Archive Lessons Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

For upgraded material, please go to our new, more complete opinions essay lesson here.

For the old lesson, continue reading.

We are going to take a look at the different types of IELTS Writing Task 2 questions, starting with opinion type tasks. For each type of question, you can see how you should structure your answer. There are also example essays that demonstrate the different structures. There are many possible ways to structure your academic essays so you can modify our suggestions to fit your style if you like.
 
The best way to improve your writing is by practicing so try and use what you have read here next time you write an essay. If you need some help with your writing email IELTStutors.org to get personalised IELTS writing feedback that will help you to achieve your goals.
 
If you have any questions or tips that you would like to share then please leave a comment at the bottom of the page.


Type 1 – Give your Opinion

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

All the questions below ask you to give your opinion.
  • To what extent do you agree?
  • Do you agree?
  • Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?
  • Is it a positive or negative phenomenon?

​Your essay could be one sided or two sided. You could just give your opinion or you could also talk about the opposite point of view. So you could structure your essay like this:

​Introduction

Body Paragraph 1

Body Paragraph 2

  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting idea
  • Example


Note: If you have more ideas and write fast then it is possible to have more than 2 body paragraphs.

Conclusion

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


​Let’s have a look at an example:
TV is harmful for children. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement

​Over the past forty to fifty years, television sets have become standard pieces of equipment in most homes, and watching television has become a common activity for most families. Obviously, this must have an effect on children’s development. Although there are many excellent programs for young viewers, I would argue that television can have a detrimental influence on children for three main reasons.
 
First of all, certain types of programs can have a harmful effect on children’s emotional and behavioural development. Police stories and action movies, for example, often contain a great deal of violence. People are beaten up and killed with guns, knives and even cars. Seeing this, some children might think that these things could easily happen to themselves at any time and therefore become frightened. Moreover, some might begin to think that violence is a normal, acceptable form of behaviour because they see it so often on television. As a result, they may become aggressive and may hurt both themselves and their playmates.
 
Second, television can impair children’s reading ability. Reading requires skills and brain processes that watching television does not. If children watch television for too many hours each day, they do not have the chance to practice the skills that they need in order to learn how to read.
 
Finally, television may impact on children’s schoolwork in other ways. If they spend too much time watching television, they may get behind in their homework. In addition, if they stay up to watch a late night movie, they may fall asleep in class the next day. Consequently, they will not learn their lessons and they could even fail in school.
 
To summarize, if children watch too much television or watch the wrong programs, their personalities can be harmed. Furthermore, their progress in school can be affected. It is vital, therefore, that parents should find out what programs their children are watching and take appropriate steps to counteract any harmful effects. This should include turning off the television so that their children will study.

Now answer the questions below. When you finish, click to compare your answers to ours.
In the introduction, Which sentence introduces the topic?


Over the past forty to fifty years…
Which sentence is the thesis statement?


I would argue that television can have a detrimental influence…
What are the topic sentences of each paragraph?


First of all, certain types of programs can have a harmful effect on children’s emotional and behavioural development.

​Second, television can impair children’s reading ability.

Finally, television may impact on children’s schoolwork in other ways.​

In paragraph 3, what is the supporting idea?


Reading requires skills and brain processes that watching television does not. 
In paragraph 3, what is the example given?


If children watch television for too many hours each day, they do not have the chance to practice the skills that they need in order to learn how to read.
What conclusion signal is there in the final paragraph?


To summarize,
Does the writer summarize his/her main points?


Yes. In the sentences ‘…if children watch too much television or watch the wrong programs, their personalities can be harmed. Furthermore, their progress in school can be affected.’
What comment does the writer add to the conclusion?


The writer advises that parents should control what their children watch: 

It is vital, therefore, that parents should find out what programs their children are watching and take appropriate steps to counteract any harmful effects. This should include turning off the television so that their children will study.


Give your opinion with a concession paragraph

You could use the structure below if you want to introduce an opinion you disagree with (in what is called a concession paragraph​).

​Introduction

  • Introduce the topic
  • Give a thesis statement (say what your opinion is)

​Concession Paragraph (not your opinion)

  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting idea
  • Example

Your opinion Paragraph

  • Topic sentence
  • Supporting idea
  • Example

Conclusion 

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

Lets have a look at an example of this. Can you find the sentences that are related to the bullet points of the structure above?
Almost every home has a television and, as a result, children may spend a great deal of their time watching it. Obviously this must have some effect on them. Is this effect harmful? In my opinion, the effect of television is at best neutral and often negative, so wise parental guidance is essential.

One of the main arguments in favour of television is the role it can play in educating children. For example, programs broadcast on channels such as Cbeebies and BabyTV, which are dedicated to pre-school education, can help young children learn to speak, count and read and are very popular.  Although educational programs may be beneficial I think that it is better to educate children through books or, these days, through interactive computer games designed for the purpose. Both of these examples are more active and encourage deeper use of cognitive abilities than passively watching the TV.

A major cause of concern among parents is the amount of violence on television. Even so-called “children’s entertainment” programs frequently involve battles between the “goodies” and the “baddies”. This has a very harmful effect on children’s moral, social and behavioural development, because it teaches them to label people as “good” or “bad” and condones the use of violence as a way of resolving disagreements. Such programs simply encourage hatred and aggression instead of promoting tolerance and conciliation.  The danger is even greater if children watch violent programs that are meant for adults, such as crime stories, action movies and the like.

Another danger with television is the impact of advertising. Children are bombarded with advertisements for snacks and toys. As a result, they are likely to demand a diet of junk foods high in MSG, and clamour for toys which their parents cannot afford to buy.

In conclusion, certain television programs are beneficial for children while many others are harmful. It is vital, therefore, that parents supervise their children when watching television and take appropriate steps to counteract any harmful effects. 

Use the example essay above to answer the questions. Then check your answers against ours.
What is the writer’s opinion?


The writer believes that television often has a negative effect on children:

In my opinion, the effect of television is at best neutral and often negative…

How do we know the second paragraph is a concessional paragraph?


It begins: One of the main arguments in favour of television is the role it can play in educating children.

Then adds: 
Although educational programs may be beneficial I think that it is better to educate children through books​…

The first argument is against the writer’s opinion, so it is a concession.  

What is the topic sentence of paragraph 3?


A major cause of concern among parents is the amount of violence on television. 
Does paragraph 3 support the writer’s view, or is it concessional?


It supports the writers view, as it states that violence on television ‘is a major cause of concern’

Concessional paragraphs are more often found in higher band responses as they demand a good control of complex language (we can see that here with the sentence Although…, I think that…). It’s up to you if you wish to include a concessional paragraph, but make sure you practice this style of writing before you try it in the real test.​


WRITING TASK

Write a response to the question below. If you would like some free feedback, copy and paste your essay into the comments section below, and we’ll get back to you with our ideas. Happy writing!

Question:

Some people think the government are responsible for the rise in childhood obesity, while others think it is the fault of the parents.

Discuss both sides and give your opinion.


We have a new, more in-depth opinions lesson for you here.

The next post on Writing Task 2 ‘Types of Task’ is about how to structure an essay to describing a problem and its solutions. Follow the link to keep studying.

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