Writing Task 2 | Essay Types Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

​Opinion essays are a very common type of IELTS task 2 essay and so it is very important that you can write them effectively. This class will teach you to do so by looking at typical opinion essay structure paragraph by paragraph.

Read the task 2 essay question below.

Violence on television has a negative impact on children’s behaviour.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.


​Write at least 250 words.


​Exercise 1 | Understand the Task

​It is very important to fully understand the question before you write anything. Are the following statements about the task true or false?

1. The general topic of the essay is violence on television.
2. The specific topic of the essay is the impact of violent television programs on people’s behaviour.
3. The specific topic of the essay is the impact of violent television programs and computer games on children’s behaviour.
4. The specific topic of the essay is the impact of violent television programs on children’s behaviour
5. You need to provide a balance of opinion. In other words, you must provide reasons for and against the impact of television on the behaviour of children.
6. You only need to provide your own opinion about the topic.
7. You must provide examples and/or supporting evidence to support your opinions.
8. You must write at least 250 words.

Before we continue the activities below, spend 5 minutes brainstorming arguments that you might use to answer the task question. You can later compare your arguments to the ones used in the sample essay in Exercise 4.


​Exercise 2 | Plan your Essay

People who plan make better essays.

Before you start writing, you need to decide what your opinion is about the topic. Then you need to decide what each paragraph will focus on.

Read the following introduction and decide if the writer believes that television has a negative impact or no impact at all.

These days almost every house contains a Television and it is reasonable to assume that television programs impact the behaviour of the young and impressionable. It is my belief that violence on television leads to violent behaviour for some children and fearful and withdrawn behaviour for others.

1. The writer believes television has
a negative impact on children’s behaviour.
a positive impact on children’s behaviour.
both positive and negative impacts on children’s behaviour.

Follow these links for more practice at writing a good introduction and an accurate thesis statement. 


Exercise 3 | Have Relevant Ideas

Each paragraph should have ONE topic/main idea and supporting information with examples to support that main idea.

In addition to the introduction and conclusion paragraphs, we recommend that you write 2 body paragraphs that include your main ideas. A good writer starts each body paragraph with a topic sentence. The topic sentence provides the general topic of the paragraph without giving detailed ideas or examples.
Topic sentence (body paragraph 1):
Watching violent programs leads some children to copy the violent behaviour they see.

Are the following ideas or examples relevant (connected to the topic) or irrelevant (not connected to the topic)?

1. If children see violence on television, it may seem normal for them and so they may copy it.
2. Last week there were many violent movies on television.
3. Children often become more aggressive after they watch violence on television.
4. An example in which a child watches something violent and then hurts another child.
5. Violent computer games make children much more aggressive.
6. Television is more exciting than other types of entertainment.

Topic sentence (body paragraph 2):
If children witness television violence they may become withdrawn and afraid of others.

Are the following ideas or examples relevant or irrelevant​?

1. My little brother is shy and has trouble making friends and he prefers to use gadgets rather than socialise.
2. Some young children may be afraid to leave the house after they watch violent television programs.
3. Many young children become afraid of strangers after they see violence on television.
4. Children who watch television too much may not complete their homework and so fall behind in their studies.


Exercise 4 | Label the sample essay

Read the sample essay. The writer has written each and every sentence in the essay for a particular reason. What is the function of each sentence?
Introduction paragraph:
1 These days almost every house contains a Television and it is reasonable to assume that television programs impact the behaviour of the young and impressionable. 2 It is my belief that violence on television leads to violent behaviour for some children and fearful and withdrawn behaviour for others.
Which sentence…

A. provides the writer’s opinion.
B. states the topic of the essay.

Body paragraph 1:
3 Watching violent programs leads some children to copy violent behaviour. 4 Many programs contain extremely realistic scenes of violence and it has been shown that children who watch these types of programs may think violence is normal. 5 For example, if a child watches a scene depicting violent bullying occurring in a school he/she may think it is acceptable and so copy the behaviour. 6 Also, after watching violent television, many children exhibit higher levels of aggression which can result in injuries or emotional problems. 7 For instance, recently in the news there was the story of a child who broke his playmate’s back by replicating dangerous fighting moves that he had seen on television earlier that day. 

