IELTS Writing Sample answers Task 2

IELTS Writing Task 2: Agree or Disagree Question with Sample Answer

IELTS Writing Task 2: Question

One of the most common question types in Task 2 asks you to agree or disagree with a statement. Read this statement about cars and decide if you agree or disagree.

The car is a disastrous 20th Century invention that has made the world’s cities more dangerous and polluted, as well as being responsible for the deaths of millions of people in accidents.

Do you agree or disagree?

IELTS Writing Task 2: Model Answer

The car has certainly had some negative publicity in recent decades. Automobiles have been blamed for many of the problems that affect our cities, such as air pollution, traffic accidents, and the disappearance of traditional communities. Although the statement is a controversial one, I have to agree that the automobile has been a disastrous invention.

First, there is no doubt that cities have been transformed by cars, with mostly negative consequences. The streets of most European cities, for example, were built long before the invention of the automobile and were never designed for heavy traffic. As a result, we see narrow roads crowded with vehicles, while pedestrians are restricted to pavements for their own safety. The fact that some cities have banned cars and pedestrianised their urban centres is a clear indicator that automobiles pose a danger to our cities.

Furthermore, in both urban and rural areas, cars have proved deadly to human beings. Not only are thousands of people killed each year in road accidents, but there are also long-term health problems caused by vehicle emissions. The automobile industry has tried to respond to both problems with the development of car safety features and cleaner engines, but even these gains are offset by the increasing number of people worldwide who want to drive. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that the cult of vehicle ownership has become a monster beyond our control.

In conclusion, despite widespread advertising that tries to persuade us that cars bestow status and freedom, the truth is actually that cars have been detrimental to our lifestyles and communities for many decades. Historians in the future may look back on our time and wonder why we allowed such a dangerous and inefficient form of transportation to persist unchecked. I look forward to the day when viable alternatives replace automobiles once and for all.

(308 words, IELTS 9.0)

Why does this IELTS Writing Task 2 answer get a Band 9 score?

Task response: The writer states clearly if they agree or disagree with the question (bold). The body paragraphs support the writer’s opinion with fully developed reasons. The model answer is at least 250 words.

Coherence and cohesion: The model answer is logically divided into paragraphs. Each paragraph is related to the writer’s opinion. Sentences are linked by connectives (underlined) which make the argument easy for the reader to follow.

Lexical resource: The model answer uses a wide range of relevant vocabulary including several synonyms for ‘car’ (automobile, vehicle). Less-common adjectives such as ‘detrimental’ and ‘controversial’ are used to frame the topic. There are many examples of good collocation such as ‘pose a danger’ and ‘viable alternatives’.

Grammatical range and accuracy: The model answer includes many examples of complex sentences with no grammatical errors.

Teacher’s Notes

IELTS TeacherYou may be surprised at the strong opinions expressed in this essay. However, I recommend that you also try to write in this way. IELTS examiners usually prefer it when a candidate has a strong opinion, rather than tries to write a well-balanced essay. This is because well-balanced essays are more difficult to interpret. Whether you agree or disagree, try to make your position very clear.


Cyber Monday IELTS Deals

Cyber Monday is the one day of the year when the internet really does seem to break! Originating in 2005 as an ecommerce trend, fast forward ten years later and almost every online seller is offering a promotion of some kind.

See below for two fantastic deals from IELTS Academic that are only available on Monday 30th November. One is my personal deal for you, while the other comes from partner site Udemy.

Deal #1: IELTS Writing and Speaking Practice Test – Buy one get one free!

For 24 hours only, I’m lowering the price of my IELTS Writing and Speaking Practice Test Combo to just £15. This means you can now get both tests for the price of one. You don’t need any code – simply order from the link below.

IELTS Writing and Speaking Practice Test Combo

IELTS Practice Test OnlineIncludes one full IELTS Writing practice test and one full IELTS Speaking practice test with feedback from a British teacher and action list to improve your score. Available worldwide. Must be used within 28 days of purchase. See link below for details.

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IELTS Speaking Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Practice Tests

IELTS Speaking Practice Test 6: Food

How important is food to you? Try this IELTS speaking practice test with a partner. You can also download a PDF of this IELTS speaking practice test for classroom use.

