Writing Task 2: Dealing with Task Input

February 1, 2018 by Andrea Castro Andrea Castro

If you’re reading this post, chances are you’re already somewhat familiar with the different parts of the IELTS, including the Writing module. But in case you’re just getting started and still don’t know much about the test, or if you feel like you could use a refresher (there’s so much information when it comes to IELTS after all!), let’s take a minute to do a quick overview on Writing Task 2.

In Writing Task 2 you’re expected to write an essay on a topic and to support your answer with arguments and examples from your own knowledge or experience. You should write at least 250 words and you’re advised to spend approximately 40 minutes on this task.

Naturally, it is important for you to be able to express yourself clearly, organize your ideas carefully, and be accurate in your writing. However, it is equally important that you read and analyze all the information provided to you (known as task input) before you even start writing, and make sure you address all of the parts of the task effectively.

Why is reading and analyzing task input so important?


Now that we know what task input refers to, it’s time to introduce another term: Task Response. Task Response is one of the four assessment criteria and it focuses on how well you can develop and support a relevant position. To score a higher band in Task Response, you need to cover all the parts of the question in a relevant way and to support your ideas with evidence and examples. If the task instructions have two parts and you only write about one of them, you can’t get more than a Band 5 for Task Response.

Take a look at the following example of a Task 2 and try answering the questions that follow:

The first car appeared on British roads in 1888. By the year 2000, there may be as many as 29 million vehicles on British roads.

Alternative forms of transport should be encouraged and international laws introduced to control car ownership and use.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

 

  1. What is the topic?
  2. How many parts do you need to cover?
  3. When you’re asked ‘to what extent do you agree or disagree’, which of the following can you do in your answer?
    1. present both sides of the argument
    2. completely agree with the statement
    3. completely disagree with the statement

If you think you know the answers, let’s analyze the questions in more detail to see if you’re right:

  1. What is the topic?

The rubric first illustrates the massive and accelerated growth in car ownership in Great Britain since the first car appeared on British roads in the year 1888. It then presents the argument that other types of transport should be encouraged and new international regulations presented to keep future growth in car ownership and use under control.

  1. How many parts do you need to cover?

Note how I’ve highlighted the word ‘and’ in the answer above. This is because, in your essay, you need to cover both alternative forms of transport and international laws as methods used to control car ownership and use. In addition, make sure you give reasons for your views and provide examples from your own knowledge or experience.

  1. When you’re asked ‘to what extent do you agree or disagree’, which of the following can you do in your answer?
    1. present both sides of the argument
    2. completely agree with the statement
    3. completely disagree with the statement

You may be surprised to know that the answer to this question can be a, b or c. However, keep in mind that ‘to what extent’ means ‘to what degree’, and so you’re expected to indicate the degree to which you think the statement is true/untrue (e.g. I completely agree/disagree, I mostly agree/disagree, I partly agree/disagree). You may also present both sides of the argument if you wish to do so, although in this case it is not required.

It is also common for the prompt to include questions or statements such as the following:

  • ‘Do you agree or disagree?’

Here you’re expected to choose a position and stick to it throughout your essay.

  • Discuss both these views and give your opinion.

In this case, you should identify both sides of the argument, find supporting points for both sides and give your own opinion.

  • Two separate questions (e.g. What do you think are the advantages of elderly care facilities? Do these outweigh the disadvantages?)

When asked two questions, make sure both of them are fully explored.

Copying elements from input

Attention Sign Icon Yellow Grunge BackgroundThe best way to begin your writing is by introducing your answer. Make sure you do this using your own words as copied material (that is words/phrases copied from the task input) will not count as part of your total word count. In addition, using the same words or phrases from the prompt can show limitations in your range of vocabulary, which can also affect your band score. Use synonyms, put the information in a new order, and break down more complex ideas into smaller pieces, while making sure that you’re accurately stating the topic.

On the big day, don’t forget to allow yourself a few minutes to read the task carefully and decide how many parts it has and what your position is before you start writing. Don’t make mistakes that can be easily avoided!



Andrea Castro

Andrea is an experienced English teacher who has worked since 2009 in Costa Rica, Dubai and now Canada. When not working for IELTS, she spends her time with her little girl and her two canine siblings.

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