Essay Agree Or Disagree

Introduction

This lesson will help you write better ‘agree or disagree’ or ‘opinion’ IELTS task 2 essays.

Agree or disagree essays are one of the most common on the IELTS writing paper.

Agree or Disagree Essay

Many students fail to do well in this type of question because they do not have a clear opinion and they do not use an appropriate structure.

In this post we will look at:

  1. Structure
  2. Deciding Opinion
  3. Idea Generation
  4. Writing an Effective Introduction
  5. Writing Supporting Paragraphs
  6. Writing a Conclusion

We will use a question from an IELTS past paper to help us understand the task.

Structure

The best structure you can use for this type of essay is:

Paragraph 1- Introduction

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Thesis Statement

Sentence 3- Outline Statement

Paragraph 2- Supporting Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- Topic Sentence

Sentence 2/3- Explain Topic Sentence

Sentence 3/4- Example

Paragraph 3- Supporting Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- Topic Sentence

Sentence 2/3- Explain Topic Sentence

Sentence 3/4- Example

Paragraph 4- Conclusion

Sentence 1- Summary and reiteration of your opinion.

That’s it! Four paragraphs. You don’t have to use this structure and other structures can get you a high score, but this structure has been approved by IELTS examiners to be one that will allow students to write a clear and cohesive essay. This structure will allow you to focus on generating your ideas and then writing an effective essay.

Deciding Opinion

In this essay IELTS examiners want you to give a clear opinion, so it’s really important for you to make a decision when you read the question. You will also need to do this in order to write an effective thesis statement.

Let’s look at an example:

 

In some countries an increasing number of people are suffering from health problems as a result of eating too much fast food. It is therefore necessary for governments to impose a higher tax on this kind of food.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

With this type of essay we have two choices:

  1. We agree with the statement or;
  2. We disagree with the statement

Some teachers advise that you can partly agree and disagree but this often leads to an essay with no clear focus and a confusing structure.

So for this agree or disagree essay you can say either:

  1. This essay agrees that governments should tax fast food or;
  2. This essay disagrees that governments should tax fast food

I think I will have more ideas for A, so I’m choosing this one. Always choose the one that you feel comfortable writing about even if you don’t personally feel that way. There are no points for writing about how you feel, you just want to impress the examiner.

Idea Generation

Now we have to think of ideas for why governments should tax fast food.

Here are some:

  • Cigarettes and alcohol are taxed in the same way
  • The money raised could be used to treat people with health problems
  • Fast food companies should be punished for selling unhealthy food to people
  • Making the food more expensive would stop people eating it
  • The money raised could be used to educate people about healthy eating

We don’t need to use all of these, just two for our supporting paragraphs. I’m going to pick the first and the fourth ones because I know a little about these two and feel confident I can expand on them with explanations and examples. Remember the examiner wants you to fully support your arguments, not just list a lot of ideas.

Now we have two supporting ideas we can move on to our introduction.

Introduction

As previously stated, we will use the following structure:

Paragraph 1- Introduction

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Thesis Statement

Sentence 3- Outline Statement

For a more detailed explanation please see our post on writing an effective introduction.

In order to paraphrase the question we simply restate it with a different meaning using synonyms. I will also reorder the question. Here is the question again:

In some countries an increasing number of people are suffering from health problems as a result of eating too much fast food. It is therefore necessary for governments to impose a higher tax on this kind of food.

Paraphrased: It is argued that governments should levy a tariff on junk food because the number of health risks associated with consuming this kind of food is on the rise.

This is our first sentence.

We now need to write our thesis statement. This is our opinion in one sentence. This essay will agree with the above statement and will therefore look like this:

This essay agrees that a higher rate of tax should be paid by fast food companies.

This is our second sentence.

We now need to write our third and final sentence, which is the outline sentence. This sentence outlines what you will write about in the main body paragraphs.

Firstly, this essay will discuss the fact that alcohol and tobacco companies already pay higher taxes and secondly, discuss how higher taxes could raise prices and lower consumption.

So our full introduction will look like this:

It is argued that governments should levy a tariff on junk food because the number of health risks associated with consuming this kind of food is on the rise. This essay agrees that a higher rate of tax should be paid by fast food companies. Firstly, this essay will discuss the fact that alcohol and tobacco companies already pay higher taxes and secondly, discuss how higher taxes would raise prices and lower consumption.

3 sentences, 77 words.

