I previously wrote about sticking to the same formula of a 4 paragraph structure. Once you practice this approach, it will be very easy to plan and organize your essay when you’ve only got 40 minutes.
For the agree/disagree essay, I think it’s probably easiest to just completely agree or completely disagree because you just need to have 2 reasons to support why.
Remember, the examiner is marking you on how you express, organize and support your ideas. They aren’t judging you on your opinion. As long as it’s logical and cohesive (your argument is supported and your ideas stick together) and written clearly, you will get a higher mark.
You can follow this 4-paragraph structure:
- Introduction– introduce topic and give your clear answer to the task question (I fully agree or disagree with the claim)
- Main Reason #1 why you agree or disagree – give examples and supporting details
- Main Reason #2 why you agree or disagree – give examples and supporting details
- Conclusion – restate your opinion (this is a very short paragraph – probably 1 to 2 sentences)
Here’s an example:
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?
My outline of ideas for my essay (not fully written out):
1. Introduction – Write a sentence about the topic, paraphrase the claim and give my opinion – I completely disagree. I think only parents are fully responsible for solving this problem.
2. Main Reason #1
I believe parents are fully responsible for solving this problem.
- main caregiver and spend the most time with their kids
- should be the primary role model of living a healthy lifestyle
- most effective because parents provide child’s food/meals and guidelines for child’s free time and activities
3. Main Reason #2
Schools should not be responsible for solving this problem.
- Schools should focus on academics – reading/writing/maths and science
- Teachers have a relatively small amount of time with each child – they have to worry about a classroom full of 30+ children
- least effective because they don’t provide for the child’s regular diet
4. Conclusion – restate my opinion that I completely disagree and believe that only parents, rather than parents and schools equally, are responsible for changing children’s unhealthy lifestyles.
See my full sample essay for this question here.
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Posted in IELTS Writing, Writing Task 2 Tagged with: IELTS Writing, Writing Task 2
This lesson is meant to help you with to what extent do you agree or disagree essay structure. Below I outline some different plans, but the real idea is that you follow an approach that will work for most any IELTS essay. Work from these principles:
- understand what the question is asking
- decide on your point of view
- make your point of view clear in the introduction and conclusion
- decide how to use your 2/3 body paragraphs
The only hard bit is deciding what to do with your body paragraphs. See my lesson on IELTS essay structure and this download Structure IELTS essays plan (7341).
Understand the question
You need to answer the question directly and this means that you need to say how much you agree or disagree with the idea. It is not really enough to say “I agree” or “I disagree”. If you do that you haven’t answered the question fully.
Understand the possible answers
The next step is to see that there are 3/4 different possible answers and you need to decide which one you want to use. The answers are
I agree completely
I disagree completely
I disagree/agree either slightly/mostly/a lot
It’s important that you are clear on your point of view before you start writing. It’s also important that you know how to explain the point of view with reasons and explanations before you start writing. The essay structure you choose depends a lot on what you know and what you think. Do not choose a “model” structure just because you think that’s the right way.
Make your point of view clear – the introduction and conclusion
Make your point of view clear in the introduction and the conclusion. This will be the same no matter what your opinion is.
here is the idea/issue/question
point of view
restate the point of view
For me it’s really important that you get the introduction and conclusion correct. Please use language that makes it clear that you strongly/weakly agree/disagree etc. If you don’t, you might just write another opinion essay that doesn’t answer the question. A crime.
Explain your point of view – body paragraphs
This is where you have choices. Whichever option you choose, you should make sure that the structure of your essay is clear and the examiner can follow your reasons. You must decide how to use each body paragraph. The option you choose will depend on what you think and what you know. Do not rely on one essay model – practise writing different models of essay – you just don’t know what question you will get.
The AA or BB model
If you strongly agree, you could try this AA model
A. I agree because [one reason the idea is right]
A. I agree because [another reason the idea is right]
or of course if you disagree
B. I disagree because [one reason why the idea is wrong]
B. I disagree because [another reason why the idea is wrong]
If you choose this approach, make sure that you can write 2 complete paragraphs (with reasons and examples before you start). This approach sometimes goes wrong because the two reasons are too similar and the essay gets repetitive.
The AB model
If you strongly agree or disagree you can also try this approach when there are two options in the question.
A. Explain why the idea is right/wrong [reasons and examples]
B. Explain why the other option is worse/better [reasons and examples]
This is really just a variation of the AA model, but the difference is that you look at both sides of the argument.
The AB model – weakly agree/disagree
If you have a weaker opinion, then you really need to look at both sides of the argument and use this AB model.
A. Explain that there are some good points [reasons and examples]
B. Explain that there are some problems too [reasons and examples]
This approach can of course go wrong too – often because the point of view is unclear. To get it right make sure that your overall opinion is clear in the introduction and that you start each paragraph with a clear sentence making it obvious that you are either going to write about reasons why you agree or disagree.
Are there other options?
Yes. The problem with the other options though is that they tend to be more complex and complex is not great in exam circumstances. My very strong advice is to aim for simplicity and clarity in structure. If you need/want to show off, do that with your language not your structure.