Different Essay Types in IELTS Writing


Below is a brief explanation of how to deal with different ESSAY TYPES in IELTS Writing Task 2. These are not the only ways to answer Task 2 questions. They are safe ways and should help you to get a better grade for TASK RESPONSE.


a) OPINION


EXAMPLE: ‘People often have to pay to enter the world’s biggest and best museums. This is clearly wrong. It should be entirely free for everyone to go into a museum’. What do you think?


EXPLANATION: This essay asks for your opinion on a question.


In the INTRODUCTION, you can describe how this issue affects people and/or explain why the issue is important. This will allow you to re-phrase the question, using your own words.


You should include a THESIS STATEMENT at the end of the INTRODUCTION. The THESIS STATEMENT should give your opinion. You can usually either fully agree/disagree with the statement in the question or agree/disagree with it but not completely. You need to make this clear in your THESIS STATEMENT.


The MAIN BODY of the essay must reflect the THESIS STATEMENT. This means that if, in the THESIS STATEMENT, you tell the reader that you fully agree, both or all of your MAIN BODY PARAGRAPHS must give reasons why you fully agree and you should not include any points which disagree (unless you explain why these points are wrong). Similarly, if you tell the reader in your THESIS STATEMENT that you agree but not completely, your MAIN BODY PARAGRAPHS must include reasons why you agree and reasons why you do not agree. In this case, you should usually write more about why you agree than about why you disagree.


In your CONCLUSION, you can re-state your opinion and express a hope, wish, prediction, worry or fear about the future.

b) ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES ESSAY


EXAMPLE: It is believed by some that not letting cars and other vehicles enter city centres would be a good thing. What would be the positive and negative consequences of such an approach?


EXPLANATION: This essay asks you to explain the positive and negative points connected with a question or issue.


In the INTRODUCTION, you can describe how this issue affects people and/or explain why the issue is important. This will allow you to re-phrase the question, using your own words.


You should include a THESIS STATEMENT at the end of the INTRODUCTION. This THESIS STATEMENT should explain how you intend to answer the question. You should indicate that you will discuss both sides of the question. You could write: ‘This essay will outline the main reasons why prohibiting motor vehicles from city streets might make sense, as well as examining some of the potential downsides of this policy’. You do not need to give your opinion.


In PARAGRAPH 2 you can give two or three advantages. You should start this paragraph with a TOPIC SENTENCE which explains that you are going to do this. For example, you could write: ‘Several arguments in favour of banning cars from urban areas deserve to be mentioned.’


In PARAGRAPH 3 you can list two or three disadvantages. You should start this paragraph with a TOPIC SENTENCE which explains that you are going to do this. For example, you could write: ‘However, this approach may also have negative repercussions.’


In the CONCLUSION you can give your opinion: it is often better if you give the opinion that both the positive and negative sides of this issue have merit. For example, you could write: ‘Having examined the matter, I have reached the conclusion that whilst not allowing cars into cities might have benefits for residents’ quality of life, it could be detrimental economically’. Alternatively, you do not have to refer to your arguments and could write:

‘It seems reasonable to conclude that preventing cars from going into the centres of large cities may have both positive and negative repercussions/consequences’. You can express a hope, wish, prediction, fear or worry for the future in your final sentence.


c) PROBLEM AND SOLUTION ESSAYS


EXAMPLE: Many people suffer from stress at work. What are the causes of stress at work and what could be done to reduce it?


EXPLANATION: This essay asks you to identify what has caused a problem and how it can be solved.


In the INTRODUCTION, you can describe the problem and/or explain why the problem is important. This will allow you to re-phrase the question, using your own words.

At the end of the INTRODUCTION you should include a THESIS STATEMENT which indicates how you will answer the question. For example, you could write: ‘In the following paragraphs, I will explain why employees feel so pressurised, before looking at ways to alleviate stress in the workplace’. You do not need to give your opinion in the INTRODUCTION.


In PARAGRAPH 2 you can list two or three causes of the problem or reasons why the problem occurs. You should start this paragraph with a TOPIC SENTENCE which explains that you are going to do this. For example, you could write: ‘Work-related stress clearly has a range of causes.’ In PARAGRAPH 3 you can list two or three possible solutions. You should start this paragraph with a TOPIC SENTENCE which explains that you are going to do this. For example, you could write: ‘This serious issue obviously needs to be tackled and there are several possible approaches.’


