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How to Generate Ideas for IELTS  Writing Task 2

The most unexpected situation occurs in exam when you are given a topic that you have no idea to discuss about. If you fall into this situation in IELTS Writing exam, what will you do? You know, whatever it takes, you have to answer the question. You cannot simply leave an answer blank. How will you overcome this situation?🤔

How about having some techniques that will help you answer the question quite confidently, even if you have no idea on the question topic? Yes, this is where idea Generation comes into play. In fact, generating idea is at the heart of IELTS Task 2  essay planning.

On this page we are going to give you our special strategies for a band 9 essay idea generation. Make sure you go through all the discussion below. It will pay off, we guarantee.

Idea Generation Techniques

  1. Know the Common Topics

  2. Do Brainstorming or Mind Mapping

  3. Ask the 6 Questions

  4. Think Informal 

You can apply one or more than one of these strategies for generating ideas in IELTS Writing. We are going to discuss the strategies in detail. Let's move:

1. Know the Common Topics

If you know some common topics that might appear in the exam, it will be very easy for you to develop an IELTS essay idea. Let's take a look what are the most common topics for IELTS Writing Task 2 exam:

IELTS Writing Idea Generation

We have created this list studying over the last 10 years' actual test questions. More  than 90% questions in IELTS exam came from these topics.

Remember, the questions will appear from very basic areas, so that everyone can understand and respond. Remember, it's a language test, not a knowledge test. Examiners never expect you to be a master of all the branches of knowledge. Therefore, just go through the very basic issues on the topics listed above. Definitely, it will help you to generate ideas comfortably when they appear in IELTS essay section.

We're very lucky because we are living in the age of internet, in the age of easy access to knowledge. In these days, you don't need to go to school or library to acquire the basic knowledge on the common topics. There are plenty of study resources available online that you can use for free.

2.1. Brainstorming or Mind mapping?

Brainstorming and Mind Mapping are the two most popular methods of idea generation. Some students prefer brainstorming, some go for mind mapping. You can do whatever you are comfortable with. It's entirely up to you.

Brainstorming is simply writing the topic word at first, and then writing all the related words centered to the topic. When you've done this, try to organize some ideas looking at the words that you've just written.

However, many students don't like brainstorming strategy. They think it's too general. Previously, we stated in the question analysis part that your answer has to be very specific. If you just write some topic related random words, you are at the risk of being too general in your answer. 

Example Question

"Major development of information technology is helping people to share data in a split second almost all around the world.

Do you think advantage of this outweigh disadvantages."

Example Brainstorming

IELTS Writing Task 2 Brainstorming example

In the example above, technology is the topic word. Look, if you just keep writing some random vocabulary on technology, definitely you can write so many words and  sentences, but this is not what examiners expect. Your answer has to be very specific, which you can do more efficiently by applying Mind Mapping. That's why currently many students are resorting to mind mapping rather than the brainstorming approach.

2.2. Mind mapping

A mind map is a graphical way of representing ideas. It's not just writing the related words like brainstorming, rather it is like branching out ideas in a more organised way. If you can apply mind mapping, you don't need to spend extra time to organize your ideas. Because you've already written the words in an organised way. Look at the example below how we applied the mind mapping approach:

Example Question

"Major development of information technology is helping people to share data in a split second almost all around the world.

Do you think advantage of this outweigh disadvantages."

Example: Mind mapping

IELTS Writing Task 2 Mind mapping example

3. Ask Six Questions

Six Question Method is the oldest and easiest approach for idea generation. This is a very effective technique if you have enough practice of applying it. The six questions are:

Who?                       What?

Why?                       Where?

When?                     How?

Let's take a look how we can apply this technique:

Example Question

"Major development of information technology is helping people to share data in a split second almost all around the world.

Do you think advantage of this outweigh disadvantages."

Example: Six Question Approach

Who: Information technology

What: Helping people

How: by sharing data fast

However, you might not find all these 6 queries in one question. In fact, you might find two or three at most. Whatever you get, take it, use it for expanding your idea.

4. Think Informal 

Sometimes it's really difficult to think effectively under stress. This is even more true when it comes in an exam condition. That's why we recommend you find the keywords in the question sentence, then close your eyes and take a deep breath:


Imagine you are talking to your friend over a cup of tea or coffee in a beautiful morning, or having some drinks in the evening. Imagine your friend has asked this question to you, and you are sharing your thought on it.


Now, open your eyes and see how easy the life is. Feel the power of a cool head. This is informal thinking. Go for it, if you love it.

Amazing! You have just completed the 2nd stage of your essay planning. At first you went through how to analyze the question, and then you have just come across the idea generation techniques. Good work👍. Keep the momentum going on. It's time to check the next stage of our Task 2 essay planning process, it's about applying  examples. Go for it. 

Don't ignore the resources below:

Check the detailed discussion on all the types of IELTS Task 2 essays:

Don't forget to check the following resources as well:

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