Organizing Your IELTS Task 2 Essay (…and making a Great Outline)
In this lesson I want to show you how to organize your Writing Task 2 essay.
Now, for your Task 2 essay, I strongly recommend using a simple 4-paragraph structure:
- Support paragraph 1
- Support paragraph 2
However, before you start writing your essay, you should take 5-7 minutes to organize your ideas into an outline.
Your outline is the most important step in Task 2!
Even though the examiner doesn’t look at it directly, a great outline is still the single best way to increase your band score.
Think of it this way: your outline basically gives you a chance to get a good score on Task Achievement and Cohesion / Coherence before you even start your essay! And on top of that, a great outline will save you time on your test.
Here are the most important things to keep in mind when you make your outline:
- Spend 5-7 minutes on it. You can create it on the blank inside first page of your exam booklet. On the computer-based IELTS, you are given scrap paper to do this.
- Write it in point-form, or even use pictures/diagrams if you want. Your examiner will not read it! Once you get good at making outlines, yours will probably be a lot simpler than the ones in the video - just a few notes.
- Make sure your outline contains:
- Your overall argument/opinion
- Supporting point #1 (this will become your first body paragraph, after the introduction)
- Examples (real life or imaginary)
- Supporting point #2 (this will become your second body paragraph)
- After you finish it, do a quick mental check of the following:
- Is your argument clear? Does it address the task exactly?
- Are your supporting points SIMPLE?
- Do they follow from the argument?
- Do they address the task?
If you do this well, you can make sure that your Task Achievement and your Cohesion/Coherence band scores are high.
That is like getting 50% of your score before you even start writing!
Let’s Get Some Practice!
Let’s take a look at two outlines, and use our checklist to try to improve them.
Let’s use our checklist to make sure the outline above is good. Think about this for yourself before you reveal the answers below!
Look how simple the supporting points are! That is GOOD; this essay will be much easier to write, and it will definitely get an excellent score in Task Achievement and Cohesion / Coherence. Keep it simple!
Let's look at another one:
Uh oh. Can you see a problem here? I’ll tell you this: the above outline contains a major problem that will result in a much lower band score than this person probably deserves. Check again… can you see it?
Again, let’s use our checklist to make sure the outline above is good. Take time to try it yourself before you reveal the answers below.
So that’s it.
I hope you can see how awesome it is to be able to identify Task Achievement and Coherence problems BEFORE you start writing your paper! This is VERY VALUABLE, and it’s the reason why the outline is the most important part of your Task 2.
I can tell you this: all of my students who end up getting 7+ band scores on the test always spend the extra 5-7 minutes making a great outline first. Follow their success!
In our next post, I will show you all the different question types you might get on IELTS Writing Task 2, and we’ll talk about how to organize each answer.
For your next lesson, I recommend checking out: