IELTS Writing Task 2: How to Structure a ‘Two Question’ Essay

Let’s look at an example of this kind of question:

Nowadays governments are investing more in public transport such as buses and trains rather than in building new roads.

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What are the reasons for this?
Is this a positive or negative development?

I. Clear position

For this kind of task you need to discuss both questions.

In the first question, you are given a situation and asked to explain why.

The second question requires a clear opinion so you must choose a side.

This is very important for your task response score.

If you don’t choose a side and support that ‘position’ clearly, you will lose marks for your task response.

You will get a maximum of a 5 for task achievement if you do not choose a side.

It’s not important which side you choose as long as you choose one.

Here are the options for the second question:

1) Agree. You think it’s a positive development that governments are spending more money on public transport. You support r this opinion.

2) Disagree. You think it’s a negative development that governments are spending more money on public transport. You support this opinion.

II. Clear essay structure

I always recommend to my students that they give their opinion in the introduction as well as the conclusion (for all IELTS Task 2 questions).

Technically, it’s OK to write a very general introduction and leave your opinion to the end.

But I strongly suggest that you don’t do this because it’s not as clear.

Also, you might run out of time before you’ve got to your conclusion, so overall it’s a risky strategy.  If you don’t choose a side and support that ‘position’ clearly, you will lose marks for your task response.

Therefore my suggested IELTS Task 2 essay structure is four paragraphs – an introduction, two main (or body) paragraphs and a conclusion.

The opinion is presented in the introduction and re-stated in the conclusion.

Ideally each body paragraph should discuss one main idea.

Now let’s look at the options in more detail.

III. Possible Essay structures

1) Agree – you feel it’s a positive development that governments are spending more money on public transport.

You need at least one good reason why it’s happening and one good reason why it’s a positive development.

Paragraph 1
(intro)
Paraphrase both questions and state your overall opinion (you feel it’s a positive development)
Paragraph 2
(body 1)
Explain and support your reason why governments are spending more money on public transport.
Paragraph 3
(body 2)
Explain and support your reason why this is a positive development.
Paragraph 4 (conclusion)Re-state your overall opinion (you feel it’s a positive development) and  summarise your main reasons.

2) Disagree – you feel it’s a negative development that governments are spending more money on public transport.

You need at least one good reason why it’s happening and one good reason why it’s a negative development.

Only the parts highlighted below are different from the first essay

Paragraph 1 (intro)Paraphrase both questions and state your overall opinion(you feel it’s a negative development)
Paragraph 2 (body 1)Explain and support your reason why governments are spending more money on public transport.
Paragraph 3 (body 2)Explain and support your reason why this is a negative development.
Paragraph 4 (conclusion)Re-state your overall opinion (you feel it’s a negative development) and  summarise your main reasons.
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