IELTS Speaking Part 1: Interview (4-5 minutes)

Answer the following questions about your personal habits and preferences.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Is that your typical breakfast?

Do you watch your diet carefully?

How important is food to you?

Who cooks usually in your family?

Are you a good cook?

IELTS Speaking Part 2: Individual long-turn (3-4 minutes)

You have 1 minute to read the instructions in the box and prepare an answer. You can make notes. After your preparation time has ended, please speak for 1 to 2 minutes on this topic.

Describe a dish you like to cook.

You should say:

The name of the dish

How you make it

If you use any special ingredients

And explain if this is a popular dish in your country.

Follow-up question: How many times a year do you cook it?

IELTS Speaking Part 3: Discussion (4-5 minutes)

Give your opinion on these food-related issues. Support your opinion with relevant examples and make comparisons where possible.

Food wastage

Do we waste too much food?

What can be done to reduce the amount of food we waste?

Would you eat food that was past its expiry date?


Is obesity a major problem in your society?

Who is to blame for childhood obesity?

Some people say that seriously obese people should pay more to travel on planes. What’s your opinion?

IELTS Writing Task 2

IELTS Writing Task 2: Positive or Negative Question with Sample Answer

IELTS Writing Task 2: Question

Positive or negative questions are becoming more common in IELTS Writing Task 2, Try this question about the rising elderly population. A sample answer is provided below.

In many developed countries, life expectancy is rising while birthrates are falling. As a result, the elderly will make up a much larger proportion of the population in future.

Is this a positive or negative development?

IELTS Writing Task 2: Model Answer

How long do you expect to live? Until the age of 80? 100? If you had asked your parents the same question, they would surely have felt that a life expectancy of 70 was around average. Your grandparents, meanwhile, might have felt fortunate to live for 60 years. It is clear that people are living longer than ever before, but is this a positive or negative development?

On the one hand, increased life expectancy brings many opportunities later in life to try things that you could not do in your youth. Going on a world cruise, taking up a new hobby, even going back to university to get a degree: all of these opportunities are available to retired people nowadays. What is more, while many parents find raising children to be a stressful experience, spending time with grandchildren brings far more pleasure. Therefore, a more elderly population generally means a happier population with more time to enjoy life.

On the other hand, since elderly people often rely on the government or their children to support them, there are real concerns about the financial consequences of an aging society. Countries such as Japan are already being forced to raise both taxes and the age of retirement in order to offset the problem. Without a doubt, many other countries will need to take similar actions in the coming decades.

Overall, I would say that the benefits to individuals of living longer far outweigh the cost to society of supporting an elderly population. Of course, various countries need to take steps to ensure that the process is carefully managed.

(266 words, IELTS 8.5)

Why Does This Task 2 Answer Get an IELTS Band 8 score?

Task response: The sample answer is at least 250 words in length and describes both a positive and negative development. In some places the tone is informal and not entirely suited to an academic essay.

Coherence and cohesion: The sample answer is logically paragraphed, with each body paragraph detailing a positive or negative trend. The paragraphs and sentences are logically connected by phrases such as ‘On the one/other hand’.

Lexical resource: The sample answer includes many examples of good collocation such as ‘stressful experience’ and ‘financial consequences’. There is little repetition of vocabulary and no spelling errors.

Grammatical range and accuracy: The sample answer includes a range of simple and complex sentences. An incomplete sentence ‘Until the age of 80?’ is used, which might be penalised in an academic essay.

Teacher’s Note

IELTS TeacherThis IELTS Writing Task 2 sample answer is a great example of how to use an ‘unconventional opening’ to set your response apart from those of other candidates. Instead of the usual form of introduction, this sample answer takes a more direct conversational approach. This creates an immediate impression and the examiner may see it as evidence of strong writing skills. However, you need to show that you can also write in a more formal academic style, so don’t use a conversational tone throughout the whole essay.

IELTS Writing Task 1

IELTS Writing Task 1: Table with Sample Answer

IELTS Writing Task 1: Question

A table of data is a familiar sight in IELTS Writing Task 1. Try this example which looks at student funding in the US. A sample answer follows below. 

