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IELTS Academic Writing Task 2

Writing an essay

If you are doing the Academic test, you will be presented with an idea or premise about a subject and you will be asked to respond in some way to it. Topics can include a wide range of commonly discussed subjects such as the environment, immigration, technology, or culture.

Your response to the prompt will be in one of various ways. You might be asked to answer by:

  • agreeing or disagreeing
  • discussing two given opposing views
  • writing about whether the advantages of a given development outweigh the disadvantages
  • explaining a given problem or the cause of the problem and offering solutions.


You are required to organise your response into an essay. Essays are composed of several paragraphs.

The first paragraph should introduce the topic, your main idea (thesis) and generally outline how you propose to present your argument or discussion.

The body or middle paragraphs are divided into separate points with explanations and examples to support them.

The essay closes with a conclusion that summarises your points and brings your arguments or discussion to a reasoned closing.

Aim to write 4 – 6 paragraphs including an introduction and conclusion.

Remember that you have only 40 minutes to write the essay because you also need to complete the Task 1 report in the 60 minutes you are given for this section of the test.

Addressing the Academic essay completely

It’s very important that you read and respond to the prompt carefully.

If you complete only part of the task, you will lower your score. Here are some examples of some of the different essay types and a breakdown of what needs to be addressed in each.


Some people believe that it is wrong for professional athletes to compete in the Olympics because their strong financial backing and training give them an unfair advantage over the other athletes.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Look carefully and you will see that there are two premises that you will need to address if you want your response to be complete. It’s easier to see them if you look at them as questions:

  • Do professional athletes have an unfair advantage over other Olympic athletes because of their financial support and training?
  • Is it wrong for the professionals to compete in the Olympics for this reason?

NOTE: It is possible for you to agree with one and disagree with the other. For example, you could say that you agree that they have an advantage but that it isn’t wrong for them to compete in certain circumstances.


Successful sports professionals can earn a great deal more money than people in other important professions. Some people think this is fully justified while others think it is unfair.

Discuss both these views and give your opinion.

There are three parts that you need to address in this prompt:

  • Why do some believe it is justifiable that sports professionals earn a great deal more money than others?
  • Why do others think it isn’t justifiable that they make these earnings?
  • What is your opinion in this matter?


Here are two different variations of essays about problems that often appear. The questions related to these prompts are usually given to you so it’s easy to see that there are two parts that need to be addressed.

However, take care to notice the plurals (reasons, problems, solutions). Be sure to pay attention to these instructions and provide more than one reason, problem or solution if you are aiming for a high score.

  • More and more wild animals are on the verge of extinction and others are on the endangered list. What are the reasons for this? What can be done to solve this problem?
  • An increasing number of professionals, such as doctors and teachers, are leaving their own poorer countries to work in developed countries. What problems does this cause? What solutions can you suggest to deal with this situation?

Advantages vs. disadvantages

Here are two different possible question formats you could see about advantages and disadvantages.

Today more and more people are working from home.

  • Does this trend have more advantages or more disadvantages?
  • Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

Whether you are given question (a) or (b) above, to respond completely, you need to consider both the advantages and disadvantages.

You can write more about one side than the other, especially if you have a strong opinion going one way. However, a one-sided argument in these types of questions is not complete and you will lower your score if you forget to consider both advantages and disadvantages.