To what extent essay ielts

To what extent you agree or disagree essay

This lesson will guide you how to write essays in IELTS Writing that ask you to what extent you agree/disagree. Such questions are very common for IELTS Writing task 2. In such essays your task is to say whether you:

  • completely agree with a given statement
  • completely disagree with a given statement
  • partly agree / disagree

and justify your opinion.

In this lesson you will see IELTS writing task 2 sample question + model answer. Also, you will learn the following points:

  • how to decide on your opinion
  • how to generate ideas to justify your opinion
  • how to give a band 9 answer for agree/disagree question

To what extent you agree/disagree question sample

Let’s look at an example of IELTS writing task 2:

The government’s investment in arts, music and theatre is a waste of money. Governments should invest these funds in public services instead.

To what extent do you agree with this statement?

Choose your opinion & generate ideas

Unlike classic agree/disagree questions, to what extent you agree or disagree questions do NOT ask you to clearly determine whether you agree or disagree with the given statement.

In fact, you have 3 major options for your opinion:

AA: You completely agree (provide 2 ideas that strengthen the statement)
DD: You completely disagree (provide 2 ideas that weaken the statement)
AD: You agree or disagree partly (provide 1 idea that strengthens the statement and 1 idea that weakens it)

After you’ve decided your opinion, generate 2-3 supporting points for it.

Now let’s generate supporting points for each of the opinions:

AA: Investment in arts, music and theatre is a waste of money

    • Art, music and theatre don’t help to solve urgent problems of the society
    • Art and music can develop as hobbies, and saved money can be directed towards urgent needs of the society
    • If artists and musicians were employed at more traditional jobs, there would be a great benefit for science and industry

DD: Investment in arts, music and theatre is NOT a waste of money

  • The arts and music preserve unique culture and heritage, passing nation’s cultural character and traditions to future generations
  • Arts, music and theatre are an integral part of the society’s cultural and intellectual development and amusement
  • A strong arts, music and theatre sector is an economic asset that creates new jobs and attracts tourism revenue

AD: Investment in arts is important, but public services should be financed in the first place

For this opinion, just combine ideas from the previous points.

For our essay, we’ll choose the last opinion — partially agree / disagree (AD).

Band 9 answer structure

There are a lot of ways to structure your essay, but we’ll use a structure that has been approved by many IELTS examiners to be high-scoring and coherent.
Band-9 essay structure:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body paragraph 1 — the 1st supporting point
  3. Body paragraph 2 — the 2nd supporting point
  4. Conclusion

As you already know, you can write the supporting points of your body paragraphs in the following ways: agree + agree, disagree + disagree, agree + disagree. We’ll use the last option as our opinion is partially agree / disagree.

Let’s take a look at each of these sections in detail.

Introduction
Write your introduction in two sentences:

  • Sentence 1 — paraphrase the statement (you can use ‘it is argued/considered/thought that’ to start):

It is often argued that the government should finance public services instead of spending its budget on arts, music and theatre.

  • Sentence 2 — give your opinion:

Although I agree that government’s investments in public services play a very important role, I think that proper funding of arts sector is also crucial for the society.

Body paragraph 1 — the 1st supporting point

  • Sentence 1 — state the first reason you agree/disagree.

This sentence should contain the main idea of the whole 1st paragraph. In our case we’ll use the reason A: why it is important to finance public services. As we’ll be considering opposite opinions, it is a good idea to use a collocation on the one hand to introduce the first reason:

On the one hand, the government should definitely allocate a large part of its budget on public services.

  • Sentences 2-3 — explain the reason.

To explain the reason effectively, you can imagine that your examiner didn’t understand what you were talking about and you have to explain every detail:

This economic sector determines the overall quality of life, ensuring that some basic services, like schools, hospitals and roads, are available to all citizens irrespective of their income or social status. Public services satisfy the primary needs of the society and thus need a proper funding, while artists and musicians are not curing diseases or building houses, so their role is secondary.

  • Sentence 4 — example.

It’s always good to give examples in your body paragraphs, even if you’re not asked to do it (like in our case):

For example, any country can live without music concerts, but absence of medicine will create significant problems.

  • Sentence 5 — a short summary of your ideas in this paragraph:

That’s why the government should adequately finance public services in the first place.

Body paragraph 2 — the 2nd reason you agree/disagree

  • Sentence 1 — state the second reason you agree/disagree.

This statement should contain the main idea of the whole 2nd paragraph. This time we’ll use the reason D: why it is important to finance public services. As we are considering opposite opinions, it is a good idea to use a phrase on the other hand to introduce the second reason:

On the other hand, arts, music and theatre are not a waste of money, since they are an integral part of the society’s cultural and intellectual development and amusement.