Alternatively, you can use PARAGRAPH 2 to describe one problem and explain a possible solution. You can use PARAGRAPH 3 to describe a second problem and a possible solution. If you have time, you can write PARAGRAPH 4 with a third problem and a possible solution.


In the CONCLUSION, you can explain which possible solutions might be best, or explain that a combination of approaches would work, or indicate why no solution is likely to be very effective. In the final sentence you can express a hope, wish, prediction, worry or fear for the future.


d) DIRECT or TWO-PART QUESTION


EXAMPLE: Nearly all of us would like to be successful. Why is success so difficult to define? To what extent is our ability to succeed in life controlled by our genetic make-up?

EXPLANATION: This is a direct essay, containing two related questions. In the INTRODUCTION, you can explain why the issue is important or explain why the questions are important. This will allow you to re-phrase one or both of the questions, using your own words.


You should include a THESIS STATEMENT which tells your reader how you will answer the question. For example, you could write: ‘The essay will firstly explain why success is interpreted in different ways, before discussing whether biological or environmental factors determine how well we do in life.’


Alternatively, you could give your opinion in the THESIS STATEMENT at the end of the INTRODUCTION. For example, you could write: ‘I intend to demonstrate that what we understand by success depends on our upbringing, character and expectations and that whether we succeed or not has both biological and environmental causes’. This approach sometimes makes candidates write quite repetitively so you need to be careful if you decide to use it.


In PARAGRAPH 2 you can write about the first question. You should start your paragraph with a TOPIC SENTENCE which explains that you are going to do this. You could write: ‘What is meant by success varies considerably from person to person.’

In PARAGRAPH 3 you can write about the second question. If possible you should include a TOPIC SENTENCE which links the second question to the first question. For example, you could write: ‘One reason why we find this concept so problematic is the lack of agreement about whether doing well is the result of nature or nurture.’ If you cannot see a way to link the two questions, you should treat them as two separate questions and write a paragraph about each.


In the CONCLUSION, you can express the idea that this will always be an important issue. You can repeat your most important or relevant point. In the final sentence, you can express a hope, wish, prediction, worry or fear for the future.


e) DISCUSSION (WITH OPINION)


EXAMPLE: Many believe that it is better to live in a city than in the countryside. Discuss both of these options and give your own opinion.


EXPLANATION: This essay asks you to consider two different possibilities. Usually, you are expected to include your opinion. Even if the question does not ask for your opinion, it is possible to include it in the CONCLUSION.


In the INTRODUCTION, you can describe how this issue affects people and/or explain why the issue is important. This will allow you to re-phrase the question, using your own words.


You should include a THESIS STATEMENT at the end of the INTRODUCTION, which indicates that you will examine both options. For example, you could write: ‘This essay will examine in some detail the benefits and drawbacks of urban and rural life.’ You do not need to give your opinion in the INTRODUCTION, even if the question asks for it.

However, it is possible to include your opinion in the INTRODUCTION. For example, you could write: ‘In the following paragraphs, I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of urban and rural life, and demonstrate that living in the countryside is, in most respects, preferable.’


In PARAGRAPH 2, you can write about the first option. You can include description, positive aspects or negative aspects. You should include a TOPIC SENTENCE indicating that you are going to write about this option. For example, you could write: ‘Living in a city can be both immensely pleasurable and incredibly difficult’.


In PARAGRAPH 3, you can write about the second option. You can include description, positive aspects or negative aspects. You can compare the second option with the first option. You should include a TOPIC SENTENCE indicating that you are going to write about this option. For example, you could write: ‘Living in the countryside presents a different set of rewards and challenges.’


In the CONCLUSION, it is a good idea to give your opinion. Generally it is better to avoid writing that one option is entirely good and the other option is entirely bad. You can include a ‘compromise’ comment. For example, you could write: ‘It seems abundantly clear that whether a person enjoys fast-paced urban life or the tranquillity and calmness of the countryside will depend greatly on factors such as that person’s upbringing, character and expectations. It is almost impossible to generalise.’ In the final sentence you can include a hope, wish, prediction, worry or fear for the future.

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