Ielts Task 2 Opinion Essay Ideas

IELTS Essay Structures

Knowing how to structure your IELTS Writing Task 2 essay is an essential skill that can make the difference between the getting and not getting the band score you deserve. With that in mind, we have outlined the most common IELTS Writing Task 2 structures below.

Nearly all of my Task 2 essay follow this basic structure:

The sentences you put in each paragraph will depend on what type of question you get.

The five most common IELTS Writing Task 2 questions are:

  1. Opinion (Agree or Disagree)
  2. Advantages and Disadvantages
  3. Problem and Solution
  4. Discussion (Discuss both view)
  5. Two-part Question

Below I will outline examples and a structure approved by experienced IELTS teachers and examiners for each type of question. This will help you write a clear, coherent answer and hopefully boost your IELTS band score. I also include an example answer for each type of question so you can see what the structure looks like in a real essay.

Please note that these are general structures and they may vary slightly depending on the particular question.

Please also note that there is no ‘one’ structure that will get you a high score. There are many types of structures that can get you a high score. These are just the ones I think are most effective and easiest to learn.

For more detailed guidance on each type of question please visit the lessons below. I have provided a link at the end of each section.

Opinion Questions (Agree or Disagree) 

Typical Question Words

What is your opinion?

Do you agree or disagree?

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Direct question.

Example Question

Some people believe that unpaid community service should be a compulsory part of high school programmes (for example working for a charity, improving the neighborhood or teaching sports to younger children).

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Structure 

Introduction 

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Thesis Statement (It is agreed…/It is disagreed…/This essay agrees/disagrees…)

Sentence 3- Outline Sentence (This essay will discuss….)

Main Body Paragraph 1 

Sentence 1- Topic Sentence

Sentence 2- Explain Topic Sentence

Sentence 3- Example

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- Topic Sentence

Sentence 2- Explain Topic Sentence

Sentence 3- Example

Conclusion 

Sentence 1- Summary and opinion

Sample Answer

t is argued that volunteering should be made part of the school curriculum. This essay agrees with that suggestion completely because of the benefits it brings to pupils. The essay will first look at how voluntary work can help students develop soft skills and then discuss how these extracurricular activities are valued by universities and employers.

Education should not be limited to strictly academic pursuits and those in education should also develop life skills, such as teamwork, empathy and self-discipline, and one of the best ways to hone these aptitudes is through community service. Serving those less fortunate than ourselves teaches us many lessons including how to work with people from other backgrounds and the value of hard work. For example, I personally volunteered to spend 6 weeks in Africa teaching disadvantaged children and this led to a much higher work ethic when I returned to my studies.

Many colleges and companies are also increasingly looking for this type of experience. Most school leavers have the same grades and charitable works can help set you apart from the herd. For example, Cambridge and Oxford receive thousands of applications from straight-A students every year and can only accept a small percentage of applicants. What you have done outside the classroom is often the thing that differentiates you from everyone else and gets you that coveted spot.

In conclusion, teenagers should be made to partake in unpaid work as part of their schooling because it will help them learn things they wouldn’t ordinarily learn from their teachers and it will also boost their chances of getting into third level education.

For more detail on how to answer agree or disagree questions please visit our opinion essay lesson. 

Need help writing essays like this? Check out our ESSAY CORRECTION SERVICE.

Advantages and Disadvantages Questions

Typical Question Words 

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

Example Question

Computers are being used more and more in education.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

Structure

Introduction 

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Outline Sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- State One Advantage

Sentence 2- Expand/Explain Advantage

Sentence 3- Example

Sentence 4- Result

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- State One Disadvantage

Sentence 2- Expand/Explain Disadvantage

Sentence 3- Example

Sentence 4- Result

Conclusion 

Sentence 1- Summary

Sentence 2- Opinion

Sample Answer 

It is argued that technology is playing an every increasing role in schools and universities. This essay will firstly, discuss student freedom as one of the main advantages of this and secondly, outline decreasing levels of face to face contact as one of the main disadvantages.

