Writing Task 2: Essay


  • Task 2 always asks you to write an essay.
  • You are given a written prompt in the form of an opinion, a question or an instruction.
  • You should spend about 40 minutes on Task 2.
  • You should write at least 250 words.
  • Exactly what you have to do depends on the information you are given, but you might have to:
    • present and justify an opinion
    • evaluate and challenge an argument or idea
    • compare and contrast evidence
    • present the solution to a problem


  • This is a formal piece of writing.
  • Avoid using contractions (e.g. write There has always been not There's always been).
  • Avoid using very informal vocabulary (e.g. write Young children need clear guidance not Parents should tell kids what to do).
  • Avoid using very informal punctuation, such as exclamation marks.
  • Use linking devices, such as In contrast, However, Moreover, Similarly, to make your logical argument easier to follow.


  • Before you start writing, it is very important to spend a few minutes on planning.
  • Step 1 is to read the question carefully, and make sure you understand what topic you have been given, and what you have to do.
  • Step 2 is to decide what approach you are going to take to the topic. You may decide that you completely agree with a statement, or partly agree. You may decide that there are three key solutions to a problem presented. Think about the topic and decide what view or views you are going to build your essay around.
  • Step 3 is to make a paragraph plan. Your plan will depend on what you are going to write about. You will also often have a choice: there is usually more than one way to structure a successful piece of writing. However, you should follow these basic rules:
    • Write in paragraphs. It doesn't matter if you write three, four or even five paragraphs, but if you put everything into one paragraph, it will be difficult to read, and you will lose marks.
    • Paragraphs are there to make a piece of writing easier to read. Each main point you want to make should have a new paragraph. Paragraphs usually start with a topic sentence, which states the main point of the paragraph. The remaining sentences in the paragraph then provide supporting details and examples.
    • Your first paragraph should be an introduction to the topic. It should restate the situation in general, using different language from the written prompts. You may also briefly outline the argument you are going to make in your essay.
    • In Task 2, you are expected to express your opinion, or reach a conclusion. For this reason, your final paragraph will often be a conclusion or a summary of your opinion.
Look at the examples to find out more about doing Writing Task 2.