  • Sentences 2-3 — explain the reason (assume that your examiner doesn’t understand the topic at all):

Firstly, art and music draw people’s attention to diverse phenomena and represent the inward significance of things. Quite often a single drawing, piece or song can exhort myriads of people to reconsider their attitude towards some situation. This way, art serves as a major source of nation’s personal and intellectual development. Moreover, visiting museums, watching movies and listening to music are common ways of relaxation and entertainment.

  • Sentence 4 — support your idea with an example:

The question doesn’t ask us to give examples, plus we’ve already written a lot in this paragraph, so we’ll skip this point. В

  • Sentence 5 — a short summary of your thoughts in the 2nd paragraph.

Thus, art sector is also important for the society and should not be neglected.

Conclusion

You can write the conclusion in one sentence that summarizes your opinion + 2 reasons for it:

To conclude, though I agree that the government should allocate a large part of its budget on such urgent needs of the society like public services, I think that arts, music and theatre should also be financed since they play an important role in people’s development and entertainment.

DO NOT write new ideas in the conclusion!

Model answer

This is a full band-9 answer for to what extent you agree or disagree IELTS Writing question above:

It is often argued that the government should finance public services instead of spending its budget on arts, music and theatre. Although I agree that government’s investments in public services play a very important role, I think that proper funding of arts sector is also crucial for the society.

On the one hand, the government should definitely allocate a large part of its budget on public services. This economic sector determines the overall quality of life, ensuring that some basic services, like schools, hospitals and roads, are available to all citizens irrespective of their income or social status. Public services satisfy the primary needs of the society and thus need a proper funding, while artists and musicians are not curing diseases or building houses, so their role is secondary. For example, any country can live without music concerts, but absence of medicine will create significant problems. That’s why the government should adequately finance public services in the first place.

On the other hand, arts, music and theatre are not a waste of money, since they are an integral part of the society’s cultural and intellectual development and amusement. Firstly, art and music draw people’s attention to diverse phenomena and represent the inward significance of things. Quite often a single drawing, piece or song can exhort myriads of people to reconsider their attitude towards some situation. This way, art serves as a major source of nation’s personal and intellectual development. Moreover, visiting museums, watching movies and listening to music are common ways of relaxation and entertainment. Thus, art sector is also important for the society and should not be neglected.

To conclude, though I agree that the government should allocate a large part of its budget on such urgent needs of the society like public services, I think that arts, music and theatre should also be financed since they play an important role in people’s development and entertainment.

To what extent essay ielts

Still have a question? Ask your own!

Hi, hope the below steps can help you with your question:

1. Decide “how much” you agree or disagree. Are you strongly agree (or disagree) OR partially agree (or disagree)?

2. Cite 1-2 reasons why you strongly agree (or disagree) OR partially agree (or disagree). These will be written in the body.

3. The last paragraph of the body (third reason) should contain a degrader (if strongly) or a qualifier (if partially).

Refer to the sample question and outlines below:

Increasing the price of petrol the best way to solve growing traffic and pollution problems. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Position: Strongly disagree

1. There are other solutions that can be implemented by the government to solve these problems

2. Petrol is an important aspect of today’s life (e. g. vehicles, industries) – increasing the price will not affect their usage

3. Degrader: Increasing the price of petrol will just increase the price of other commodities which will result to consumer problems

Position: Partially disagree

1. There are other solutions that can be implemented by the government to solve these problems

2. Petrol is an important aspect of today’s life (e. g. vehicles, industries) – increasing the price will not affect their usage

3. Qualifier: However, increasing the petrol price will teach people how to limit and control its usage which can ultimately lead to less traffic and pollution.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: ‘different perspectives’ paragraph

A nice alternative to the «firstly, secondly, finally» type of paragraph is to look at the question from different perspectives.

As an example, let’s plan some ideas for paragraph 2 from this lesson.