The table below shows the primary funding sources of international students in the US during the years 2003/04 and 2013/14. Write a 150-word report for a university lecturer describing the data and make comparisons where relevant.

IELTS Writing Table

IELTS Writing Task 1: Sample Answer

The table shows how international students in the US funded their studies in the years 2003/04 and 2013/14. Overall, there was a noticeable trend towards sponsorship by foreign governments, foreign universities, and current employers over the ten-year period.

First of all, the period 2003/04 to 2013/14 witnessed a significant rise in the number of international students in the US, from 572,509 to 886,052, a rise of more than 50%. Given the large increase, were there any changes in how foreign students paid for their studies?

The table shows that the two main funding sources were ‘Personal and Family’ and ‘US College or University’, which together accounted for 90% of funding in 2003/2004. However, taken together, these two sources had dropped to 84% by 2013/14.

At the same time, there was substantial growth in the numbers of students funded by ‘Foreign Government or University’ and ‘Current Employer’, which saw increases of 383% and 390% respectively. Even though they still accounted for only a small minority of funding, both sources became more important to foreign students during the period.

(177 words, IELTS 9.0)

Why Does This Task 1 Answer Get IELTS 9.0?

Task achievement: The sample answer identifies a major point of interest in the data and supports this with relevant figures from the table.

Coherence and cohesion: The sample answer is organised into paragraphs which are connected logically. There is an overall description at the beginning and end of the answer.

Lexical resource: The sample answer uses vocabulary appropriate to comparing data such as ‘accounted for’ and ‘witnessed a significant rise’. Native-like collocation is used throughout the model answer.

Grammatical range and accuracy: The sample answer includes many examples of complex sentences that combine a main point with supporting evidence in two clauses.

Teacher’s Note

IELTS TeacherThis IELTS Writing Task 1 answer is a great example of how a focus on one particular trend can result in a high impact and high score. The writer identifies a growth in two funding sources and uses this as the whole basis of the report. Notice how it’s repeated in the introduction, body and conclusion. When describing a table in Task 1, it’s easy to become ‘lost in data’. Highlight the one trend that sticks out and make it the basis of your answer.


IELTS Speaking

IELTS Speaking Tips: How to Achieve 7.0

Why is it so difficult to get a Band 7 score in IELTS Speaking, even when your IELTS Listening and Reading scores are higher?

Some people lose their confidence after several failed attempts to reach 7.0 in Speaking. As a result, they lack the one thing that really can help to improve their score: a positive attitude.

Or they may worry about the wrong things like tiny features of pronunciation or attempting to sound like a native speaker. Efforts like these can make a small difference, but pronunciation is only 25% of the IELTS Speaking score.

And what percentage of the IELTS Speaking score is based on having an interesting life story and knowing the solutions to all the world’s problems? 0%!

What really helps is to understand the scoring criteria and make a positive effort to demonstrate exactly those skills to the examiner. That’s why I’ve based these IELTS Speaking tips on the public version of the IELTS Speaking assessment criteria. I’ve also written more about how to achieve IELTS Band 7 in a previous post.

IELTS Speaking Tip #1: Keep talking

According to the assessment criteria, an IELTS Band 7 candidate:

Speaks at length without noticeable effort or loss of coherence

In IELTS Speaking, your score goes up when you say more, even if that results in more errors. That’s because IELTS is a test of what you CAN do, not what you can’t. So say as much as you can in response to the question, until you either run out of ideas or start repeating yourself. It’s not a bad thing if the examiner has to stop or interrupt you.

IELTS Speaking Tip #2: Use an idiom or two

According to the assessment criteria, an IELTS Band 7 candidate:

Uses some less common and idiomatic vocabulary and shows some awareness of style and collocation

The IELTS examiner is listening for evidence that you can go beyond ‘textbook English’ and start using real, idiomatic English. So impress the examiner by including a few idiomatic phrases like “I’m a bundle of nerves” to mean “I’m nervous”. You can find a good starter list of idioms on Wikipedia and for iOS users there’s even an idioms app.