A note on Paragraph Structure

Notice that the writer explores two aspects of the main idea in this paragraph. The main idea is that Watching violent programs leads some children to copy violent behavior”.
The two aspects that are explored are that violence may seem/become normal to children and that children may become more aggressive.

Which sentence…

A. provides the second supporting idea.
B. states the main idea of the paragraph.
C. provides an example to the second supporting idea.
D. provides an example to support the first supporting idea.
E. provides the first supporting idea.

Body paragraph 2:
8 Furthermore, If children witness television violence they may become withdrawn and afraid of others. 9 It has been shown that while older children may copy violent scenes, toddlers are more likely to become anxious, negatively impacting their behaviour. 10 Such children may refuse to go outside for fear of violence, which could affect their social development as they will be less likely to mix with other children and learn social skills. 
Which sentence…

A. states the main idea of the paragraph.
B. suggests the negative impact on the child’s development that may occur due to negative behaviour
C. contrasts how the age of the child affects behavioural changes resulting from watching violent television programs

Conclusion paragraph:
11 In conclusion, TV violence clearly affects the behaviour of children negatively. 12 While older children become normalized to violent behaviour or even copy it, younger ones may become anxious and fearful. 13 Parents should carefully consider what they allow their children to watch on television and should not let children watch television unattended.       
Which sentence…

1. provides a recommendation for the parents.
2. restates the writer’s main ideas.
3. restates the writer’s opinion.

A note on Essay Structure

  • Notice how this essay is one sided. All of the ideas in the essay focus on how violent television programs negatively impact children’s behavior.
  • Notice how the writer uses the strongest ideas in the first paragraph and moves on to the weaker ideas in the second paragraph. This is a good way of writing a one sided essay. Remember to always start with your strongest idea​.


​Here is the complete sample essay. Review it and write down any new words that you find.

Violence on television has a negative impact on children’s behaviour.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.


​Write at least 250 words.

1 These days almost every house contains a Television and it is reasonable to assume that television programs impact the behaviour of the young and impressionable. 2 It is my belief that violence on television leads to violent behaviour for some children and fearful and withdrawn behaviour for others.

3 Watching violent programs leads some children to copy violent behaviour. 4 Many programs contain extremely realistic scenes of violence and it has been shown that children who watch these types of programs may think violence is normal. 5 For example, if a child watches a scene depicting violent bullying occurring in a school he/she may think it is acceptable and so copy the behaviour. 6 Also, after watching violent television, many children exhibit higher levels of aggression which can result in injuries or emotional problems. 7 For instance, recently in the news there was the story of a child who broke his playmate’s back by replicating dangerous fighting moves that he had seen on television earlier that day. 

8 Furthermore, If children witness television violence they may become withdrawn and afraid of others. 9 It has been shown that while older children may copy violent scenes, toddlers are more likely to become anxious, negatively impacting their behaviour. 10 Such children may refuse to go outside for fear of violence, which could affect their social development as they will be less likely to mix with other children and learn social skills. 

11 In conclusion, TV violence clearly affects the behaviour of children negatively. 12 While older children become normalized to violent behaviour or even copy it, younger ones may become anxious and fearful. 13 Parents should carefully consider what they allow their children to watch on television and should not let children watch television unattended.    

​[282 words]

Nice work. Notice the structure of each paragraph. The introduction paragraph starts with background information and finishes with the essay thesis statement. The body paragraphs begin with a topic sentence that gives the topic of that paragraph. The conclusion begins a summary of the best arguments of the essay. Try to use this structure in some of your essays. Have a break before we study how to write a two sided (balanced) essay.

Or go here for more practice with opinion essays that looks at an alternate way of structuring this task:

TV is harmful for children. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?