How writing task 2 is assessed – Task Response

If you want to improve your IELTS writing test score, then it is very important to understand how your answer is assessed.  If you already know your IELTS writing test score, and you are hoping to increase that score, then the assessment criteria for your current band will help to show you where you are going wrong and the assessment criteria for the band you would like to be will tell you what to need to improve and work on.

Since most people who contact me are currently stuck at Band 6 or 6.5 in writing and would like to score band 7 or 7.5, let’s look closely at the assessment criteria for those two scores.  In this post, I will look at Task Response, this means that way that you choose to answer the question you are given.

This is what the criteria for Task Response says:

1) The first bullet point refers to the essay question itself. This bullet point is the reason I always tell you that you must stop thinking that there are different approaches for a ‘discussion essay’ or ‘an opinion essay’.  As this bullet point makes very clear, if you do not address every part of the essay question, you will not score band 7.  This is particularly important when you are given a question that asks ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree?’  I see too many people who are taught that they should only mention the part that they agree with.  Doing that will guarantee a lower band score for you because you will not ‘address all parts of the task.’  See this post to find out how to answer that type of essay question:  If I agree with the opinion in the task 2 question, should I only mention that?

2) According to the second bullet point, band 6 candidates may ‘reach a conclusion’ but then repeat that conclusion within their essay.  Again, this is one of the main reasons I say that you should not write what some call a ‘thesis statement’ in your introduction.  I believe this is typical in American essay writing, but it isn’t necessary to do that in IELTS.  If you do, you must be very, very careful not to sound too repetitive in your essay.  Often, band 6 students have one or two main ideas about a topic that they introduce, mention again in their body paragraph, and then repeat in their conclusion.  Look carefully at your own essays to see if you are making this mistake.  Notice that a band 7 candidate, ‘presents a clear position throughout’.  So, if you want to score band 7, you must do the same.  Again, the post I have shared above as well as this post about using personal pronouns will show you how to do that. 

3)  The third bullet shows that  you must fully develop all of your ideas. This means, you should not simply make a statement as though it is a fact. Instead, you need to present your ideas and then explain why you think this by offering support or an example.  

In the example below, I have presented my idea in pink and then given my support in green:  

Travelling can very educational, particularly for young people traveling independently.  As children, our main experiences are with our family doing familiar things, but when we travel alone, we are forced to meet new people and experience the new and the unfamiliar.

A band 6 candidate would simply write: ‘Travelling can very educational for young people.’ without offering any explanation or support. 

In my next post, I will look at coherence and cohesion.

8 thoughts on “How writing task 2 is assessed – Task Response

  1. Yusufboy

    Thanks Madam for a great article. This is a clear instruction for not only students but also language teachers. Please keeping publishing such useful articles.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: How writing task 2 is assessed – Coherence and Cohesion | IELTS Weekly with Pauline Cullen

  3. sangay

    helo there
    recently i did take my ielts exam…i’m bit nervous because i didnt state the clear position in my thesis of task 2 essay ‘ questionis about to what extend do you agree or disagree?’
    will it affect my rating …….please somebody …tell me

    Reply
    1. Pauline Post author

      Hi Sangay, it isn’t really possible to say whether this will affect your score a lot – perhaps you did make your position clear throughout the essay – when you say ‘in the thesis’ what do you mean? If you mean that you didn’t state your opinion in the very beginning of your essay, that is not problem. Read through my examples and posts to see why.

      Reply
  4. Zakir Sajib

    I divided into 4 parts to address writing task 2 especially for advantage and disadvantage type question.

    For example: if the question comes like this:

    University students are increasingly study abroad as part of their studies. Do the advantages of studying abroad outweigh the disadvantages?

    I usually make into 4 parts:

    Introduction
    Paragraph #1
    Paragraph #2
    Conclusion

    Introduction:
    Sentence 1: Rewrite ‘general statement’
    Sentence 2: Mention main advantage and disadvantage
    Sentence 3: Give your opinion

    Paragraph #1
    Sentence 1: Outline main advantage
    Sentence 2: Give reason(s)
    Sentence 3: Give example(s)
    Sentence 4: Restate main advantage

    Paragraph #1
    Sentence 1: Outline main disadvantage
    Sentence 2: Give reason(s)
    Sentence 3: Give example(s)
    Sentence 4: Restate main disadvantage

    Conclusion:
    Sentence 1: Rewrite ‘general statement’
    Sentence 2: Mention main advantage and disadvantage
    Sentence 3: Give your opinion

    Rewrite ‘general statement’ means rephrase the ‘University students are increasingly study abroad as part of their studies.’ in your own words keeping the meaning of the sentence.

    Reply
    1. Pauline Post author

      Hi Zakir, this looks like a good plan, though your introduction looks long to me – did you see my Facebook post about writing an introduction?

      Reply

Hello! All feedback and any IELTS questions are welcome.