Goodness And Badness Essay Outline

IELTS Essay Structures

Knowing how to structure your IELTS Writing Task 2 essay is an essential skill that can make the difference between the getting and not getting the band score you deserve. With that in mind, we have outlined the most common IELTS Writing Task 2 structures below.

Nearly all of my Task 2 essay follow this basic structure:

The sentences you put in each paragraph will depend on what type of question you get.

The five most common IELTS Writing Task 2 questions are:

  1. Opinion (Agree or Disagree)
  2. Advantages and Disadvantages
  3. Problem and Solution
  4. Discussion (Discuss both view)
  5. Two-part Question

Below I will outline examples and a structure approved by experienced IELTS teachers and examiners for each type of question. This will help you write a clear, coherent answer and hopefully boost your IELTS band score. I also include an example answer for each type of question so you can see what the structure looks like in a real essay.

Please note that these are general structures and they may vary slightly depending on the particular question.

Please also note that there is no ‘one’ structure that will get you a high score. There are many types of structures that can get you a high score. These are just the ones I think are most effective and easiest to learn.

For more detailed guidance on each type of question please visit the lessons below. I have provided a link at the end of each section.

Opinion Questions (Agree or Disagree) 

Typical Question Words

What is your opinion?

Do you agree or disagree?

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Direct question.

Example Question

Some people believe that unpaid community service should be a compulsory part of high school programmes (for example working for a charity, improving the neighborhood or teaching sports to younger children).

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Structure 

Introduction 

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Thesis Statement (It is agreed…/It is disagreed…/This essay agrees/disagrees…)

Sentence 3- Outline Sentence (This essay will discuss….)

Main Body Paragraph 1 

Sentence 1- Topic Sentence

Sentence 2- Explain Topic Sentence

Sentence 3- Example

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- Topic Sentence

Sentence 2- Explain Topic Sentence

Sentence 3- Example

Conclusion 

Sentence 1- Summary and opinion

Sample Answer

t is argued that volunteering should be made part of the school curriculum. This essay agrees with that suggestion completely because of the benefits it brings to pupils. The essay will first look at how voluntary work can help students develop soft skills and then discuss how these extracurricular activities are valued by universities and employers.

Education should not be limited to strictly academic pursuits and those in education should also develop life skills, such as teamwork, empathy and self-discipline, and one of the best ways to hone these aptitudes is through community service. Serving those less fortunate than ourselves teaches us many lessons including how to work with people from other backgrounds and the value of hard work. For example, I personally volunteered to spend 6 weeks in Africa teaching disadvantaged children and this led to a much higher work ethic when I returned to my studies.

Many colleges and companies are also increasingly looking for this type of experience. Most school leavers have the same grades and charitable works can help set you apart from the herd. For example, Cambridge and Oxford receive thousands of applications from straight-A students every year and can only accept a small percentage of applicants. What you have done outside the classroom is often the thing that differentiates you from everyone else and gets you that coveted spot.

In conclusion, teenagers should be made to partake in unpaid work as part of their schooling because it will help them learn things they wouldn’t ordinarily learn from their teachers and it will also boost their chances of getting into third level education.

For more detail on how to answer agree or disagree questions please visit our opinion essay lesson. 

Need help writing essays like this? Check out our ESSAY CORRECTION SERVICE.

Advantages and Disadvantages Questions

Typical Question Words 

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

Example Question

Computers are being used more and more in education.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

Structure

Introduction 

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Outline Sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- State One Advantage

Sentence 2- Expand/Explain Advantage

Sentence 3- Example

Sentence 4- Result

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- State One Disadvantage

Sentence 2- Expand/Explain Disadvantage

Sentence 3- Example

Sentence 4- Result

Conclusion 

Sentence 1- Summary

Sentence 2- Opinion

Sample Answer 

It is argued that technology is playing an every increasing role in schools and universities. This essay will firstly, discuss student freedom as one of the main advantages of this and secondly, outline decreasing levels of face to face contact as one of the main disadvantages.

One of the principle advantages of an increase in the use electronic devices in education is the autonomy it provides students. Students have the freedom to focus on whatever topic or subject they want and study it in depth through the internet. A prime example of this is the amount of online university courses available to students, covering a myriad of subjects, that up until recently were unavailable to most learners. This has resulted in more people studying third level degrees than ever before, at a pace and schedule that suits them.

The main disadvantage associated with increasing use of technology in education is the decrease in face to face interaction between students. Students spend more time looking at computer screens by themselves than interacting with each other. For instance, the recent explosion in smartphone use has been at the expense of genuine human interaction. This results in soft skills, such as verbal communication and empathy, being affected.

