IELTS Task 2 essay formulas to make your life easier

If you want to do well on your IELTS test, it’s a good idea to prepare and bring some writing tools to help you save time on test day. Let’s look over the common essay questions and then focus on a simple formula for the discussion essay as an example.

If you would like to see a simple formula for agree/disagree essays from a previous blog, go here

In my experience as an IELTS test preparation teacher, it is clear that people who do well on the Writing task of IELTS always:

Know what to expect: There are four common types of essay questions that often show up on the test.

Have a plan: In addition to knowing the different essays, come to the test with a general map or plan of how to organize your ideas in the various essay styles.

Here are the four common essay types you can expect to see on the IELTS test

  1. Agree/Disagree
  2. Discussion
  3. Problem/Solution
  4. Advantage or Disadvantage

And here are examples of the kinds of prompts you might see for each type:

1. Some people believe the internet is the most important invention in modern history.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

2. Some people believe that testing products on animals should be banned but others think that this is necessary.
Discuss both views and give your opinion.

3. More and more professionals, such as engineers and doctors, are leaving their own poorer countries to work in developed countries.

What problems does this cause?
What solutions can you suggest to deal with this?

4. These days more and more people are choosing to improve their appearance with cosmetic surgery.

Do the disadvantages of this trend outweigh any advantages?

Note that most other essay prompts will be direct questions (similar to task 3 above) and you should answer each of those questions directly in your body paragraphs including an opinion only if you are asked for it. Make sure you include an introduction and conclusion.

Tip: As we are going to focus on discussion essays, it is important to understand that you must present both sides of the argument in your response. Therefore, even if you strongly disagree, you will have to devote a little time to the opposite opinion.

 

SAMPLE QUESTION, ANSWER AND FORMULA

Here is an example test question and answer. Each sentence has an important purpose in the essay. See if you can understand the function of each line and paragraph before you look at the formula that follows.

Some people believe that the best way to control accidents on city streets is to lower the speed limit, but others think there are better ways to improve the safety on city streets.

Discuss both views and give your opinion.

The number of serious accidents is growing because more and more people are driving cars on city streets. Some think the solution lies in lowering speed limits, but others think that improving public transportation will have a more powerful effect as it will take cars off the road completely. I believe both solutions are valid. This essay will consider the different viewpoints before deciding what is the best solution.

There are some that see speeding as the main reason why people are involved in motor vehicle accidents and think that driving slower can solve the problem. Indeed, if people drove slower throughout the city, the risk and frequency of accidents would decrease because the faster a car travels, the more damage it can do to whatever it hits. Many cities around the world, like Paris, France, have significantly lowered their speed limits over the last decade and it seems that fewer serious incidents have been reported.

However, some think that streets would be safer with fewer cars on the road and so the solution lies in improving public transportation. Faster and more efficient subway and bus systems along with reliable high-speed train service in and out of a city will make it easier for commuters to choose an alternative to driving. Cities, like Seoul Korea, that have focused on building public transport that is reliable, fast and safe are examples of how this approach can reduce the number of traffic accidents while keeping people moving.

My opinion is a balance of the two. Cities that have been developed with great public transport systems have fewer car problems on the road and if they also have lower speed limits, they are an ideal place to visit or work in. Brussels, Belgium is an example of this as it has fast and reliable tram, bus and metro systems and it also ensures that drivers maintain slower speeds by installing speed bumps, traffic circles and frequent speed monitoring devices so there are far fewer reports of serious accidents.

City streets need to be safer for everyone and speeding is definitely a problem but with improved public transit, there will be fewer cars to worry about. If cities make drivers slow down and also maintain an efficient rail and bus system, the issue of safe roads will be reduced, and we can all feel safe getting around.

Now, here is the map or outline for how the above essay was composed:

 

DISCUSSION ESSAY - 5 PARAGRAPH FORMULA

Paragraph One – Introduction

Sentence 1:  Introduces the main subject.

The number of serious accidents is growing because more and more people are driving cars on city streets.

Sentence 2:  States the two opposing views about the subject.

Some think the solution lies in lowering speed limits, but others think that improving public transportation will have a more powerful effect as it will take cars off the road completely.

Sentence 3:  States the writer’s opinion in the matter.

I believe both solutions are valid.

Sentence 4:  Briefly outlines what you are going to write about in the paragraphs that follow.

This essay will consider the different viewpoints before deciding what is the best solution.

Paragraph Two – Body

Sentence 1:  Gives the first viewpoint.

There are some that see speeding as the main reason why people are involved in motor vehicle accidents and think that driving slower can solve the problem.

Sentence 2:  Discusses why some people might hold this view.

Indeed, if people drove slower throughout the city, the risk and frequency of accidents would decrease because the faster a car travels, the more damage it can do to whatever it hits.

Sentence 3:  Gives an example that supports their viewpoint.

Many cities around the world, like Paris, France, have significantly lowered their speed limits over the last decade and it seems that fewer serious incidents have been reported.

Paragraph Three – Body

Sentence 1:  Gives the second viewpoint.

However, some think that streets would be safer with fewer cars on the road and so the solution lies in improving public transportation.

Sentence 2:  Discusses why some people might hold this view.

Faster and more efficient subway and bus systems along with reliable high-speed train service in and out of a city will make it easier for commuters to choose an alternative to driving.

Sentence 3:  Gives an example that supports their viewpoint.

Cities, like Seoul Korea, that have focused on building public transport that is reliable, fast and safe are examples of how this approach can reduce the number of accidents while keeping people moving.

Paragraph Four – Body

Sentence 1:  Gives your viewpoint.

My opinion is a balance of the two.

Sentence 2:  Discusses why you hold this view.

Cities that have been developed with great public transport systems have fewer car problems on the road and if they also have lower speed limits, they are an ideal place to visit or work in.

Sentence 3: Gives an example that supports your viewpoint.

Brussels, Belgium is an example of this as it has fast and reliable tram, bus and metro systems and it also ensures that drivers maintain slower speeds by installing speed bumps, traffic circles and frequent speed monitoring devices so there are far fewer reports of serious accidents.

Paragraph Five - Conclusion

Sentence 1:  Summarizes the different opinions on the topic.

City streets need to be safer for everyone and speeding is definitely a problem but with improved public transit there will be less cars to worry about.

Sentence 2:  States which opinion is better or more important in your view.

If cities make drivers slow down and also maintain an efficient rail and bus system, the issue of safe roads will be reduced and we can all feel safe getting around.

In this example, the opinion of the writer is a combination of the two given opinions, but it is also possible to agree with just one or neither.

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