3. How do I recognize the type of question?
The questions in the IELTS writing exam are written in the following way:
Directions: Write about the following topic:
Topic: People are relying more and more on computers in their daily lives.
Task: Some people believe this is a generally positive thing. Others believe this has mainly negative consequences. Discuss both points of view and then state your opinion.
Instructions: Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples for your own knowledge or experience.
A look at the Task line tells us the type of essay we need to write. It is easy to see that this task is an argument style essay because it directs you to discuss both points of view and state your opinion. Read the following prompts and decide what type of essay each one is asking for:
1. Should university focus on preparing students for specific jobs?
2. What can be done to protect the environment?
3. Should the government regulate fast food in the same way as drugs, alcohol and tobacco?
4. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of high school students having a part-time job?
5. How can team work be encouraged and assessed in schools?
6. What is your view of examinations in school?
7. Foreign language instruction should begin in kindergarten. Discuss.
8. The percentage of overweight children in western countries has increased dramatically in the last decade. Discuss the causes and effects of this trend.
9. What are the positive and negative effects of this trend?
How did you go? Below are the answers:
1. Opinion (*If you don’t have a strong opinion one way or another, you can write an argument-style essay.)
2. Problem-solution (The essay should focus on solutions)
4. Advantages /disadvantages
5. Problem-solution (The question basically asks, “What should schools do to encourage team work?)
9. Argument (*Similar to an advantage/disadvantage essay)
How did you do? You will notice that opinion and argument-style essays were the most common types of essay. This is generally true of the IELST test, too. However, it is best to be prepared for any style!