In conclusion, the benefits technology brings to education, such as student autonomy, must be weighed against the drawbacks, such as negative effects on human interaction. Overall, the educational benefits outweigh the disadvantages because human beings will always want human contact and most people will not solely use IT for education.

For more detail on how to answer advantage and disadvantage questions please visit our advantage and disadvantage lesson. 

Discuss Both Views Question (Discussion Essay)  

Typical Question Words 

Discuss both points of view and give your opinion.

Example Question 

Computers are being used more and more in education. Some people say that this is a positive trend, while others argue that it is leading to negative consequences.

Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

Structure

Introduction 

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question and/or state both viewpoints.

Sentence 2- Thesis Statement

Sentence 3- Outline Sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- State first viewpoint

Sentence 2- Discuss first viewpoint

Sentence 3- Reason why you agree or disagree with viewpoint

Sentence 4- Example to support your view

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- State second viewpoint

Sentence 2- Discuss second viewpoint

Sentence 3- Reason why you agree or disagree with viewpoint

Sentence 4- Example to support your view

Conclusion 

Sentence 1- Summary

Sentence 2- State which one is better or more important

Sample Answer

There is an ever increasing use of technology, such as tablets and laptops, in the classroom. It is often argued that this is a positive development, whilst others disagree and think it will lead to adverse ramifications. This essay agrees that an increase in technology is beneficial to students and teachers. This essay will discuss both points of view.

It is clear that the Internet has provided students with access to more information than ever before. Moreover, learners have the ability to research and learn about any subject at the touch of a button. It is therefore agreed that technology is a very worthwhile tool for education. Wikipedia is a prime example, where students can simply type in any keyword and gain access to in-depth knowledge quickly and easily.

However, many disagree and feel that technology deprives people of real human interaction. Human interaction teaches people valuable skills such as discourse, debate and empathy. Despite this, human interaction is still possible through the internet and this essay disagrees technology should be dismissed for this reason. For instance, Skype and Facebook make it possible for people to interact in ways that were never before possible.

While the benefits of technology, particularly the internet, allow students to tap into limitless sources of information, some still feel that people should be wary of this new phenomena and not allow it to curb face to face interaction. However, as long as we are careful to keep in mind the importance of human interaction in education, the educational benefits are clearly positive.

For more detail on how to answer discussion questions please visit our discussion essay lesson. 

Problem and Solution Questions

Typical Question Words 

Problem and solution.

Cause and solution.

Example Question 

Students are becoming more and more reliant on computers.

What are some of the problems associated with reliance on computers, and what are some of the possible solutions?

Structure

Introduction 

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Outline Sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- State Problem

Sentence 2- Explain problem

Sentence 3- Result

Sentence 4- Example

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- State Solution

Sentence 2- Explain Solution

Sentence 3- Example

Conclusion 

Sentence 1- Summary

Sentence 2- Recommendation or Prediction

Sample Answer

Learners are becoming ever more dependent on technology, such as the Internet and mobile devices. This essay will discuss one of the main problems associated with dependence on computers and suggest a viable solution.

The principal problem with over-reliance on technology, such as tablets and computers, is plagiarism. Students often use search engines to answer a question and simply copy the text from a website, rather than thinking about the question. This practice is not only prohibited in schools and universities but also stunts a student’s intellectual development. For example, many teachers complain that students copy web pages straight from Wikipedia word for word rather than giving a reasoned answer to their questions.

A solution to this worrying problem is asking students to email their answers to teachers and teachers using anti-plagiarism software to detect copying. Moreover, students would be made aware of this practice and this would inspire them to answer questions using their own words, rather than someone else’s. For instance, many universities already use this kind software to scan course work for plagiarism and it could be extended to include all homework, by learners in both secondary and tertiary education.

In summary, one of the main problems with over-use of technology in education is plagiarism and this can be solved through the use of plagiarism detection software. It is predicted that more and more students’ will email their work to their teacher and this work will be scrutinised for plagiarism.

For more detail on how to answer problem and solution questions please visit our problem and solution lesson. 

Two-Part Questions

Typical Question Words 

There will normally be a statement and they will then ask you to answer to separate questions.

Example Question

As most people spend a major part of their adult life at work, job satisfaction is an important element of individual wellbeing.

What factors contribute to job satisfaction?

How realistic is the expectation of job satisfaction for all workers?

