical knowledge necessary to achieve a good degree. As universities have become more competitive, the requirements for achieving a degree have gotten much more stringent, and students are required to spend all their time reading books and preparing for difficult assessments. It seems likely that this hinders their opportunities to socialise or work with others on productive tasks.

Solving this problem should not be terribly difficult. In fact, university faculties should pay attention to these complaints and implement solutions into their courses. Perhaps the most obvious suggestion is that students must be required to participate in more group activities throughout their education. For example, rather than studying all day and night to write an essay or sit an exam, students could be asked to prepare a group presentation together with their peers. Ideally, these groups should be picked at random to ensure that students develop the necessary skills to work with others whom they would not have previously chosen to work.

In conclusion, it appears that universities are failing students by not educating them in how to develop their interpersonal skills, and as a result they are struggling in the workplace. These universities should thus require students to develop their communicative abilities through specific group-based tasks.

Notes on Grammar

Because this sort of essay deals with general truths – ie discussing how things currently are – I have mostly used the present simple tense. You shouldn’t try to complicate things beyond that, but definitely it is important to use other tenses when they are needed.

You’ll see in my introduction that I referred to the body of the essay by using the future simple tense:

  • This essay will first explore

This is actually quite common. Because the reader is reading that sentence and then next paragraphs come later, it makes sense to use the future simple here.

Later, I used the present perfect for something that had begun in the past but continues now in the present:

  • universities have become more competitive

I have also used modals effectively in order to give suggestions:

  • university faculties should pay attention to these complaints and implement solutions
  • These universities should thus require students to develop their communicative abilities

Some people think that you need bizarre and complex grammatical structures, but actually what you need most is accuracy, which I have used here.

Finally… are sample essays really helpful? I hope this one was! But find out my full thoughts here: