Archive Lessons Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

This is the second post in our ‘Types of Task’ Writing Task 2 series. The first post was about how to structure an opinion essay.

Today we will analyze IELTS writing tasks that ask us to discuss two sides of an argument and share our opinion. Have a look at the IELTS task 2 below.

Some people believe the aim of university education is to help graduates get better jobs. Others believe there are much wider benefits of university education for both individuals and society.

Discuss both views and give your opinion.

When we receive a task that instructs “Discuss both views and give your opinion“, we should structure our essay into paragraphs as follows:

​Introduction

Position 1 
(one side of the argument)

Position 2
(The other SIDE OF THE ARGUMENT) 

  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting idea
  • Example

Your Position
(optional)

  • You could state your position in a third body paragraph. If you don’t have a separate paragraph for your opinion then make sure you include it in the other paragraphs of the essay or your Task Achievement will be reduced.

Conclusion

  • Conclusion signal (‘In conclusion,…’)
  • Summarise your main points from both sides
  • Restate thesis (your opinion)
  • Give a comment on the topic such as a suggestion or  warning (optional)


Now we know what structure we should use, let’s look at an example essay for the task above.
These days, more and more people are making the choice to go to university. While some people are of the opinion that the only purpose of a university education is to improve job prospects, others think that society and the individual benefit in much broader ways. I believe that both points are valid.

It is certainly true that one of the main aims of university is to secure a better job. The majority of people want to improve their future career prospects and attending university is one of the best ways to do this as it increases a person’s marketable skills and attractiveness to potential employers. In addition, further education is very expensive for many people, so most would not consider it if it would not provide them with a more secure future and a higher standard of living. Thus job prospects are very important.

However, there are other benefits for individuals and society. Firstly, the independence of living away from home is a benefit because it helps the students develop better social skills and improve as a person. A case in point is that many students will have to leave their families, live in halls of residence and meet new friends. As a result, their maturity and confidence will grow enabling them to live more fulfilling lives. Secondly, society will gain from the contribution that the graduates can make to the economy. We are living in a very competitive world, so countries need educated people in order to compete and prosper.

Therefore, I believe that although a main aim of university education is to get the best job, there are clearly further benefits. If we continue to promote and encourage university attendance, it will lead to a better future for individuals and society.


Answer the questions below, then compare your answers to ours by clicking on the boxes.
Which sentence Introduces the argument?

While some people are of the opinion that the only purpose of a university education is to improve job prospects, others think that society and the individual benefit in much broader ways.
Does the introduction paragraph include the writers opinion?

Yes, it does: I believe that both points are valid.
What is the topic sentence of the position 1 paragraph?

It is certainly true that one of the main aims of university is to secure a better job.
What is the supporting idea of the position 1 paragraph?

…attending university is one of the best ways to do this as it increases a person’s marketable skills and attractiveness to potential employers.
WhaT IS THE topic sentence of the Position 2 paragraph?

However, there are other benefits for individuals and society.
Does the writer use examples to support position 2?

Yes:
A case in point is that many students will have to leave their families…
…countries need educated people in order to compete and prosper.

Does the writer restate their opinion in the conclusion?

Yes:
I believe that although a main aim of university education is to get the best job, there are clearly further benefits.

We have a new lesson that provides a more in-depth look into writing two-sided essay here.
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Up next we will learn how to write a problem-solution essay.

Have any questions? Put them in the comments below.