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Writing task two

Task description
You will be given a discussion topic. Your task is to write a 250 word essay on that topic. You should spend around 40 minutes on the task.

What is being tested is your ability to:

  • Present a point of view with convincing evidence
  • Challenge an alternate point of view
  • Focus on the topic and avoid irrelevancies
  • Communicate in a style that is easy to follow and cohesive
  • Use English accurately and appropriately

Sample task

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task. Present a written argument to an educated reader with no specialist knowledge of the following topic:

Television has had a significant influence on the culture of many societies. To what extent would you say that television has positively or negatively affected the cultural development of your society?

You should write at least 250 words

Use your own knowledge and experience and support your arguments with examples and relevant evidence.

Your task
Complete the task 2 exercise above. Spend only 40 minutes on the task, then look at the notes and sample answer below.

Sample answer

It has been around forty years since television was first introduced into Australian households and people today still have mixed views on whether it has a positive or a negative influence on the society.

Many people believe that television damages culture. It promotes the stronger cultures of countries such as Britain and North America and weakens the cultures of less wealthy countries. This is because the stronger, wealthier countries are able to assert their own culture by producing more programs that are shown widely around the world. These programs then influence people, particularly young people, in the countries where they are shown.

Also, because television networks need to attract large audiences to secure their financial survival, they must produce programs which are interesting to a broad range of people. In Australia this range is very broad because we are a multicultural society and people of all ages like to watch television. To interest all these different people, most television programs are short in length, full of action and excitement, do not require much intelligence or knowledge to understand, and follow universal themes common to all cultures, such as love and crime. Television programs which concentrate on or develop themes pertinent to one particular culture are not so successful because they interest a smaller audience.

Nevertheless we much acknowledge that television does have some positive effects on the cultures within a society as well. People who do not live within their own culture can, in a limited way, access it through the multicultural station on the television. For example, Aboriginal children who have grown up in white families, or migrants and international students living in Australia, can watch programs from their own culture on the television.

In conclusion, I hold the view that television promotes and strengthens those cultures that are wealthy and influential while it weakens the cultures that are already in a weakened position.

Teacher's comments on the sample answer

“The essay has a clear introduction which poses the problem. Three paragraphs which makes relevant points on the topic and a conclusion which sums up the main point of the whole essay. The grammar and vocabulary are rich and varied. It is therefore a very good answer.”

Strategies for improving your IELTS score

The style of essay required for Task 2 of the IELTS writing test is standard to academic courses. There are several published textbooks available to assist you to improve your writing skills for this part of the test.

Structure and cohesion should be evident at the essay level, within and between paragraphs and within and between sentences. Structure and cohesion have a very important effect on the readability and clarity of your essay as a whole.

The structure of your essay should show a clear development from introduction, through your points and on to the conclusion. Your essay needs to have an introduction, body and conclusion.

Structure and cohesion should also be apparent within and between paragraphs. Each paragraph will typically contain a topic sentence which states the main point of your paragraph. The topic sentence is usually the first one. This will be followed by the evidence which supports the point of the paragraph. The final sentence will typically lead into the point of the following paragraph.

A good essay will also have structure and cohesion within and between sentences. It is important that you are confident using linking devices such as relative clauses, connectives and transition signals.

Connecting sentences

A. Use connectives such as the following with verb phrases. For movements in the same direction use 'then' and 'and' and 'then continued its upward / downward trend more … '.

Disconnected sentences
After that it rose gradually to 5,000 by 1952. And then it went up to 15,000 by 1954.

Connected sentence
After that it rose gradually to 5,000 by 1952, then more steeply to 15,000 by 1954

Connected sentence
After that it rose gradually to 5,000 then continued its upward trend more steeply to 15,000.

Connect these sentences using 'then', 'and' and 'then continued its upward/downward trend more … '.

It dropped swiftly to 1,000 in 1998. Then it went down slowly to 900 in '99

It slowly decreased to 100. Then it quickly dropped to 15.

It increased substantially at the beginning of the year. It increased gradually at the end of the year.

For contrasting movements use ‘but’

Disconnected sentences
It rose to 35,000 by 1960. After that it fell to 12,000 by 1962.

Connected sentence
It rose to 35,000 by 1960 but later fell to 12,000 by 1962

Connect these sentences using 'but'.

It fluctuated around 100 in 1999. Then it levelled out in the year 2,000.

It went down to 15,000 in 1960. Then it climbed back to 2,000 in 1961.

B. Use connectives such as the following with noun phrases. Use 'which was followed by' , 'which led to', 'which preceded'

Disconnected sentences
There was a fall to 6,000 by 1968. Then an increase to 8,000 by 1970.

Connected sentence
There was a fall to 6,000 by 1968 which was followed by an increase to 8,000 by 1970.

Connected sentence
There was a fall to 6,000 by 1968 which led to an increase to 8,000 by 1970.

Connected sentence
There was a fall to 6,000 by 1968 which preceded an increase to 8,000 by 1970.

Connect these sentences using ‘which was followed by’, ‘which led to’, ‘which preceded’.

There was a sharp rise to 900 in 1991. Then there was a gradual decline to 800 in 1992.

There was a slight drop to 90. Then there was a more marked decline to 50.

It reached a peak at Christmas. Then it dropped back to the November levels of 500.