  1. Topic: reasons why children should read books and study historical events of their own countries
  2. The child’s perspective: young children like learning about where they live, it makes sense to them
  3. The parent’s perspective: they studied the same books and historical events, they can help their children, there is a sense of continuity across the generations, passing down knowledge
  4. Example: reading Shakespeare or learning about the Battle of Hastings in English schools
  5. The school’s perspective: a consistent curriculum of topics, clear limits to teaching scope, easy to visit key locations on school trips

We now have a good plan for a 5-sentence paragraph. If you have time, have a go at writing it!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: ‘local vs foreign’ essay plan

Some people believe that it is more important to teach children the literature and history of their own country, rather than the literature and history of other countries. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Here’s my 4-paragraph ‘essay structure’ plan:

  1. Introduce the topic: teaching national vs global literature and history
    Answer the question: I agree that studying national books and events is the priority
  2. Paragraph 2: explain why children should read books and study the key historical events of their own countries
  3. Paragraph 3: explain why teaching the literature and history of other countries is unnecessary or less important
  4. Conclusion: repeat / summarise the answer

Planning ideas for the main body:

We’ve planned our essay structure (above), but the plan isn’t finished yet. We need to brainstorm ideas for paragraphs 2 and 3. Try spending three minutes brainstorming and writing notes for each paragraph. You can share your ideas in the ‘comments’ area below.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: ‘local vs foreign’ introduction

Instead of working on the two separate questions that I showed you in this lesson, I thought it would be easier to blend them together:

Some people believe that it is more important to teach children the literature and history of their own country, rather than the literature and history of other countries. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Let’s write a two-sentence introduction for the question above:

People have different opinions about whether schools should prioritise the teaching of national literature and history, instead of taking a more global view of these subjects. I tend to agree with the idea that children should study first and foremost the great books and historical events of their own countries.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: real opinion or easy opinion?

Before I start work on one of the «local vs foreign» questions that we saw in last week’s lesson, let’s consider two things: our real opinion and the easy opinion.

Here’s a basic version of the two questions from last week:

Is it more important to teach children about local culture (history, literature etc.) than foreign cultures?

My real opinion
I haven’t really thought about this idea before. My instinct seems to be telling me that we should start with local culture. It also seems useful to have some idea of global history, major events that have shaped other countries, the great works of literature from a range of countries. But I’m not sure what the ideal blend of local and global would be, or how teachers could cover such a wide range of material.

The easy opinion
Yes. We should focus on the history / literature / culture of our own countries.

I advise students to go for the easy opinion. Your real opinion is often too complex or nuanced* for the demands of a 250-word essay! We’ll start work on an «easy opinion» essay next Wednesday.

* Look this word up in a dictionary or on Google if you’re not sure what I mean.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: ‘local vs foreign’ topic

Here are two exam questions that students have asked me about recently:

Question 1
It is more important to learn about local history than foreign history. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Question 2
Some people believe that it is more important to teach children the literature of their own country, rather than that of other countries. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

These two questions are essentially the same, so I think we can work on them both at the same time. Let’s start with our overall opinion: Do you agree that we should place more importance on learning about our own countries / cultures?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: forget about ‘word lists’

If you want to become a better essay writer, I advise you to forget the idea of learning lists of ‘difficult’ or ‘academic’ words.

Here’s the alternative approach that I recommend:

  • Do more reading, and make a note of the ‘natural’ collocations and phrases that native speakers use. You’ll find many of these in the lessons on this site.
  • Also, instead of always learning new words, try to become better at using the words you already know. For example, did you know that we use the words ‘shoulder’ and ‘responsibility’ together ? e. g. » It is true that parents shoulder a huge responsibility » from this essay.

Here’s the simple way to understand the advice above: focus on phrases instead of individual words. Communication is about using words together.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: ‘parenting course’ essay

Here’s my full essay for the question below.

Caring for children is probably the most important job in any society. Because of this, all mothers and fathers should be required to take a course that prepares them to be good parents. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view?

It is true that parents shoulder a huge responsibility and that raising children is by no means an easy task. However, I completely disagree with the idea that we should therefore force all mothers and fathers to attend parenting courses.

In my opinion, the idea that all future parents should take a parenthood preparation course is completely impractical. Many prospective parents have jobs and busy schedules, and they may not be willing or able to attend regular parenting classes. This raises the question of whether those who missed the classes, or perhaps refused to attend, would be punished. I believe that it would be wrong to do this, and it would therefore be impossible to enforce the idea of compulsory training for parents. Besides, even if parents could be forced to attend, I doubt that people would agree on what good parenting entails, and so it would be difficult to create a parenting course to suit everyone.

As well as being impractical, I would argue that training courses for parents are unnecessary. Mothers and fathers have been raising children without any formal help or official interference for thousands of years. Parenting skills are learnt from family members, friends, neighbours and the surrounding culture. Perhaps more importantly, adults learn to be good parents by instinct, by trial and error, and by getting to know their own children; for example, a good parent will try different strategies when faced with a badly-behaved child, and will gradually develop an understanding of what works to correct the behaviour. None of this requires the intervention of a taught course.

In conclusion, while compulsory parenting lessons might seem like a good idea, I believe that such a scheme would be unworkable and largely pointless.

