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Writing Task 2: Opinion 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 an Opinion Essay

  • The opinion essay question will ask at the end: ‘To what extent do you agree?’. Begin by deciding whether you agree or disagree.
  • Give your opinion and make sure that it is clear to the examiner.
  • Keep to the same opinion throughout the essay – there is no need to explore the ‘other side.’
  • Make sure the essay stays on topic and answers the question.

Planning for the Opinion Essay

You must take the time to plan for writing task 2. You will already have completed two full tests (reading and listening) 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 on this. You can use space on the question paper to write the plan. Try using a format like this:

Introduction

State the issue/topic to be discussed in the essay & if you agree or disagree

Body 1

Point: Clearly state the point you are making in this paragraph

Example: Provide an example to support the point

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

Body 2

Point: Clearly state the point you are making in this paragraph

Example: Provide an example to support the point

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

Body 3 (optional)

Point: Clearly state the point you are making in this paragraph

Example: Provide an example to support the point

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

Conclusion

Restate the two/three main points made in the body of the essay

Sample Question: Opinion Essay

In many countries around the world, an increasing number of people are suffering from health problems as a result of eating foods containing high levels of sugar. It is, therefore, necessary for governments to impose a higher tax on this kind of food.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Model Plan: Opinion Essay

Introduction

State the issue/topic to be discussed in the essay & if you agree or disagree

Governments should raise the tax on high sugar food to combat the number of health issues caused by eating sugary foods.

Body 1

Point: Firstly, higher prices, fewer people will buy

Example: fruit and vegetables more expensive than sugary sweets currently

Elaboration: people on a budget can’t afford healthy alternatives – switch taxes

Body 2

Point: Finally, more money from the tax can go to hospitals to help people

Example: by increasing by just a little, that’s millions of more pounds to the hospitals

Elaboration: with more money, hospitals can use the money for initiatives to stop sugar addiction

Conclusion

Restate the two or three main points made in the essay

In conclusion, / To sum up, / Overall, I believe that it is necessary to raise the tax on sugary foods so that:

–          People buy and consume less sweet treats

–          Hospitals receive more money to treat patients

Model Answer: Opinion Essay

In the past few decades, highly processed, sugary foods have become a staple part of the diet of many people around the world. Without a doubt, this has contributed to the rise in cases of diabetes, high cholesterol, heart issues, and respiratory problems. It has been suggested that governments should increase the tax on high-sugar products to combat this, and I agree that this would have a significant impact on improving this situation.

By inflating the price of sugary foods, they will become less accessible to the masses. Currently, cheap, sugary foods are affordable products for those from lower-income families. In fact, statistics show that lower socio-economic groups consume five times the amount of high-sugar foods in comparison to wealthier people. In contrast, healthier produce, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, has a higher price point. If the government increased the tax on sugary treats, then the additional money could be used to subsidise the cost of fruit and vegetables to make healthier foods more accessible to the masses.

In addition, the money made from increased taxes on these unhealthy, processed foods could be allocated to the health system to improve treatment for illnesses caused by these foods and prevent this ‘sugar epidemic’ from worsening. By increasing the tax of sugary products by just 10p, millions of pounds could be invested in further research. Through a focus on preventative measures, such as improved education on the negative effect of these foods on the human body, fewer people would require treatment down the line.

In conclusion, I believe that it is necessary to raise the tax on sugary foods. If the government were to implement this change, fewer people would buy and consume sweet treats, and hospitals would be in a better financial situation to both treat patients and educate society on eating for good health.

 

Key Words and Phrases for the Opinion Essay

  • without a doubt
  • has contributed to
  • rise/increase/incline
  • fall/decrease/decline
  • It has been suggested that
  • significant/insignificant
  • impact on
  • improving/worsening the situation
  • Currently, …
  • In fact…
  • Statistics show that…
  • in comparison to
  • If…then…
  • By increasing/improving/changing…
  • negative effect/positive effect
  • less people/more people
  • I believe that…
  • it is necessary to

Practice Test: Opinion Essay

In many countries around the world, an increasing number of people are suffering from health problems as a result of poor air quality caused by pollution. It is, therefore, necessary for governments to impose a higher tax on vehicles.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Practice Test: Model Plan

Introduction

State the issue/topic to be discussed in the essay

Should governments raise the tax on vehicles to combat the number of health issues caused by air pollution?

Body 1

Point: Firstly, higher prices, fewer people will buy

Example: cheaper to use public transport than buy a car

Elaboration: fewer vehicles on the road = less pollution

Body 2

Point: tax could be used to invest in solutions for the air quality problem

Example: turbines to keep air cleaner in towns and cities

Elaboration: focus on the solution to the lifestyle choice of driving

Conclusion

Restate the two or three main points made in the essay

In conclusion, / To sum up, / Overall, I believe that it is necessary to raise the tax on vehicles so that:

–          There are fewer vehicles creating pollution

–          There are improved systems to keep the air clean in highly populated areas

Practice Test: Model Opinion Essay

In the past 100 years, cars and other vehicles have become increasingly accessible and affordable. As a result of this, the number of vehicles on the roads is increasing year by year. Unfortunately, a key impact of this is the decline in the quality and freshness of the air in highly populated areas, due to increased fumes emitted from cars, lorries, trains, and planes. It has been suggested that governments should increase the tax on vehicles to combat this, and I agree that this would have a significant impact on improving this situation.

By inflating the price of vehicles, there will be a decrease in the number of vehicle sales. Currently, cars are a cheap and affordable product for those from various socio-economic backgrounds due to the range in car ages, models, and prices. If the cost of cars were to increase, those from lower-income families would be less likely to purchase a vehicle and, as a result, would use the public transport options available. Therefore, the number of cars being used and producing deadly fumes would be significantly lowered.

In addition, the money made from increased taxes on these vehicles could be invested in machinery or other solutions to improve the air quality in different regions. For example, turbines to clean the air could be installed in larger towns and cities with air quality issues to recycle and freshen the air. Additionally, this would allow people to retain the right to drive. Instead, it focuses on managing the pollution itself, instead of attempting to alter the mindset and lifestyle preferences of a global society.

In conclusion, I believe that it is necessary to raise the tax on vehicles to improve air pollution in populated areas. If the government were to implement this change, it is likely that fewer vehicles would be purchased and, therefore, less pollution would be emitted. Furthermore, investing additional tax income into technological developments allows the government to take a proactive approach to improve air quality levels.

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