General Topics For Essay Writing

The post will give you the 10 most common IELTS Writing Task 2 topics.

IELTS Writing Topics

A question my students keep asking, again and again, is ‘What are the most common IELTS writing part 2 topics?’ They are worried that they won’t be familiar with the topic and will not have any relevant ideas. This is especially true for students from ‘developing’ countries, because most of the questions are ‘first world’ problems and issues. Let’s turn that disadvantage into an advantage.

To answer the question I have asked my students over the last few years to send me the topics on their exams.

A big thank you, to those students, who were kind enough to send me their questions.  I have built up a huge amount of questions and I think it is about time to analyse them.

Are the same Writing Task 2 topics repeated?

The answer is yes and no. There are a huge amount of topics that come up in writing task 2. At last count there were around 50 different topics (based on collecting data over the last few years) and if you would like all 50, please let me know, but I’m more concerned about the topics that come up again and again. If you have time to familiarise yourself with over 50 topics then please do, but I think must people have to be smart with their time and it therefore makes more sense to prioritise the most common topics.

I try to encourage my students to be efficient when it comes to learning. However, I don’t agree with the saying ‘Work smart, not hard’ as this implies you can do very little work and still achieve your goals. My motto is work hard and smart.

IELTS Essay Topics 2015

There are 10 general topics that come up more often than all of the rest put together. They are:

So what can I do with this information?

Now you know the common topics there are 3 things you can do:

1. Develop a vocabulary list for each topic

Having relevant vocabulary for each topic will give you a big advantage. Many students fail to provide relevant vocabulary and their band score suffers.

When looking at new vocabulary try to guess the meaning from context first and then look up the meaning to make sure your idea matches the actual meaning. Also, be sure to look at the word within a sentence to be aware of the way it relates to other words.

When recording vocabulary do it in a way that will help YOU remember it. Everyone learns in a different way and everyone learns vocabulary in a different way. Some people like to draw pictures beside the word, some people like to write synonyms or antonyms, others prefer to write a few sentences and some people like to use the phonemic chart to write the word that way. Whatever works for you, do it.

It is also very important to review words regularly. This is the most effective way to remember the words. So many people learn lots of words and a week later they can’t remember them. I would recommend reviewing them one day after learning them for the first time, then one week later and then finally one month later. After that they should be firmly stuck in your head for good.

I am developing a vocabulary list for each of the topics above which you can access here.

2. Practice reading and listening within these topics

To do well on your IELTS test you should practice at home. Even just 60 minutes per day can make a big difference. This will not only improve all four skills but familiarise you with the common topics at the same time. Why waste time listening or reading something, if it is about something that probably won’t come up on the test? Unless of course you are listening or reading for pleasure, in that case, be my guest.

If you are reading an English newspaper, look for articles on the common topics and highlight any good vocabulary.

If you like listening to the radio or podcasts, find ones on the common topics.

Please check out my 25 online language learning tools for lots of ways you can study at home for free.

3. Study within the common topics

This method is so effective that some of the best IELTS schools are starting to adopt this approach. If you are going to study or practice anything then do it within the context of one of the common topics. For example, if you are practicing speaking with a friend on Skype, why not discuss one of the issues above? If you are practicing writing essays, find a question about one of the most popular or repeated IELTS topics.

This method allows you to practice both the skills and learn about these crucial topics.

They also come up quite a lot in the speaking test.

Can I just focus on these topics and get a high band score?

Obviously, there is much more to achieving a high score than just focusing on the repeated topics but this will allow you to study and prepare in a smarter and more efficient way, giving you a huge advantage.

However, I would like to add that it is also important to study things you have a passion for. If you are genuinely interested in a topic then it is much easier to study and you are less likely to quit. Please also make time to read, listen, talk and write about your passion. If you love football, read about your team everyday on www.goal.com. Love fashion?- find some fashionista blogs. Have a passion for photography?- why not blog about it? Have a passion for astrophysics? Listen to star talk radio.