(289 words, band 9)

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: ‘moreover’ isn’t a difficult word

I’ve written before about students’ overuse of the word ‘Moreover’ and why I would ban it. But for some reason, many people still believe that ‘Moreover’ will help them to get a high score.

Here’s a trick that I sometimes use to demonstrate to my students that ‘Moreover’ isn’t the key to a high score: Teach me the word for ‘Moreover’ in your language. If a beginner like me can learn it, it can’t be such a difficult word!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: in theory. in reality

Here’s one way to write a conclusion for the ‘parenting courses’ question that we’ve been looking at over the last few weeks:

Write a ‘ while ‘ sentence that compares the theory with the reality .

For example, here’s my conclusion:

In conclusion, while compulsory parenting lessons might seem like a good idea in theory , I believe that such a scheme would be completely unworkable in reality .

Saturday, July 21, 2018

IELTS Grammar: conclusion mistakes

The following sentences come from conclusions that people shared below this lesson. Can you improve them by correcting mistakes or by choosing more natural phrasing?

  1. Organising a same parenting course for mothers and fathers with different family, culture and education background is impractical.
  2. I do not see it as applicable to force parents to attend special courses.
  3. That is a hard journey with fully challenges.
  4. I disagree with the need for parents attending a mandatory parenting course.
  5. I disagree with the view that parents should be made to undertake a parenting course instead these factors should rather be taken into consideration.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: introduction and conclusion

Let’s turn our attention back to the question below.

Caring for children is probably the most important job in any society. Because of this, all mothers and fathers should be required to take a course that prepares them to be good parents. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view?

Here’s a possible introduction for a ‘completely disagree’ essay:

It is true that parents shoulder a huge responsibility and that raising children is by no means an easy task. However, I completely disagree with the idea that we should therefore force all mothers and fathers to attend parenting courses.

How to write a conclusion:

The easiest way to write a conclusion is to paraphrase the introduction that you have already written. Start with «In conclusion», and write one sentence that summarises your answer. Can you rewrite my introduction as a one-sentence conclusion?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: a flexible approach?

I received a useful question from another IELTS teacher this week. Here’s a summary of what the teacher asked me:

The IELTS-Simon approach to writing task 2 is very prescriptive (strict and always the same): always 4 paragraphs, 13 sentences etc. But what do you think about giving students a more flexible approach to IELTS writing task 2? For example, might it sometimes be better to write 5 paragraphs instead of 4?

Here’s a summary of my response:

The more you try to teach your students to be flexible, the more you risk confusing them and making them less decisive and efficient when they find themselves under pressure on test day. I’ve found that students perform better if they know exactly what to do every time they write an essay. The prescriptive approach seems to work better than a flexible approach.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: one view or both views?

This is one of the most common questions that students ask me:

For «agree or disagree» questions, do I have to discuss both sides,
or should I just support one side of the argument?

The answer is: it’s your decision. If you completely agree (or completely disagree), you don’t need to mention the opposite view — just support your side of the argument. If you partly agree, you should write something about both sides.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: from plan to paragraph

Here’s part of my essay plan from last week’s lesson:

First main body paragraph: I disagree because the idea is impractical

— Many adults are too busy with work and other commitments
— They may miss sessions, and would they therefore be punished?
— It would be impossible to force prospective parents to attend
— Different parenting styles, impossible to create a course that suits everyone

And here’s my 5-sentence paragraph using the ideas above:

In my opinion, the idea that all future parents should take a parenthood preparation course is completely impractical. Many prospective parents have jobs and busy schedules, and they may not be willing or able to attend regular parenting classes. This raises the question of whether those who missed the classes, or perhaps refused to attend, would be punished. I believe that it would be wrong to do this, and it would therefore be impossible to enforce the idea of compulsory training for parents. Besides, even if parents could be forced to attend, I doubt that people would agree on what good parenting entails, and so it would be difficult to create a parenting course to suit everyone.

Try using the plan in last week’s lesson to create paragraph 2 in the same way.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: a paragraph from an adjective

Look again at the question below.

Caring for children is probably the most important job in any society. Because of this, all mothers and fathers should be required to take a course that prepares them to be good parents. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view?

When I write my answer I’m going to completely disagree with the idea that all parents should take a parenting course. And I’ll build each main body paragraph around a single idea, which can be expressed using an adjective . I’ll show you what I mean below.

