Writing task 2 tip – don’t use signposting!

Read the following essay question for writing task 2, and then read the sample essay introduction and see if you can find the unnecessary signposting in it…

ESSAY QUESTION:

As most people spend a major part of their life at work, job satisfaction is an important element of individual well-being.

What factors contribute to job satisfaction?
How realistic is the expectation of job satisfaction for all workers ?

ESSAY INTRODUCTION:

Paid work satisfaction has have a crucial role in one’s life since many people spend a big part of their life doing jobs. This essay intends to discuss the factors contributing to job satisfaction, such as fair compensation of peoples’ work and a good working environment and will also explain different parameters of job satisfaction for individuals.

Did you find it? The introduction includes two clauses of unnecessary signposting:

“This essay intends to discuss the factors contributing to job satisfaction”
“and will also explain different parameters of job satisfaction for individuals”

That’s 22 words in total!

Why shouldn’t you use signposting?

Here are four reasons why you shouldn’t tell the reader what “this essay will discuss/explain”:

  1. Signposting isn’t necessary for short essays such as IELTS essays
  2. Signposting doesn’t add any valuable content to increase your score in the Task Response criteria
  3. The examiner already knows what your essay will discuss because he has a copy of the task prompt
  4. You have limited time to write your essay

What should you write instead?

Instead of signposting, you could write something that directly responds to at least the first question (preferably both questions):

The factors contributing to a sense of fulfillment at work, which may include a fair salary or harmoneous working relationships, differ between individuals. As long as one finds a job that satisfies one’s own most important factor, then satisfaction at work can be a realistic goal.

Doing this also ensures that you have a clear position throughout the response to the question, which is a key requirement of the writing task 2 band descriptors for band 7+ in Task Response.

Classic Academic Style

In this video, linguistics professor Steven Pinker shares his tips on clear academic writing, with an example of the type of unnecessary signposting (which he refers to as “verbiage”) that he often reads in the academic writing of his students: