IELTS Task 2 – Writing your essay in 40 minutes

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You have 40 minutes to answer Task 2 of the IELTS writing module so time management is essential!

How do you manage your time in the essay writing part?

It all depends on each individual, so you should practice different ways and see what works best for you. Many people are tempted to just start writing their essay straight away because they’re worried about finishing in time.  The key to a good essay though (whether it is for a timed test or for a university course), is good planning.

Ideally, you should break it down into the Planning stage, Writing stage and Reviewing stage.  Here is what I suggest as a rough guideline:

Planning Stage: (first 13 minutes)

1.  3  minutes: Read the question carefully. Re-read it again if you have to do to make sure you understand what you must write. Analyze the task question carefully and brainstorm your answer .

2. 10 minutes: Organize and plan your 4-paragraph essay. Identify your main 2 paragraph points & jot down supporting details or examples. Write a rough outline. This is key! Planning is important because it makes the writing part a lot easier to do – you just stick to the ideas you planned out. Use the time to think of good examples to use as support and think of how to connect your ideas together. It also keeps you on track so that you don’t write about other things that you may think about as you’re writing your essay.

Writing Stage: (25 minutes)

3. 3 minutes: Write out your introduction. This should be 2 -3 sentences only. Introduce the topic/issues, restate the task question, and present your opinion that you brainstormed and clearly identified in your planning stage.

4. 20 minutes (10 for each main body paragraph): Write out your 2 main body paragraphs (paragraphs 2 & 3 following the 4-paragraph formula) according to your plan. This is the most important part of your essay where you support your main idea of your essay.

5. 2 minutes: Write your conclusion. This should be 1 sentence that restates your main point.

Review Stage: (2 minutes)

6. Read through essay and make any corrections.  Careless grammar errors or poor vocabulary choice can hurt the flow of your essay.


When you practice some essays, time yourself and follow these time management strategies. You may use less or more time in each stage, but remember you have to allow time for the other stages.


I'm an English teacher specializing in IELTS preparation - especially writing and reading. If you have any questions, please ask! You can also sign up for weekly tips and lessons for IELTS and English!

Posted in IELTS Writing, Writing Task 2 Tagged with: ,
4 comments on “IELTS Task 2 – Writing your essay in 40 minutes
  1. Nayna says:

    Hello sir, how can I improve my english.

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