One of the principle advantages of an increase in the use electronic devices in education is the autonomy it provides students. Students have the freedom to focus on whatever topic or subject they want and study it in depth through the internet. A prime example of this is the amount of online university courses available to students, covering a myriad of subjects, that up until recently were unavailable to most learners. This has resulted in more people studying third level degrees than ever before, at a pace and schedule that suits them.

The main disadvantage associated with increasing use of technology in education is the decrease in face to face interaction between students. Students spend more time looking at computer screens by themselves than interacting with each other. For instance, the recent explosion in smartphone use has been at the expense of genuine human interaction. This results in soft skills, such as verbal communication and empathy, being affected.

In conclusion, the benefits technology brings to education, such as student autonomy, must be weighed against the drawbacks, such as negative effects on human interaction. Overall, the educational benefits outweigh the disadvantages because human beings will always want human contact and most people will not solely use IT for education.

For more detail on how to answer advantage and disadvantage questions please visit our advantage and disadvantage lesson. 

Discuss Both Views Question (Discussion Essay)  

Typical Question Words 

Discuss both points of view and give your opinion.

Example Question 

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.

Structure

Introduction 

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question and/or state both viewpoints.

Sentence 2- Thesis Statement

Sentence 3- Outline Sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- State first viewpoint

Sentence 2- Discuss first viewpoint

Sentence 3- Reason why you agree or disagree with viewpoint

Sentence 4- Example to support your view

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- State second viewpoint

Sentence 2- Discuss second viewpoint

Sentence 3- Reason why you agree or disagree with viewpoint

Sentence 4- Example to support your view

Conclusion 

Sentence 1- Summary

Sentence 2- State which one is better or more important

Sample Answer

There is an ever increasing use of technology, such as tablets and laptops, in the classroom. It is often argued that this is a positive development, whilst others disagree and think it will lead to adverse ramifications. This essay agrees that an increase in technology is beneficial to students and teachers. This essay will discuss both points of view.

It is clear that the Internet has provided students with access to more information than ever before. Moreover, learners have the ability to research and learn about any subject at the touch of a button. It is therefore agreed that technology is a very worthwhile tool for education. Wikipedia is a prime example, where students can simply type in any keyword and gain access to in-depth knowledge quickly and easily.

However, many disagree and feel that technology deprives people of real human interaction. Human interaction teaches people valuable skills such as discourse, debate and empathy. Despite this, human interaction is still possible through the internet and this essay disagrees technology should be dismissed for this reason. For instance, Skype and Facebook make it possible for people to interact in ways that were never before possible.

While the benefits of technology, particularly the internet, allow students to tap into limitless sources of information, some still feel that people should be wary of this new phenomena and not allow it to curb face to face interaction. However, as long as we are careful to keep in mind the importance of human interaction in education, the educational benefits are clearly positive.

For more detail on how to answer discussion questions please visit our discussion essay lesson. 

Problem and Solution Questions

Typical Question Words 

Problem and solution.

Cause and solution.

Example Question 

Students are becoming more and more reliant on computers.

What are some of the problems associated with reliance on computers, and what are some of the possible solutions?

Structure

Introduction 

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Outline Sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- State Problem

Sentence 2- Explain problem

Sentence 3- Result

Sentence 4- Example

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- State Solution

Sentence 2- Explain Solution

Sentence 3- Example

Conclusion 

Sentence 1- Summary

Sentence 2- Recommendation or Prediction

Sample Answer

Learners are becoming ever more dependent on technology, such as the Internet and mobile devices. This essay will discuss one of the main problems associated with dependence on computers and suggest a viable solution.

The principal problem with over-reliance on technology, such as tablets and computers, is plagiarism. Students often use search engines to answer a question and simply copy the text from a website, rather than thinking about the question. This practice is not only prohibited in schools and universities but also stunts a student’s intellectual development. For example, many teachers complain that students copy web pages straight from Wikipedia word for word rather than giving a reasoned answer to their questions.

