When the timer starts for writing your essay, you should spend about five minutes for planning, not writing. Don’t start writing your essay until you have a solid plan for what you are going to say. Too many people receive their question and immediately begin writing their essay. They may be worried about not being able to finish in time, but when you have a plan for what you are going to say, not only will you beat the clock, but you will have a much more polished essay as well. Within the first five minutes of the writing task, you can put together a solid plan, and it is well worth it to hold off on writing until you have this done.
When you take the time to plan your essay, you reap many benefits that you would not otherwise have if you jumped right in with writing at the start. You will reduce your anxiety which will allow you to stay more focused. You will actually save time in the writing process because you will not need to pause in order to organize your thoughts. When you know what you are going to say when you begin writing, your coherence and cohesion are improved because you already have in mind what you want to say. Let’s look at a few strategies for the planning stage.
What you need to do first is identify the question type. This determines the structure of your body paragraphs. Are you writing an opinion essay, discussion essay, opinion/discussion essay, or situation essay? It is crucial that you identify the question type at the start.
Next, underline the key words in the question. This is important because in order to score well, you have to address all parts of the task. Underlining key words keep you focused on what those tasks are and helps prevent you from leaving something out.
After you have identified the question type and underlined the key words, it is time to plan the structure of your essay. All essays, regardless of question type, should consist of an introduction, two body paragraphs, and a conclusion. It is in the body paragraphs that you need to do most of your planning at this stage. The plan for your introduction and conclusion should already have been known before you entered the testing center. But now, during these initial five minutes of the test, you need to focus on those two body paragraphs.
In general, each of your paragraphs should have three elements: a topic sentence, supporting sentences, and examples. Without these, your ideas will not come across as being well-developed. Make sure that you only talk about one topic in each of the paragraphs. Decide how you will elaborate on your topic sentence and what examples you will use.
So, there are three stages you can use to develop your plan in the first five minutes of the Writing Task 2 essay: (1) identify the question type, (2) underline key words, and (3) structure your body paragraphs. It is the planning stage in which you are not doing any writing at all that can spell the difference between getting a high score and a mediocre score on your Writing Task 2 essay.