Structure

Introduction 

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Outline Sentence (mention both questions)

Main Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- Answer first question directly

Sentence 2- Explain why

Sentence 3- Further explain

Sentence 4- Example

Main Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- Answer second question directly

Sentence 2- Explain why

Sentence 3- Further explain

Sentence 4- Example

Conclusion 

Sentence 1- Summary

Sample Answer

As the majority of adults spend most of their time at work, being content with your career is a crucial part of a person’s health and happiness. This essay will first discuss which elements lead to job satisfaction and it will then address the question of how likely it is that everyone can be happy with their job.

The two most important things that lead to someone being satisfied at work are being treated with respect by managers and being compensated fairly. If those more senior than you respect you as a person and the job you are doing then you feel like you are valued. A fair salary and benefits are also important considerations because if you feel you are being underpaid you will either resent your bosses or look for another job. There two factors came top of a recent job satisfaction survey conducted by Monster.com, that found that 72% of people were pleased with their current role if their superiors regularly told them they were appreciated.

With regards to the question of happiness for all workers, I think this is and always will be highly unlikely. The vast majority of people fail to reach their goals and end up working in a post they don’t really care about in return for a salary. This money is just enough to pay their living expenses which often means they are trapped in a cycle of disenchantment. For example, The Times recently reported that 89% of office workers would leave their jobs if they did not need the money.

In conclusion, being satisfied with your trade or profession is an important part of one’s well-being and respect from one’s colleagues and fair pay can improve your level of happiness, however, job satisfaction of all workers is an unrealistic prospect.

Can I get a band 8 or 9 following these structures? 

Nobody can give you a structure that guarantees you a high score. You score is dependent on how good your grammar and vocabulary is and how well you answer the question. A good structure will help you answer the question to some extent and boost your score for coherence and cohesion, but you must use relevant ideas and use these ideas well to answer the question.

Next Steps 

Looking for some sample questions? Here are over 100 sample questions from past exam papers.

I hope you found this article useful. Now that you know the structures you should check out our task 2 sample answers to see how they have been used in practice.

Would you like me to check your essay and tell you how to improve? Check out our essay correction service.

The best way to keep up to date with more great posts like this and to access loads of practice exercises is to like us on Facebook.

For more help with IELTS please check out IELTS Preparation– The Ultimate Guide.

To Outline or Not to Outline, That is the Question

By Guest Author

This is a guest post by Idrees Patel. If you want to write for Daily Writing Tips check the guidelines here.

Creative writers are divided into two camps: those who outline and those who don’t: the ones who write straight on and on. Is it wrong to outline? Which method brings the best results?

From the beginning of writing, some people like to write an outline before starting writing. However, there are also many which hate to do so. And then there are some who mix the two methods to create their own method.

But which is the best?

There is no right answer for everyone. You must find your own right answer. Of course, this is the right answer… but an elaboration for it isn’t quite a bad idea.

So here’s the proper answer: outlining works for some people. And it doesn’t for others. The what and why of outlining is a must to know, so therefore, here is…

The What of Outlining

To outline is to draw something of a big picture of your work (it may be anything, a novel, a story, a blog post, a sales letter etc) before starting to write the content. Outlining means to write all the ideas spinning in your mind down to paper and arrange them in a logical fashion to make the actual writing easier.

Still confused? Here is the Wikipedia definition:

An outline is a list of the main features of a given topic, often used as a rough draft or summary of the content of a document. A hierarchical outline is a list arranged to show hierarchical relationships. Writers of fiction and creative nonfiction, such as Jon Franklin, may use outlines to establish plot sequence, character development and dramatic flow of a story, sometimes in conjunction with freewriting.

Here is what a typical outline may look like:

The abuses of television:

  • How children stay late at night and don’t do their school homework
  • How they hamper their eyesight by watching too much TV
  • How bad programmes have a dangerous effect on teenagers
  • How they dedicate too much time to it instead of taking part in useful pursuits

And so on. The general opinion is that by doing outlining the writing process will become easier. Why? Because we now have a roadmap which we can follow. Or not…

The Advantages of Outlining

1. Not getting lost. This is clearly the biggest advantage. Some SOTP (seat of the pants writers) hate outlining. They write without having a roadmap and this is fun for some time. And then… the inevitable happens. They don’t know what to write anymore. In contrast, having an outline means that writers always know what to write.

2. Deciding whether your work is good or not. If you don’t know how your story is going to end or go on, then you don’t really know whether it is good or not. It would be painful, wouldn’t it, to discover big plot holes and flaws after having written 50,000 words. Whereas if you outline you know instantly what flaws there are, and you can correct them easily.

