IELTS Task 2 essay – Discussion only essay

Senior portrait 2

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To prepare for writing the IELTS Task 2 essay, make sure you know the different types of questions and understand how to answer and organize your essay.

Here is one type of question that asks you to only discuss two issues (positive/negative effects or advantages/disadvantages) of a claim.


The number of elderly people in the world is increasing. What do you think are the positive and negative effects of this trend?

As you can see, the question is not asking whether you think there are more positive or negative effects. It is only asking you to discuss BOTH effects of the trend. Therefore, you do not need to add your personal opinion about it.

Here’s another example:

In some countries, some young people are encouraged to work or travel for a year between finishing high school and starting university studies. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages for young people who decide to do this.

Make sure that you remain neutral and not include your opinion.

Here’s the organization of your essay:

  1. Introduction – paraphrase the topic/claim and state the 2 views
  2. Body Paragraph #1 – View 1 (positive effect/advantage) with supporting details
  3. Body Paragraph #2 – View 2 (negative effect/disadvantage) with supporting details
  4. Conclusion – restate the two views

*Check back here and I’ll show a full sample essay for these questions in the next post!

**Want to get your essay writing checked? Here’s how: Essay Correction & Feedback 

How to write quick conclusions for your IELTS Task 2 essay


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In an essay, the introduction and conclusion act like bookends – they’re strong and hold up the books (your argument and ideas) inside them. The conclusion also wraps up your essay neatly and completes your argument for the reader. It summarises the key ideas you wrote about, resulting in your final decision or statement about the topic.

While it’s a very important part of an essay, you don’t need to spend too much time on it on the IELTS task because most of your effort should go into your main paragraphs.

So, here’s how to write your conclusion quickly:

Restate your opinion that you wrote in your introduction and include the main reasons you wrote in your main paragraphs. This should be one to two sentences.

Expressions to start  your conclusion with:

  • In short,
  • To sum up,
  • In summary,
  • To summarize,
  • In conclusion,
  • To conclude,
  • Overall,
  • Ultimately,
  • In the final analysis,
  • Thus,
  • As you can see,

Examples that show a variety of ways to conclude:

In short, as we become more dependent on the Internet, governments need to enforce strict regulations and parents must follow due diligence when it comes to protecting our privacy and children from possible dangers on the web.

In conclusion, it’s necessary to consider both the positive and negative effects of the aging population to prepare ourselves for a changing society.

As you can see, although advancements in food technology have certainly provided us with a wide range and abundance of food that we couldn’t have before, we must be aware that these benefits also come with consequences to our health and environment.

To see sample essays, click here: Sample Essays

Want to get your essay writing checked? Here’s how: Essay Correction & Feedback 

How to write the introduction for an essay on IELTS Task 2

Fotolia_1684988_XSThe introduction should be clear and concise. It doesn’t need to be very long and grand since this is a short 250-word essay. Here’s what it should include:

It should be 2 -3 sentences. Here are examples of the Task question and my introduction:

Task 2 question: More and more city workers are deciding to live in the country and travel into work everyday. The result is increased traffic congestion and damage to the environment.  What measures do you suggest that would encourage people not to travel such long distances to work? (see this “suggest measures” essay)

My introduction:

Nowadays, more people are moving away from cities for more affordable and comfortable lifestyles in the countryside, resulting in long distance commuting to their work in the cities. Unfortunately, this leads to more traffic congestion and pollution to the environment. I believe measures such as promoting telecommuting and establishing remote offices will reduce the number of long distance commuters and therefore their impact on the environment.


  • 1st & 2nd sentences paraphrase topic in task question.  I don’t repeat words directly as it will affect score.
  • 3rd sentence answers the task question – I suggest measures.

 Task 2 question: Many children these days have an unhealthy lifestyle. Both schools and parents are equally responsible for solving this problem. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? (see this agree/disagree essay)

My introduction:

In the media we often hear or read about the rising trend of children leading unhealthy lifestyles. While many believe both schools and parents share equal responsibility for solving this problem, I disagree and feel that parents are fully responsible for changing the unhealthy lifestyles of their children.


