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IELTS Writing Task 2 Types of essays

There are 5 types of IELTS Writing Task 2:

1. Discuss both views and give your opinion

2. Advantages and disadvantages

3. Cause and effect

4. Agree/disagree and Positive/Negative development

5. Problems and solutions

Let’s have a close look at each type.

1. Discuss both views and give your opinion

The most obvious task for this type will be the following:

Computers are being used more and more in education. Some people say that this is a positive trend, while others argue that it is leading to negative consequences. Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

As you can see, the task expresses two opinions on a certain topic, it is asked to discuss these views and express your opinion.

In general, the IELTS Task 2 type is determined by the final sentence of the task, but it is not always so obvious.

The hint in the text of the task is Some people think and others believe or their synonymous expressions, for example:

  1. Some people think that professional athletes make good role models for young people, while others believe they don’t. Give reasons for your answer.

  2. Some people prefer to eat at restaurants while others prefer to prepare and eat at home. Which  one do you prefer? Give reasons for your answer.

  3. Some people enjoy change, and they look forward to new experiences. Others like their lives to stay the same, and they do not change their usual habits. Compare these two approaches to life. Which approach do you prefer? Explain why?

But this example is not so obvious, but it also applies to this type:

Some people consider computers to be more of a hindrance than a help. Others believe that they have greatly increased human potential. How could computers be considered a hindrance?

we see typical Some people and Others, but pay attention to the question in the task: How could computers be considered a hindrance?
This is not Yes / No Question, and the question beginning with the question word How, is Wh-Question. This will help differentiate the types of assignments Discuss both these views and give your opinion from Agree/disagree.

This type of essay must be written on this template.

2. Advantages and disadvantages

As described above, phrases Some people and others are typical of the type Discuss both views and express your opinion. But be careful, read the task to the end. Let’s consider an example:

Space travel has become possible. Some people think that space tourism will probably be developed in the future. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of space tourism and give your own opinion.

Although here there are phrases some people think, give your own opinion,  the key task is Discuss the advantages and disadvantages.

Hence, this assignment is of the type Advantages/disadvantages

This type of essay must be written on this template.

Often in tasks of this type there is a keyword outweigh, consider the example:

People now have the freedom to work and live anywhere in the world due to the development of communication technology and transportation. Do the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?

The last question requires a slightly different response structure.

3. Cause and effect

Examples of tasks of this type:

  1. The percentage of overweight children in western society has increased by almost 20% in the last ten years. Discuss the causes and effects of this disturbing trend.

  2. As countries have developed there has been a trend towards smaller family sizes. Why does this happen? How does this affect society?

If there are phrases Discuss the causes and effects… How does this affect…, then we are talking about this type of task.

This type of essay must be written on this template.

Study the Model answers of this type

IELTS Writing Task 2: permissive parenting

4. Agree/disagree

Obvious task for this type will be the following:

Life was better when technology was simpler. To what extent do you agree and disagree?

If there are phrases do you agree or disagree … to what extent do you agree or disagree …, then it’s about this type of task.

But there are also not so obvious tasks of this type, for instance:

Is freedom of speech necessary in a free society? Give reasons for your answer.

In this case, the question mark at the end of the general question (there is no question word in its beginning), to which you can simply answer Yes / No (the so-called Yes No Questions) — Is freedom of speech necessary in a free society? — gives us to understand that it is Agree/disagree.

Here’s another example:

In some countries, an increasing number of people are suffering from health problems as a result of eating too much fast food. Is it necessary for governments to impose a higher tax on this kind of food?

This type of essay must be written on this template.

Study the Model answers of this type

IELTS Writing Task 2: recycling

IELTS Writing Task 2: business responsibilities

Positive or negative development

If the question asks you ‘Is this a positive or negative development?’, you are being asked to give your opinion. For instance:

Some universities now offer their courses on the Internet so that people can study online. Is this a positive or negative development?

Sometimes you can be asked about a positive or negative trend. But watch out, it can be also tricky:

Computers are being used more and more in education. Some people say that this is a positive trend, while others argue that it is leading to negative consequences. Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

Despite having phrases a positive trend and negative consequences it’s the ‘Discuss both views and give your opinion’ type.

This type of essay must be written on this template.

Study the Model answers of this type

IELTS Writing Task 2: shopping and entertainment

5. Problems and solutions

The examples of Problems and solutions:

  1. Overpopulation of urban areas has led to numerous problems. Identify one or two serious ones and suggest ways that governments and individuals can tackle these problems.

  2. In the developed world, average life expectancy is increasing. What problems will this cause for individuals and society? Suggest some measures that could be taken to reduce the impact of ageing populations.

Synonymous expressions, such as solutions =suggest ways= suggest some measures=how to tackle make it clear that this is that type of task.

This type of essay must be written on this template.

Study the Model answers of this type

IELTS Writing Task 2: re-offense


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