A solution to this worrying problem is asking students to email their answers to teachers and teachers using anti-plagiarism software to detect copying. Moreover, students would be made aware of this practice and this would inspire them to answer questions using their own words, rather than someone else’s. For instance, many universities already use this kind software to scan course work for plagiarism and it could be extended to include all homework, by learners in both secondary and tertiary education.

In summary, one of the main problems with over-use of technology in education is plagiarism and this can be solved through the use of plagiarism detection software. It is predicted that more and more students’ will email their work to their teacher and this work will be scrutinised for plagiarism.

For more detail on how to answer problem and solution questions please visit our problem and solution lesson. 

Two-Part Questions

Typical Question Words 

There will normally be a statement and they will then ask you to answer to separate questions.

Example Question

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

What factors contribute to job satisfaction?

How realistic is the expectation of job satisfaction for all workers?

Structure

Introduction 

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Outline Sentence (mention both questions)

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- Answer first question directly

Sentence 2- Explain why

Sentence 3- Further explain

Sentence 4- Example

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- Answer second question directly

Sentence 2- Explain why

Sentence 3- Further explain

Sentence 4- Example

Conclusion 

Sentence 1- Summary

Sample Answer

As the majority of adults spend most of their time at work, being content with your career is a crucial part of a person’s health and happiness. This essay will first discuss which elements lead to job satisfaction and it will then address the question of how likely it is that everyone can be happy with their job.

The two most important things that lead to someone being satisfied at work are being treated with respect by managers and being compensated fairly. If those more senior than you respect you as a person and the job you are doing then you feel like you are valued. A fair salary and benefits are also important considerations because if you feel you are being underpaid you will either resent your bosses or look for another job. There two factors came top of a recent job satisfaction survey conducted by Monster.com, that found that 72% of people were pleased with their current role if their superiors regularly told them they were appreciated.

With regards to the question of happiness for all workers, I think this is and always will be highly unlikely. The vast majority of people fail to reach their goals and end up working in a post they don’t really care about in return for a salary. This money is just enough to pay their living expenses which often means they are trapped in a cycle of disenchantment. For example, The Times recently reported that 89% of office workers would leave their jobs if they did not need the money.

In conclusion, being satisfied with your trade or profession is an important part of one’s well-being and respect from one’s colleagues and fair pay can improve your level of happiness, however, job satisfaction of all workers is an unrealistic prospect.

Can I get a band 8 or 9 following these structures? 

Nobody can give you a structure that guarantees you a high score. You score is dependent on how good your grammar and vocabulary is and how well you answer the question. A good structure will help you answer the question to some extent and boost your score for coherence and cohesion, but you must use relevant ideas and use these ideas well to answer the question.

Next Steps 

Looking for some sample questions? Here are over 100 sample questions from past exam papers.

I hope you found this article useful. Now that you know the structures you should check out our task 2 sample answers to see how they have been used in practice.

Would you like me to check your essay and tell you how to improve? Check out our essay correction service.

The best way to keep up to date with more great posts like this and to access loads of practice exercises is to like us on Facebook.

For more help with IELTS please check out IELTS Preparation– The Ultimate Guide.

The key to IELTS Writing Task 2 success is to give the examiner exactly what they want and nothing else.

Below you will find everything you need to achieve a high score in IELTS Writing Task 2.

It includes:

  1. 5 Step Approach Video
  2. Essential Information
  3. Task 2 Preparation
  4. Writing Task 2 Tips
  5. Essential Skills
  6. Sentence-by-Sentence Structures
  7. Common Topics
  8. Full Lessons On All Question Types.
  9. Grammar
  10. Sample Answers
  11. Correction Service and Online Course
  12. Easy to Understand Infographic

 

IELTS Writing Task 2: 5 Step Approach

IELTS Writing Task 2 requires you to write an academic-style essay on a common topic. You have 40 minutes to write at least 250 words.

Task 2 can be broken down and thought about more easily in 5 steps:

     1. Question Analysis

You must first understand the question to know exactly what the examiner is looking for. One of the biggest mistakes students make is not answering the question properly. If you do not answer the question fully, you can’t score higher than a Band 5.