IELTS Speaking Tip #3: Paraphrase the question

According to the assessment criteria, an IELTS Band 7 candidate:

Uses paraphrase effectively

If the examiner asks you a question and you can immediately think of a way to paraphrase it—i.e. express the same meaning in other words—go ahead and say something like “Oh, you mean (paraphrase question)?” This is a very effective strategy to demonstrate one of the core skills that the examiner is listening for. Try to do this two or three times during the test.

IELTS Speaking Tip #4: Use linking words to connect your ideas

According to the assessment criteria, an IELTS Band 7 candidate:

Uses a range of connectives and discourse markers with some flexibility

What does this mean in normal English? It means that you use a variety of expressions like ‘in other words’, ‘also’, ‘however’ and ‘on the other hand’ to connect your ideas. The key word is RANGE. The examiner doesn’t want to hear you say ‘on the other hand’ a hundred times! So record yourself speaking and notice if you use a phrase like ‘on the other hand’ too much. If so, consider how you might replace it with another phrase. Now you can start demonstrating a good range of linking words.

IELTS Speaking Tip #5: Don’t be afraid of mistakes

According to the assessment criteria, an IELTS Band 7 candidate:

Frequently produces error-free sentences, though some grammatical mistakes persist

That means it’s possible to make some mistakes and still get IELTS 7.0 or 7.5. However, some candidates score poorly because they worry too much about NOT making mistakes. As a result, they speak too slowly, and their mistakes become MORE obvious! It’s more important to demonstrate fluency (See IELTS Speaking Tip #1) than it is to produce error-free speech. Of course, it’s also good to correct yourself if you do notice a mistake.

Do you have IELTS Band 7 in speaking? Are there any IELTS speaking tips you would like to share with other users of this site? If so, tell us below or on the IELTS Academic Facebook page.


IELTS Reading

IELTS Reading: True, False, Not Given

Everybody hates it, but there’s no avoiding it: the True, False, Not Given question in IELTS Reading! Let’s take a look at an example.

TRUE, FALSE, NOT GIVEN: Sample Question

What’s going on inside our skulls? Thanks to brain scanners and other hi-tech methods, we now have the technology to peer inside the brain. However, that wasn’t always the case. Human beings have tried to understand the workings of our mysterious grey matter in various other ways over the past few centuries.

Do the following statements agree with the information in the text? Write TRUE, FALSE or NOT GIVEN.

1. Brain scanners are not the only way to see inside the brain.

2. There is a long history of using technology to study the brain.

3. Scientists now have a good understanding of how the brain works.

How did you do? Now let’s answer each question in turn.

TRUE, FALSE, NOT GIVEN: How to Answer the Question

First, read the passage to get an idea of what it’s about. Don’t worry about any strange words or phrases like ‘mysterious grey matter’. They may not be important!

1. Brain scanners are not the only way to see inside the brain.

The first thing to do after reading the question is mentally paraphrase it. This helps us focus on the true MEANING of the question rather than the words used. It has the additional benefit of activating other vocabulary that can be used to express the same idea.

So, brain scanners are not the only way to see inside the brain. Pay attention to the word ‘not’. That means there must be ANOTHER way to visualise the brain. Check the passage, first sentence: ‘brain scanners and other hi-tech methods’. That seems to mean the same thing as the question. But wait, does ‘peer inside the brain’ mean the same as ‘see inside the brain’? We might not know for sure, but we can guess that it does because of the presence of ‘inside’.

I think we can confidently say that the answer to Question 1 is TRUE.

2. There is a long history of using technology to study the brain.

Again, paraphrase the question: People (scientists?) have used technology for many years to try to understand the brain.

The passage says: ‘Human beings have tried to understand the workings of our mysterious grey matter in various other ways over the past few centuries.’ Since the subject is the brain, we can guess that ‘grey matter’ also refers to the brain. The past few centuries is a long time, so this would seem to be true. But wait, what does ‘in other ways’ mean exactly? Does it mean ‘using other forms of technology’ or does it mean ‘not using technology’?

The sentence before says ‘However, that wasn’t always the case.’ So there is some sort of conflict between now and the past. On balance, the question seems to be saying the opposite, so the answer to Question 2 should be FALSE.

