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Writing Task 2: Discussion Essay

General Information

  • Write a formal essay.
  • Write at least 250 words.
  • The task is the same for both the General and the Academic Path. However, the topic of the essay question in the General Path is sometimes more straightforward than in the Academic Path.
  • Depending on the question, you will need to either provide and justify your opinion, discuss a topic, outline problems and provide possible solutions, or summarise key details.
  • The ideas you provide should be supported with clear reasons and examples based on your knowledge and experience.
  • Spend 40 minutes on this task.

Scoring of Writing Task 2

This writing task is worth two-thirds of the total marks for the writing test. There are four areas that you will be marked on in writing task 2, and each area is worth 25% of the overall mark for this task.

  • Task Response: This gives marks for your ideas, how well you address the topic, and the extent to which you develop ideas and form a conclusion.
  • Coherence and Cohesion: This gives marks for the effective use of paragraphs, linking paragraphs and ideas, and referencing.
  • Lexical Resource: This gives marks for the range of vocabulary used, the inclusion of collocations, and accurate spelling.
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy: This gives marks for the use of varied sentence structures, accurate tense, and accurate punctuation.

Structure of the Essay

The essay for task 2 must be 4-5 paragraphs long to show enough skill and evidence to score well for coherence and cohesion. The structure we suggest includes:

  • Introduction
  • Body 1
  • Body 2
  • Body 3 (optional)
  • Conclusion

Linking Words for Coherence and Cohesion

A quarter of your overall score depends on your ability to show cohesion across the essay. Linking words will help you to do this. The words in the table below provide a range of linking words with different functions for you to use in the task 2 essay.

To Order To Show Contrast To Provide Examples To Show A Result To Add More
Firstly, However, For example, As a result, In addition,
Lastly, Alternatively, For instance, Consequently, Additionally,
Finally, Nevertheless, such as Hence, Furthermore,
Although, in particular Thus, Moreover,
In contrast, specifically Therefore, Also,
On the other hand, especially so As well as,
In comparison, obviously For this reason, and
but clearly
despite namely

 

To Show Your Opinion To conclude
In my opinion, In conclusion,
I think that To summarise,
I believe that Overall,
I admit that
In my view,
I agree that
I disagree that
because
owing to
due to
since
as

Timings

If you use the first 5 minutes for planning, you will have 35 minutes to complete the writing task. I recommend using approximately 30 minutes of this time to write your essay and the remaining 5 minutes to check your work. During this time, look specifically for spelling mistakes, misused words, grammatical errors, and punctuation mistakes.

 

Top Tips for Writing a Discussion Essay

  • The discussion essay question will likely say at the end: ‘Discuss both sides.’
  • This means you must explore both sides of the argument, giving arguments for and against the topic.
  • Find points to support both sides of the argument.
  • If the task ends saying ‘Discuss both sides and give your own opinion’, you must also state what you think.

Planning for the Discussion Essay

You must take the time to plan for writing task 2. You will already have completed two full tests and writing task 1. Your brain is likely to be fatigued at this point, so you need to take a few minutes to ensure you respond correctly to the task, generate some ideas, and sequence the essay logically.

The plan does not need to be complicated. I recommend spending up to 5 minutes for this. You can use space on the question paper to write the plan. Try using a format like this:

Introduction

Introduce the two sides of the argument.

Introduce your own opinion (only if the task states ‘Discuss both sides and give your own opinion’).

Body 1

Point: Introduce one argument

Example: Provide an example to support this side of the argument

Elaboration: Elaborate on the point, e.g. explaining its impact

Body 2

Point: Introduce the other side of the argument

Example: Provide an example to support this side of the argument

Elaboration: Elaborate on the point, e.g. explaining its impact

Body 3 (only if asked to discuss your opinion)

Point: Clearly state which side you most agree with

Example: Provide an example to support your argument

Elaboration: Elaborate on the point, e.g. explaining its impact

Conclusion

Based on the two sides of the argument (and your opinion if asked), what do you conclude about this issue?

Sample Question: Discussion Essay

Many people believe that it is the responsibility of more developed countries to combat climate change. Other people think that all countries have equal responsibility for the protection of the environment.

Discuss both sides, and give your opinion.

Model Plan: Discussion Essay

Introduction

Three arguments:

1.       Responsibility of developed countries to combat climate change

2.       All countries have an equal responsibility to combat climate change

3.       I believe that developed countries should provide more money and resources, but it is the individual responsibility of all people to combat climate change.