In order to do this, you must first identify the question type, then identify the keywords in the question and finally identify the instructions words in order to find out what the examiner wants you to do with the question. We will look at these skills in more detail below.

    2. Planning

The students who get the highest marks plan before they write and they often plan for up to 10 minutes. Planning helps you organise your ideas and structure before you write, saving you time and helping you write a clear essay.

    3. Introduction

The introduction should tell the examiner what the rest of the essay is about and also answer the question directly. This tells the examiner that you know what you are doing straight away and helps you write your main body paragraphs.

   4. Main Body Paragraphs

This is where you give the examiner more detail. You do this by stating your main points and supporting these with explanations and relevant examples.

   5. Conclusion

Here you provide a summary of what you have already said in the rest of the essay.

That’s it you’re done!

See below for articles on the specific skills you need to do this and full lessons on each different question type. 

 

IELTS Writing Task 2 Essential Information

Below are 10 essential facts about Task 2. Many students worry about these small details instead of focusing on what really matters- improving your performance. These facts will help you understand what the test is and how it is scored so that you can move on to improving your performance.

  1. You must write an essay in response to a question.
  2. You must write 250 words or more.
  3. You should spend around 40 minutes on this part of the test.
  4. Task 2 is worth 2/3 of your total mark on the Writing test.
  5. General Training and Academic are essentially the same for Task 2, but different for Task 1.
  6. There are certain types of questions you will be asked, such as opinion, discussion etc. See below for more detail on these.
  7. You will be assessed in four areas:
    1. Task Achievement (25%)
    2. Coherence and Cohesion (25%)
    3. Lexical Resource (25%)
    4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy (25%)
  8. The questions will be about common topics that most people in the world should be aware of.
  9. The most important thing is that you can demonstrate that you can clearly communicate in English.
  10. The key to doing well is to know exactly what the examiners want and giving it to them.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Preparation

Many people know that they need to improve their writing, but have no idea how to do that. Below is the methodology that I use with all of my successful students.

Understand

You must first understand what the IELTS Writing Task 2 is, what the examiners expect you to do and how to give the examiners what they want. This is the first stage and one that is often overlooked. There are a huge number of online resources, often with conflicting and poor quality information, so finding a reliable source of information is key.

Identify

If your car broke down, you would try and identify which part caused the problem. If you are sick, your doctor will run tests to find out the exact cause of your symptoms.

Task 2 is exactly the same. We must first identify WHY you are not getting the score you need before we can move to the next stage.

However, be very careful! You wouldn’t ask the average man on the street for medical advice, so make sure you find someone who actually knows what they are doing to help you with this.

Fix

Now that we know what the problems are we must fix these problems.

If your grammar needs work, fix those issues. If your vocabulary is lacking, work on fixing this issue.

Just like a good doctor will be able to help you fix a medical issue, a good IELTS teacher will be able to help you fix your particular issues.

Practice and Feedback

Practice alone is not going to help you. It is an essential part of your preparation, but you must also get feedback on your work if you are really going to improve.

You wouldn’t try to teach yourself how to drive without an instructor, would you?

Find someone who will give you accurate and helpful feedback on your work. If you don’t, you will not be able to move to the last stage.

Improvement

Now that you understand what you need to do, you’ve identified the exact areas you need to work on, you’ve improved those areas and got feedback on your work, you are ready to improve and get the score you need. You are not ready to get the IELTS Writing Task 2 score you deserve.

Essential Writing Task 2 Skills 

No matter how good your English is you still need to learn some IELTS writing skills before you do Writing Task 2. Below are helpful guides that will take you through each of these skills step-by-step.

Making a good plan actually saves you time when you write your essay. If you don’t plan you are more likely to get lost halfway through your essay and the result is normally a very confused piece of writing that is difficult to read. This guide will show you how to write a clear essay every time.

Thinking of good ideas is one of the most challenging parts of the test for some people. This guide provides 5 different methods to help you quickly think of relevant ideas that are directly linked to the question.

Complex sentences help you boost your score for grammar. Complex sentences are actually very simple to write and are not complex at all- in this article we show you how.

