Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today, we talk about a potentially huge mistake you could make in your IELTS Writing Task 2 essay.

A student from our course had a tough time this weekend on his exam. He misread ONE WORD in the Task 2 question, and ended up writing about the wrong topic.

Today I had the Listening, Writing and Reading part of the exam. I’m expecting very good scores in Listening and Reading, around 8 or 8.5. I also did well in Writing Task 1. PLEASE DON’T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE THAT I DID IN WRITING TASK 2. The topic was regarding agreeing or disagreeing with the government interfering in the healthy way of its citizens. I was writing a killer essay, but when I had just 20 minutes left, I realized I was supposed to be writing about the healthy way, not the wealthy way. Just because of a single freaking letter, I went completely off topic. How would this affect my score?

Bad news: even missing one word, going off topic can severely impact your score.

How, exactly?

It depends on just how far off the topic you are.


This score could still be high, if you aren’t completely off topic.


This also can still be high. This score is not related to you sticking to the question.

Task Response

This could go down to a 5 or a 4, depending how far afield you end up going.

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This score could also go down to a 5 or a 4, depending on how off-topic you are.

How do you end up going off-topic?

Sometimes, you can go in feeling too confident. If you have practiced a lot, you have so many tools and can’t wait to knock the examiner’s socks off with your amazing writing. So, you read the question too quickly and miss something vital.

Or, perhaps you’re nervous, and simply do not read the question carefully.

How do you keep from making this mistake?

Take a minute to read the question very carefully, underlining key words.

The next step is brainstorming. As you’re brainstorming, constantly check back to the question to make sure all of your ideas stick to and support the key ideas from the question.

What do you think of today’s ideas?

Leave us a message in the comments section below!



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