How to finish IELTS writing task 2 on time

How to finish IELTS writing task 2 on time

Written by Mr. Richard Forrest

It is a very common problem in IELTS writing task 2 that students simply run out of time!

timing IELTS writing


If you do not finish the assignment this can limit your grade in the task achievement to a grade 5. This is because you will not write 250 words as specified in the question.

In order to finish on time, you will need to work with a time schedule.

Below is a photo of the Great Britain Cycling Olympic team. The team will need to complete a certain amount of laps according to a time schedule.

For example

LAP1: 1.00  minute

LAP2 2.05 minutes

LAP3 3.15 minutes


You will notice on the left of the picture that there is a white line on the track. When the team is slow the coach will stand behind the white line (as he is doing in this picture). This tells the team that they need to go faster in order to achieve their goal. If the team are fast, the coach will stand in front of the white line. The team will then know they can go a little slower. When the coach is standing exactly on the white line he lets the team know that they are on the perfect schedule and they can continue at the same speed.

Why is this relevant to writing task 2?

It is relevant because you need to be like the coach and REACT to the schedule. In the exam, you must look at the clock and adjust your speed accordingly.


If you have spent 15 minutes planning (too slow) and continue writing at the same speed, you will likely not complete the question. Therefore, you must react and write the next part of your essay faster to make up time. Unfortunately, this might mean that you will not write the best essay you possibly can. You may have to sacrifice some style for speed!


The time schedule for a IELTS writing task 2 opinion essay


5/6 Minutes

I always recommend that my students do a plan. I strongly suggest that you spend longer rather than less time on planning your essay. It will save you time overall.


Paraphrase sentence 2 Mins

Thesis statement 1 min

Outline statement 1 min

Total for planning and introduction paragraph:   10 mins

Main body 1

Topic sentence

Topic explanation


13 mins

 Total time for planning, introduction, and main body 1 -  23 mins

Main body 2

Topic sentence

Topic explanation


13 mins

Total time for planning, introduction, main body 1 and main body 2-  36 mins




Essay finish time -  40mins