5 steps to follow for a good essay on IELTS Writing Task 2

The IELTS exam has 4 parts, the writing part being the third one. You have one hour in total to complete the IELTS Writing exam, and Writing Task 2 is more important for your final band result for the Writing section. Therefore you are advised to spend 40 minutes on planning and writing your answer to this part, after having spent 20 minutes on Writing Task 1.

In Task 2 you will be presented with an essay question on a specific topic. There are a wide range of possible topics, from crime and health to globalisation and education. Your task is to write a 250-word essay in response to the question.

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1. Read the question

The type of essay that you will be asked to write will fall into one of five categories:

  • An opinion essay where you have to discuss how far you agree or disagree with the topic.
  • An advantages and disadvantages essay in which you offer a discussion of the positive and negative aspects of a given topic.
  • A problem and solution essay where you must explain some of the problems generated by a given situation, and possible solutions to those problems.
  • A discussion essay where you present arguments for two different views and then give your opinion.
  • A complex or two-part question essay where you are given a topic statement followed by two questions which you must answer in relation to that statement.

When you read the question, you need identify which category the question belongs to and structure your essay accordingly.

Here is a sample question:

Public transit (e.g. buses, local trains, metros/subways) play an important role in helping residents and visitors get around large cities.

Public transit should be free at all times for those who want to use it.

Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

Can you identify which type of essay you are being asked to write?

2. Write a plan

The sample question asks you to write a discussion essay giving arguments both in favour of free public transport and also against it, as well as your own opinion. As you can see below, the candidate has written a plan noting his arguments. In the introduction he will present his “overall position”, a general opinion on this topic, followed by a very brief statement that there are advantages and disadvantages to both sides.


Overall position: better if it’s free, but some drawbacks

Supporting position: Makes it easier and ecourages more people to take it. Increased convenience without costs or having to fumble with change. Reduced congestion and environmental impacts.

Disagree position: Decrease in revenue means that extra money has to come from somewhere. Driving and parking is already more expensive, so the added financial may not actually take that many more cars off the road.

The three sentences for “Supporting position” are the three arguments the writer plans to present in three separate paragraphs, covering one point in each paragraph. This is a logical structure that presents information in a way that is easy for the examiner to read.

The three sentences for “Disagree position” are the three counterarguments that the writer will use to offer a discussion and fulfil the requirements of the task.

The final paragraph will be a summary which evaluates the opinions provided in the essay in order to reach a clear conclusion based on the arguments.

3. Write an introduction

In your introduction you must state the topic of the essay and then explain briefly what you will do in your essay (another good reason to spend ten minutes planning before you start). In the sample essay the candidate introduces the topic and gives his opinion “I think it’s a good idea to make public transit free but there are arguments for and against such as measure.” He then follows this with something called a “thesis statement”, which connects back to the requirements of the essay question: “Discuss both sides”. As such he has written, “the risks have to be weighed against the benefits” and then explained that he will analyze relevant arguments for both sides.

4. Write your arguments

Arguments always need to be supported by reasons in an IELTS essay. If we look at the sample essay, we can see that the writer has written three paragraphs which introduce a relevant aspect of the issue and then offer arguments supporting free public transit. Although the writer has clearly stated he is in favour, the question requires that he also discuss the opposing side. Notice how he does this at the end of each paragraph by offering counterarguments to the positive points.

5. Write a conclusion

Writing a conclusion is essential as the examiner is looking for this when deciding your band score and your essay will be incomplete without it. If you have five minutes left, stop writing your arguments and start writing your conclusion. It does not have to be very long but, like in the sample essay, it should include a phrase that indicates you a drawing your essay to a close (“in conclusion”, “to conclude”, “ultimately”), restate the thesis statement from your introduction (“all of these considerations are important”) and restate your opinion: “I believe that especially in a time of environmental crisis, making public transit free is an important and productive step forward.”

Here is the suggestion:


I think it’s a good idea to make public transit free, but there are arguments for and against such a measure. The risks have to be weighed against the benefits, and it would be important to analyze whether the projected effects would actually take place. Some of the aspects to analyze are as follows.

In terms of administration, a free system would certainly be easier to manage. There would be no need to post fares prices, or to establish complicated ticketing systems. There would be no need for tickets checkers since anyone can enter at any time. This certainly makes administration easier, but it comes at a cost. It may be free to take the bus, but the money has to come from somewhere. It means public transit is heavily subsidized by governments and this money has to eventually come from taxpayers. So residents are paying for transit one way or another.

Free public transit would also impact the user experience of transportation. On the one hand, it would be convenient not to have to fumble with change, not to need to plan ahead to buy a monthly pass, and not to need to wait in line at ticket stations. However, increased ridership might make the buses more crowded. People who are homeless or intowicated would also likely make more use of public transit if it’s free, which can be disturbing or innapropriate for other users.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, making public transit free would have environmental implications. More people taking public transit means fewer cars on the roads. This is particularly important in large cities that are affected by traffic congestion and pollution. Increased ridership would lead to an increase in services, which would make public transit even more appealing to those who currently don’t use it. At the same time, it’s difficult to say just how big an influence decreased cost would have, as some people drive because they need to or want to and a financial incentive would not change their lifestyle considerably.

Ultimately, all of these considerations are important, but I believe that especially in a time of environmental crisis, making public transit free is an important and productive step forward.

If you want more information on how the examiner will score your writing, read the article: How to do the Writing section of the IELTS exam.

How GlobalExam can help you prepare

The model essay used in this article is one of many sample questions and essays on the GlobalExam platform. It is a very good idea to spend time reading the complete essay and analyzing how it is structured. You can do the same with the other essays which are written by IELTS tutors, based on their experience of marking essays by other IELTS candidates. These will give you a standard to aim for in your own writing, as well as different methods that you can use for answering questions. Not to mention lots of excellent phrases and vocabulary!

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