  • 1st sentence paraphrases the topic given in the task. 
  • 2nd sentence states the claim made by some AND states my answer to the task question – whether I agree or disagree with this claim.

Task 2 question: Successful sports professionals can earn a great deal more money than people in other important professions. Some people think this is fully justified while others think it is unfair. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion. (see this “discuss and give your opinion” sample essay)

My introduction:

Star athletes like LeBron James, Tiger Woods, and Manny Pacquiao receive multi-million dollar contracts which are exponentially more than what other important professionals are paid. This has led to controversy over whether this is justified and fair. Although I can understand why some people feel this is unfair, I feel professional athletes are justified in receiving this pay.


  • 1st sentence paraphrases the topic given in the task question. I’ve added a bit more details w/ the names only because I know these star athletes and it introduces this specific topic quite well. If you don’t know of any big pro stars, you don’t need to put any in. I don’t use the exact same words in the task – I’ve added “multi-million dollar contracts” and “exponentially more” to show a range of vocabulary.
  • 2nd sentence just states what the debate is
  • 3rd sentence states both views of the debate and my own opinion all in one sentence.

Task 2 question:

Early technological developments helped ordinary people and changed their lives more than recent developments. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

My introduction:

Our lives have greatly benefited from technological developments throughout history. While some people feel that early inventions helped ordinary people more than recent technological developments, I feel both early and recent advances have had an equally significant impact on ordinary people.


  • 1st sentence paraphrases the topic in general.
  • 2nd sentence states the claim (debate) from the task question AND it states my answer to the question – that I don’t agree or disagree but that I feel both are important.

Task 2 question:

In some countries, governments are encouraging industries and businesses to move to regional areas outside the big cities. Do the advantages of this trend outweigh the disadvantages?

My introduction:

As  business growth becomes a priority worldwide, industries and businesses in some countries are  being encouraged to relocate away from the big cities to regional areas. While this may have some disadvantages, I feel there are more advantages to benefit everyone.


  • 1st sentence quickly introduces topic and paraphrases the task claim. I do not copy word-for-word the task question and I use synonyms, such as “relocate away from” for “move to”.
  • 2nd sentence states my answer to the task question – that advantages outweigh the disadvantages.

If you practice just writing introductions quickly to sample task questions, it will become much easier on test day!

Want to get your essay writing checked? Here’s how: Essay Correction & Feedback 

How to get a 7 on your IELTS essay – use sentence variety

Fotolia_7397306_XSIf you look at the band descriptors for both Task 1 and Task 2, you will find that under Grammatical Range and Accuracy,  you should “use a variety of complex structures” to get a 7+. You want your writing to be interesting and varied for your reader.

Here’s a checklist for creating sentence variety:

1. Vary the sentence structures and clause connections.

  • Simple sentences – one independent clause

ex.  Students need to learn about money.

ex.  Students need to learn about money, but it isn’t taught in school.

{independent clause}, but {independent clause}.

ex. Schools do not teach financial education to our children; as a result,  many young graduates today are in a lot of credit card and school loan debt.

{independent clause}; as a result, {independent clause}.

  • Complex sentences – 1 independent clause with 1 or more dependent clauses (dependent clauses begin with subordinating conjunctions, e.g. although, even though, whereas, while,if, unless, because, as, since, so/such … that, now that, once ,etc.)

ex. If  we want our children to become independent, they need to learn about budgeting and saving money.

{dependent clause}, {independent clause}.

  • Compound-complex sentences – 2 or more independent clauses and at least 1 dependent clause.

ex. Because I feel nervous, I don’t know what to write when I look at the question, so I just start to write without planning my essay.

{dependent clause}, {independent clause + dependent clause}, so {independent clause}.

