The 4 Things Examiners Love: Task Response - IELTS University (Singapore)

Part 1: Task Response

Part 2: Coherence & Cohesion

​Part 3: Lexical Resource (Vocabulary Range)

​Part 4: Grammatical Range & Accuracy

This blog post is a continuation of 3 Things Every IELTS Student Needs To Know About The Writing Band Descriptors. If you have not read it yet, I highly recommend that you read that post.


Good news for you, good IELTS students of the internet! Task Response is the first criteria of the four in the IELTS Writing Task 2 Band Descriptors, and it is also one of the easiest criteria to score really well in.

Task Response: How much your writing answers each part of the essay question. 

Read this post carefully and a few times if you need to. That is because if you understand what is explained here, you will save yourself many unnecessary hard knocks when you take the IELTS exam. 

Band Descriptors

Here is an image of the IELTS Writing Task 2 Band Descriptors. If you do not have a copy of it yet, you can download it.

To help you gain the most out of this post, I have taken a snap shot of the Task Response descriptors for bands 4 to 9. 

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How to Score in Task Response

Now, consider the question below carefully:

In some countries the average weight of people is increasing and their levels of health and fitness are decreasing.

What do you think are the causes of these problems and what measures could be taken to solve them?

Cambridge 5, Test 3

Take a moment and think about this…

Do you think an essay that discusses one reason why people are putting on weight, and how to help people lose weight is an essay that will score well in Task Achievement?

Remember, a high score for Task Response is awarded when the essay:

  1. “addresses all parts of the task” and also
  2. “presents a fully developed position in answer to the question with relevant, fully extended and well supported ideas”.

Some of you may think that you do not need band 9 for writing, but it is important to aim for a high score in Task Response because it is one of the easiest criteria to score well in.

"Addresses all parts of the task"

An essay that only discusses one reason why people are putting on weight, and how to help people lose weight will not score well. In fact, looking at the band descriptors image I have provided above, this type of essay will likely get a low band of 5.

Do you know why?

That is because the instructions told candidates to address the “causes of these problems”. The plural terms “causes” and “problems” tell you there are more than one cause and one problem to address.

Hence, from reading the essay question, you should be able to identify the “problems”. I have listed them for you below here:

  1. How the average weight of people is increasing
  2. How their levels of health and fitness are decreasing

Next, you need to think of possible “causes” of these problems:

  1. People are putting on weight because they are bombarded by advertisements that encourage people to eat tasty but unhealthy foods
  2. People are spending more time in front of the computer and they lead a sedentary lifestyle, contributing to lower levels of health and fitness

Do you now see how you have to identify the causes (plural, more than one) of these problems, rather than just provide one cause in order to answer the essay question fully?

Good, if you are following so far!

But that's not all! After this, you have to provide “solutions” for these “problems”!

Possible solutions:

  1. Educate people on what types of healthy foods to eat
  2. Build more sports facilities in neighbourhood areas

And that is how you ensure that you have "addressed all parts of the task"!

Not all IELTS questions are complicated or tricky though. Some other questions can be a lot more straightforward than this. The main thing is to practice enough IELTS essay questions, have a trained teacher to give you feedback on your work, and read the essay question very carefully during your examination.

This is exactly what I do in my classes to help my students pass their exams. If you want to have a fully-structured and complete IELTS course that helps you to overcome all the difficult parts of the IELTS exam, and you are tired of looking all over for bits and pieces of information on ​the exam, check out my classes or give me a ring at 9768 1054. 😉 

“A fully developed position”

If you are observant enough, you would notice that there is another part of the Task Response to fulfil. It says, "presents a fully developed position in answer to the question with relevant, fully extended and well supported ideas".

In simple terms, you need to give elaboration and even examples to support your arguments.

It is insufficient to only list these causes and problems. You need to elaborate on EACH point, using about one to two sentences.

I’m going to show you how fully developing your ideas will look like.

BEFORE (CAUSES MAIN POINTS)

  1. People are putting on weight because they are bombarded by advertisements that encourage people to eat tasty but unhealthy foods
  2. People are spending more time in front of the computer and they lead a sedentary lifestyle, contributing to lower levels of health and fitness

AFTER (CAUSES MAIN POINTS + ELABORATION)

  1. People are putting on weight because they are bombarded by advertisements that encourage people to eat tasty but unhealthy foods.

    [Elaboration] Advertisements are seen everywhere. They are on the streets, on billboards, and even on the websites that we browse on mobile phones. 

    [Elaboration] It is a challenge to resist these ubiquitous advertisements which portray the allure of tasty but unhealthy food. 

  2. People are spending more time in front of the computer and they lead a sedentary lifestyle, contributing to lower levels of health and fitness.

    [Elaboration] People used to only spend time working on the computer, but these days, there are many exciting websites and social media platforms which people spend a lot of time on.

    [Result] They used to go outdoors for leisure but now spend time indoors on their mobile phones or tablets, resulting in an inactive lifestyle. 

See the difference after elaboration? For each of the main points I came up with, I provided further explanation and possible further scenarios to illustrate the effectiveness of my ideas.

Let's take a look at what can be done for "solutions". 

BEFORE (SOLUTIONS MAIN POINTS)

  1. Educate people on what types of healthy foods to eat
  2. Build more sports facilities in neighbourhood areas

AFTER (SOLUTIONS MAIN POINTS + ELABORATION)

  1. Educate people on what types of healthy foods to eat

    [Elaboration] The Health Promotion Board of each country should allocated resources to run health campaigns, giving people practical tips for eating more healthily.

    [Explanation] Since people are spending a lot of time online, launching online campaigns that encourage outdoor activities can prove to be effective in reaching this group of people.
  2. Build more sports facilities in neighbourhood areas 

    [Explanation] Accessible basketball courts not only encourage residents to play a game after work, they can also contribute to building a sense of community in the area.

    [Result] This can further inspire people to come together to participate in healthy activities.

Do you know something surprising? The total number of words there are after adding elaboration is about 260 words! That is 10 more words than the minimum word requirement of 250 words, and we have not even written the introduction and body paragraphs yet!

You do not have to write lengthy essays in the IELTS exam, but this demonstrates that good elaboration not only helps you to score better in Task Response, it also helps you to fulfil the word requirement.

I hope you have learned something valuable which you can immediately apply in your essay writing in order to improve on your IELTS Task 2 writing score!


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