Writing Task 2 | Essay Organisation Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

One of the biggest problems students have when given an Agree/Disagree or Point of View essay task for Task 2 of the IELTS Writing Test, is that they find it difficult to think about relevant arguments. This can directly effect Task Achievement and Cohesion/Coherence scores that examiners use to assess essays.

In this free lesson, we will give you a strategy to help you come up with interesting essay arguments. 

Let’s first look at a task 2 example.

Nowadays, more and more people wear fashionable clothing. Is this a positive or a negative development?

This is quite an open task because ‘Is this a positive or a negative development?’ can be applied to many different situations. However, students will often focus on arguments from just a personal perspective. For example, to answer this task, you may ask yourself “How does fashion affect me?”

If your answer is “Fashionable clothes help me to express myself.” your argument will consequently be similar to ‘Fashion is good because clothes help people to express themselves’. This is an acceptable argument, but you may find it difficult to write 250 words because there is not much more you can talk about. 

So how can we think of more interesting arguments

The important thing is to think about the argument from many different perspectives, not just the personal – or individual – view. So what other perspectives are there? For an open question like this, the good news is there are many!

Argument Perspectives

We can look at a problem, argument, or idea from many perspectives, such as:
Individual
Social/Cultural
Economic
Environmental
Political
​Technological

Let’s use these perspectives to think about arguments for our Fashion essay task.


Practice 1

Nowadays, more and more people wear fashionable clothing. Is this a positive or a negative development?

Individual
Positive | Fashion helps people to express themselves.
Negative | Fashionable clothes are expensive, there may be more important things that people can spend their money on.

Social / Cultural
Think of positive and negative arguments for fashion’s effect on society and culture, then compare your ideas with ours below.
Open for Positive Arguments

People can identify with each other if they wear similar styles of clothes or have a similar interest in the fashion industry. This can help bring groups of people together.
Open for Negative Arguments

Fashion promotes a materialistic culture, as people learn to judge each other on their choice of clothing, rather than their actions and characters.

Remember there are more arguments than just these, so don’t worry if your answers are different.

Economic
Again, think of positive and negative arguments for fashion’s effect on the economy, then compare your ideas with ours below.
Open for Positive Arguments

As clothes go in and out of fashion, it means that people will continually keep buying clothing. This stimulates (grows) the economy, while successful fashion brands/companies will be taxed, bringing extra money for the government to spend on education, healthcare etc.
Open for Negative Arguments

This may be bad for businesses that sell clothes designed not for fashion, but for practicality and durability.

Environmental
What are the positive and negative arguments for fashion’s environmental impact?

Open for Positive Arguments

Some “eco” clothes (clothes made of economically sustainable material, such as shoes made from pineapples) are becoming fashionable. If this trend continues, hopefully we will consume less harmful plastic (polyester) clothing.
Open for Negative Arguments

The need to always have new, fashionable clothing means that a huge amount of land is required to grow cotton. This damages ecosystems, especially if the land originally was home to many animals and plants (jungles, forests etc).
Polyester clothing is popular because it is cheap to make, but with each wash, micro-plastics are separated and find their way into soil, rivers and oceans. Animals frequently eat these and can die as a result.

Political
We can’t think of any interesting political arguments for fashion trends. If you can, let us know in the comments. Perhaps – similar to the social argument – people with similar political ideas can identify themselves with the same clothing. This would be more of a ‘uniform clothing’ rather than a ‘fashionable clothing’ argument so may not be relevant however.

Technological
Finally, think of technologically related arguments and see how yours compare with ours.

Open for Positive Arguments

Fashion companies are beginning to develop lots of interesting technology to be put in clothing, such as chips that can pay for items in shops to avoid carrying a wallet around.
Quality of clothing is also improving. Modern running shoes, for example,  are more durable and can improve the speed of the wearer. These kinds of developments, fueled by fashion, can make our lives more convenient and comfortable. 
Open for Negative Arguments

If we wear computer chips in our clothing with our personal information stored inside, it might be easy for hackers or thieves to steal our identities. 
As new technological clothing comes out, we are likely to throw away our old items. This is bad for the environment

Now we have many interesting arguments that we can write a great essay about. We should choose the ones that we know the most about (for example, the for and against from two of the perspectives above) to include in the essay.
Important Tip:

You should spend a maximum of 10 minutes planning your task 2 essay. This should include your arguments (see above) and the essay structure.


