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IELTS General Training Writing Task 2

Writing an essay

Essays in the General Training test are about general interest topics such as whether it is better to homeschool children, whether the drinking age should be raised, who is responsible for the care of the elderly or how families could be brought closer together.

Given a statement about a topic, you may be asked to agree or disagree or you may be required to answer one or two questions about the topic. For example, given the statement that families are not as close as they were in the past, you might be asked to respond to the following questions: Why do you think this is so? What can be done to bring families closer together again?


An IELTS essay is usually composed of 4 – 6 paragraphs.

The first paragraph introduces the subject of your essay and what you plan to say about it. The last paragraph summarises your point and restates your main findings about this topic.

The body or middle paragraphs should answer the main questions you have identified in the task with a clear explanation for your response and examples to support your thinking. If you have analysed the task before writing, you will know exactly what to write in these body paragraphs. The following example will illustrate how.

Analysing the essay task

Force yourself to look carefully at the prompt by underlining key words. Then identify exactly what the questions are asking you to do. For example:

Traditionally, elderly people have lived with and been cared for by younger family members. In modern society, more and more elderly people are living in special homes for the elderly.

Why do you think families choose to have their elderly relatives live in special homes away from family?

What do you think is the best way for modern families to care for their elderly relatives?

This essay has two parts:

  • Explain why modern families send their elderly relatives away to live in special homes.
  • Say whether you think it is better for elderly parents to be cared for by younger family members at home or to be sent away or whether you have an even better alternative.

If you fail to answer either one of these questions, you will lower your score.

You could use a paragraph to answer each part in the body of your essay. Note that if you had two very good reasons, for example, for why families send their relatives away, you could devote a paragraph to each, which would allow you to provide further extension and support.

High-level essays do not simply list possible answers; they make a couple of good points and provide reasoning and examples to support them.

Here is an example of a point being effectively developed. This is a sample body paragraph that might appear in an essay responding to the first question.

Modern families today often do not have the time or energy to care for the elderly at home. In most places today people have demanding jobs and can barely take care of themselves let alone an older relative who may be sick or infirm. In most countries, special residences for the ageing are designed to care for the needs of those who have medical issues related to getting older and they provide wholesome activities and social stimulation for the elderly who otherwise might be sitting alone at home while their younger relatives are off working. That is why some families feel their relatives are safer and happier living away in these care centres.

Notice that the paragraph begins with the answer to the question and is followed by further explanation, an example and a concluding sentence.