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IELTS Writing: The most difficult paper?

IELTS Writing: The most difficult paper?

It’s difficult to go seriously wrong with the Reading and Listening tests in IELTS. Even if you have trouble understanding the text or the audio, the question paper gives you a pretty clear idea of what you need to write. And if you’re not sure, you can always guess. With the Speaking test, you’ll answer a series of questions, so even if you make a mistake with one of them, you’ll get another chance with the next question. Writing Task 2 is different — if you fail to understand the question, and go off on the wrong track, you could score no marks at all. And that could mean missing the band score you need.

Let’s start by looking at a sample Writing Task 2 question.


A person’s worth nowadays seems to be judged according to social status and material possessions. Old-fashioned values, such as honour, kindness and trust, no longer seem important.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.
Write at least 250 words.

How should I approach this question?

The easiest mistake to make is to jump on one or two words, and decide that these are the focus of the essay. For example, in the pressure of the test room, you could decide to write about how ‘social status and material possessions’ are important to people these days. You would not get a good grade for that essay because you are not answering the question.

The first thing you must do is to spend a minute looking at the question and deciding what kind of essay it is asking for, as failing to plan is planning to fail. In this case it is a ‘for and against’ essay. You look at one side of the question (that people are valued according to social status), then you look at the other side of the question (that people are valued according to old-fashioned values). Finally, you come to a conclusion.

I’m confused! How can I learn to write an essay like this?

It’s not difficult to write this kind of essay, provided you follow a process. There are plenty of excellent materials available online to help you learn to do this. For example, take a look at this video ‘Essays: for and against’. You can also take a look at how to approach descriptive essays for English tests. Find more materials by searching for ‘for and against essays’ or ‘descriptive essays’ online.

Check out our other guides on IELTS:


  1. Hassan Yousaf says:


    I am a bit confused with how to write an introduction and conclusion part of the Advantage and disadvantage essay. I would be grateful if you could explain this in detail.

    Look forward to hearing from you.

  2. foram says:

    In this type of eassy. u should firstly in intro that ..merits and demerits are more..?
    write this based on your idea.
    and in conculsion. you should give your opione that..
    for example yes phone has a advatage if people use it properly. But its disvatage too…
    okk.like this

  3. Veronika says:

    It seems that the first link “Essays: for and against” does not work.
    Thank you, you are so precise in explaining the reasons for panic before these tasks and know how to help look at these tasks with a clear head.
    As for the essay, I recently found a good article on structure: https://www.amlanguage.com/ielts-writing-tips/ I think that knowing the structure (exactly what the essay should be) will help to write it faster. Provided, of course, that you have enough vocabulary to reveal the idea of an essay.

  4. Bill says:

    I have no idea how to right an essay, can anybody help me out. I am looking to go Canada and and one of the basis set out for obtaining a temporary working permit is having the ielts done.
    I like to have, example of what an essay is so can learn.
    Many thanks

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