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Introduction to Task 2
This lesson about task two on the writing paper applies to the general training and academic IELTS Exam. We’re going to just get an overview and an introduction to this task and then go over some tips and approaches that will help you do well on this question. Let’s start with just an overview. So for Task 2, you should take about 40 minutes to complete.
40 minutes because Task 2 is worth 2/3 of your points for the writing paper. And you have only an hour to take the writing paper. So on task 1 we recommend 20 minutes because it’s only worth the remaining 1/3 of your points. Make sure you leave yourself a full 40 minutes for task 2 just because it’s worth more points and you really want to do well on this question.
Task 2 is a 4 to 5 paragraph essay. So it’s a formal essay which means that it’s going to include things like an introduction, two to three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. We will also have full lessons on writing introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions, so you know how to do that very well before you take the exam.
Task 2 IELTS prompts always present some kind of issue that you need to discuss and you need to take a position on. There is never a wrong or right answer to these questions, but they are always debatable. You could come out on one side, or the other side of the topic or somewhere in the middle.
And there are always basic common knowledge kinds of things, where you probably have an opinion on it. You don’t really need to be an expert on any of the IELTS Task 2 topics in order to do well. Okay, what are some keys to success? Well first of all the most important thing to do, at the very beginning, as you are looking at your question, what you need to answer and planning it out.
You really need to read the question carefully. That is well worth your time not to rush through and think you understand the question, but actually to spend a little time making sure you know exactly what they want you to do in the essay. Another key is planning your answer. So it’s worthwhile taking a little bit of time.
Some students use up to 10 minutes of their total 40 minutes for this essay to just make a plan. Only take 10 minutes if you can write very, very quickly. Okay, if your handwriting and your writing ability, you can write fast, then 30 minutes will be enough time to write all of your ideas out. Most people write a little slower than that.
I recommend 5 minutes of planning time. So that includes the amount of time it takes you to really study the question. Okay, to read it carefully, all right, that may take you 30 seconds to a minute. Okay, you may need to read it twice. To get it fully, and then to make a plan for your essay. In order to know how long it’s going to take you to do all these things, you really need to practice writing Task 2 responses by hand.
Don’t type task 2, your practice questions, your practice essays because you will not type for your IELTS exam, you need to know how quickly you can write an essay that somebody can read, that we can read your handwriting, that’s important too. So time yourself as you practice, right and make sure to use official IELTS answer sheets, you can download them online, I’ll put a link to them below so you can go and find some of those example practice sheets.
If you have some practice books, they will often include practice sheets that you can photocopy. You want to use the exact paper that you are going to write on on your IELTS exam because this is first of all just practicing what the test is like. But also when you write your essays on there, you will get a really good feel for what 250 words looks like when you write 250 words on an official IELTS writing answer sheet.
So go ahead and download those and use those for practise. Okay, so you should also leave a little time for editing at the end. 5 minutes is a goal, okay? If you have 5 minutes that means you could almost certainly read through your whole essay at least once, maybe even more than that, and you could fix grammar errors or whatever errors you might be able to find.
That kind of thing can boost your score. Now if you don’t have time at the end, okay. Your goal should be to finish the essay. But as you practice, see if you can do this. Find out what kind of timing works for you. Can you spend 5 minutes to plan?
Then another 35 to write, and then 5 Minutes to edit, that would be a perfect situation and should be your goal as you are practicing these Task 2 questions. Okay, let’s take a look at what a Task 2 question looks like. All right, earlier we said one of the keys to success is to really read and understand the question.
I want to invite you to pause your video now, and read through this question carefully, before we talk about it more. Go ahead and pause your video. Okay, so you’ve taken a look at the question. Now, let’s talk about it a little bit. So, a key to success, that we talked about earlier, was that you need to address the prompt directly, and completely.
So you need to ask yourself this question after you’ve read over a prompt. What does the prompt ask me to do, what am I supposed to do for this essay? If you can answer that question then you understand the question. If you can’t answer it, you need to go back and find out what you’re supposed to do. What question do you need to respond to directly?
So let’s look at the question, all right, and when you come up with an answer to what you’re supposed to do, a paraphrase to that response will usually be very useful for your introduction. We’ll talk about that in a minute. So let’s take a look. What are we supposed to do?
