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How to write IELTS Discussion Essays

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In IELTS writing task 2 you receive a statement about an issue and you are required to write an essay giving your opinion. Most of the time you are required to write a discursive essay – that is, an essay in which you present an argument in support of your opinion. One type of discursive essay you might choose to write is a discussion, otherwise known as a balanced argument essay. This tutorial will familiarise you with the different elements of a discussion and how you might structure them.
These are the important skills covered on our IELTS Courses.

1) Read the following IELTS response and guess the statement the candidate responded to.

Nowadays the poverty gap between countries is getting bigger and bigger. In some ways, people think that it is the task of the richer states to help poorer countries with donations such as money food and providing education programmes. In this essay I will discuss if wealthy nations should help poorer ones.

First of all, it is difficult to give money to poorer nations to buy food and support their schools because there is a lot of corruption in many of these countries. Thus, it is often the case that this money doesn’t get to the citizens who need it most. Indeed it is frequently necessary to rely on social organisations, like the Red Cross, which can give help directly to the poorest people.

The second point is that the problems of the most affected poorest states can’t be solved completely by donations. Indeed a lot of work is needed to tackle the roots of the problems, such as unemployment or the lack of education and food. It might be possible, however, for wealthy nations to give their support with specialists, who give their advice locally and who are able to design helpful programmes to rebuild the social and political structures in poor countries.

To sum up, although it is important that wealthy nations share their wealth among poorer countries, it is also necessary to decide very carefully what kind of help is really needed. Only in this we can we minimize the poverty gap between states and to safeguard the human right to equality.

2) While the above essay has a few mistakes in it, it would get above a 7.0. band score on the exam, largely because it is very coherent and well structured. There are several elements this type of essay needs to contain (i-iv). Match them up to their definitions (a-d)

i. Position
ii. Issue
iii. Argument
iv. Evidence

a) Your overall opinion on the essay, e.g. here whether or not you think wealthy nations need to help poorer ones

b) Supporting ideas such as explanations, examples and justifications

c) The idea or problem that people are disagreeing about

d) The reasons that support your overall opinion

3) Which of these elements do you think you will find in the introduction? The body? and the conclusion of the essay?
Now try and find them in the text.

Answers:

1) Many feel that it is the responsibility of wealthy nations to provide aid to poorer nations.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?

2) i) a), ii) c), iii) d), iv) b)

3) As you can see below, this discussion essay begins by outlining the issue. Then the writer proceeds to look at arguments supported by evidence on more than one side of the issue before giving their final position in the conclusion. Remember it is important to consider all the arguments you have mentioned in the essay when considering your position. This is a good structure to use if you have a very balanced opinion on an issue, if you want to be more analytical or if you are required by the task to consider more than one side of an argument.

ISSUE Nowadays the poverty gap between countries is getting bigger and bigger. In some ways, people think that it is the task of the richer states to help poorer countries with donations such as money food and providing education programmes. In this essay I will discuss if wealthy nations should help poorer ones.

First of all, ARGUMENT PERSPECTIVE 1 it is difficult to give money to poorer nations to buy food and support their schools because there is a lot of corruption in many of these countries. EVIDENCE Thus, it is often the case that this money doesn’t get to the citizens who need it most. Indeed it is frequently necessary to rely on social organisations, like the Red Cross, which can give help directly to the poorest people.

The second point is that the problems of the most affected poorest states can’t be solved completely by donations. ARGUMENT PERSPECTIVE 2 Indeed a lot of work is needed to tackle the roots of the problems, such as unemployment or the lack of education and food. EVIDENCE It might be possible, however, for wealthy nations to give their support with specialists, who give their advice locally and who are able to design helpful programmes to rebuild the social and political structures in poor countries.

To sum up, POSITION although it is important that wealthy nations share their wealth among poorer countries, it is also necessary to decide very carefully what kind of help is really needed. Only in this we can we minimize the poverty gap between states and to safeguard the human right to equality.

Lesson by Chris Tang, EC London English school