2.4.1 IELTS General Training Writing Task 2
Length: Write at least 250 words
Time: You should spend about 40 minutes on this task
2.4.2 Writing an Essay
Essays on the General Training test are about general interest topics such as whether it is better to homeschool children, whether the drinking age should be raised, who is responsible for the care of the elderly or how families could be brought closer together.
Given a statement about a topic, you may be asked to agree or disagree or you may be required to answer one or two questions about the topic. For example, given the statement that families are not as close as they were in the past, you might be asked to respond to the following questions: Why do you think this is so? What can be done to bring families closer together again?
An IELTS essay is usually composed of 4 – 6 paragraphs.
The first paragraph introduces the subject of your essay is about and what you plan to say about it and the last paragraph summarizes your point and restates your main findings about this topic.
The body or middle paragraphs should answer the main questions you have identified in the task with clear explanation for your response and examples to support your thinking. If you have analysed the task before writing, you will know exactly what to write in these body paragraphs. The example below will illustrate how.
2.4.4 Analysing the Essay task
Force yourself to look carefully at the prompt by underlining key words. Then identify exactly what the questions are asking you to do.
Traditionally, elderly people have lived with and been cared for by younger family members. In modern society, more and more elderly people are living in special homes for the elderly.
Why do you think families choose to have their elderly relatives live in special homes away from family?
What do you think it the best way for modern families to care for their elderly relatives?
This essay has 2 parts:
1. Explain why modern families send their elderly relatives away to live in special homes?
2. Say whether you think it is better for elderly parents to be cared for younger family members at home or to be sent away or whether you have an even better alternative.
If you fail to answer either one of these questions, you will lower your score.
You could use a paragraph to answer each in the body of your essay. Note that if you had two very good reasons, for example, for why families send their relatives away, you could devote a paragraph to each which would allow you to provide further extension and support.
Higher level essays do not simply list possible answers, they make a couple of good points and provide reasoning and examples to support their them.
Here is an example of a point being effectively developed. This is a sample BODY PARAGRAPH that might appear in an essay responding to the first question above:
Modern families today often do not have the time or energy to care for the elderly at home. In most places today people have demanding jobs and can barely take care of themselves let alone an older relative who may be sick or infirm. In most countries, special residences for the aging are designed to care for the needs of those who have medical issues related to getting older and they provide wholesome activities and social stimulation for the elderly who otherwise might be sitting alone at home while their younger relatives are off working. That is why some families feel their relatives are safer and happier living away in these care centers.
Notice that the paragraph begins with the answer to the question and is followed by further explanation, an example and a concluding sentence at the end.
2.4.5 IELTS Writing Task 2 Tips (General Training and Academic)
You will improve your score if you:
- Make sure your ideas are relevant. Understand exactly what the topic is and what you are supposed to write about it. Turn the prompt into a question or questions so you can see how many parts there are to address.
- Plan your essay. Brainstorm and then draw a quick outline jotting down some supporting ideas before you write.
- Use the proper essay structure and a range of linking words to connect and sequence your ideas. If your reasoning is easy to follow, you will score higher. This is why planning helps (see 2 above).
- Leave time to check your work. Know the errors that you commonly make (many people forget articles) and scan your writing to make final corrections and additions.
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