We now need to write our supporting paragraphs for our agree or disagree essay:

Supporting Paragraph 1

This paragraph should include:

  1. Topic Sentence
  2. Explanation
  3. Example

A topic sentence tells the examiner what the rest of the paragraph is about. In other words, it is a summary of your first idea. It should look something like this:

Higher excise on liqueur and cigarettes has proven to be successful at curbing the harm caused by these substances.

We now need to expand on this point a little. A good way of doing this is to assume that the examiner has no knowledge of this subject and you have to explain clearly what you mean. Here is what this could look like:

This revenue has been used to treat health problems associated with these products and has proven useful in advertising campaigns warning people about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco abuse. Tax from fast food could be used in the same way.

We should now think of an example to support our point. Think about any recent news stories, studies or adverts. If you can’t think of one, make one up. The examiner won’t check if it is real or not.

The United Kingdom is a prime example, where money from smokers is used to treat lung cancer and heart disease, while at the same time, pumped into health campaigns in schools to warn children about the dangers of smoking.     

That’s it. Four sentences. The full paragraph should look like this:

Higher excise on liqueur and cigarettes has proven to be successful at curbing the harm caused by these substances. This revenue has been used to treat health problems associated with these products and has proven useful in advertising campaigns warning people about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco abuse. Tax from fast food could be used in the same way. The United Kingdom is a prime example, where money from smokers is used to treat lung cancer and heart disease.

Supporting Paragraph 2

We now repeat the same formula with our second supporting point- higher taxes will increase prices and reduce consumption.

Our topic sentence:

Increasing taxes would raise prices and lower consumption.

Explaining this further:

Fast food companies would pass on these taxes to consumers in the form of higher prices and this would lead to people not being able to afford junk food because it is too expensive. Junk food would soon become a luxury item and it would only be consumed occasionally, which would be less harmful to the general public’s health.

We now support our point with an example:

For instance, the cost of organic food has proven prohibitively expensive for most people and that is why only a small percentage of the population buy it regularly.

The full paragraph would look like this:

Increasing taxes would raise prices and lower consumption. Fast food companies would pass on these taxes to consumers in the form of higher prices and this would lead to people not being able to afford junk food because it is too expensive. Junk food would soon become a luxury item and it would only be consumed occasionally, which would be less harmful to the general public’s health. For instance, the cost of organic food has proven prohibitively expensive for most people and that is why only a small percentage of the population buy it regularly.

Four sentences.

Conclusion

As stated before a good conclusion for agree or disagree essays should include:

Sentence 1- Summary of main points

Sentence 2- Your opinion

Don’t write any new ideas in this paragraph.

A good conclusion should just restate your thesis statement and your main supporting points.

In conclusion, junk food should be taxed at a higher rate because of the good precedent set by alcohol and tobacco and the fact that the increased cost should reduce the amount of fast food people buy.

Agree or Disagree Sample Essay 

It is argued that governments should levy a tariff on junk food because the number of health risks associated with consuming this kind of food is on the rise. This essay agrees that a higher rate of tax should be paid by fast food companies. Firstly, this essay will discuss the fact that alcohol and tobacco companies already pay higher taxes and secondly, discuss how higher taxes would raise prices and lower consumption.

Higher excise on liqueur and cigarettes has proven to be successful at curbing the harm caused by these substances. This revenue has been used to treat health problems associated with these products and has proven useful in advertising campaigns warning people about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco abuse. Tax from fast food could be used in the same way. The United Kingdom is a prime example, where money from smokers is used to treat lung cancer and heart disease.

Increasing taxes would raise prices and lower consumption. Fast food companies would pass on these taxes to consumers in the form of higher prices and this would lead to people not being able to afford junk food because it is too expensive. Junk food would soon become a luxury item and it would only be consumed occasionally, which would be less harmful to the general public’s health. For instance, the cost of organic food has proven prohibitively expensive for most people and that is why only a small percentage of the population buy it regularly.

In conclusion, junk food should be taxed at a higher rate because of the good precedent set by alcohol and tobacco and the fact that the increased cost should reduce the amount of fast food people buy.

290 words (band score 9)

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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:


This is a classic example of an IELTS Writing question that asks you to what extent you agree or disagree.

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):
  • Sentence 2 - give your opinion:

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:

  • 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:

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

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

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:

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

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

Conclusion

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

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.


(317 words)
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