The Five Most Common IELTS Writing Task 2 Essays

The IELTS writing task 2 requires students to write an essay of about 250 words within 40 minutes. The essay questions for the academic module are usually more difficult than the general module. The focus of the essay can vary between a wide number of topics, ranging from government policy to science and technology, However, there are only five common types of essay questions that appear in the IELTS writing test.

Some of the common types of essay questions asked in the IELTS writing test are:

  • Opinion essay
  • Advantages and Disadvantages essay
  • Problems and solutions essays
  • Discussion essays
  • Mixed Essays

Opinion Essay

These are simply essays that ask you to discuss your views or opinion about a particular issue. They are commonly known as the agree/disagree essay question type

For these types of question its important to make sure that you answer all parts of the questions and not just the general topic. For example, if a question asks about the benefits of using the internet to learn languages and you answer by just mentioning the benefits of the internet, then you have not answered the question fully. In this case, you will lose valuable marks in your task achievement score.

Make sure that you state your opinion clearly in your introduction and do not contradict your opinion anywhere else in the essay. It’s important to justify your opinions effectively by adding sufficient supporting points and/or examples

Sample Opinion Essay Question:

Advances in technology and automation have reduced the need for manual labour. Therefore, the working hours should be reduced.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Advantages And Disadvantages Essay

In this essay question, you will be asked to analyse the advantages and disadvantages of a particular topic or issue. There are two types of Advantages/Disadvantages essays. In the first type, you need to simply discuss the advantages and disadvantages. In the second type, you have to discuss the advantages and disadvantages AND give your opinion on whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages or vice versa.

Make sure that you are aware of which type of advantages and disadvantages you are being asked to write. If you miss out on the fact that your opinion is required, then this could heavily affect your task achievement score.

Also, use separate the advantages and disadvantages into two different paragraphs and include supporting points and examples to emphasise your main ideas. This makes it easy for the examiner to understand your essay.

Sample Advantages and Disadvantages Essay:

The number of old people around the world is increasing dramatically.

Could this have more positive or negative effects on the society? or…

Do the advantages of the trend outweigh the disadvantages?

Problems And Solutions Essay

In this essay, you will be asked to identify the reasons behind a particular issue/problem and you also need to offer possible solutions to this problem

This question asks you to describe the causes and propose solutions for a given problem.

Each solution should match with a problem. The resulting essay should not be too general or vague but should directly answer the specific issues mentions in the question. One of the main reasons students fail to score well in this essay is because despite having sufficient causes, they fail to expand on their thoughts and provide sufficient solutions.

Sample Problems and Solutions Essay:

The influence of human beings on the world’s ecosystem is leading to the extinction of species and loss of biodiversity.

What are the primary causes of loss of biodiversity?

What solutions can you suggest?

Discussion Essay

In this type of essay question, you will be asked to discuss both sides of a particular issue or topic. You may also be asked to give your own personal opinion. However, you should not give your personal opinion unless it is asked for.

Sample Discussion Essay Question:

The free movement of goods across national borders has long been a controversial issue.

Some people argue that it is necessary for economic growth, while others claim that it damages local industries.

Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Mixed Essay

These questions are also known as double essay questions because they have one statement with two different questions after it. These types of essays are more complex than others. The questions may or may not be linked.  Try to use one paragraph to answer each question separately.

Sample Mixed Essay Question

People use the Internet for medical advice and to do medical check-ups rather than directly meeting with doctors in an office.

Why are they using the Internet for this?

Discuss your viewpoints on this.

Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.