IELTS Essay Types and how to conquer them all
The IELTS Writing Task 1 is pretty straight forward and usually causes no difficulty to any test-takers. However, when it comes to writing task 2, many IELTS test-takers are confused about how to start and structure their essay, since there are 5 different question types. Moreover, the writing task 2 is worth double the points compared to task 1.
All writing task 2 essays are required to consist of at least 250+ words and you are supposed to spend 40 minutes on the same. It is up to you though, if you want to spend that amount of time on writing task 2.
Academic and general IELTS writing task 2 is evaluated the exact same way. The only difference may be that the general writing task topic is usually a little easier.
Both writing task versions will be related to some of these themes:
Fitness and Health
Communication and Personality
Now, as an IELTS Test-taker, you may think to yourself "Oh wow, how am I supposed to know everything about all of these topics?"
Good News: These are very basic topics and you probably already have a basic knowledge of most of them. No one expects you to be an expert in all of these areas. Most of the essay question types revolve around you expressing your own thoughts, arguments, and opinions.
General essay structure:
- Introduction (not too long, just paraphrase the essay question and if asked to present your opinion)
- 1st Body Paragraph
- 2nd Body Paragraph
1. Opinion/ Argumentative Essays
(What is your opinion? Do you agree or disagree? To what extent do you agree or disagree? A direct question.)
E.g.: In many countries today, parents are able to choose to send their children to single-sex schools or co-educational schools. Some people think that children going to single-sex schools have disadvantages later in life.
To what extent do you agree?
Make sure to state your opinion clearly. Don't change your views in the middle, stay consistent. Give reasons for your opinion, as well as include your own knowledge and experiences to support your stance. Your answer has to cover all parts of the task.
2. Discussion Essays
You will be given two opposing opinions on a certain topic. In your essay, you have to discuss both sides of the matter. Only give your own opinion, if it is asked.
E.g.: There seems to be an increasing number of serious crimes committed each year. While some think the best way is to use the death penalty as a deterrent, many people believe that other measures will be needed.
Discuss both sides.
For this type of essay, you should make use of phrases like however, it is believed that, on one hand, / on the other hand, some people agree/disagree, and they claim that.
Make sure to use examples, knowledge, and experience for both sides.
3. Advantage/Disadvantage Essays
For this type of essay, you have to discuss both sides of the topic, positive and negative. Advantage/Disadvantage essays are not the same as Discussion essays.
With the rise of e-books comes the decline in paper books. Some people see this as a good step forward while others do not. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this trend?
Make sure to take time to plan good main points and supporting points for both sides.
Read the instruction carefully. Sometimes you are asked to give your own opinion.
To avoid any confusion and keep a clean structure, write the positive sides in one paragraph and the negative side in another paragraph.
4. Problem Solution Essays
In problem solution essays you are given a problem for which you have to come up with a solution in essay form. Once in a while, you also may be asked to discuss the reasons for the given issue. This should be the first thing you do when you read the question; figure out if you need to give a solution or write about the reasons as well.
E.g.: Overpopulation in many major urban centers around the world is a major problem. What are the causes of this? How can this problem be solved?
A lot of test-takers see it as a waste of time to truly spend some time planning your main points and points to support them. Don't ruin your essay and your score by thinking like that. A great structure and valid points already give you the foundation you need for your dream score.
Therefore, use one body paragraph for the reasons of the given problem and the other body paragraph for the solution.
You should use expressions like due to, as a result of, because of, reasons for, etc.
5. Direct Questions Essays
This type of essay question may appear to be a little trickier than the others. You will not be given a straightforward task; instead, you will be asked two or more general questions.
E.g.: Success is often measured by wealth and material belongings. Do you think wealth is the best measure of success? What makes a successful person?
Read all questions carefully and plan one main point to answer each question.
It is also super important here to maintain a clear structure. Please refrain from writing more than 3 body paragraphs.
Your essay should be logical and answer all the questions.
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