7 Types Of IELTS Writing Task 2 Questions - IELTS University (Singapore)

7 Types Of REAL IELTS Writing Task 2 Essay Questions


IMPT: Know Question Type First

One of the easiest components to score in Writing Task 2 essay question is Task Achievement, which is how fully you have addressed all parts of the question. Task Achievement alone accounts for 20% of your total writing grade.

That is why understanding the question type will help you plan well for your writing. If you do not get your ideas right during the initial planning, you will end up writing a piece of essay that is confusing!

After that, you will need to know how to structure your ideas for each question type. The QUICKEST and FASTEST way to do that is to use pre-written essay templates, so that all you need is to fill in your ideas using these templates. 

But for now, let's first take a look at the 7 types of IELTS essay questions.

"Expository" vs "Opinion" Questions

Before I share with you the 7 different types of questions, you need to know the difference between an "expository" and an "opinion" question.

Expository Question: Asks information and ideas. DOES NOT ask you to take a position.

QN: "Discuss the reasons why people use their mobile phones so much."

In this question, you are not asked to take a position between two options. Rather, you're asked to "discuss" and give ideas on the reasons for how people are using their handphones so much. Therefore, such a question is considered an expository question.

Opinion Question: Asks you to take a position.

QN: "Everyone should be taxed for disposing waste in order to reduce wastage.

Do you agree or disagree?"

This question asks you whether you "agree or disagree" to a statement. The statement is that people should be paying for disposing their rubbish, and you are asked to take a position for this question. Therefore, this question is considered an opinion question.

Having understood this important distinction, let us now get into the 7 types of essay questions.

1. Two-Part Expository - Advantages and Disadvantages

QN: "In some countries young people are encouraged to work or travel for a year between finishing high school and starting university studies.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages for young people who decide to do this."

This question falls under the "two-part expository" category because there are two questions and both of them are expository questions - i.e. both questions just ask you for information and ideas and do not ask you to take a position.

In this case, the two questions relate to "advantages" and "disadvantages".

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2. Two-Part Expository - Causes and Solutions OR Problems and Solutions

QN: "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?" (Causes and Solutions)

QN: "Sometimes tourists may damage tourist sites.

What are some of the negative effects of this? Suggest some solutions to this problem." (Problems and Solutions)

There are two versions of this type of question. It either asks you for the causes (i.e. reasons) of something and the solutions OR it asks you for the problems (i.e. negative effects) of something and solutions.

You can find an example of each kind above. The "causes and solutions" version is the more common of the two versions.

3. Two-Part Expository - Others

QN: "Nowadays, people are less likely to trust news agencies.

Why is this happening? What qualities are necessary to become a good journalist?"

This question also falls under the "two-part expository" category. However, this third question type is for other questions that are NOT "advantages and disadvantages" or "causes/problems and solutions". Thus, I call them "Others".

"Advantages and disadvantages" and "causes/problems and solutions" have their own category because they are both common IELTS questions.

This third question type is for questions that contain 2 expository questions but does not fit Type 1 or Type 2.

4. Opinion

QN: "Every year several languages die out. Some people think that this is not important because life will be easier if there are fewer languages in the world.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?"

QN: "Due to science and technology, lifestyles of people across the world are becoming more and more similar.

Do you think this is a positive or negative development?"

There are two versions to this question type as illustrated above. One version "states an opinion then asks you whether you agree or disagree."

The second version "states a fact then asks you if you think this is positive or negative."

The second version "states a fact then asks you if you think this is positive or negative."

5. Discussion

QN: "Some people think that parents should teach children how to be good members of society. Others, however, believe that school is the place to learn this.

Discuss both these views and give own your opinion."

This question states two contradictory opinions then asks you to "Discuss both these views and give your own opinion."

6. Advantages and Disadvantages - Opinion Version

QN: "Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school rather than secondary school.

Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?" (Academic IELTS)

QN: "Some people prefer to live in a house, while others feel that there are more advantages to living in an apartment.

Are there more advantages than disadvantages of living in a house compared with living in an apartment?" (General Training IELTS)

This question type is similar to the first question type. The difference is that this is the "opinion" version while the first question type is the "expository" version.

If you look at the first question type, all the question asks is to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of something. However, this question is an "opinion" question that asks you to take a position. You need to state whether you think the advantages outweigh (are more than) the disadvantages or the disadvantages outweigh (are more than) the advantages.

In other words, you cannot just state the advantages and disadvantages. You need to also state your position on which outweighs which.

Note: the Academic IELTS phrasing uses the word "outweigh" while the General Training IELTS phrasing uses the word "more". The phrasing may be different but the way to answer the questions are similar.

7. Two-Part Expository and Opinion

QN: "In most parts of the world, people are living longer than before.

What are the reasons for this? Is this a positive or negative development?"

QN: "Increasing the price of petrol is the best way to solve growing traffic and pollution problems.

To what extent do you agree or disagree? What other measures do you think might be effective?"

Like the first 3 types of questions, there are two parts to this question. For the first 3 types of questions, both the questions are "expository" questions. However, for this 7th type, one question is "expository" and one question is "opinion".

If you look at the above two questions, you would see the "expository" questions: "What are the reasons for this?" and "What other measures do you think might be effective?". Then, you would see the "opinion" questions: "Is this a positive or negative development?" and "To what extent do you agree or disagree?"

Writing Tips

1. Out of all 7 types, the second (Causes and Solutions), the third (Opinion) and the fourth (Discussion) are the most common question types.

2. It is important that every IELTS student is familiar with these 7 types of questions. Once you are familiar with them, you can then formulate a plan to answer each type.

3. You can't trust all the IELTS essay questions you read online. This is because students who share their exam questions wrote it from memory. As a result, a lot of questions are phrased wrongly. Please DO NOT base your IELTS preparation on wrong IELTS questions!

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