2. Vary the length of your sentences. Mix short and long sentences. Sometimes a short sentence that follows some long sentences can have a dramatic impact on the meaning you intend. Too many long sentences make it difficult for the reader to follow. And too many short sentences make it too choppy and therefore unpleasant to read.

3. Use different ways to begin a sentence:

  • Begin with a dependent clause:

Although some people feel parents should teach their children about money, I believe financial education should be taught in school.

Hoping to pass their final exam, the students studied all  night. (“Hoping to pass their final exam” is an -ing participle phrase that refers to “the students”)

Driven with determination, the students studied hard all  night. (“Driven with determination” is a past-participle phrase that refers to “the students”)

Optimistic about the exam, the students were able to have a good night’s rest the night before.(“Optimistic about the exam” is an adjective phrase that refers to “the students”)

  • Begin with a prepositional phrase:

With the help of government subsidies, many first-time small business owners can grow successful businesses.

  • Begin with an infinitive:

To become truly independent, people must have some financial knowledge. 

As you practice your writing, why not revise an old essay and do a check list of sentence variety?

Want to get your essay writing checked? Here’s how: Essay Correction & Feedback 

How to write an Opinion Essay for Task 2 in IELTS


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Using the steps I’ve written about before: Analyzing the Task Question and the 4-Paragraph Structure, here is how you can approach the Opinion essay.


With the recent developments in technology like e-books, some people feel that printed media like books, newspapers, and magazines will soon be a thing of the past. Others feel that these forms of media will never disappear. What is your opinion?

Here, we are asked our opinion on what will happen to printed media in the future. Choose which view you support and brainstorm for 2 major reasons.

My outline:

  • Introduction (paraphrase topic/views and state my opinion): I believe that printed media will soon be a thing of the past, like vinyl records and film cameras.
  • Body Paragraph – Reason #1 : Ebooks and online news are much more affordable and accessible. Costs of digital publishing compared to physically publishing and distributing books are far less – and people will always prefer buying things based on cost. Books in New Zealand are expensive, so I buy ebooks for my Kindle that are much cheaper.
  • Body Paragraph – Reason #2: Ebooks are convenient. I can download any book I want and it’s easier to hold – lighter and smaller than holding a big heavy book.
  • Conclusion (restate my opinion): Technology in ebooks has made access to media and literature so convenient and affordable that I believe printed media will soon be phased out.

Here is my full sample essay:

With the rising popularity of personal devices such as iPads, Kindles and e-Readers, people are debating over whether printed media will survive or disappear in the near future. While some hopeful people feel printed media will never disappear, I believe that it will soon be a thing of the past, like vinyl records and film cameras.

The first reason is that digital books and media are so much more affordable than paper-bound books and actual newspapers. The costs of physically publishing and distributing books, magazines and newspapers are much higher than digitally publishing e-books and online news. Because people tend to buy on price, e-books and free news online will become even more popular. And as the demand for printed media declines, their prices will go even higher. Personally, I hardly ever buy the newspaper because I can read all my news online. Moreover, books tend to be very expensive here in New Zealand, so I get kindle e-books that are a fraction of the cost.

Another reason is that e-Readers are now so convenient and easy to use. People are naturally drawn to convenience and comfort and will always choose to pursue what is easiest.  Reading from a light, thin mobile device where you can read hundreds of different books or an online newspaper is incredibly convenient and appealing. Personally, I find it easier holding and reading my Kindle than a thick heavy book as well as downloading instantaneously any book that I want.

In short, technology in e-books has made access to media and literature so convenient and affordable that I believe printed books, magazines and newspapers will soon be phased out.

(274 words)


Cohesive devices/linking phrases: The first reason…/ Moreover,…/Another reason…/In short, …


other terms to use for/with e-books: digital books, online news, digitally publishing, downloading instantaneously, iPads, (Amazon) Kindle, e-Readers, mobile device

other terms for printed media: paper-bound books, actual newspapers, physically publishing

to be phased out (no longer be sold or available)

Want to get your essay writing checked? Here’s how: Essay Correction & Feedback