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How to Avoid Difficulties in a Specific Type of Second Essay in Writing Part of IELTS

Chinara F. Dashdamirova

Certified IELTS Instructor, TESOL /TEFL Specialist

Member of Cambridge English Teacher


Since majority of students nowadays want to get education in a foreign country due to several reasons, IELTS (International English Language Testing System) has become one of the most popular and necessary exams. Although it is wide spread all over the world, students to date have experienced difficulties in some parts of this exam. This article explains some tips in a writing part of IELTS exam.
Writing part of IELTS comes after the listening and reading sections and lasts for 60 minutes. Candidates are given a writing answer sheet and a writing booklet with 2 essay assignments written on it, which they have to finish in given time.
Essay 2 or independent writing has to have 250 words. Candidates are given a psychological question, which has to be discussed in details, with the opinion being introduced. Candidates had better to spend 35-40 min on it.
An independent essay has a specific structure, although it has free style in expressions.
There are 7 types of an independent essay:
1. Argument (Do you agree or disagree?/ To what extent do you agree or disagree?/ Should...?/ What is your opinion?)
2. Discussion (Discuss./ Discuss and give your opinion./ Discuss both views.)
3. Outweigh(Do the advantages of...outweigh the disadvantages? /Is it a positive or negative trend? / Is it a good tendency in your point of view? / Are there more advantages or disadvantages of...?)
4. Reason-Solution (The problem is given in such topics. Then there are 2 questions: one is a reason question and another one is a solution type. Reason questions-Why is it happening? / What are the causes of the problem?/ What reasons can cause the issue? Solution questions-What measures can be done to deal with a problem?/ What are the solution ways?/ How can the challenge be addressed?/How can it be solved?)
5. Reason-Effect (The problem is given in such topics. Then there are 2 questions: one is a reason question and another one is an effect type. Reason questions-Why is it happening? / What are the causes of the problem?/ What reasons can cause the issue? Effect questions- What can happen if no measures are taken? What can the problem contribute to? What can be the sequence of the problem?)
6. 2-part question (What factors…? Is it possible…?)
7. mixed question (the mix of 2 questions from other types.)
In this article I would like to illustrate the writing techniques of Argument type.
Argument type of essays always has 2 different points of view about any issue and the most important here is finding out two various sides. Reading these topics candidates should imagine they enter some room, full of people, who argue about something. The issue they are arguing on is presented in a statement of a topic, analyzing which candidates should figure out what are two different views. It can sometimes be confusing, when there is only 1 statement written in the topic, so in this case candidates in order to find out the second side, shouldsay the statement in a negative way. For example, "Women should work. Do you agree or disagree?" One side is clear -Women should work. Another one should be created just putting the sentence in a negative one - Women shouldn't work. Or "Some people consider that increasing a price of petrol can solve a traffic problem, while others think that it will have a little effect and other measures are required. What is your opinion?" 1 side is clear - Increasing a price of petrol can solve the problem. 2 side is - Increasing a price of petrol will have a little effect, so we need other measures. Or "Some people think that students had better to get education abroad. Do you agree with them?" 1side-getting education is better abroad, 2 side-in your country"
So, first of all 2 different views must be found.
Secondly, a plan should be made. Here the main topic key phrase is written on the top, while 2 different sides are put in front of each other.
Should work (my side) Should stay at home
Supporting idea 1 Supporting idea 3
Supporting idea 2 Weakness of the idea
Traffic problems can be solved by  
Increasing the price of petrol Other measures (my side)
Supporting idea 1 Supporting idea 2
Weakness of the idea Supporting idea 3
Getting education  
Is better abroad (my side) Is better in your country
Supporting idea 1 Supporting idea 3
Supporting idea 2 Weakness of the idea
Afterwards candidates should support the side they agree with, giving 2 supporting ideas. For instance, in the first topic they should EITHER prove that Women should work, OR they should prove that women shouldn't work, e.i. should stay at home, supporting it by 2 ideas. In the second topic, candidates should EITHER prove that Increasing the price of petrol can solve the traffic problem because of ...1 idea, 2 idea OR they should prove that it can't solve it and other measures are needed - 1 measure, 2 measure. Having chosen one side and proving it with two ideas, candidates should think why other people can choose another side. Thus, candidates must have one idea for the side they disagree with and two ideas for the side they agree with. After finding ideas for both sides, candidates should think about explanation. Hence, an example can be given to support the side a candidate agrees with. The example can be taken from candidate’s experience or from some known facts.
Finally, the plan of the essay is ready and the only thing the candidate has to do is writing the essay in the following structure:
1. Introduction (paraphrased topic). The given topic must be paraphrased here in order to avoid repetitions, which decrease the candidate's score.
2. Main body 1 (1st side of the argument, which you disagree with+weaknesses of it). The side you disagree with, but which also has some advantage is introduced here as well as the explanation of its weak points.
3. Main body 2 (2nd side of the argument, which you agree with). The side you support is illustrated in the paragraph and clarified by the help of explanation and examples.
4. Conclusion (the precise answer to the question given in the topic). The opinion is stated here as well as some advice, which will change the situation to the better side.
1. Vanessa Jakeman, Clare McDowell(2009) New Insight into IELTS.
2. Eric van Bemmel, Janina Tucker(2010) IELTS to Success: Preparation Tips and Practice Tests.
3. Dr. Lin Lougheed (2013) Barron's IELTS with Audio CDs, 3rd Edition.
4. Fiona Aish, Jo Tomlinson  (2012) Get Ready for IELTS Writing (Collins English for Exams).
5. Braverman Simone (2012) Target Band 7: IELTS Academic Module - How to Maximize Your Score (second edition).
6. Kaplan (2010) Kaplan IELTS (Kaplan Test Prep).
7. Pauline Cullen, Amanda French, Vanessa Jakeman (2014) The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS.
8. Ray De Witt (2003) How to Prepare for IELTS
9.      Cambridge University Press (2013) Top Tips for IELTS Academic