In IELTS Writing Task 2, your task is to write an Opinion Essay of 250 words within just 40 minutes.
Now all the guides will tell you to focus on things like grammar, vocabulary, task response, coherence, and cohesion.
But what do these terms even mean?
Honestly, you don’t even need to know that to score 8+ Band in IELTS.
What an IELTS Opinion Essay really demands is an effective structure – a simple strategy to write an argument for both sides of the opinion essay.
In this blog post, I am going to teach you everything you need to write an effective Opinion Essay for 8+ Band in IELTS Writing.
- Types of Opinion Essays
- Writing Strategy That Always Works
- Writing Tips to Enhance Your Score
Section 1: Types of Opinion Essays
AGREE / DISAGREE ESSAY
In this type of Opinion Essay, you get a topic statement, and you are asked to what extent do you agree or disagree with it.
You will be required to give some points in favor of and some against the statement. Your job is to discuss both the sides with a solid structure that I will provide in the next section.
Here are some of the examples of the topics for Agree/Disagree Essays:
- Schools are spending more time teaching traditional subjects such as history. Some people think they should rather spend more time in teaching skills that can help students find a job. To what extent do you agree or disagree.
- It is necessary for parents to attend parenting training course to bring their children up. Do you agree or disagree?
- Young people spend their free time shopping. This has negative effects on young people in society. To what extent do you agree or disagree
ADVANTAGE / DISADVANTAGE ESSAY
In this type of essay, a question statement is given, and you will be asked to state some advantages and disadvantages, or whether advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and vice versa.
You will be required to take a side and write your reasons for it.
As you can see in the example topics below, these are worded differently, but they are essentially representing the same thing. The benefits outweigh the problems means the same as the advantages outweigh the disadvantages.
You’ll approach Advantages/Disadvantages Essay exactly the same way as you’d approach Agree/Disagree or any type of Opinion Essays.
Here are some of the examples of Advantages/Disadvantages Essays:
- Many people go abroad for higher studies. Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages? (You have to write disadvantages of going abroad as well as advantages)
- In some countries, foreign languages taught at primary schools. Do the advantages of learning a new language outweigh the disadvantages.
- Today more and more students are deciding to move to a different country for higher studies. Do you think that the benefits of this outweigh the problems?
DISCUSS BOTH SIDES ESSAY
In this type of essay, a viewpoint or an opinion is already given, and you will be asked to discuss both sides by writing paragraphs for each outlook, stating your opinions, and explaining why you hold that view.
Here are some examples:
- Some people think governments should take measures regarding the healthy lifestyle of individuals. Others think it must be managed by the individuals. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.
- Most countries allow 18 years old to start driving a car. Some say it is good to allow at this age while others think that the age of to start driving should be at least 25. Discuss both views and give your opinion.
- Nowadays food has become much easier to prepare. Has this change improved the way people live? (Hint:write about how it has improved and how it has not improved)
Section 2: Writing Strategy That Always Works
This section is going to suggest a structure that you can use to write a clear and cohesive Opinion Essay to score 8+ Band irrespective of what topic is given.
Structure: Always write 5 paragraphs, and divide them like this:
- First Body Paragraph (side you disagree with)
- Second Body Paragraph (side you agree with)
- Third Body Paragraph (side you agree with)
Let’s break down each paragraph one-by-one for better understanding.
While writing an introduction, you will always do two things:
- Paraphrase the topic
- Give your thesis
Tip #1: There is no reason to write a longer introduction. The key to a good score for your essay is to write strong body paragraphs. You will be marked down if your essay includes unnecessary information or a lack of focus.
Tip #2: In the first sentence of your introduction, always paraphrase the topic. Do not simply copy the topic from instructions. Write in your own words.
Tip #3: The second sentence of your introduction is your thesis. Let’s go deep down into what is THESIS.
THESIS is your opinion on the topic i.e. whether you agree or disagree with the statement.
I recommend that you:
Always “take side” of the topic
There are two reasons why I recommend this:
- Agreeing with the topic is always a popular opinion. By going with the popular opinion, it is always easier to write an essay because chances are, you have heard other people, news channels, or articles talking about it from the “side of the popular opinion”.
- Examiners are also humans. They also have popular opinions, so if you agree with the popular opinion, you will most likely agree with the examiner’s opinion, and hence examiners will feel good reading your essay. That’s how human psychology works. You see when humans support something and someone challenges their opinions, subconsciously our mind starts to build defenses and start thinking about the counter-arguments. You surely don’t want your examiner’s mind to do that and end up getting a lower score.
I am going to use the sample topic and stick to it for the rest of the essay structure.
Topic: Many people believe that social networking websites have had a huge negative impact on both individuals and society. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Here’s how your Introduction might look like:
It is believed that social networking websites have adverse effects on individuals as well as on society. Although these websites have several advantages for the people, I believe that the associated negatives outweigh the positive impact of these websites.
