Staying on topic

Once you’ve analysed the question and planned your paragraphs, you’re ready to start writing. However, it is very common for IELTS candidates to lose points as they start writing by simply not staying on topic.

A well-written paragraph in Task 2 should be very clear and relevant to the question. If you have stayed on topic when writing your answer, the reader should be able to read your paragraphs and work out what the title of your essay was. Read the paragraph below and the possible titles that follow.


There are many potential advantages to learning a foreign language. Primarily, there is the fact that larger businesses often work in an international sphere, meaning that employees who have the ability to communicate with overseas clients will become increasingly valuable. In addition to commercial motives, there is also the personal benefit in that learning a foreign language can also improve a student’s understanding of foreign cultures, as language and culture are often mutually dependent. In Japan, for example, the language has many levels of formality, which reflects the hierarchical structure of Japanese society.

Possible title #1:

Many people are unable to speak a second language. What are the solutions to this problem?

The paragraph does not refer to solutions. Instead it talks about the advantages of learning a foreign language. If this was the title, then the paragraph would be off topic.

Possible title #2:

The most important part of successful business is communication. Do you agree?

The paragraph refers to commercial and personal benefits of learning a second language, and does not focus on the important parts of successful business. If this was the title, then the paragraph would be off topic.

Possible title #3:

Many people are studying a second language. There are a number of benefits to this. To what extent do you agree?

The paragraph refers to the advantages of learning a foreign language, so this must be the question the paragraph relates to as it is on the topic.

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