Navigating IELTS Question Types Like a Pro

Navigating IELTS Question Types Like a Pro

There are five different IELTS question types, and before you begin practicing writing them, it's a good idea to know the question types, and how they differ.

Question type 1: Agree or disagree essay

The agree or disagree question provides you with a topic, and asks you to determine whether you agree or disagree. It is really important that you make it clear which side you are with.

Even if, your question uses language like 'to what extent do you agree?', you should always choose either agree or disagree, and not try to arge for both, or show a balance of views- this will only show the examiner you have misunderstood the question. Choose a side of the argument and stick with it so you have consistent clarity in your essay.

People's shopping habits depend more on their age than any other reason. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Remember to avoid:

  • partial agreement
  • somewhat agree
  • somewhat disagree
  • neither agree or disagree

Instead choose:

  • completely agree


  • completely disagree

Question type 2- Advantage or disadvantage essay

This question isn't as straightforward, but it's similarly just about learning it until you know it.

The first type of advantage and disadvantage question is where you discuss the statement but you are not basing it on your opinion. The second type is more to do with your opinion, where you have to choose a side. You will also have to make it clear which side you are choosing in your thesis statement.


You can think of it in terms of with type 1, you are less involved and with type 2, you are more involved.

Question type 3- Discussion question essay

This question gives you two opinions related to a topic and asks you to discuss both sides.

The structure for this essay is straightforward.

  • Paraphrase
  • Thesis
  • Outline
  • One main paragraph on each opinion (two paragraphs), with an example in each

Question example:

There seems to be an increasing amount of serious crimes committed each year. Whilst some think the best deterrent to this is the death sentence, others believe that other measures should be used. Discuss both sides.

  • The topic: crime
  • Opinion one: the death sentence
  • Opinion two: other/alternative measures to these crimes

Partial sample answer:

It is known that crime rates often have the behaviour of increasing each year. Some people believe that the most appropriate response serving justice, is to impose the death penalty. Others however, believe that alternative measures are more suitable and effective. I believe that the most appropriate course of action is rehabilitation in the form of mental health services, instead of the death penalty. This essay will argue for alternative measures and provide reasons to oppose the death penalty.

If I were to continue, my arguments would be as follows:

Argument 1- the death penalty doesn't help to stop the behaviour that causes the crimes to happen

Argument 2- the death penalty is reactive and not responsive, where it doesn't better our society in any way

Question type 4- Discussion + opinion question essay

This is very similar to the discussion essay, and it still is a discussion essay. The small difference is that you need to also discuss which one you agree with.

Some people think it's better to educate boys and girls separately. Others believe that both parties benefit more from attending same-sex education schools. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

In response to this question, you need to have one paragraph for each respective idea (so one that address single sex schools, and the other that address mixed-sex schools). You would need to provide an example to help support your explanation, in each paragraph. The argument in which you agree with- is how you include your opinion. Your opinion is done within your main paragraph (paragraph 1).

Question type 5- Double question

An easy mistake made by students is that part of the question is missed out. With this question type, you need to be vigilant and make sure you have answered both!

The arts including art, music and theatre are considered to be important in society. Do you think they still have a place in our fast-paced modern lives? Should the arts be more greatly emphasised in the school curriculum?

Question type 6- Problem/solution

The problem solution essay presents you with an issue that you first discuss, and then provide (two) possible solutions for.

Some IELTS tutors advise that you give more than two solutions, but the expected structure for IELTS essays, are your introduction body and then the two main paragraphs. It therefore makes sense to stick to this structure and it means that you can focus on your ideas and the clarity of your writing.

Your typical structure with this question would be to discuss the problems in the first paragraph, and provide two solutions in the second paragraph.