IELTS Writing Task 2: A Guide to Responding to Direct Question Essays 

 April 13, 2024

By  Jonathan

Some IELTS Writing Task 2 prompts present a series of direct questions rather than a general statement or issue to discuss. This essay type requires careful analysis of each question to ensure you provide a focused and comprehensive response. The ability to address direct questions effectively is essential for securing a top band score on this type of IELTS writing topic.

Understanding the Task

  • Specificity Matters: Direct questions target specific aspects of a broader topic, guiding your response.
  • Multiple Questions, Unified Essay: While each question requires attention, your overall essay should flow cohesively and avoid a disjointed list of answers.
  • Word Count: Adhere to the minimum of 250 words. Answering all questions with very short responses is unlikely to result in a high score.

Strategies for Success

  1. Analyze the Questions Thoroughly
    • Identify Keywords: Underline words that indicate the precise focus of each question.
    • Seek Connections: Are some questions interrelated, allowing you to address them together?
    • Check for an Overall Theme: Questions often build in sequence to culminate in a request for your opinion or prediction.
  2. Structure Options
    • Question-by-Question: Dedicate one paragraph to thoroughly answering each question. Use linking words to create flow, especially if questions are connected.
    • Thematic Grouping: Analyze if any questions revolve around a common theme. Combine these into a paragraph, maintaining a clear focus on fully addressing each part within the paragraph.
  3. Develop Comprehensive Answers
    • Directness is Key: Avoid restating the question as your topic sentence. Get directly to the heart of your answer.
    • Support & Elaborate: Provide examples, explanations, or evidence for your points, just as you would in other essay types. Don’t just list brief answers.
    • Transitions for Connection: Use linking words (“Moreover,” “In contrast,” “As a consequence”) to ensure a smooth flow between your responses.

Example: Analyzing Direct Questions


  • Do you agree or disagree that governments should invest more in public transportation?
  • What are the benefits of a strong public transportation system for a country and its citizens?
  • Do the advantages of public transportation outweigh any drawbacks?

Possible Approach:

  • Paragraph 1: Focus on your opinion (agree/disagree) with supporting justifications.
  • Paragraph 2: Outline various benefits of public transport, with examples.
  • Conclusion: Offer your final assessment on whether advantages outweigh drawbacks (while briefly acknowledging potential minor challenges).

Additional Tips

  • Manage Your Time: Direct questions might initially seem easier, but don’t rush. Allocate adequate time to develop full responses.
  • Think Critically: Examiners look for depth of thought, not just superficial answers.
  • Utilize Standard Essay Skills: Even when answering directly, ensure strong vocabulary, a formal style, and good organization.

Vocabulary for Direct Answer Essays

  • To Introduce Your Views: “I firmly believe that…”, “It seems clear that…”
  • To Support Your Points: “For instance…”, “A notable example of this is…”, “This leads to…”
  • To Conclude/Summarize: “In conclusion…”, “Taking all factors into account…”

Remember: Direct question essays test the same core competencies as other IELTS Writing Task 2 formats: the ability to understand a prompt, address all its aspects, organize your ideas logically, and employ strong academic language. Mastering this format will boost your confidence and overall performance for this section of the test.

Practice Makes Perfect:

Seek out practice prompts with direct questions. Consider how you’d group answers, and write full essays for timed practice. Getting feedback from a qualified source is invaluable to refining your technique.

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.