Yesterday was my first live IELTS Q&A! I have spent this morning making some reflective notes about it. A concern from students was about the essay questions; understanding them, essay strategies and they key differences between them.
This article revises what the essay types are, how to answer them and how they differ.
Strategies to answer the easy questions
Apply the 4 R’s as your strategy to apply to all essay type questions:
- Read the question carefully
- Remember the structure you have learnt to its question type
- Recognise which of your ideas are most relevant to the question
- Repair any small edits the end, always leaving time for this
- Identify the most important language in the question
- Note down some synonyms you can automatically think of after identifying key language in the question
- Spend five minutes writing down the essay’s structure for; introduction, paragraph 1 and 2, conclusion
- Within this five minutes, note down your leading ideas for paragraph 1 and 2
- When you have finished, skim read your response to make any minor changes and/or repairs
The essay types
*These essay types do not differ between GT and AT, but the language of the question will differ and the topic it is related to.
- Opinion essay
- Advantages and disadvantages essay
- Discussion essay
- Problems and solutions / cause and solutions essay
- Direct question essay
What is each essay type asking me to do?
- The opinion essay
- Choose one side of the argument
- State your opinion in the introduction
- Continue with this opinion throughout
- Support your opinion with reasons
- Q: People should follow the customs and traditions when they start to live in a new country. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
2. The advantages and disadvantages essay
- Write about both advantages and disadvantages of the idea
- Unlike the opinion essay, you are not choosing one side
- It needs to be a balance of the two ideas (in statement)
- If you are asked to include your opinion, include this
- Q: With the rise of e-books comes the decline in paper books. Some people see this as a good step forward while others do not. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this trend?
3. The discussion essay
- You need to discuss both sides of the essay
- Agree with one side of the argument
- Disagree with one side of the argument, too
- Start with talking about the side you don’t agree with (why? If you were trying to get your opinion across to someone on a topic, you wouldn’t end with why you disagree first. Instead, you address this, but then move onto explaining your opinion and why it is you hold this opinion. Closing with this is more convincing)
- Q: Some people think that the internet has brought people closer together while others think that people and communities have become more isolated. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.
4. The problem essay
- Try not to overwhelm yourself with too many solutions to the given problem
- Choose two and develop these
- Link each problem to its solution
- Go into detail when proposing your solutions
- Give examples if you can
- Q: Many local shops are closing as they are unable to compete with large supermarkets in the area. How does this affect local communities? How could this situation be improved?
5. The direct question essay
- Answer both questions
- Plan your ideas so you don’t lose sight of the question
- Q: Success is often measured by wealth and material belongings. Do you think wealth is the measure of success? What makes a successful person?