Whether you are taking IELTS Academic or IELTS General Training, you will need to write a 250 words essay in the IELTS Writing Task 2. You may carry out a lot higher if you recognize what the examiner is looking for — and then deliver it.
First, let’s look at the IELTS Writing assessment criteria:
1. Task achievement. This means you should answer all parts of the question, your answer must be applicable and relevant, and you should provide a supporting ideas for the points you are making.
2. Follow Coherence and cohesion. Your writing should be structured so it is easy to read and understand easily. This means you need to organise your ideas into a paragraphs. You also need to link your ideas with the words like however, therefore and despite.
3. Use Lexical resource. To get a good score in your exam, you need to use a wide range of vocabulary. Not everything has to be 100% correct, but any errors or mistakes you do make should be present in few numbers and should not affect understanding.
4. Grammatical Range & More Accuracy. As with vocab, you should use a variety of grammatical structures, and any grammatical errors should be few in number and should not affect the understanding.
Now, let’s see how we can apply them to a candidate’s essay.
Exercise 1: Read a candidate’s Writing Task 2 essay
Read the essay below written by an IELTS candidate for IELTS Writing Task 2. As you read it, then think about the four criteria and decide how well the writer performs on each of them. Try to make your notes always.
The world would be a better place if we all spoke the same language daily life. Do you agree?
As the world becomes more interconnected with the growth of the Internet and cheaper travel, it is always important to examine the concept of a universal language. There are many benefits in terms of travel and business, but a common language threatens a loss of culture and identity.
Firstly, a common language would mean there are will be no language barriers. Travelling to different countries would be easier and more accessible. In business, there would be less danger of the misunderstandings. Furthermore, in situations of conflict where there are multiple troops from different countries, it would become easier for them to work together if they all spoke one language.
However, this would mean the loss of all the other languages as they become unnecessary. Language is tied and connected to culture. Through speaking a language one is projecting cultural history and identity. Moreover, the way language changes it reflects in both the history of a society and the current culture. Loss of a language means the loss of an important part of the culture.
Additionally there is evidence to show that language is linked to the way people think. People who speak multiple languages alter their thought process when they switch languages. The entire world speaking one language eliminates diversity of thought, threatening future development and invention.
In conclusion, although a universal language may make the world easier in terms of cooperation, it would not be a better place. It would mean the loss of culture, identity and diversity of thought. In the long term, these losses outweigh the benefits.
When you have made your notes, read on to compare and check your notes with a teacher’s notes.
1. Task achievement
She answers the question and all her points are relevant. (I’m not sure I see the point about “multiple troops”, though.) She gives examples and ideas to support her points, for example three ideas to support the point about language barriers.
1. Cohesion and coherence
The structure is good with a clear introduction, three body paragraphs each dealing with one point, and a clearly stated conclusion. She makes good use of signpost words like firstly, however, moreover and in conclusion.
2. Lexical resource
There is a good range of vocabulary and the words are used correctly. Examples: language barriers, diversity of thought, cultural history and identity, universal language.
3. Grammatical range & Accuracy.
Good use of conditional structures in paragraph 2: a common language would mean…, there would be less danger…, Tenses are used correctly throughout. Accurate use of complex sentences and relative clauses: there is evidence that shows that language is linked to…
This candidate has produced a very good essay and could be awarded an IELTS Writing band score 8.
Exercise 2: Assess your own essays
For this exercise you will need to work with IELTS Writing Task 2 essays you have already completed. If you have not yet written any practice essays, go to ieltstoeflprofessionals.com and click into the Free Version of Road to IELTS (the British Council’s official online IELTS preparation program). Navigate to the IELTS Writing section in Test Practice. There you will find a free IELTS Writing test practice paper. Download it and complete Writing Task 2.
It is important that you try the task in exam conditions — or as close to exam conditions as you can get. This means timing yourself, and limiting your time to 40 minutes. (There is a timer in Road to IELTS which you can use). It is also better to write the essay using pen and paper — even if you are planning to take computer-delivered IELTS. This is to avoid being helped by spell-checkers and grammar-checkers. The objective is to produce the best essay you can in the time available, without help.
Now look back at the examiner’s comments on the essay about a universal language above. This tells you what the examiner is looking for in IELTS Writing Task 2, and you can use it as a framework to assess your own performance. Take the essay that you have written, and go through it four times. Each time you are focusing on one of the four IELTS Writing Task 2 marking criteria: task achievement, cohesion and coherence, lexical resource, grammatical range and accuracy.
The notes you make will have two benefits. Firstly, they will tell you where you are doing well, and where you need to improve. This will help you plan your IELTS preparation. Secondly, they will make you more aware of what the examiner is looking for as you write your Writing Task 2 essay on your IELTS test day.