Practice 2

Now we will give you another open task 2 essay topic. You have 10 minutes to think of some interesting arguments using the same perspectives from Practice 1.
When you finish, see if your arguments are similar to ours.
Advertising can be seen everywhere, from television and the internet to billboards on the sides of roads. Overall, advertising brings more benefits than drawbacks.

​To what extent do you agree with this statement?


Individual
Open for Positive Arguments

Ads can introduce us to products that can improve our lives. Some ads can be entertaining as well as informative.
Ads allow companies to provide free services (for example, Facebook, Youtube and other social media, television  etc).
Open for Negative Arguments

Ads may persuade us to spend money on products and services that we don’t need, emptying our bank accounts and making our lives more complex. Ads can also annoy us by interrupting the activity we are doing (for example, commercials during TV shows.)

Social / Cultural
Open for Positive Arguments

Some ads can be artistic or even inspiring.
Most social media is free because of advertising.
Open for Negative Arguments

Advertising helps drive a society’s materialism by teaching us that we need products to be happy. When the product doesn’t make us happier, we throw it away and look for the next one.
Over time we believe that we should judge people not on their personalities and actions, but instead on the price of the objects they own.
If we compare ourselves to perfect people with perfect lives in adverts, we might feel insecure and lose self-confidence.
Social Media Companies often sell the data of its users to make adverts more targeted. Many believe this is destroying our privacy online.

Economic
Open for Positive Arguments

Adverts help improve sales, allowing companies to grow. As these are taxed, more money goes into the government and can be redistributed to support important infrastructure, schools, hospitals etc.
Open for Negative Arguments

We found it difficult to find negative economic arguments. Did you? If you have any, let us know in the comments below.

Environmental
Open for Positive Arguments

Some adverts inform us about products that can support the environment.
Open for Negative Arguments

If we are always buying new products, new products must always be created. This is almost always bad for the environment (for example, the metals in your phone must be mined out of the ground).
Old products are typically thrown away. Since most are not bio-degradable, they damage the environment (for example, plastic in the ocean).

Political
Open for Positive Arguments

Governments can use advertising space to teach people about important topics, such as the need to look after our environment.
Open for Negative Arguments

Online and in newspapers and magazines, it is becoming difficult to know what is an advert and what is real information. On social media we have seen some governments and organizations try to influence elections by giving users false information about political opponents, using data about users that is collected for targeted advertising.

Technological
Finally, think of technologically related arguments and see how yours compare with ours.
Open for Positive Arguments

As adverts help companies to become richer, they can invest that money in researching new, important technologies.

Open for Negative Arguments

New technology, such as mobile phones, can be used to spy on us so that we are given adverts that are specific to the type of person we are. Some feel uncomfortable about this lack of privacy, while others worry that our personal information can be used against us if it is controlled by the wrong people.

Remember that we can’t include all these arguments in our essay, we should instead choose the arguments that we believe are the strongest/most interesting or the ones we know most about.

The most important thing to remember is that when given an essay topic, brainstorm the task from as many different relevant perspectives as you can think of. This can also be applied to Problem-Solution type essays.

Practice thinking about other essay tasks in this way to see if you can find interesting things to write about. You can even apply this lesson to the outside world. If you learn to think about actions and events in many different ways, you may find you learn more about the world and become more insightful!

Practice 3

Look at the task below.
It is better that children get their education at school, rather than be home-schooled by their parents.

Do you agree or disagree?


Brainstorm arguments for this topic. Remember to think from many perspectives and see what interesting arguments you find. If you would like to share them, write them in the comments below.