Task 1 and 2 Language: What You Need to Know

March 27, 2018 by Ashlee Hunter Ashlee Hunter

When writing a Task 1 or Task 2, it can be difficult finding the balance between sounding natural and being too informal. Here are some tips for writing effectively while remaining formal.

Generalizing
To a degree, it is acceptable to generalise when speaking about a topic where groups are involved, but try being careful when doing it.

Bad Examples:
No one believes that this system works.
Everyone feels the same about this issue.
Canadian people do not agree with this statement.
It always works out in the end.

Try not to overgeneralize by placing everyone in the same group. This can quickly become stereotyping.

Good Examples:
Most people don’t believe that this system works.
The majority of people feel the same about this issue.
Few Canadians agree with this statement.
It works out, in the end, the majority of the time.

Strong Language
When you are trying to make your point clear, make sure the language you use expresses your opinion accurately and doesn’t offend anyone.

Bad Examples:
This is a terrible idea.
This opinion is ridiculous.

Try using more academic, using tactful language to show that you feel strongly about the issue.

Good Examples:
This idea is far from ideal.
There are no facts to back this opinion.

Also, be careful of using basic colloquial language when writing about a topic.

Bad Examples:
It is so exciting in this day and age.
It is great that people are able to work longer.

Try to showcase your knowledge and a wide range of vocabulary by precisely describing your feelings about the situation.

Good Examples:
It is very exciting in this day and age.
It is fantastic that people are able to work longer.

In addition, try not to repeat words in an attempt to show how strongly you feel about something.

Bad Examples:
It is a very, very demanding position.
There are a number of really, really negative aspects.
The figure is much, much larger.

Words such as ‘very’ change the magnitude of the adjective it modifies and doubling it is redundant and unnecessary. In the other examples, there are more precise words that could be used instead of ‘really’ and ‘much’.

Good Examples:
It is a very demanding position.
There are a number of extremely negative aspects.
The figure is substantially larger.

Abbreviations And Acronyms
To be clear when writing, try to use fully formed words instead of abbreviations and acronyms.

Bad Examples:
This problem needs to be fixed ASAP.
It’s only OK if the right policies are put in place.

Omitting abbreviations and acronyms shows that you have a good understanding of colloquialisms. Again, more precise language should be used in their place in certain sentences.

Good Examples:
This problem needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
It’s only acceptable if the right policies are put in place.

Spoken Language
Make sure you know the difference between spoken and written English. There are words and phrases that we use when speaking that are acceptable in the speaking test; however, these words and phrases are not acceptable on the writing section of the IELTS test.

Bad Examples:
Most people wanna have security in their position.
The rules are gonna be modified.

These sentences are fine when doing the speaking test but cannot be used in the writing test.

Good Examples:
Most people want to have security in their position.
The rules are going to be modified.
Amounts and Numbers
When discussing amounts and numbers, try not to be casual.

Bad Examples:
There are tons of options to consider.
To repair the broken toy, lots of time is needed.

There is more formal, academic language that has the same meaning in these sentences.

Good Examples:
There are several options to consider.
To repair this, a significant amount of time is needed.

Also, be careful not to use the words ‘a lot’ and many’ too often. Try to switch up your vocabulary to showcase your range.

Informal vs Formal
Even though you want your writing to come across as natural, you also want it to appear formal. Try not to be too relaxed when writing about different topics.

Bad Examples:
The opinions of new and old are basically the same.
There are many things to consider when going back to university.
The new policy is better than the old one.

Put your vocabulary on display and show that you can explain yourself precisely and effectively.

Good Examples:
The opinions of old and new are practically identical.
There are many aspects to consider when going back to university.
The previous policy doesn’t stand up to the new policy.

Trends
When writing Task 1, you cannot describe the actual lines on the graph.

Bad Examples:
The red line is going through the roof.
The line on the graph is shaky.
The line is flat.

You must use specific, descriptive language that describes the trend within the graph(s).

Good Examples:
The number of people who attended skyrocketed.
The percentage of language learners fluctuated.
The amount of money spent was stable throughout the period.

Punctuation
Punctuation can be difficult to use over and above the period (full stop) and comma. If used correctly, punctuation can be of significant advantage and possibly lead to a higher band score. If misused, it can make your writing appear sloppy. Try to explain yourself rather than using ‘!’ or ‘?’ or more than one punctuation mark.

Bad Examples:
There needs to be more evidence to prove this point!!
Does anyone believe this to be true?

Instead, try to explain your opinion using better vocabulary. This will demonstrate that you can accurately express your opinion through your words and phrases.

Good Examples:
There is definitely not enough evidence to prove this point.
Many believe this not to be true.

Also, make sure you know how to use semicolons and colons correctly before trying to put them into your writing.

Bad Examples:
The cow is black and white, it is also young.
Their colleagues gave them exactly what they required which was: support and recognition.

Here are some examples of how to properly use a semicolon and colon.

Good Examples:
The cow is black and white; it is also young.
Their colleagues gave them exactly what they required: support and recognition.

Accuracy and precision may lead to a higher band score regarding your writing. Take these tips into consideration when writing both Task 1 and Task 2 on the IELTS test.

 



Ashlee Hunter

Ashlee has been involved in the ESL world for over ten years and has now planted her roots in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Nothing gives her more pleasure than watching students and candidates reach their language and IELTS goals.

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