3. Straying off the outline if you get a better way. If you are writing and then suddenly get an inspiration and think that the outline was poorer, you are entirely free to stray off the outline. It’s just that, an outline. This way you can compare the two ways, and decide which is better. You couldn’t do this if you didn’t have an outline.

4. Writing with a sense of flow. You know how this will go on. After finishing this, you know you’ve got to do that. Then there are no messy unorganized chapters and scenes (or whatever you’re else you’re writing). You get a sense of flow, and your work will be finished faster.

The Disadvantages of Outlining

1. Spoils the mystery and the fun. Okay, sometimes you may not want mystery and you may not want any fun. In that case, you should ignore this point. But for fiction writers, some don’t want to outline because they feel they cannot use their creativity and it takes away all the fun if you just fill it up. To solve this problem, Randy Ingermanson revealed a new method – the Snowflake method. It does let you outline, but doesn’t let it spoil your story.

2. May not be as good as you first thought. If you get a complete different idea for your story later, your outline is pretty much useless work. Therefore, you should try to get all the best ideas from your brain and commit them down to paper to avoid this problem.

3. Just doesn’t seem to agree with your writing style. Some people find it hard to write from an outline. They want their writing to be creative: as creative as possible. I’m one of those writers, although I sometimes write few of my ideas so that I don’t forget it. Lengthy outlining doesn’t work for some, although it does for others. It’s useless to find a one-size-fit-all outlining method, simply because there’s no such thing.

Conclusion: Undecided, no right answer for everyone

It all comes back to square zero. There are ton of different writing methods and processes, even different outlining methods. But don’t just try to use one because it happens to be popular or famous. It may not work for you, and cost you a whole load of precious time.

Only use the method which your brain seems to like. My writing method is a bit of a mix: not an outline and not a SOTP. Maybe yours is too; or maybe you like outlining in its most literal sense. Or maybe you hate it and just like to write freely. Take your pick and have fun. No reason to write if you don’t even like your writing method.

Outlining works for some people. Some famous authors can’t write without a lengthy synopsis. If you’re an outliner, you’re in good company. And of course outlining doesn’t work for some people. If you’re a SOTP, you too are in good company of famous authors. Finally, if you choose to be creative and mix it up a little, you’ll find plenty more authors with your method. Just write with which you’re most comfortable.

So that’s it. After having learned the advantages and disadvantages of outlining, it’s your choice whether you choose to use it or not. It doesn’t really matter as long as you enjoy writing. Write and love it.

About the Author: Idrees Patel is a 13 year old blogging about creative writing tips at Writers’ Treasure. Check out his free series, Creative Writing 101: a beginner’s guide to creative writing.

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15 Responses to “To Outline or Not to Outline, That is the Question”

  • Beverly

    Outlining is double work. I mean, if you have the creativeness to outline, those same ideas are still with you waiting to take direction without an outline.

    I’m writing a tv pilot and, in the beginning thought I knew my protagonist’s desire. The desire changed once I added a character I had no idea I needed to add.

    I write in my head when I’m on my 9 to 5, washing dishes, driving etc.

    Outlining paralysis me. I’m a rebel.

  • Ken Ward

    As a writer of biographical history I find outlining essential. The outline usually starts with notes obtained during my research, it is then cut and pasted into a more chronological form. The real writing can then begin. I can deviate from the chronological order of the outline but could not work without it.

  • Shelby

    I find the outline very distasteful. I always hated outlines in school and still do. If I were to sit down and attempt an outline for a novel, I’d still be sitting there and never get the book done. For me, they just get in the way. When I write, I never know which direction my story is going to take. I’ve been told by other writing friends that I should start outlining first. They say it will flesh out my stories more. I appreciate their advice (really, I do!), but I like the mystery of writing more. To those that do outline, that’s great. Whatever works for the writer is always best.

  • Janice

    Thank you for your comments Idrees. Outlines certainly don’t have to be rigid.
    Concerning my web site, I have just taken over being ‘administrator’ for my site, from the person who made it for me. Its a learning curve, that’s for sure. I have often wondered if the blue colour is too strong, so I appreciate having feedback.

  • Idrees Patel

    @E. Lee – Good point, although I must admit that when I first read your comment my head spun and I was confused. Could be because my school started again after holidays… Anyway, the analogy is helpful.

    @Janice – Personally, I think that outlines should be used carefully, so it isn’t that non fiction books should use more outlines because it’s good to do so. Some writers may write a better book with a different method. But others will find outlines helpful.

    I looked at your site, and although the content is great, the design isn’t very attractive. I suggest changing your page background to white to help readability. If you like the current colour, you can set it as the site background colour so that the content will be on a white background and the rest of the background will be the current colour. All the best!

