Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Brainstorming is the key to a high score on your Writing Task 2 essay!

Your essay will be unorganized if you try to come up with ideas while you write.

All reasons, examples and details need to be brainstormed before you write the first word of your essay!

Whenever possible, use personal examples instead of fake research.

Use “How?” and “Why?” to make it more simple and easy to come up with good ideas!

What does it mean to have Friday brain?

It means it’s been a long week!

You’ve had a busy work week and by Friday your brain is mush.

It can also mean you’re excited it’s finally Friday and having a hard time focusing on work!

When is it important to have a strong brainstorm on the IELTS exam?

For Writing Task 2, you have to come up with all the specific ideas you need during the brainstorm.

Don’t try to come up with things while you write!

If you do, it will lead to messy, unorganized essays.

You need to be able to focus on using transitions and interesting vocabulary while you’re writing!

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Get specific right away!

Every sentence has to be necessary.

Don’t repeat ideas you’ve already written.

To get a 7 or higher for Task 2, you have to expand on the reason in a very specific way.

Each reason has to be proven very strongly.

Whether it’s an opinion or an advantage, you have to prove it!

It can also affect your cohesion/coherence score if you use the following and then don’t provide specific details and examples afterward!

  • To be more specific,
  • As an illustration,
  • As an example,

After each of these transition phrases, you cannot paraphrase an idea you’ve already used.

You have to provide more specific details!

Where can you get these transition phrases and more?

Sign up for the 3 Keys IELTS Success System!

Should we use fake research?

Fake research is a last resort!

Only use it in an emergency, if you can’t think of anything else.

It only works for topics that are researched often, such as health and science.

You may have heard other IELTS teachers tell you not to use personal examples.

That is terrible advice!

The instructions specifically tell you to draw from your own experience.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

If at all possible, use a personal example from your own life or from the life of someone you know.

Using the questions “How?” and “Why?” to brainstorm effectively

Example question:

Some say that young people spend too much time on social media. Do you think social media is used responsibly?

You might come up with a reason like, “Too many young people bully each other online.”

Now ask yourself, “How?”

If you ask yourself, “How do people bully each other?” you will be able to think of specific examples.

Think about people you know.

You could write, “Take for example, my cousin Brad who has a tendency to say negative things online and bully others.”

Use your own experience as an adult

With all the reading you are doing, you will have ideas about every topic IELTS can throw at you!

Use something from a podcast you listened to or an article you have read.

You have likely read about and seen discussions regarding online behavior.

Example idea:

“In the last two years, there has been an increasing amount of political bullying online as my country has become more polarized.”

A good brainstorming strategy is to work backwards!

  • Come up with a strong example first
  • Then think of a reason that is supported by that example

Some believe that government funding for the arts is a waste of money, and there are better ways they could invest. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Come up with an example first!

Ask yourself “Why?” or “How?”

“How could they invest?”

You might write: better health care, more free clinics and services for the homeless.

Then you could come up with a reason such as, “Many cities have high numbers of homeless, and authorities should address this issue first.”

Every sentence should go deeper and deeper, so after you come up with the example you’ll brainstorm more details.


Strong, thorough brainstorming can make the difference between a 6 and a 7 or higher on IELTS Writing Task 2.

If you come up with all your reasons, examples and details before you start writing, your essay will always be more organized.

Get specific right away by directly stating reasons first, and then providing supporting examples and details.

Use relevant examples from your life or what you have read.

Ask yourself, “How?” and “Why?”

The answers to these questions can be used as your ideas, reasons and examples!

Get more strategies like these!

Do you have questions about today’s topic?

Let us know in the comments below

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