First main body paragraph: I disagree because the idea is impractical

— Many adults are too busy with work and other commitments
— They may miss sessions, and would they therefore be punished?
— It would be impossible to force prospective parents to attend
— Different parenting styles, impossible to create a course that suits everyone

Second main body paragraph: I disagree because it is unnecessary

— Parents have been raising children without help for thousands of years
— Parents learn from family members, their own upbringing, friends.
— They learn by instinct, trial and error, getting to know their children
— Example: correcting bad behaviour, trying different strategies

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: ‘parenting’ topic

Let’s start work on a new writing topic. Here’s a recent exam question that a student sent me:

Caring for children is probably the most important job in any society. Because of this, all mothers and fathers should be required to take a course that prepares them to be good parents. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view?

Feel free to share your ideas in the ‘comments’ area below this lesson, and I’ll continue with this topic next Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: adverbs and writing style

Note: I don’t normally give the following advice to IELTS students. However, I think it’s an interesting idea to consider.

Did you know that some professional English writers try to avoid using adverbs? Let’s look at some examples to understand why they might do this.

1) Sometimes the adverb is unnecessary. Compare these two phrases:

— It is true that
— It is certainly true that

I often use the second phrase in my essays, but you could argue that the word «certainly» is redundant. If something is true, it’s true! Do we really need to emphasise it?

2) Sometimes a single word is more descriptive:

— This is very important = This is essential, vital, crucial
— This is really difficult = This is complicated, complex, problematic, challenging

For our purposes, I think the second point above is more useful, because it encourages you to use a wider range of vocabulary to express ideas.

Remember: There’s nothing wrong with using adverbs in the IELTS writing test. I just think it’s interesting to consider the alternatives.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: rewriting

Instead of writing five different essays, have you considered rewriting one essay five times?

Most people don’t like rewriting essays because it seems boring. And the people who do rewrite essays usually only do this because they need to correct grammar mistakes.

But good rewriting is about more than just grammar corrections; there are many other things that you could improve, such as:

  • how well you address the question
  • clarity of your position
  • sentences or phrases that are vague or irrelevant
  • level of detail in your explanations
  • overall paragraph structure
  • paragraph movement
  • coherence between neighbouring sentences
  • repetition and variety of vocabulary
  • use of connectives to link sentence clauses
  • anything else that ‘tightens up’ your writing

Imagine how much you could learn if you rewrote one essay five times (or more!) to address all of these areas.

Warning 1:
You’ll need help from a teacher to do this properly. Show him or her this lesson so that you both understand what you’re aiming to do.

Warning 2:
This is the kind of hard work that most people aren’t prepared to do. But it’s the kind of work that yields real results!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

IELTS Vocabulary: from this week’s essay

Here’s a list of the good ‘topic vocabulary’ from Wednesday’s essay:

  • in the modern workplace
  • dress codes
  • should be seen as irrelevant
  • in many work contexts
  • certain professions
  • technology giants like Google and Facebook
  • create relaxed office environments
  • encouraged to dress casually
  • are rarely seen wearing anything other than .
  • produce work of outstanding quality
  • global dominance
  • in the technology sector
  • a practical or safety function
  • identify the person’s position or role in society
  • to portray an image of
  • authority, trustworthiness and diligence
  • smart, formal attire
  • not applicable to all occupations
  • sectors of the economy

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

IELTS Writing Task 2: ‘dress code’ essay

Here’s my full essay for the question that we looked at a couple of weeks ago.

Some people think that employers should not care about the way their employees dress, because what matters is the quality of their work. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

In the modern workplace, dress codes are changing as employers focus more on results than on the rules that employees must follow. While I agree that the way people dress should be seen as irrelevant in many work contexts, I believe that dress codes still exist for good reason in certain professions.

On the one hand, many employers have stopped telling their staff how to dress, and I see this as a positive trend. Some of the most successful companies in the world, including technology giants like Google and Facebook, are famous for the relaxed office environments that they try to create. Employees are encouraged to dress casually, and even the company executives and leaders are rarely seen wearing anything other than T-shirts and jeans. However, while managers and programmers are free to dress how they like, they are expected to produce work of outstanding quality. It is clear from the performance and global dominance of such companies that strict dress codes are completely unnecessary in the technology sector.

However, I would also argue that rules regarding employees’ clothing are still relevant in other work situations. We expect certain professionals, such as nurses, police officers and airline pilots, to wear uniforms. These uniforms may have a practical or safety function, but perhaps more importantly they identify the person’s position or role in society. Similarly, a lawyer, politician or school principal may choose to wear formal clothing in order to portray an image of authority, trustworthiness and diligence. I believe that most of us prefer to see these professionals in smart, formal attire, even if it is not strictly necessary.

In conclusion, I support the trend towards relaxed dress codes for workers, but I do not see it as applicable to all occupations or sectors of the economy.