Body 1

Point: Responsibility of developed countries to combat climate change

Example: More money, resources, and technology to help the fight

Elaboration: More modern technology, e.g. electric cars, will help to reduce pollution causing climate change

Body 2

Point: All countries have an equal responsibility to combat climate change

Example: If only some people or countries care about climate change and alter their ways, there will still be ongoing damage to the environment

Elaboration: Small changes by every single person could have a big impact

Body 3 (only if asked to discuss your opinion)

Point: I believe that developed countries should provide more money and resources, but it is the individual responsibility of all people to combat climate change

Example: Developed countries could lead and share with less developed countries, e.g. wind turbine technology – safer energy

Elaboration: By working together, changes can spread across the world

Conclusion

Developed countries should lead and fund initiatives and technology to combat climate change, but it is the responsibility of every person, country, and government to implement changes.

Model Answer: Discussion Essay

It is considered by some to be the responsibility of developed countries to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change, while others believe that the responsibility is shared equally across all nations of the world. In my opinion, I believe that whilst more developed countries should provide additional money and resources to the battle against climate change, it is still the responsibility of every single human being inhabiting Earth.

On the one hand, developed countries tend to have access to additional funds, more advanced technologies, and more opportunities for further research. For those reasons, many people believe that such countries should accept the responsibility for combatting climate change.

In other words, advances in technology, such as the development of the electric-powered car, should be developed by the leading countries of the world and shared with their less-developed counterparts. Thus, the impact of these new technologies would be global.

On the other hand, people have said that it is the responsibility of every country, equally, to reduce its emissions and stop climate change. If only a portion of nations, or people within a country, make changes to impact climate change positively, there will still be countries and people causing ongoing damage to the environment. In fact, small changes made by every person and state could have a significant impact on climate change.

Finally, in my opinion, I believe that whilst developed countries should provide more money and resources to combat climate change, the problem remains the responsibility of every single country in the world.

For example, developed countries should share advanced technology to reduce carbon emissions. The responsibility then lies with the lesser developed countries to implement this technology effectively. As a result of working together in this way, the positive effect on the reduction of emissions will reach a global scale.

In conclusion, reducing climate change is the responsibility of every single country, government, and person. To truly fight against it, developed countries must work alongside lesser developed countries. Through the sharing of resources, technological advances, and money, the positive impact of changes brought about in more developed countries can have a global impact.

IELTS Writing Task 2 General & Academic Path: Discussion Essay

Key Words and Phrases for the Discussion Essay

  • It is considered
  • others believe that
  • In my opinion, …
  • I believe that…
  • people have claimed that
  • For these reasons, …
  • Many people believe that …
  • In other words, …
  • …such as…
  • People have said that …
  • If … then …
  • In fact …
  • …whilst…
  • …while…
  • For example, …
  • As a result of …
  • positively/negatively impact
  • increase
  • decrease/reduce

Practice Test: Discussion Essay

Some people say that the Internet has brought people around the world closer together, while others believe that the Internet has made people more isolated.

Discuss both sides, and give your opinion.

Practice Test: Model Plan

Introduction

Three arguments:

1.       The Internet has brought people around the world closer together.

2.       The Internet has made people more isolated.

3.       I believe that the Internet has provided an opportunity for a global community.

Body 1

Point: The Internet has brought people around the world closer together

Example: Able to speak more easily with anyone, anywhere in the world, e.g. skype, facetime

Elaboration: Living in different countries no longer means separation or distance from family and friends

Body 2

Point: The Internet has made people more isolated.

Example: Advancement in e.g. computer games means some young people spend long periods in isolation

Elaboration: Without such games, these young people would spend more time socialising

Body 3 (only if asked to discuss your opinion)

Point: I believe that the Internet has provided an opportunity for a global community

Example: computer games allow friendships across countries

Elaboration: Maybe better for those less comfortable with face to face interaction

Conclusion

The Internet has created a global community – communicate and build friendships across countries

Practice Test: Model Discussion Essay

The Internet is considered by some people to have brought people in the world closer together, while others believe that it has had the opposite effect, and humans are now more isolated than ever. In my opinion, I believe that whilst the Internet may have isolated a minority of individuals, it has also provided the opportunity for a global community to exist on Earth.

On the one hand, the Internet has certainly brought people around the world closer together. Through the use of global communication tools, such as Skype and Facetime, it is now possible to speak with anyone anywhere in the world where there is internet access. Due to this, families and friends living in different countries, or even continents, can keep well connected, and the separation that they may once have felt is no longer present.

On the other hand, people have claimed that the Internet has made people more isolated. Advancement in certain areas of the Internet may have resulted in some individuals becoming more isolated. For example, young people who become addicted to playing online computer games can spend hours at a time playing in isolation. As a result of this, these teenagers spend less time socialising with their friends and developing their real relationships with other people.

However, it is my opinion that, despite bringing increased isolation to a minority group, the Internet has indeed allowed the world to develop a global community. In fact, even those young people playing computer games often develop close ‘online’ relationships with other players around the world. For some individuals, this lack of face-to-face interaction may make it easier to build and sustain relationships.

In conclusion, it is clear that the Internet has opened doors to communication across the world. It has broken down the barriers of countries and continents to provide a platform for communication and friendships to exist globally.

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