When sitting for the IELTS writing exam task 2, you will first need to analyse the question, and then you will have to plan your answer. These stages let you understand the question better so that you can provide a useful answer that will fulfil the criteria of the examiner’s marking rubric. Giving a quite off-topic answer will result in a 4.0, whereas giving an on-topic on that is not entirely developed will give you a 6.0. A fully developed answer that completes every aspect of the question will result in a 9.0.

How to Answer an IELTS Writing Task 2 Question

Once you have analyzed the question and generated some good ideas, you will need to begin writing. To do this, we shall consider the following:

  1. Answering the question fully
  2. Staying on topic
  3. Maintaining a position

It is essential that you do all of these things in order to satisfy the criteria for Task Achievement. The examiners will read your essay and consult the marking rubric, which asks to what extent you did those three things. If you failed to do them sufficiently, you will score a low mark for this section.

ielts results task achievement - Answering the Question - Task Achievement for IELTS Writing
A low score for TA can reduce your total writing score.

Fortunately, Task Achievement is the easiest of the four marking types. You can learn how to do this perfectly with relatively little training, whereas it takes far longer to excel at Coherence and Cohesion, and even longer for the other two categories.

If you follow this guide about analyzing the question, then you are already halfway there. Once you know exactly what the question requires, and once you have followed the guide to generating ideas, then you simply have to ensure that all the words in your essay serve the function of answering the question.

When planning your essay, you should keep the question in mind. Every single sentence should be considered while keeping the question in mind. If you don’t, your essay will go off-topic.

In addition, you must be consistent throughout the essay in terms of your position. That means if you are asked your opinion on an issue, you cannot change it halfway through the essay. If this sounds obvious, consider that in most cases an IELTS candidate is not penalized because they changed their mind, but rather that their position became unclear. This may happen for a few reasons, but essentially it means that the student’s essay contained at least one sentence that seemed to contradict the others. Below, you will see an example question and part of an answer.

A person’s worth nowadays seems to be judged according to social status and material possessions. Old-fashioned values, such as honour, kindness and trust, no longer seem important.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

Read the following part of an answer:

There are numerous ways in which a person can be valued, and these vary widely from culture to culture. They also vary over time, and some people suggest that in the modern era it is more common for people to be judged according to their wealth, rather than personality attributes. This essay will argue that it is probably not true.

Looking around, it is easy to see that people are increasingly judged by their material possessions. One just has to look at social media, such as Instagram, to see how expensive possessions can equate to popularity. Young people aspire to have fast cars and designer clothes so that they can appear wealthy and gain the attention of others, building large online followings.

It can be clearly seen that the answer is contradictory. In the introduction, we have stated that it is “probably not true” that people are increasingly judged according to social status and material possessions, but in paragraph two the writer appears to have written the opposite. In this case, they have probably attempted to give balance to their essay, but they have not managed to do so effectively.

What should they do to fix this problem? Well, they will need to add a few words to the second paragraph in order to make it clear that this is not their viewpoint. This could be done at the end of the paragraph, but it would probably be best to do it at the beginning, so it is obvious to the reader that they are presenting an alternative viewpoint only to later disprove it.

Here is how it could be effectively done. Not the change in the first line of paragraph two, as well as the language at the beginning of paragraph three, which makes it clear what the author’s position is.

Sample Answer

There are numerous ways in which a person can be valued, and these vary widely from culture to culture. They also vary over time, and some people suggest that in the modern era it is more common for people to be judged according to their wealth, rather than personality attributes. This essay will argue that it is probably not true.

Looking around, it is easy to see why someone might claim that people are increasingly judged by their material possessions. One just has to look at social media, such as Instagram, to see how expensive possessions can equate to popularity. Young people aspire to have fast cars and designer clothes so that they can appear wealthy and gain the attention of others, building large online followings.

However, is this a modern phenomenon? It seems unlikely. In ancient eras, it was kings and queens who were revered by the wider society. They were not necessarily loved for their honour and wisdom; mostly they were adored for their wealth and power. People wanted to emulate them, just like today’s celebrities. The idea that these “old fashioned” values were somehow of value in historical eras, but not today, is probably false. In fact, in today’s democratic societies, it is common to see people admired and even rewarded because of their outstanding personality traits, whereas in the past these may have been overlooked.

In conclusion, people have probably always worshipped others because of their social status and material possessions. The idea that we are now living in a vapid, materialistic age is likely untrue.