Writing Task 2 Feedback – How to improve your Band 6 score

Sep 4, 2018

Pauline Cullen Author

Writing Task 2 Feedback – How to improve your Band 6 score

Sep 4, 2018

Many candidates feel stuck at the band 6 or 6.5 level in their writing. This post looks at a sample essay with common band 6.5 problems.  

Here is the writing task 2 question:

This is the sample answer from one of my Facebook followers and my feedback.  The different colours used relate to the 4 criteria mentioned in the general feedback comments.

General feedback comments:

As you can see, the main problem with this answer is task response.  The essay consists mostly of concluding statements rather than ideas that are developed to show how the conclusions were reached.  This lack of development of ideas is a key point in keeping people stuck at band 6 or 6.5.

I have written my own version of the answer trying to keep the same conclusions. In my answer, I made sure to discuss both of the view points in the question, while also giving my own opinion, which is what the task told us to do.

Improved version:

The most important advice for every task 2 answer  here is to plan, check and make sure you answer all of the question.

Learn more about developing your ideas and improving Task response in my free book, The Key to IELTS Success.

Download my FREE book HERE


  1. Anam

    Dear Pauline,
    I will always be thankful to you for the efforts you made for us.While going through your book today, I inferred(though wasn’t sure at that time) that it depends on our preference whether to mention opinion or thesis statement in the end(conclusion) or start(introduction).After seeing your this specific introduction, I have become confident on what I inferred from your free book.
    In your free book, on page 86, you have written that you(Pauline) present your thesis statement in the conclusion.So,I wanted to seek guidance from you that I like your this style of introduction in which one tend to interpret the question in his/her own words,moreover, presents his/her own’s opinion in conclusion.
    What I want to know: I wont be marked negative for not mentioning thesis or opinion in introduction rather presenting them in conclusion,am I right,marks are not deducted for this?
    Though, I have kept this important point in mind- apart from this opinion mentioning in conclusion I need to make my position clear throughout the essay.

    • Pauline

      That’s quite correct, Anam. Just be sure that your position is always clear throughout.

  2. Anam

    Really! honestly Pauline, thats one of the greatest news I have read so far :); I had always a gut feeling that I should mention my opinion explicitly in the last after judging or mentioning and explaining the views, as this is what I feel is more rational and easy for me. Since I have started studying for ielts, I was never encouraged on my this approach rather they(tutors+online sources) would debunk me. Yet,it’s a sigh of relief for me and I hope for all the students out there.
    As far as we are now guided by teachers like you,who are true assets of language, we will come on the right track and will succeed because of you.
    Thanks for your prompt reply.

    • Pauline

      As I say in my book, this is a personal chose but it is differs across English-speaking countries. The US and Canada generally prefer the opinion to be in the introduction – in the UK, Australia and New Zealand, this is not the case. Personally, I prefer to put my opinion in the conclusion – it shows I have arrived at this conclusion after a careful consideration of all sides.

      • Anam

        Yes,I have read in the book as well where you emphasized that its personal preference where one writes the opinion but at first i didn’t understand it as was little indcredulous. Now, after your confirmation I am confident for my introduction and how to write it – interpretation of question so examiner can judge the question reading from there only.
        Yet, I would definitely need your guidance for how to write a conclusion but haven’t read your free book conclusion topic; first will read that and if then I encounter any query I will seek your help:)
        Thanking you from the depth of my heart.

  3. Amrit

    Hi Pauline,

    Isn’t this essay type is discussion essay? I mean starting sentences of each body paragraph should be what people believe and support why followed by writer’s opinion?
    for example:
    Opponents of selected subjects such as science and engineering argue that these subjects generally lead to high paying jobs. …….. I am advocate of this viewpoint/I agree/ I think science and engineering does offer high paying jobs.

    • Pauline

      All of the essays are both ‘discussion’ and ‘opinion’ essays. Read The Key to IELTS Success to find out more and to find out how to structure a paragraph.

  4. HOANG

    Hi Pauline,

    I hope everything is going well. Thank you for everything you have done for us. I really admire your expertise and the effort put into your book The Key To IELTS Success and this blog, which are the greatest guide to IELTS takers like me. I have to admit that the book is worth reading several times. Love it.

    Again, I want to say thank you for writing this great post. As you pointed out very clearly on this blog, Task Response seems to be the criterion causing candidates to stuck at band 6 and 6.5, even for native speakers. I know this because I have been reading and analyzing the questions raised by IELTS takers and teachers and also your responses. Q&A has provided me with more insights into Writing Task 2. I really am so grateful.

    However, there are one thing about this post that I’m not sure I can make myself understand:

    When it comes to the “idea” “Furthermore, university students are adult and mature enough to take their own decisions. Therefore, they do not need to be dictated to.”, then comes the Comment (4) “This idea again sounds like a conclusion, not a further reason arguing for the benefits of being allowed to choose subjects freely.”

    This is the exact idea that I would also come up with when I think of ideas for this essay (If I were to write it too). And my confusion starts here as I think this would generally be an argument everyone would think of when generating ideas for this task 2 question.

    I think that, as that idea was not fully developed/expanded, and because it is more like a concluding statement as you said, it makes the readers feel it belongs to the conclusion rather than a body paragraph. No development of ideas at all to see. Am I right to think so?

    1. If so, can we “fix it/turn it into an idea that can be used effectively” by fully developing the idea of “being mature enough to take their own decisions” and show why it fits into and it does support the argument, while making it less “concluding”?

    2. If not, should I understand that this idea is simply not appropriate to be used to answer this task 2 question?

    Thank you in advance.


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