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5 challenges nurses face while answering IELTS writing task 2


While nurses write a lot of notes, they face a challenge while writing and using simple, everyday language. They are so exposed to technical and medical language that everyday language becomes difficult for them to use, especially in writing. The challenge is more in answering the IELTS writing task 2, because it involves using of specific vocabulary about which most people are either unaware or even if they are aware about it, they are not in the habit of using it. It would require knowledge and then regular practice to overcome the challenges faced while attempting the IELTS writing task 2.

Let us look at the top 5 challenges faced while answering IELTS writing task 2. Even if you are not a nurse you are likely to face these, so why not have a look?

Challenges Faced:

  1. Identifying the type of question

The type of questions you are likely to be asked in the IELTS writing task 2 can be broadly divided into 7 categories:

i. Agree/disagree

In this type of question you will directly asked whether you agree or disagree to a given statement, fact or opinion.


In some countries an increasing number of people are suffering from health problems as a result of eating too much fast food. It is therefore necessary for governments to impose a higher tax on this kind of food.

ii. Discuss two opinions

Here, two contrasting opinions of facts will be presented on one topic and you will be asked to discuss your views on both of these.


Computers are being used more and more in education. Some people say that this is a positive trend, while others argue that it is leading to negative consequences.

Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

iii. Advantages and disadvantages

A fact, opinion or statement will be given and you will be asked to write advantages as well as disadvantages for both.


With the rise of e-books comes the decline in paper books. Some people see this as good step forward while others do not.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this trend?

iv. Cause (reasons) and solutions

You will be given a problem statement and asked to state the reasons for the same and even provide solutions for the problem.


Overpopulation of urban areas has led to numerous problems.

Identify one or two serious ones and suggest ways that governments and individuals can tackle these problems.

v. Cause (reasons) and effects

In this type of question you will be given a problem statement and asked to state the reasons for the same and highlight on the effects of the problem.


The percentage of overweight children in western society has increased by almost 20% in the last ten years.

Discuss the causes and effects of this disturbing trend.

vi. Problems and solutions

Such a question will directly state that the given statement is a problem and ask for solutions to the same.


Global warming is one of the biggest threats humans face in the 21st Century and sea levels are continuing to rise at alarming rates.

What problems are associated with this and what are some possible solutions.

vii Compare and contrast

Here, two ideas will be presented and you will be expected to pit them against each other by comparing them with each other by talking about their similarities and contrasting them by talking about the differences between them


It is often cited that “Not everything that is learned is contained in books”. According to many, we learn most of the things from our own experience while others believe that books are our main source of knowledge.

Even for a non medical person identifying which one out of these 7 questions has been asked in the IELTS writing task 2 is difficult so for a nurse who is exposed to only technical and medical language in her everyday life, it is even more difficult.

  1. Grammar

Grammar too plays a vital role in the IELTS writing task 2. Non-native speakers face a lot of problem when writing in English because their thought process occurs in their native language or mother language. This, plus the fact that nurses are not used to being grammatically correct in their profession and therefore they are either not aware or not used to correct grammar.

  1. Vocabulary to be used

The IELTS writing task 2 expects the students to use certain words in their essays to gauge their fluency and coherence in the English course.

For example, in the introduction, you should use the following phrases to create an impact

  • This essay will talk about…

  • This essay agrees/disagrees…

Similarly, for the body you should use

  • Furthermore,

  • Similarly,

  • To add to this,

  • Over and above this,

And for the conclusion using phrases like

  • In conclusion

  • To summarize

  • To conclude

for creating a good impression on the examiner

  1. Timing

Timing is of pivotal importance in the IELTS writing task 2. You are given 40 minutes to write a 250 word essay on a topic which you might or might not have any knowledge about. This would be a challenge for even someone who has a good command over the language and possesses a good vocabulary.

For being able to attempt the IELTS writing task 2 within the stipulated time, you also need to finish your task 1 quicky for which you should not spend more than 20 minutes. You lose out on your allotted time in the task 2 (which carries a higher grading) if you spend more time on the task 1. This timing oneself can only be mastered through practice and regular writing. As nurses (and even other people) are not used to engaging in writing (especially with a pen and a paper), being able to write what you want and in the correct way within the given time is a big challenge indeed!

  1. Structuring of the essay

Every type of IELTS writing task 2 essay needs to be well structured. An introduction, a body and a conclusion will fetch you a good band as it shows your thought process is linear and that your thoughts are well organized.

As nurses are not used to writing in detail and so much at a stretch, they find it difficult to put down their thoughts on paper in an organized way.

These challenges however can be overcome easily. Let us have a look then!

Overcoming the challenges

  1. Build up on your vocabulary

Learn the vocabulary for each section of the essay and for each type of essay. This can only become a habit through regular practice.

  1. Practice writing with a pen/pencil and a paper

We live in the age of technology and e learning. Most of us have given up using a pen and paper for communicayion purposes and this becomes a problem when attempting the IELTS writing task 2 and 1. Therefore writing a word document on your system is not going to help because not only will that fail to show your actual writing skills but it won’t help real time practice either.

  1. Read about anything and everything

The more you read, the more knowledge you will amass and the better your chances for forming an opinion on things. This opinion formation and making is an important part of the IELTS wiriting task 2 as most of the questions asked here will expect you to state your opinion and justify it with arguments and examples

4. Plan the essay

Making a good plan actually saves you time when you write your essay. If you don’t plan you are more likely to get lost halfway through your essay and the result is normally a very confused piece of writing that is difficult to read. Therfore learn how to plan your essay by creating a mind map in the initial 5 minutes before starting to write your essay

  1. Time yourself

The total time allowed for the IELTS Academic Writing test is 60 minutes. Time yourself and allow just one hour to complete both parts of the test. Task 2 contributes twice as much as task 1 to the Writing score and therrefore it needs to be given more time. Practice alone will help you overcome this challenge. So take out your pens and pencils and start writing.

6.Learn to identify the type of question

As mentioned earlier, there are 7 types of questions which can be aksed in the IELTS writing task 2. You willlearn to identify them only if you have gone through enough examples for each. So keep yourself updated with the past as well the most recent questions asked in the IELTS Writing task 2 and try to identify which one it is, This will make it easier for you when you prcatice as well as when you actually appear for the IELTS.

All in all, nurses face almost the same kind of challenges as any other candidate appearing for the IELTS. However some of them are specific to their field and we have covered them all in the article here.

The trick to overcoming these challenges is figuring out the problems that you are facing and also knowing which one needs more focus. Now that you know the problems and the solutions too, start practising without further ado. For more help on these you can refer to our other articles on howtospeakenglishwell.com

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