IELTS writing task 2 consists of a wide variety of essays. While you are preparing, it is important that you familiarise yourself with the different types and understand how to approach them. One of the most popular choices of the IELTS examiners is the advantage-disadvantage essay.
For this you are given a topic and asked to discuss its advantages and disadvantages. Although it is a fairly straightforward essay, you still need to have a proper understanding of how to structure this kind of essays. Let us look at this in details.
Skills tested in IELTS Writing Task 2
This task is about assessing your ability to follow English discursive writing conventions (i.e. what order to put information in, what style to use, how to start and finish discursive writing, how to paragraph), to organise and link information coherently and cohesively and to use language accurately and appropriately.
It requires you to formulate and develop a position in relation to a question or statement. Your ideas should be supported by evidence, and examples may be drawn from your own experience. The essay should be at least 250 words in length and the ones under the required minimum word limit will be penalised.
Strategies for Advantage-Disadvantage Essays
The first strategy to write a Band 9 advantage-disadvantage essay is to know what the question asks of you. When you have this type of essay it is important to distinguish between the one that asks for your opinion and one that asks you to discuss advantages and disadvantages but does not ask your opinion.
If you are asked “What are the advantages and disadvantages of…..” you are not being asked your opinion. You simply have to discuss the benefits and drawbacks.
You could do this in two body paragraphs as mentioned above. However, if you have the word “outweigh” or “Will this trend have more positive or negative effects?” then you are being asked for your opinion and you must say whether there mostly positive impact or mostly negative impact.
- The following structure illustrates how you should structure the essay that specifically asked you to write about the advantage and disadvantage of a particular situation. For Example:
People now have the freedom to work and live anywhere in the world due to the development of communication technology and transportation. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this trend?
This advantage disadvantage essay is not asking for your opinion. You could simply write one paragraph on the advantages and another on the disadvantages.
Sentence 1- Paraphrase question
Sentence 2- Outline sentence
Main Body Paragraph 1 (Advantages)
Sentence 3- Topic sentence (Advantage 1)
Sentence 4- Explain how this is an advantage
Sentence 5- Example
Main Body Paragraph 2 (Disadvantages)
Sentence 6- Topic sentence (Disadvantage 1)
Sentence 7- Explain how this is a disadvantage
Sentence 8- Example
Sentence 9- Summary of main points
- On the other hand, the following question asks about what your opinion is:
People now have the freedom to work and live anywhere in the world due to the development of communication technology and transportation. Do the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?
Will this have more positive or negative impacts?
For this kind of questions, the structure will be as follows:
Sentence 1- Paraphrase question
Sentence 2- Thesis statement (state which one outweighs the other)
Sentence 3- Outline sentence
Main Body Paragraph 1 (Stronger Side)
Sentence 4- Topic Sentence
Sentence 5- Explain why it is strong
Sentence 6- Example
Sentence 7- Topic Sentence
Sentence 8- Explain why it is strong
Sentence 9- Example
Main Body Paragraph 2 (Weaker Side)
Sentence 10- Topic Sentence
Sentence 11- Explain why it is not strong
Sentence 12- Example
Sentence 13- Summary of main points and restate position.
Additionally, it will also help if you look at several past papers and try to determine the language that are used to ask a particular type of question.
Understanding the question and having a proper structure for your essay, along with a range of contextual vocabulary is all that you need to achieve a high band.
Tips for Advantage-Disadvantage Essays
Here are some practical tips that will help you consolidating your ideas:
- Before you start writing your essay, you should always spend 1-2 minutes on producing ideas for your answer. This way, you’ll know what to write about and your answer will be more coherent and well-structured.
- In case of advantages & disadvantages essay, you need to think of 2-3 advantages and 2-3 disadvantages of the given issue.
- In case of the essays asking for your opinion, you must decide what you think, before starting to write your essay.
- Always time yourself while you practice.
- Remember you will have to write slightly more than 250 words, so make sure you keep a tab of the word count.
- Familiarise yourself with vocabulary that is particular to a specific topic.
The most important thing about an advantage-disadvantage type essay is, understanding the question; Whether you are asked to write about your own opinion or just point out the established advantages and disadvantages. If you figure this out all that is left for you to do is, arrange your points in a proper structure and use a range of grammatical structures and relevant vocabulary to establish your point.