Writing Task 2: Get off the fence

Did you know that if the Task 2 question asks for your opinion and you don’t give it, you cannot score above band 3 in the Task Response criterion?


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BAND 3!!! Scary right? But it’s easy to avoid that disaster. How?


It is simply not enough to write, ‘Some people think X. Other people think Y. It is a difficult question.’ The examiner is looking for what you think.

The easiest way to present a clear position, as required for band 7+, is to take a strong stance. In other words, agree completely or disagree completely. Your true opinion is irrelevant. Remember, this is an English test, marked according to strict criteria and the bottom line is: no clear opinion, no band 7. So forget about phrases like, ‘I agree and disagree,’ ‘Yes and no,’ or, the examiner’s worst nightmare, ‘There are two sides to the coin.’ Band 7+ requires a clear position throughout so state it in the intro, support it through the body and repeat it in the conclusion.

Screen Shot 2016-11-25 at 10.02.10 am.pngOf course, your position can be nuanced. For instance, in response to the question, ‘Should advertising aimed at children be banned?’ you might argue, ‘Yes, but only junk food ads,’ or, ‘No, but there should be stricter rules regarding the ad content and frequency.’

To sum it up, if you get an essay with the instructions:

  • What is your opinion?
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree?
  • Is this a positive or a negative development?
  • Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages

then don’t sit on the fence.

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See the strong position in this band 9 opinion essay about sport in school.

Check out the Writing Task 2 marking criteria here.

Read more about how your IELTS writing is marked here.


Written by a Bayside IELTS expert, Melbourne