How to write an IELTS opinion essay

ielts word countIELTS opinion essay: structure, model answer and analysis.

There are 5 types of essay in IELTS writing task 2 and a common one is an opinion essay.

So how do you know if it is an opinion essay?. You will need to study the instruction words. These words tell you what you should write about. This should be the first step to take before you even begin to plan. Analyse the task and especially the instruction words so you do not go off-topic or write another essay altogether.

Here are 2 essay tasks below, which one do you think is the opinion essay?

1.  Most people agree that money cannot buy happiness. Why is happiness difficult to define? How can people achieve happiness?

2.  Some people believe that nowadays we have too many choices. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Looking at the instruction words we can see that the second one is an opinion essay as it asks To what extent do you agree or disagree? ‘

The first task is called a ‘Two-part question essay’ or sometimes called a ‘Direct question essay’.



Instruction words

Opinion essays will have various types of instruction words such as:

  • To what extent do you agree or disagree?
  • Do you agree or disagree?
  • What is your opinion?
  • Do you think…?
  • What do you think….?
  • In your opinion what is ….?

Be careful though as in many cases the instruction words ask your opinion but it may be a discussion essay such as:

‘Discuss both views and give your own opinion’ 

The structure of a discussion essay is different from an opinion essay as you will need to give reasons for peoples views before you go into your own opinion.

This task below is a 2 part question essay and the second question actually asks your opinion.

Most people agree that money cannot buy happiness. Why is happiness difficult to define? How can people achieve happiness?

The opinion essay that I am referring to asks To what extent do you agree or disagree?’ means how much do you agree/disagree? , do you completely agree/disagree?  or somewhat agree/disagree?  or do you neither agree nor disagree?

You can write in your thesis statement something like:  ‘ I completely agree because…..’ or if you don’t agree something like: I totally disagree because…..’


What is an effective opinion essay structure?

There is no magic Band 9 structure but my students have found that the structure below works well in an opinion essay.

Tips on structure:

  • The main body paragraphs will cover the reasons for your opinion, however, do not list ideas just use one central idea and explain and support it.
  • Don’t wait until the conclusion to give your opinion. It must be throughout the whole essay.
  • Don’t give 2 different opinions. Do not agree then disagree as it will confuse the examiner. You can balance it with why someone would hold an opposing view but it is not a discussion essay.
  • The introduction should be under 55 words, each body paragraph should be approximately 90 to 100 words, the conclusion needs to be shorter than the introduction and no new ideas should be added in the conclusion
  • Aim for between 270 to 290 words, over 300 words is not realistic as you only have 40 minutes to write the essay.

Which body paragraph is better?

Take a look at these 2 main body one paragraphs to the task below, what do you think will score higher?

Task question:

Some people believe that nowadays we have too many choices. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Example 1

A long time ago people used to go to market places and they bought basic daily necessities, now people can buy online and go to many high street shops. In addition, we can choose any hotel we like at cheap prices. Also, businesses compete with each other which means customers can buy items at low cost as well as a bigger selection of goods. Furthermore, the economy benefits because people are able to select from so many different products. For example, Amazon.com has millions of products that are much cheaper than buying at a shopping mall.

Example 2

There is some truth in the argument that these days we have far too much choice which causes overwhelm, however, I think that having so many options is a positive phenomenon because it makes businesses compete with each other. This means that consumers can benefit greatly from prices coming down. To illustrate this, over the past two decades Ryanair and EasyJet budget airlines considerably reduced the cost of airfares for flights all over Europe. Before this, there was only one airline to choose from at exorbitant costs. Presently, many more budget airline options are serving every European destination with incredible bargains for customers.

click below for the answer.

 

The 2nd example is better because I wrote one central idea (lower prices for consumers) and expanded on that. The example given is not entirely true but it looks very feasible.

You can just make up examples but they have to be specific and realistic looking. The point of an example is to support your main idea. I also referred to the fact that there is some truth in the stated argument from the task question and then clearly stated my view. To see how to balance the essay click here for a lesson on balancing your opinion.

The first example above has too many ideas and too many points. It jumps around and is not focusing on one central idea. The points are relevant but there is too much going on.

You will also notice an opinion is not given directly in the first example (I think / I believe etc)  the whole paragraph affects coherence and cohesion as well as task response. The example given about amazon.com is also quite weak and not well explained.

 


Analysing the question.

As with all IELTS essays, it is absolutely crucial to spend a couple of minutes analysing the task and underling the keywords so that you are writing relevant points in the essay. If you go off-topic or write irrelevant points it will affect your score.

This is the task question for my model answer below and it is clear that the essay is about having too many choices these days. This means that there is something negative about having many choices, as the word ‘too’ implies something negative. In my model answer I disagree with this being a negative and in fact, many choices are beneficial.

Some people believe that nowadays we have too many choices. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Click here for the 5 steps you need to take before writing.

I advise 10 minutes of planning time, this includes time analysing the question and getting relevant ideas.

Click here for a lesson about examples in main body paragraphs.


Model Answer

Some people believe that nowadays we have too many choices. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

It is argued by some people that in recent times we have too many things to choose from. Although I agree with this to some extent, I believe that having so many options enables consumers to purchase more competitively priced and higher quality products.

There is some truth in the argument that these days we have far too much choice which can result in overwhelm. However, I think that having so many options is a positive phenomenon because it forces businesses to compete with each other. This means that consumers can benefit greatly from prices coming down. To illustrate this, over the past two decades Ryanair and EasyJet budget airlines considerably reduced the cost of airfares for flights all over Europe. Prior to this, there was only one airline to choose from at exorbitant costs. Presently, many more budget airline options are serving every European destination with incredible bargains for customers.

Another reason why I believe that more choice is beneficial is that the quality of products has improved in recent years. This is because with so many businesses vying for a customers attention, their main selling points are not only low prices but also much higher quality. For instance, smartphone costs have decreased in the past 5 years and handsets are more powerful and more durable than ever before. This is down to the fact that manufacturers have focused on quality control to compete with rival products. This has certainly been beneficial to consumers and would not have been possible with one or two companies monopolising the smartphone market.

To conclude, despite the argument that there is too much freedom of choice nowadays, I think this is a positive trend as the plethora of options allows customers to buy inexpensive items without compromising on quality.

 

293 words

 


Analysis

Click below to see more detail and an analysis

1. My thesis statement says: Although I agree with this to some extent, I believe that having so many options enables consumers to purchase more competitively priced and higher quality products.. This shows I am agreeing but I also go on to say that is a good thing as we can buy better cheaper products.

2. I have covered the points about how more choices have resulted in lower prices in main body one, while in main body two I cover the point about higher quality products because of the fact there are more choices. Notice how I have referred to the argument that there is some truth in the argument that these days we have far too much choice which causes overwhelm but I have clearly stuck to my opinion.

3. The examples I gave are made up and not entirely true but they look realistic, the examiner does not check your examples for validity. Examples are there to support your main ideas.

4. The points I have made in the essay connect with consumerism and shopping, but I have linked them to the points about how having many choices are of benefit to customers or consumers, because my opinion is that having many choices is a good aspect

5. In this type of essay, you could write about other areas where having many choices are relevant such as the choices of universities we can attend, the choices of work we might engage in, The choice of health care options available….and so on.

Here is a good news article from ‘Business Insider’ that connects with this task question. Reading is a very good way to get ideas for IELTS essays.

 


 

 

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