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Sample IELTS Writing Task Two (March 11th): Lack of Interpersonal Ability

On Saturday May 11th, 2019, the following Task-Two Question appeared in the real IELTS test.


 Task 2

Some businesses find that new employees who have finished their education lack basic interpersonal ability, such as being able to work with others as a part of a team.

What do you think are the causes of this problem, and how do you think it can be solved?


Notice that this is a Discussion Question (that is, you do not argue, but discuss or give your perspective on aspects to an issue).

If you check p.30 of my Writing Task Two book (3rd edition), you will see the recommended structure. We have to discuss the (A) causes and (B) solutions. We will use three body-paragraphs to the essay, which means doing a AAB or ABB, but notice that there is an ‘s’ on ‘causes’, which suggests the best structure is AAB (=Cause 1, Cause 2, Solution 1).

Here is the sample answer.


Human beings are innately* gregarious*, with a hardwired instinct* to communicate. Additionally, cities now concentrate multitudes* of people into co-operative cohorts*, meaning that interpersonal skills have never been more important. Given this, a discussion of why many school leavers lack these skills, and ways to solve this problem, is certainly needed.

One reason for this phenomenon* is the dominance* of social networking technology, which diverts* the youth from face-to-face communication. The convenience of mobile phones, together with wi-fi, has revolutionised* the way people, especially teenagers, interact. Skype, line, and we-chat are just some of the numerous ‘apps’ which suck the youth into virtuality*, rather than reality – but this real world is where the dynamic* political, personal, and diplomatic* skills are truly developed.

Another reason new employees lack these skills is the exam-based nature of their education, which ignores personal development in favour of test results. Society is becoming increasingly competitive, meaning additional after-hours ‘cram schools’ are now normal, replacing the co-operative team-based sports and interactional games once played. This can be seen in my country, Australia, where many traditional football clubs are now closing down as the demographics* and priorities* of the youth change in response to this new world.

One solution is for schools to imbed* communication more deeply into their syllabus, especially when grading. Although there exists sports and PE* programs, the learning itself needs to shift its focus* from the abstract* accumulation* of facts to the development of inner selves. An illustrative* example is the International-Baccalaureate (IB) scheme, where testing is often based on group project and presentation work, and the marking on outcomes worded* around communication, participation, and the real skills needed in today’s society. Such systems need to become mandatory*.

[285 words]


The essay could end here. As I say to my class, a discussion essay has no need of a ‘conclusion’, since there is nothing meaningful to conclude.

If a conclusion is written, it must be …

  • short [two sentences only],
  • not repetitive,
  • meaningful.


Here is an example (of 35 words), following the model on p.103 of my Writing Task Two book (3rd edition).

Possible Conclusion (if time allows)

Although the problem is conspicuous* enough, it needs more publicity to prompt* a concerted* response. However, with the growth of IB and other educational approaches, hopefully the future will see a reversal of this trend.

[320 words]


Word Learning Time

Now, use your dictionary to find the meaning of all the following words, then check how I used them in the sample answer (where they are marked with a *).

1 innate (adj)
2 gregarious (adj)
3 instinct (n)
4 multitude (n)
5 a cohort (n)
6 phenomenon (n)
7 dominance (n)
8 to divert (v)
9 to revolutionise (v)
10 virtual (adj)
11 dynamic (adj)
12 diplomatic (adj)
13 demographics (n)
14 priority (n)
15 to imbed (v)
16 PE (n)
17 focus (n)
18 abstract (adj)
19 accumulation (n)
20 illustrative (adj)
21 to word (v)
22 mandatory (adj)
23 conspicuous (adj)
24 to prompt (v)
25 concerted (adj)

I hope all this helps, and good luck with the IELTS test.