First Body Paragraph
When you are writing your body paragraphs, you can choose either of these two versions to construct each of the body paragraphs:
- Either you can write two reasons why you agree or disagree.
- Or you can write one reason with an example.
The first body paragraph in the Opinion Essay is the side which you disagree with.
Always remember to plan the structure of the first body paragraph before writing.
Either think of two coherent reasons, if you are going with the first version and expand on those reasons by adding details, or think of one reason and one example to support that reason.
In the sample paragraph below, I am going to use two reasons method to build my first body paragraph:
Undoubtedly, websites, such as Facebook, have helped people in many ways. Firstly, these websites enable people to make voice and video calls at virtually no cost. This has allowed people to frequently communicate with their loved ones who live in different countries. Secondly, social media websites have brought accessibility to news and entertainment to everyone regardless of their capacity to afford it. Through websites like YouTube, everyone can access the best content that is being produced anywhere in the world.
Second and Third Body Paragraphs
In these two paragraphs, you argue for the side that you agree with. Therefore, while planning for these paragraphs, always think of either four reasons to support your thesis or two reasons with an example for each.
Here’s an example of the second body paragraph, in which I am going to use one reason and one example to support it further:
Nevertheless, social networking websites have some obvious disadvantages. Firstly, these have made people’s lives more sedentary. Before the inception of social networking websites, I used to go to the local park to meet my friends. However, now I can just chat with them through social networking sites, owing to which I stay at home most of the time, and do not go out much. According to recent research conducted by Social Media Agency, 35% of people have become more obese in the last decade because of an increase in their sedentary lifestyles.
Moving on to the third body paragraph, I am going to state one more reason and support it through an example:
Moreover, the sense of community has been reduced due to social networking websites. People do not form groups, even in their immediate neighborhood, and it is quite apparent that most people today do not even know with whom they are sharing their walls. For example, in my neighborhood, earlier people used to spend a considerable amount of time playing in the common ground and sharing lunches. However, such gatherings cannot be seen nowadays as people enjoy being online, instead of finding time to meet others.
In conclusion, your task is to summarize your essay and wrap up your supporting arguments.
To write an effective conclusion:
- Repeat the thesis from the introduction, but in a paraphrased way to avoid repetition of the same words.
- Summarize the points that support your thesis – the ones used in your second and third body paragraphs.
Here’s how the conclusion of our example topic might look like:
In conclusion, social networking websites have resulted in a more negative impact on people’s lives. They have resulted in the increase of more sedentary lifestyles and the loss of sense of belonging to a community.
Section 3: Writing Tips to Enhance Your Score
- Understand The Question
To ace the IELTS Writing Task 2, it is important that you understand what the examiner wants and write a structured essay in response to that. This is the first, but often overlooked step. A lot of people end up writing a memorized essay, instead of what the question really asked for.
Online resources are huge, often with conflicting and contrary information, so finding reliable sources to learn from is important. Here at AustraliaYours, I teach everything that I’ve used to secure 8.5 Bands in IELTS myself – and since 2017, 2500+ students have used to increase their scores.
- Use Formal Language
In IELTS Writing Task 2, the use of a formal writing style should be preferred for writing the essay. While writing an essay using formal language, introduce, explain, and support each point thoroughly with the help of well-crafted sentences. No short forms should be used for the sake of simplicity (use “do not” instead of “don’t”).
- Always Plan Before Writing
Many people face stress and anxiety before IELTS Writing Task 2 as the time limitation tends to get on their nerves. Calm yourself down and give yourself good 3-5 minutes to plan your essay before you start writing. If you jump right into the writing without planning, you have to frequently stop in between and think about the ideas to write, which will eventually lead to a lack of structure in your essay and wastage of time. Save your time by planning your essay.
- Use Linking Words
To get 8+ Band in Writing, use a range of linking words in your essay. These words will help you to connect your ideas in a paragraph, and make your opinions clearer. Few examples of linking words are:
(To emphasize): Specifically, particularly, furthermore, moreover.
(For reason or causes): Because, owing to, due to, since.
(To conclude): Thus, therefore, consequently, to sum up.
- Manage Your Time
During the IELTS Writing Task, one of the biggest concerns of students is Time Management. For an IELTS candidate, an effective time management strategy is an essential skill to get a high score in the exam. You will have 40 minutes to plan and complete a well-structured essay. Do a lot of practice beforehand to understand what time limit feels like. Lack of preparation will lead to anxiety and stress that may hinder your thinking on the test day.
In this blog post, I have mentioned a strategy for writing an outstanding 8+ Band Opinion Essay to ace your IELTS Writing Task 2.
In my full course, Ultimate Guide to Hacking IELTS, I go deep into the strategies, hacks, and techniques to help you learn all 4 sections of IELTS in a smart way to get 8+ Band.