All right, well, up here, you saw that we have just a summary of a situation. This is just a general truth about many colleges and universities now, that they are offering faster degrees, with classes that are only directly related to people’s majors. We hear an opinion that some people really don’t like this idea. That they believe people should take a wide range of courses in order to graduate from college.
And down here then we get our set of directions, what are we supposed to do? All right, and here is where you find your answer. Obviously at the end they ask you a question, should colleges stop offering fast-track degrees? All right, well then the answer to what you are supposed to do comes from there, and you don’t need to write this down on your notes as you are planning for your essay.
But this should become something that is automatic, something you just think about really quickly after you read an IELTS test to prompt. You’re able to say to yourself something like this. I need to answer Yes/No about whether colleges should stop offering degrees that only require coursework within a student’s main area of study. Okay, this is what the question is asking you to do.
And if you can define that, then you know what your task is and you know what you should do next. What you should do next is to figure out, okay, what can I say about this topic? Do I have an opinion about this? Does it matter to me? If it does, you’ll probably have an easier time with this essay.
If not, then what can you say? What kind of ideas would you use in order to answer this question well? You don’t need to actually write what you believe strongly. You don’t have time to think for a long time and think deeply about these questions and really say things that you really feel deeply. If you’ve thought about this question before, you might be able to do that.
What you need to do for Task 2 is just figure out what you can say about it, not what do I deeply believe about it. Okay so then what you should do after you figure out what the question wants you to do, and you’ve thought a little bit about what you can say about it, then you’re going to start planning for your essay. Planning involves an introduction first.
So you’re going to have to choose a perspective on the topic. Do you say yes or no or something in between? How are you going to answer? You will write an introduction that presents that answer. Then you’re going to have to plan some body paragraphs. So you will brainstorm two or three main ideas to support whatever you said as an answer to the question.
You will need to plan for details, reasons, examples. And then you’ll need to finish with a conclusion. All right, we’re going through this really fast right here. All of these different parts of your Task 2 essays are covered in their lessons in our writing unit here. For now though just mentioning these here because these are the things you’ll have to plan in the 5 minute period at the beginning before you start writing your essay.
So if we go back to what we’re supposed to do for this essay here, we’re supposed to answer yes/no about whether colleges should stop offering degrees that only require course work within a student’s main area of study. All right, in order to do all of that planning in preparing for the organization of your essay. You will need to have a very clear answer to the question.
Remember, you don’t need to take a really strong position on the issue that’s in your prompt. You can take a mixed opinion. You can say a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. And that’s perfectly fine to do. It can be a little bit dangerous though because even if you take a mixed position, you still do need to say, either a little bit yes or a little bit no, okay.
You can present two sides of an issue in a balanced way, but you still need to come out either saying yes or no in general, okay. So let’s take a look at what that would look like. First, if you would say yes, to this question. So yes, that colleges should stop offering degrees. That’s what we are saying yes to.
Your basic point could look something like this, fast-track degrees place too much emphasis on career preparation. Colleges should educate students, not just prepare them to work. This will requires a broad curriculum. Okay, this is an example of a clear yes answer to this question, okay. You can then write a full essay supporting this opinion.
If you want to take a mixed view, remember you take a mixed view which is balanced between the yes and no, but you still need to take a side. Okay, so it looks something like this. All right, non-traditional students who have already attended college should be allowed to complete fast-track degrees. But all other students should take a wide range of classes.
So do you see how answering this way is basically a yes, but this person has come up with an exception. If your answer is no to this prompt it would look something like this, fast track courses allow students to save money while preparing for a career, which is more important than taking general courses that don’t directly apply to their major. These are just brainstorming ideas.
These are main points that you would then go and argue with a full formal essay. What I wanted to show you here is just examples of clear and direct responses to our prompts. After you understand what your task is, you know what you’re supposed to do, then you can give a clear answer, and then this will become these answers, whichever one you like, will become the foundation for your essay and give you your perspective.
Okay, so we will cover all ways to really develop these ideas, whichever one you would choose to take in this. And you certainly could come up with your own reasons to say yes or no or your own mixed opinion. These are just examples. We wanna take these basic responses and then build them into full essays.
So go to your other lessons on Task 2 responses, where we look at each part of your essay and how to develop it very clearly. So you can do as well as you can on Task 2 on the IELTS writing paper.
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