Update- September 2015

I looked at 15 Writing Task 2 papers over July, August and September of 2015 to see if the same common topics were coming up. Here are the topics:

  1. Traditional Culture
  2. Government Spending
  3. Technology
  4. Technology
  5. Education
  6. Health
  7. Technology
  8. Traditional Culture
  9. Education
  10. Health
  11. International Aid
  12. The Environment
  13. Economics
  14. Education
  15. Health

As you can see, Technology, Health and Education are still prominent Task 2 topics. It was interesting to see Traditional Culture popping up twice in such a short period of time, but that doesn’t mean that it will definitely feature again soon.

I still think that Technology, Health, Education and the Environment are important topics and will feature regularly in the future. Reading within these topics will help you and you will also pick up other vocabulary just by reading about them.

The important thing is to read actively. When you see a word you don’t know, note it down and find out the meaning, collocation and synonyms. Soon you will have a notebook full of new words and you review them regualelry until they become part of your vocabulary.

Live Video

Here’s a live video I did on Facebook about this topic:

Next Steps

I would recommend looking at our IELTS task 2 page for lots more lessons, tips and sample task 2 answers.

Need help writing essays? Check out our ESSAY CORRECTION SERVICE.

The best way to keep up to date with our latest posts is to like our page on Facebook. There are also daily practice activities on our Facebook page.

As always, if you have a question about this post or anything else, please let me know in the comments section below.

For more help check out the IELTS Preparation Ultimate Guide.

Writing an essay can be a daunting task for both teachers and students in terms of creating and crafting a high quality essay,  and finally editing and grading them.

It seems though we may have overlooked one of the toughest steps in writing an essay and that is actually selecting an appropriate and interesting topic for your students.

Thankfully I have put together a list of 25 great essay topics that might just make that process a little easier.  Enjoy.  And remember to add any other great suggestions in the comment section below.

If you are still struggling with the essay writing process and need further guidance be sure to check out our definitive guide to writing a great essay. 

  1. Zoos are sometimes seen as necessary but not poor alternatives to a natural environment.  Discuss some of the arguments for and/or against keeping animals in zoos.
  2. Imaginethat your teacher wants to teach a new subject for the next few weeks.  Your teacher will take suggestions, and then let the students vote on the new subject. What subject should your class choose? Write an essay to support your choice and to persuade the other students to vote for your choice.
  3. Are actors and professional athletes paid too much?
  4.  Should teachers have to wear uniforms or have a dress code?
  5. Since the invention of nuclear weapons we have had a long period of GLOBAL peace and stability.  Are nuclear weapons global peacemakers or killing devices?
  6. Should boys and girls be in separate classes?
  7. Is the death penalty effective?
  8. To what extent is the use of animals in scientific research acceptable?
  9. What age is appropriate for dating?
  10. Pretend you woke up one day and there were no rules. People could suddenly do whatever they wanted! Explain what the world would be like. Use your    imagination!
  11. Should student’s textbooks be replaced by notebook computers?
  12. Should students be allowed to have cell phones in elementary and high schools?
  13. Should wealthy nations be required to share their wealth among poorer nations?
  14. Should money be spent on space exploration?
  15. Is fashion important?
  16. Are we too dependent on computers?
  17. Ifyou had the opportunity to bring any person — past or present, fictional    or nonfictional — to a place that is special to you (your hometown or    country, a favourite location, etc.), who would you bring and why? Tell us    what you would share with that person
  18. Most high level jobs are done by men. Should the government encourage a certain percentage of these jobs to be reserved for women?
  19. Should students be allowed to grade their teachers?
  20. In your opinion what factors contribute to a good movie?
  21. The destruction of the world’s forests is inevitable as our need for land and food grows.  Do you agree?
  22. Many parents give their children certain chores or tasks to do at home. Should    children have to do chores or tasks at home? Be sure to explain why you    think it is a good idea or a bad idea. Include examples to support your    reasons.
  23. Should the voting age be lowered to thirteen?
  24. Should the government place a tax on junk food and fatty snacks?
  25. Should more be done to protect and preserve endangered animals?

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