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How to Be Creative When Writing Task 2

April 21, 2019

This post will reveal the techniques on how to come up with creative ideas when answering Task 2 question.

A common fear many students have is being unable to come up with ideas after taking a look at their question paper. Students usually worry about how to generate ideas for IELTS Writing Task 2 but this can be transformed.

There are solutions to this although these fears have natural causes.

First Global Issue

Majority of the student taking the IELTS Task 2 are from developing countries and most of them complain that the questions are partial towards Western nations and are regarded as “First Global Issue”. For Instance:

In some nations, youngsters are urged to work travel for a year after completing high school and before gaining an admission into the university. Explain the benefits and drawbacks youngsters would derive from doing this.

Most of the students shouted about what a gap year was. I was actually moved with pity for some of them. Majority of the Vietnamese students have no direct involvement about taking a year off before getting admitted into the University. They were a little furious because the question seemed “Western” to them which is justifiable to a reasonable length.

Luckily, these type of questions are not common, and the majority of them are only on regular topics that people are conversant about such as health, environment, and education. Don’t forget it is not a general knowledge test but a language test.

Do I have to create entertaining ideas?

Most students are worried that their students are not exciting enough but boring. Examiners are basically not interested to be entertained, they are only interested in your capacity to write in English based on significant and factual examples. Extra points will not be awarded for creating engaging ideas. The main objective is to ensure that your idea is relevant to the question.

Note: Examiners are interested in your capacity to write in English based on evidence and relevant examples

Your ideas can be very boring and still get a band score 9 as long as they are related.

Some people who have already been to the university might find this absurd because they believe that your ideas should not only be related but also interesting. An IELTS test is entirely different from a university exam. Don’t provide anything different from what the examiner wants.


Different solutions that have previously produced positive results for my students are listed below:

  1. A Common Topic (Familiarization).
  2. Brainstorming
  3. Mind Mapping
  4. Five Question Method
  5. Personal belief method

Nobody’s Size Fits All

One significant thing I realized is that one method cannot be used for everybody. Each of them needs to be tried and find out the most ideal one. Don’t forget that when practicing, the examiners are only interested in your related ideas that can be easily supported by providing comprehensive details and examples. Try to always implement the one that will instantly give you ideas.

During the exam, you should be able to generate ideas between 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t get worried if you are presently spending much time on this because you will surely get better with continuous practice. Select your preferred method, create a time limit for yourself and practice with the exam questions.

1. Common topic Familiarization

This involves getting familiar with the regular topics that show up during the exam and having a knowledge of the vocabulary that is related to the constant topics. Having an extensive vocabulary will help you easily come up with ideas. I’ll suggest you go beyond the 10 regular topics if there is enough time.

You can also examine some English newspaper and check out topics that are likely to come out in the IELTS exam. Two things should be done when doing this, firstly, take note of any vocabulary that seems strange. Try guessing the meaning and look it up in a dictionary or smartphone. This will be of assistance in writing Task 2 and other IELTS exam.

2. Brainstorming

Brainstorming can be referred to as coming up with as many ideas as possible that are related to your topic. An advertising company developed this just to come up with lots of ideas that can be used for their advertising campaign. This method simply involves you inserting the keywords in the middle of the page and creating as many ideas as possible on it.

Although I have a few issues with this technique, although some students and teachers prefer using it and you can also employ it if it works for you. A few students usually think of too many ideas which usually waste most of their time. Secondly, the ideas they come up with are usually not related because they were thinking generally. You will spend the additional time that is usually not available in an exam to shuffle the related ideas from the irrelevant ones.

3. Mind Mapping

Mind mapping can be described as visually representing and organizing your thoughts on paper.

Many people prefer this method because it helps them display and organize what they are thinking about. This method is easily adaptable after a few practices and it is quicker and more organized than brainstorming.

A quick method is to insert the keywords in the middle and insert the micro-keywords as the branch.

The only drawback in this technique is that most students end up wasting time trying to create the most ideal mind map. You will not be getting any extra point for utilizing mind map, they are only suitable for generating ideas so it should be done quickly.

4. 5 question method

In this technique, the who/why/what/where/how questions are used to generate ideas for composing Task 2. This technique is beneficial to those who logically think and are already familiar with the topic.

Let’s consider an example:

In some nations, youngsters are urged to work, travel for a year after completing high school and before gaining an admission into the university. Explain the benefits and drawbacks youngsters would derive from doing this.

The Why - To have experience in work, the way of life in other nations, their culture and to make money before getting an admission into the university.

Where – Tourist centers, local business, developing countries, and internship in big countries.

How – get permission from guardian/parents, university, internship job application, keeping money, travel to cheap countries.

We can use just three of the questions and generate as many ideas as possible.

5. Personal opinion technique

I feel this is the most ideal method for developing ideas for writing the Task and help student concentrate on the question quickly.

This technique is quite easy. Students are asked to have the imagination of someone asking for a review of a product from them in a coffee shop. The pressure is usually much in an exam which can affect your thought. You will have no issue here. You will definitely have an answer say you were in a relaxed state with your friend, it will be easy providing your point of view.

To help you generate more ideas, just imagine your friend has a negative opinion concerning the topic and pen down your ideas.

Let consider this example:

You – Lots of youngsters are definitely not ready to get admitted into the university at 18 but they become mature through traveling and working. Working for up to a year will also help them save money, gain experience, different culture whenever they travel.

It is clear that you have thought about the ideas needed for the question. It is advisable to write down your ideas or simply think about them for a while. The idea you generate will reveal how you feel about the question and help you remain relevant which will help you develop a consistent essay. But constant practice is also required here, therefore you can also try out some past questions.


I hope this has been of help to you and please let me know if you have any questions or feedback.

Serhii Baraniuk

IELTS blog by Serhii Baraniuk. Do you have questions or suggestions? Ask my anything on Twitter or Facebook