IELTS essay plan for writing task 2 (7 steps)

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Before starting your essay you need a solid essay plan.

Avoid jumping straight into the introduction, first organise your ideas.

Ametuer tutors will often over simplify this stage, however, it is incredibly important we plan effectively and extensively before starting to write.

A proper plan will prevent you having to rewrite the paragraph if you find yourself off topic later.

Here is a very brief overview of what we teach in our online ielts course.

1. First classify the question.
2. Brainstorm ideas around the idea and clarify your position for each paragraph.
3. Check the ideas correspond to the question (important for task response).
4. Develop the ideas further. Ask yourself WHY?
5. Develop examples that prove your point.
6. Organise your ideas and plan the paragraph.
7. Write your introduction, paragraphs and conclusion.

1. Classify the question

Here you can find the 5 types of IELTS task questions you are likely to see in the exam.

Opinion (Agree or Disagree)
Discuss (Both views + Opinion)
Problem + Solution
Two Part Question
Advantages / Disadvantages

Classifying the question correctly will help you later determine what response you will write.

2. Brainstorm ideas and clarify your position for each paragraph.

At this stage we brainstorm possible ideas, from these ideas we can build out our paragraph.

It is important we get a clear plan established.

Our plan needs to reflect the positions we are taking in each of the paragraphs.

Do we agree or disagree?
What are the problems?
What are the solutions?

If you struggle for ideas this tutorial will help.

Below is a sample question with sample ideas and positions. In this tutorial we have hundreds of essay questions and sample ideas / answers.

Some people think that it is important to use leisure time for activities that improve the mind, such as reading and doing word puzzles. Other people feel that it is important to rest the mind during leisure time. Discuss both views and give your opinion. 

Paragraph 1:

YES USE LEISURE TIME FOR IMPROVING THE MIND
Improve the mind through stimulus, make use of idle time, possibly even learn or improve a language with new apps

Paragraph 2:

NO, REST THE MIND .... because work can be stressful, rest can result in better performance at work ....

3. Check your ideas correspond to the question

Double check that your ideas are answering the question.

It is easy to get an idea and develop it extensively, only to find we are not really answering the essay question.

This will negatively affect your Task Response score which is 25% of the band score criteria in the writing section.

It is easier to catch the problem now - before writing the paragraph.

4. Develop the ideas further. Ask yourself why?

This is a fundamental skill for IELTS essay writing and essential for the criteria: Cohesion and Coherence.

We have a detailed tutorial about cause and effect here.

From the earlier question we had this idea:

Paragraph 1:

YES USE LEISURE TIME FOR IMPROVING THE MIND
Improve the mind through stimulus, make use of idle time, possibly even learn or improve a language with new apps

Now to develop it further we ask ourselves, why?

...possibly even learn or improve a language with new apps

WHY?

Because this can bring lots of benefits

WHY?

Because learning a language improves mental agility.

5. Develop examples that prove your point.

Developing examples is an extremely valuable skill to boost your score.

You can think of studies that prove your point or even give hypothetical examples (and pick up points for grammatical range and accuracy).

In this tutorial we explore at length how to give examples that score high for lexical resource.

6. Organise your ideas and plan the paragraph.

Now we have our:
- ideas
- position
- examples

Now we can organise the paragraph, here is a possible structure to follow:

- introduction / topic sentence
- our position
- explanation (WHY)
- example
- paragraph close

At IELTSPodcast our online students have the C2 Template, which is a high scoring template of the structure above. It includes sophisticated sentences and naturally links all your ideas together.

Here is a useful video on this topic.

7. Write your introduction, paragraphs and conclusion.

We only start writing after we have completed the plan we just mentioned.

At first formulating plans will take time but the process gets easier the more times you do it.

Ideally it should become an automatic procedure.

Writing the essay is also a challenge and can take a long time to perfect.

A lot of students get stuck at 6.5 because although they can write excellent paragraphs following a basic structure like the one above, it still is not enough to get Band 7.

You can write essays in perfect normal English following the structure above and still get stuck at Band 6.5.

You see, you need a combination of excellent language skills and excellent exam skills.

We offer a trial essay correction for just $5, we can help you improve faster through feedback. This way you can identify the mistakes being made and avoid making them again.

To get the trial essay correction for $5 just sign up to our mailing list here.

Alternatively, if you need to pass fast then have a look at the Jump to Band 7 or it's Free online IELTS course.

For help improving your IELTS writing, take a look at our essay correction service to help you get a high band score!

Audio tutorial

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Tutorials and Tips to Prepare for Task 2