COMMON WRITING TASK 2 MISTAKES AND HOW TO AVOID THEM

The second task in IELTS Writing is Writing Task 2, in which the test takers will be given a topic (with a question) and asked to write 250 words in 40 minutes. Since Writing Task 2 is something more like an argumentative writing, it is then important to give our opinion and support it with relevant examples and reasons.
Here are some common tips for IELTS Writing Task 2:

a. Make your writing well structured by separating your ideas into different paragraphs

There are several typical mistakes made by the test takers when doing the writing.

First, they only have one paragraph in the their writing. For this case, you may want to consider the fact that a writing is defined as "the activity of composing text with regard to its style or quality". You see there that writing means "creating a text" and we presume that a text usually consists of several paragraphs. If your writing only consists of an extremely long paragraph with multiple main and supporting ideas, then it would be difficult to categorize it as a writing. It should be regarded as a paragraph (instead of text/passage/writing) if there is only one paragraph. So, you may want to consider arranging it better from now on.

First Rule: If you make a writing that consists of one paragraph, then it's not a writing at all. It is a paragraph

Second, apart from writing a very long and tedious writing consisting of only one paragraph, some people also write a paragraph that only consists of one sentence. It is not likely for somebody to consider it as a paragraph since paragraph is defined as "a distinct section in a piece of writing, usually having a single theme (main idea) and several supporting ideas, indicated by new line, indentation or numbering". 

Second Rule: If you make a paragraph that consists of one sentence, it's not a paragraph at all. It is a sentence


b. Make sure that you are writing a complete sentence


It is commonly known that a sentence can be considered as a sentence (grammatically and syntactically, although not necessarily happens semantically) if it has at least a Subject and a Verb. If you write incomplete sentence, the score will surely be reduced since grammatical accuracy is fundamental in writing, not only the IELTS writing but any writing.

c. Avoid using the same word over and over again


This is where the rule of paraphrasing works. To be completely honest, it's not just the use of similar words but also the use of similar sentence structure. Like when you use active sentence all the time, then there is a chance that your score will be very low. Try at least using these kind of sentences:

-Active voice, as well as
-Passive voice, and if possible
-Multiple clause sentence, and sometimes you can also use
-Conditional sentence
-etc.

d. Avoid slang or any vernacular form of English


There is one fundamental difference between writing and speaking in IELTS. As far as I know (and experience), speaking is a way way more casual since the way you speak is supposed to be as natural as possible. When I took my first test in August 2017, I was interviewed by a very nice guy. I was kinda carried out by the way he conducted the interview that I, somehow, often used a very colloquial expressions such as:

gonna, instead of going to

wanna, instead of want to
gotta, instead of got to

Using double negatives such as "You can't do nothin about 'bout it"


Alternating the -ing ending in gerund form with a cooler -in ending like those in takin (instead of taking), stayin (instead of staying)


Using informal words such as dudes (instead of friends), or folks (instead of people)


Using informal expressions such as "kick the bucket" or "skeleton in the closet" *this one I did not use in my speaking of course, although it could just happen since it is not sociolinguistically possible to always monitor your speech*


and so on and so on


You see how compromising it was to use such informal form of English. But I was lucky enough since I used it in speaking and it was actually not a big deal (I suppose). I got 7.0 and I think that's not too bad for a way too informal conversation), or may be it was just because I could manage answering the topic.


But that, was, speaking. Now, let's talk about writing.


Writing is tremendously strict when it comes to using a formal expression. It happens all the time, not only in IELTS. So you should avoid any informal form of writing. In some cases, I even hear that we are not supposed to use:


-Symbols: such as using & instead of and, or using / instead of or

-Abbreviation such as bcz for because. Abbreviation is accepted when it is an official, commonly known abbreviation such UN for United Nations or ASEAN for Association of South East Asian Nations
-Contraction, such it's (instead of it is) or I'm (instead of I am)

*This is what I hear though so please correct me if I'm wrong*


e. Having a thoughtful and neutral tone


Okay, this is kinda hard to explain if you have never tried writing an academic writing. I got some bright insight regarding academic writing during my study in college, such as the use of reference, emphasis on logical thinking, avoidance of logical fallacy, etc.