Paraphrasing is one of the essential IELTS skills, not just in Writing Task 2, but in all parts of the IELTS test. You should paraphrase the question in every essay and I recommend doing this in the very first sentence to help boost your vocabulary score.

Supporting paragraphs are the main body paragraphs and are the meat in the sandwich. This is where you provide the detail the examiner is looking for in the form of explanations and examples.

A thesis statement tells the examiner your opinion. Many IELTS Writing Task 2 questions specifically ask for your opinion and if you don’t write it clearly you have not answered the question properly. This article shows you how, where and when to give your opinion.

Around 250 words? Exactly 250 words or over 250 words? How many words over? How do I know how many words I have? This article answers all those questions.

A critical part of answering any question. This article shows you how to break down any Task 2 question and identify the keywords, micro-keywords and instruction words to help you answer the question effectively.

The introduction is the first thing the examiner reads and it is, therefore, essential that we give them a good first impression. I have a very specific sentence by sentence structure that I share in this article to help you write introductions quickly and effectively.

Do you know how Task 2 is marked? What is the difference between a Band 5 and a Band 8 answer? This article breaks the marking criteria down for you and explains it in simple language so you can give the IELTS examiners exactly what they want.

A good conclusion should be a summary of your main points. The conclusion is the last thing the examiner reads and if you can write a good one you will leave them with a very good impression.

Each of your supporting paragraphs should have a specific example that supports and illustrates your main point. This is an essential skill to learn if you want to get one of the higher band scores.

Cohesive devices, sometimes called linking words, are one of the most misunderstood and misused elements of writing. Learn how to use them and when to use them here.

Synonyms are very important, but they can also really reduce you mark if used incorrectly.

Learn how Tina went from a Band 6 to and Band 8 in IELTS Writing in just 6 weeks.

I recorded a video of me answering a Task 2 question live and thought out loud as I recorded my computer screen. This will give you an insight into how someone with lots of IELTS experience thinks about these questions.

This article will show you how to make your writing as clear and as easy to read as possible. It will also give you advice on whether to use a pen or pencil.

I have compiled these tips after years of teaching IELTS and all of them have been approved by IELTS examiners.

This is a video lesson that shows you in practical terms how to improve your coherence and cohesion score.

 

Writing Task 2 Structures 

These structures give you a sentence-by-sentence structure for all the main Task 2 question types, making your job much easier on exam day.

One thing I would like to warn you about structures is that they are not a magic wand that will help you automatically get a higher score. They will help you, but please realise that they are just a small part of the overall score.

 

Writing Task 2 Common Topics 

Knowing the common topics can help you prepare for the test more efficiently. Here are the 10 most common topics over the last few years. Studying hard is great, but don’t forget to study smart.

The article below will show you the top 10 most common IELTS topics.

The article below will show you how you can use the most common Task 2 topics to your advantage.

 

 

Full Writing Task 2 Practice Lessons 

Here are some lessons that I have used when teaching students about Task 2. I have changed them so that you can easily learn at home. They are very long but combined with the skills above, they contain all the information you need.

Grammar and Vocabulary

Grammar is one of the four things you will be marked on in the Writing test. Finding out what your common grammar mistakes are and then fixing them is a very powerful way to boost your score in this area. Here are some common grammar mistakes I have found after making hundreds of tests.

Sample Answers

It’s very important that you have some good examples so that you can compare your writing and see if you are on the right track. Click the link below for lots of sample answers and over 100 questions.

IELTS Writing Course

We offer help to a very small number of students with IELTS Writing Task 2 and all other areas of the test. I do not believe that simply offering students lots of videos helps them, so we do things very differently on our online courses.

We believe that students do best when they have full support and can get feedback and help with their particular problems. We treat our students as individuals, not numbers in a classroom. If you would like more information about our courses, please feel free to check them out here.

Due to the success of our courses and overwhelming demand, there is normally a waiting list.

 

Essay Correction Service

Need help writing essays like these? Check out our ESSAY CORRECTION SERVICE.

Summary

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