3. Scientists now have a good understanding of how the brain works.

So, researchers today can explain the functions of the brain. This sounds true enough. But wait, never let your own opinions influence your answer to a True, False, Not Given question in IELTS!

The passage tells us that ‘we now have the technology to peer inside the brain’. We think ‘peer’ means ‘see’, but does this mean we ‘understand’ the brain? The passage also says: ‘Human beings have tried to understand … over the past few centuries.’ So they are still trying. But trying to understand and actually understanding are not quite the same thing.

In Question 3, it’s difficult to know if scientists actually understand the brain. The passage doesn’t give us enough information about this, so the answer must be NOT GIVEN.

Teacher’s Note

What do you think? Do you agree with the answers to these questions? Here’s a final thought: in order for IELTS to function well as a test, there must be a few extremely difficult questions in the reading section. That helps to separate a brilliant candidate from a very good candidate. It’s likely that these very tricky questions will be True, False, Not Given. So give it your best guess, but don’t get stressed when a True, False, Not Given question seems impossible to answer. It could just be part of the design of the test.


TED x IELTS Listening Practice 4

TED x IELTS Listening Practice 4: Talk Nerdy to Me

Listen to a TED speaker talk about the importance of good communication. Before you listen, take one minute to read the ten questions below. You can also download these questions as a PDF.

[ted id=1592]

QUESTIONS 1-6 (Sentence Completion) You should write NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.

The speaker argues that 1. _______________ and 2. ______________ need to be better at communicating.

The first question they must answer is 3. __________________? In other words, why is their science relevant to us?

They can help people understand their ideas by avoiding 4. _________________.

A good example of this are the words 5. _____________________________ which can easily be expressed as space and time.

However, that doesn’t mean they need to 6. ____________________. Ideas should be kept as simple as possible, but not made any simpler.

QUESTIONS 7-10 (Multiple Choice) Choose ONE ANSWER for each question.

7. What does the speaker say about bullet points?

A. They are dangerous to humans.
B. They depend too much on language.
C. They should be banned from presentations.

8. Why does the speaker mention the Eiffel Tower?

A. It’s a useful analogy.
B. It has a unique design.
C. It prevents tourists from getting lost.

9. The purpose of the equation is to:

A. Define the relevance to your audience
B. Find your true passion
C. Improve your conversations

10. What do you think is the speaker’s occupation?

A. Scientist
B. Engineer
C. Neither of the above

Make sure you check spelling carefully before you check the answers.

Teacher’s Note

This is the kind of talk you might hear in Section 2 of the IELTS Listening test. Be very careful when answering questions 7-10 as they make heavy use of distractors. These are words that you will hear the speaker say but they are not the correct answer to the question. Even though the speaker uses a few visuals, try to do this listening practice test without viewing the screen. You don’t need to see the visuals in order to understand the speaker’s points, and it will be much more authentic as IELTS Listening practice.

Further Practice

Want more IELTS Listening practice? Check out similar posts here.

Using this IELTS Listening practice in a real classroom? You may want to try these follow-up questions with your students.

This is an unofficial educational use of a TED talk. For official learning materials based around TED content, please visit the TED-ed website.


IELTS Listening

IELTS Listening: English Accents

IELTS Listening uses a variety of native English accents: British English, North American English and Australian/NZ/South African English. Before taking IELTS, make sure you feel comfortable listening to these different varieties.

Listen to the ten samples below of people with different accents reading the same story. These are all English accents you can expect to hear in the IELTS Listening test. The ten samples are divided by region as follows:

  • UK (Southern England, Northern England, Scotland, Wales)
  • North America (Northern USA, Southern USA, Canada)
  • Southern Hemisphere (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)

Try to notice any differences in pronunciation. Vowel sounds are especially likely to differ. Don’t overanalyse! – that’s a job for a professional linguist. Your goal should be to get comfortable with each accent so that you aren’t surprised or distracted when you hear it in the IELTS test.

Before we begin, here’s the story delivered in a standard ‘received pronunciation’ accent, the kind you might find on your textbook CDs or when listening to the BBC:

The full text of the story is further down the page. Each speaker also talks a little about his or her life after coming to the end of the story. Now here come the ten different accents.