    @April Dawn – I always hate teachers who “insist” on something. I’ve been fortunate that my English teachers understand that writing is different for everyone and don’t try to “force” some so called writing process upon me. If I had been in your situation, I think then even I would have come to hate outlining.

    But as I said, outlining is great for some people and some situations, and bad for others. If you search for “To outline or not to outline” you can read the other articles that come up. Their message is pretty similar.

    @Kelly – Your method is great. Sometimes outlines should be used sometimes (doesn’t make sense but you know what I mean).

    Thanks, everyone, who’s left a comment.

  • Kelly

    Great points everyone, really! I use outlines sometimes, like when I write something that’s non-fiction, or editorial in nature. It helps me get my thoughts straight, so I don’t go off topic. When I write fiction or for fun, like a short story, I write a general synopsis, but not an outline.

  • Janice

    Do you think that an outline is most suitable for non-fiction? I think so; and that is perhaps why the most ‘organic’ writers, who probably tend more toward writing fiction, are most averse to using an outline.
    I am also writing about outlining on my blog, on http://www.wordsandscenes.co.nz
    You are welcome to add comments.

  • e.lee

    another way to approach outlining is like a plan of attack.

  • April Dawn

    I always hated being forced to do rough drafts and outlines in school. From the moment we started doing serious writing in school, it was something I despised. In fact, the entire editing process was irritating. The worst I had a problem with was occasionally writing a word twice because of some sort of distraction. In High School it was especially irritating because the Teacher would insist on outlines of everything and actually doing the work in class, with a pencil and paper, while I would wait until the last minute to write whatever it was that was assigned and write an “outline” afterward.

  • Idrees Patel

    @Janice – Great point. Sometimes we just have to use outlines regardless of like or dislike. Deadlines are a great example of this, just as you suggested, because we have to know how much time this will take. Some writers solve this problem by keeping a log book (I read about this in Randy Ingermanson’s ezine) so that they know how fast they write.

    “Not just based on your personality type”… yeah I agree. There are lots of reasons writers choose to use outlines and not use outlines. I mean, do you outline for a short story? Most writers don’t. Whereas there are many writers outlining novels…

    So I think the bottomline is that if it helps you, then you should outline. If it doesn’t – don’t.

  • Janice

    An outline is like a map, as pointed out. Sometimes it is much more fun to just travel without out a map – in New Zealand we nickname that a ‘tiki tour’ = especially for spontaneous people. You may also be so familiar with a certain route that you no longer need a map.
    There are times when a map is really needed though – and that’s when you want to get somewhere unfamiliar, and you have a deadline to meet. You simply don’t have time to wander across the countryside until you happen upon your desired destination.
    Maps are therefore useful for some occasions, but may just be an unwanted restriction for others.
    I think therefore your advice to use outlines if and when it suits you is good, but not just based on your personality type. It is also helpful to recognise that circumstances may also direct you whether an outline is needed or not.

  • CJ

    Outlines don’t help me much with essay writing, either. I do sometimes find those ‘thought-webs’ useful for organizing information before I start, though.

    Sure, go ahead.

  • Idrees Patel

    @CJ – Good for you. As I said in the post, there’s no point to outline if your writing style doesn’t seem to agree with it. Years ago, I came across a grammar book and it recommended that before writing essays you should have an outline. I followed the instructions, but my creativity was destroyed, and I had trouble writing every word. Next time? I went back to my own method. Much more fun.

    The two questions you ask yourself are great. I’ve copy-pasted them into a text document and will ask myself when I reach that same situation. Hope you don’t mind. They are great and important questions to ask yourself.

    Thanks for the comment,
    Idrees Patel

  • CJ

    For me, I find writing without an outline allows my characters to develop organically in response to the events of the story. I’ve been forced to use outlines by creative writing instructors before and I always reach a point where my outline no longer works because my characters have grown to the point where it would be out of character for them to act the way I planned. Generally, I to some extent plan out the beginning and ending of my story in my head and allow my characters to find a way to get there. I usually don’t have a problem with unnecessary scenes; my rule is that if I’m bored writing it, it’s probably boring to read. So when I get in that situation, I think “How can I make this situation more challenging for my main character?” or “Do I really need to reveal this information or can a reader infer it from what’s already happening?”

    I do sometimes keep some basic notes, though, about details I don’t want to forget.

  • Idrees Patel

    Thanks, Daniel, for letting me guest post on Daily Writing Tips. I had a lot of fun writing this. Readers, I forgot to add a ‘Have Your Say’ section in the post, but anyway, don’t forget to leave a comment.

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