IELTS Discussion Essay

IELTS Discussion Essay

This post will help you navigate how to write your discussion essay.

  1. Essay tips
  2. What does the question look like
  3. What distinguishes this essay from its essay counterparts?
  4. Steps to answering the question
  5. Answering the question with a model response

Essay tips

  • Consider both sides
  • Use arguments for both sides
  • Only give your opinion if the tasks requires it
  • Follow an essay model
  • Use discussion essay language

As covered in the article ‘IELTS Essay Writing’, there are specific kinds of essays in task 2.  Students can often conflate this essay with the opinion essay, and the advantages and disadvantages essay. To echo my previous advice, practice as much as you can with these question types. Don’t worry at first about the timing aspect, but focus on understanding the task and getting really good at answering the question.

What does the question look like?

The question will be a statement containing two opposing views, like this:
Some people think that exercise is the key to health while others feel that having a balanced diet is more important

You will then be asked to discuss both sides of the argument and give your own opinion, like this:

Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

Typical wording can look like this:

  • Discuss both views and give your opinion
  • Discuss both these views and then give your own opinion
  • Discuss both sides of this argument and give your own opinion

Some people think that exercise is the key to health while others feel that having a balanced diet is more important. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

What distinguishes this essay from its essay counterparts?

Lots of students struggle to separate this essay from the opinion essay.

The only thing you need to remember is that with the discussion essay, you are discussing both views.

Unlike the opinion question where you have to decide between two opposing views and choose one argument to carry your essay through.

The key to this essay is balance. You are not weighing in more on one side, but discussing both views. Importantly too, is to give your opinion. Lots of students discuss both sides but forget to conclude with an opinion.

  • Discuss both sides
  • Given an opinion

Steps to answering the question

Understand the question. Like all essay questions, we need to really understand what’s being asked of us.

Some people think that exercise is the key to health while others feel that having a balanced diet is more important. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

The keywords here are: key to health, balanced diet.
By isolating the keywords we can see where the opposing views lie and thus, how your essay needs to be relevant to these ideas.  

Decide on your opinion

Whether you genuinely agree or not, decide what your opinion is on the statement. For my model essay, I am going to agree that exercise is the key to health.

Produce your ideas

Think of the broad ideas that underpin your ideas. Remember, you are discussing both sides!

Exercise is the key:

  • Cardio-vascular exercise to reduce the risk of major illnesses
  • Lower chance of developing long-term conditions
  • Boosts self-esteem and mood
  • Healthy and fulfilling life into old age
  • Technology and desk-work has reduced reason to move- even more important to incorporate exercise regularly

Balanced diet:

  • Nutrients needed for our body to work effectively
  • Helps you control your weight
  • Better skin and hair
  • Improved immune system

These are too many ideas however, so I am going to pick two to lead with in my main body paragraphs.

Idea 1- exercise reduces risk of major illnesses, helps to fight off poor mental health (depression, anxiety)
Idea 2- body to working effectively, improved immune system

Question:

Some people think that exercise is the key to health while others feel that having a balanced diet is more important. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

Synonyms:

Key- essential, central, fundamental, decisive, principle, vital

health - fitness, wellbeing, robustness, strength, vigor, form

Balanced- fair, proportional, evened, equitable symmetrical

Important- relevant, influential, significant, salient, paramount

The planning stage:

Introduction:

It is considered by some that exercise is fundamental to being healthy, while there are others who think that having a proportional diet is more significant. Whilst a balanced diet contributes to our bodies working effectively, I believe that exercise is more influential to our health in combating major illness and detrimental mental health.

Main ideas:

Paragraph 1- Balanced diet contributes to our bodies working effectively, improves immune system

Paragraph 2- Exercise combats major illness and fights off depression

Main paragraphs

  • Topic sentence- outline the view you don’t agree with (Why? You want to start your essay in this format so that you bring the focus and concluding thought, to the view you do agree with- its more compelling)
  • Explanation- explain why this view is held by some people
  • Example- give an example

Model response

Main paragraph 1:

On the one hand, a balanced and proportioned diet contributes to our bodies working effectively, and optimising for good, lasting health. An even diet suggests that we regularly welcome various food groups, in order to maintain this sense of balance and create a strong, healthy system.. Many health specialists and nutritionists advocate for balanced diets, so that our bodies can feed our immune system, so to speak. In recent years, there has been a greater shift toward more health-conscious eating where, for example, vegetarian and vegan food are much more commonly seen, and many people are opting into such dietary choices. Not only this, but the food industry itself has taken a heavier lean into ensuring healthy food is part of their identity. Even the brand McDonald’s, the antithesis of a balanced diet, has clipped onto the health conscious consumer and created snacks and meals that are intended to be healthier.

Main paragraph 2:

Having said this, exercise is vital in combating major illness and disease, as well as providing an antidote to the pressures and stresses we feel in life, which can lead to forms of depression and anxiety. Not only is it paramount to maintain our physical health, but especially when we have the faculties to do so, it is important to build a robustness about our physical health. Routinely exercising boosts our bodily functions, which can help to prevent serious illnesses. Moreover, physical exercise not only benefits our body, but our mind too. Like electricity, physical exercise sends endorphins to our brain and makes us feel good. Exercise invigorates us because we have challenged our bodies and thereafter reap the rewards with feeling stronger, both mentally and physically. Experts like doctors recommend daily exercise because they are acutely aware of its benefits and know it is a key component in preventing illnesses, as well as recovering from an illness or an accident. This is particularly important when the person is of a more senior age and their physical health can determine how they may recover. There are many types of exercise that have evolved over the last fifty years and exercise is accessible to all age groups, making it possible to live an active and healthy life.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, although a balanced diet plays an important role in our health, I believe that exercise plays a more significant role for not only our health, but our capacity to fight off illness, both physically and mentally.