Ten English Accents You Will Hear in IELTS Listening


1. British English – Southern English Accent

Speaker: Female, 24, London, UK

2. British English – Northern English Accent

Speaker: Male, 39, Manchester, UK

3. British English – Scottish Accent

Speaker: Female, 52, Glasgow, UK

4. British English – Welsh Accent

Speaker: Female, 20, Wales, UK


5. American English – Northern US Accent

Speaker: Male, 30, New York, USA

6. American English – Southern US Accent

Speaker: Female, 50, Alabama, USA

7. Canadian English Accent

Speaker: Female, 25, British Columbia, Canada


8. Australian English Accent

Speaker: Male, 28, Sydney, Australia

9. Kiwi English Accent

Speaker: Female, 46, Christchurch, New Zealand

10. South African English Accent

Speaker: Female, 38, Durban, South Africa

Listening Sample Text: Comma Gets a Cure

All the speakers read the text below. Note that this is NOT the kind of story you will hear in the IELTS listening test, but it does allow you to follow each speaker’s words and compare their pronunciation.

If you listen to the end of each sample, each speaker also tells a unique story about their life.

Well, here’s a story for you: Sarah Perry was a veterinary nurse who had been working daily at an old zoo in a deserted district of the territory, so she was very happy to start a new job at a superb private practice in North Square near the Duke Street Tower. That area was much nearer for her and more to her liking. Even so, on her first morning, she felt stressed. She ate a bowl of porridge, checked herself in the mirror and washed her face in a hurry. Then she put on a plain yellow dress and a fleece jacket, picked up her kit and headed for work.

When she got there, there was a woman with a goose waiting for her. The woman gave Sarah an official letter from the vet. The letter implied that the animal could be suffering from a rare form of foot and mouth disease, which was surprising, because normally you would only expect to see it in a dog or a goat. Sarah was sentimental, so this made her feel sorry for the beautiful bird.

Before long, that itchy goose began to strut around the office like a lunatic, which made an unsanitary mess. The goose’s owner, Mary Harrison, kept calling, “Comma, Comma,” which Sarah thought was an odd choice for a name. Comma was strong and huge, so it would take some force to trap her, but Sarah had a different idea. First she tried gently stroking the goose’s lower back with her palm, then singing a tune to her. Finally, she administered ether. Her efforts were not futile. In no time, the goose began to tire, so Sarah was able to hold onto Comma and give her a relaxing bath.

Once Sarah had managed to bathe the goose, she wiped her off with a cloth and laid her on her right side. Then Sarah confirmed the vet’s diagnosis. Almost immediately, she remembered an effective treatment that required her to measure out a lot of medicine. Sarah warned that this course of treatment might be expensive-either five or six times the cost of penicillin. I can’t imagine paying so much, but Mrs. Harrison-a millionaire lawyer-thought it was a fair price for a cure.

Copyright 2000 Douglas N. Honorof, Jill McCullough & Barbara Somerville. All rights reserved.

Listening samples are taken from IDEA – the International Dialects of English Archive. The IDEA website includes many more samples of native and non-native English accents from around the world. The accents featured here are the ones you can expect to hear in the IELTS Listening test.


Which Countries Are Crazy About IELTS?

Thousands of students worldwide use to succeed at IELTS and enter top global universities. By analysing global traffic to the site, we can also predict which countries are most enthusiastic about IELTS and most interested in study abroad.

IELTS Academic Views by Country September 2015

The world map shows which countries were the most popular source of visitors to the website during September 2015. The table below gives the exact number of views from each of the top ten countries.

India tops the list with more than 10,000 views during September, which is evidence of a strong interest in overseas study among Indians.

Though IELTS is usually associated with the UK and Australia, it’s surprising to find that there were more visitors from the USA (8,962) than from the UK and Australia combined (3,396 and 3,262 respectively). This is surely evidence that IELTS is rapidly gaining in popularity Stateside.

The website also proved to be extremely popular in Vietnam with over 6,000 views during September, making it the second largest source of visitors in Asia after India. This could be evidence that more and more Vietnamese students will venture abroad in the near future.

Finally, the website received no visits at all from Iceland, North Korea, and several countries in West Africa and central South America, showing a low interest in study abroad in those parts of the world.