Speaking of the which, I found several examples of writing in which the author say "a is 100% good or b is 100% unreliable". Complete "all" or complete "none" types of argument are really dangerous since it is statistically not possible for something or someone or any entity to be 100% true or wrong or good or bad. So, try to avoid giving this kind argument. Other than this, sometimes I also found several logical fallacies in writing. Here are several examples logical fallacies one commonly have when doing a writing:


a. Argumentum ad Hominem, in which one refers to a man rather than their validity of evidence or logicFor example: I do not agree with his opinion regarding policy on child foster, since he himself does not have a family


b. Argumentum ad Populum, it kinda means believing in certain logic or argument simply because it is the belief of the majority

For example: I believe that gender fluidity is something unacceptable considering the fact that most people are actually straight


c. Circular Argument, in which one keeps repeating a claim without supporting the claim or providing any evidence

For example: Gay marriage is illegal. It is illegal because it is a gay marriage.


d. Non-testable Thesis, this happens when one considers something to be true simply because no one can prove it to be wrong

For example: I believe that alien does exist, because no one can prove that it does not (dude, c'mooon -_-)


e. False Dilemma, in which two extremes are presented without any middle pointFor example: You either vote for Bush or you support the terrorist (whereas you can still vote for other candidates and not being a supporter of terrorism)


f. Argumentum misericordiam, in which one appeals to pity by exploiting others' feelings and sense of guilty to win an argument

For example: We should put aside all the crimes he committed because the world has treated him so cruelly


There are many more logical fallacies, and I'm not gonna list them all here. It may seem bookish but it is really important that you become more cautious of these thoughts when doing argumentative writing



e. Make your ideas relevant by linking words list



In writing, you are not just presenting several ideas and writing some paragraphs without considering the relevancy of one idea with other ideas. In this case, you are going to have to use some linking words such as:


-When listing several ideas

Firstly, secondly, thirdly,...lastly

-Giving additional information

In addition, furthermore, moreover, also, and, as well as, etc.

-Giving examples

For example, for instance, such as, namely, etc.

-Explaining results and consequeces

Therefore, as a result, consequently, thus, hence, so, for this reason, etc.

-Giving emphasis

In particular, particularly, especially, specifically, etc.

-Showing a contrast

However, despite, in spite of, in contrary, on the other hand, although, even though, by contrast, in comparison, nevertheless, etc.

-Reasons and causes

because, since, for, due to, etc.

-Giving an opinion

I believe, it is argued that, it is believed that, in my opinion, in my view, etc.

-Concluding linkers

In conclusion, In summary, to sum up, etc.


f. Giving a highly relevant ideas by focusing on the keywords



I have never known any other website or blog mention this (or may be they just have different term for it), but what I am trying to say here is that your writing has to be relevant with the topic and the question. A topic poses a problem, then your writing has to focus on discussing the problem. The question gives you a hint on how you should answer it, like when you have to agree/disagree, or explaining advantage/disadvantage, or explaining the extent of your agreement, or even just giving a descriptive explanation with reason and examples. Your answer has to answer the question, and provide solutions for the problem. This is done usually by using keywords in the topic. Say, we have this kind of topic:


Technology such as smartphone and computer has more negative impacts since it makes people become less sociable


From this topic, we have two essential keywords namely "technology" and "sociable". It can be concluded that your writing has to discuss both technology and social life. If it only focuses only on the negative impacts of technology in general, then it is too broad and you will eventually find it irrelevant with the main topic.


g. Meeting the required number of words


I'm not actually sure with this point, since I have read different books and other sources. Some of them say: "you have to write at least 250 words and if you don't, you will get a penalty for writing less than 250 words". However, there are also some sources saying that it is okay to write less than 250 words as long as the writing has been thorough. Here are some insights I want you to consider:


a. Okay, I myself, prefer to take any necessary precautions and write at least 250 words rather than having to retake the test


b. I found a book stating that it is okay to write less than 250 words. But remember, you are gonna be tested by a human, not a book. So I think it is better to do some mitigation step and not compromising yourself



h. Avoid using weak words or statement


-It seems like...(this is too tentative)

-Kind (use type instead)
-Absolutely, definitely, surely (it is dangerous to have arguments containing these words)
-Redundant phrases such as anonymous strangers (if they are strangers, they must anonymous)
-Empty phrases such as "as far as i'm concerned", or "as a matter of fact"
etc.

Alright, so those are some mistakes commonly done in writing. If you have any other examples of mistakes commonly made in IELTS writing, kindly list them on the comment section.


Cheers!


For material on writing task 1, please refer to this link


Writing Task 1 Material


For Writing Task 1 Exercise, click link below

Writing Task 1 Exercise

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