An IELTS essay is a ‘discursive essay’ where you may have to discuss an issue, give an opinion, explain the advantages or disadvantages, write about problems or causes of problems and give solutions. There are 5 variations to an IELTS discursive essay. In this blog post, there are 7 model answers for IELTS writing task 2. These are based on essays my students have written with help from me to correct them and make them more concise and clear.
First, let’s look at these important points.
In a problem-solution essay or an advantage disadvantage essay, the instruction words will ask something like:
- What problems does this cause, what solutions can you suggest?
- Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?
Notice the plural form here, advantages and disadvantages. Many students (and IELTS teachers) think they have to write more than one advantage and disadvantage or more than one problem and solution. Yes, you can certainly do this but you can also make it much simpler by writing about one advantage and one disadvantage. The same goes for a problem solution essay.
Another point to consider is that you may run out of time if you write 2 of each. You will have only 40 minutes for the essay. Planning time is around 10 minutes so that means 30 minutes of writing. Another danger of writing about 2 of each is that your word count will go well over 300 words.
What does the marking criteria say?
- Band 8 Task Response states-> ‘presents a well-developed response to the question with relevant, extended and supported ideas…’
There is nothing mentioned in the marking criteria about having more than one advantage or disadvantage only that it needs to be well developed, relevant and supported. So you can take one advantage and one disadvantage, explain them well and support them with a specific example within an essay of between 260 to 300 words. Same for a problem solution essay, one problem one solution.
- Band 7 coherence and cohesion it states-> ‘presents a clear central topic within each paragraph…’
So you can run with one central idea or one main advantage and disadvantage, or problem/solution, as long as you can explain it well and give a clear relevant example. You will see this technique in the model answers below.
In the first causes solution model answer below there are 2 problems and 2 solutions. The only issue though is that it tends to end up as a very long essay at way over 300 words. Realistically, you will not have the time in the exam to write an essay over 300 words and you will have more chance of making mistakes.
You do not get a higher band score with a very long essay, for example, a 380-word essay. I have often been sent these kinds of essays to mark and it is frustrating, just keep it concise between 260 to 300 words.