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5 Different Types Of Essay

It is a bit of a myth that there is a ‘one size fits all’ structure for IELTS Writing task 2 essays. Whilst the exam task criteria is the same each time, ie. you must write a minimum 250 words in approximately 40 minutes, there are actually 5 different types of Task 2 essays and each has a slightly different structure.

Many IELTS websites will suggest that you organise your essay in a specific way. It will probably look something like this:

  • Introduction
  • Paragraph 1
    • Main idea
    • Supporting ideas
  • Paragraph 2
    • Main idea
    • Supporting ideas
  • Possible Paragraph 3
    • Main idea
    • Supporting ideas
  • Conclusion

If you are aiming for a Band Score of around 5 or 6, then this kind of generic structure will probably be enough in each case. However, if you are aiming for a higher score, it is crucial that you familiarise yourself both with the different variations of essay types you might be given and the most effective way to organise your response.

The 5 most common types of Task 2 essays are:

  • Opinion (often Agree or Disagree)
  • Advantages and Disadvantages
  • Problem and Solution
  • Discussion (Discuss both views)
  • Two-part Question

Opinion essays:

In an Opinion essay, you need to clearly express what you personally feel about the given topic. If you are asked direct questions like in the task below, then it is up to you how balanced or one-sided you choose to answer. You can address both parts of the question equally or focus mainly on one side, depending on your point of view.

Have newspapers become a thing of the past or do they still have an important role to play in people’s lives today?

In a task like the one below, where you are asked to what extent you agree or disagree, it is very important that you state this explicitly at the beginning and then again at the end of your essay. Do you agree fully, mainly, partly or not at all?

Computers have made it possible for people to work from home  instead of working in offices every day.This should be encouraged as it good for both workers and employers. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Remember: this is also considered an ‘argument’ essay and you should try to convince the reader that your opinion is right. In this case, I suggest that your essay structure should look something like this:

  • Introduction
    • Paraphrase the question (your own words)
    • Thesis statement (state your agreement or disagreement)
    • Essay overview (optional)
  • Paragraph 1 and 2
    • Topic sentence (state a position)
    • Explain this further (maybe give a reason)
    • Give an example
    • Summarise paragraph
  • Conclusion
    • Summarise main ideas
    • Reiterate your opinion

Simon at www.ielts-simon.com, a former IELTS examiner, explainshere how to structure an opinion essay depending on the extent to which you agree.

Advantages and Disadvantages essays:

In an Advantages and Disadvantages essay such as the one below, you need to discuss the positive and negative perspectives equally and to clearly explain why you think something is an advantage or a disadvantage.  It is common to start Paragraph 1 with the advantages, however this is optional.

Nowadays many students have the opportunity to study some or all of their course in a foreign country. What are the advantages and disadvantages of studying abroad?

A possible structure for this type of question is:

  • Introduction
    • Paraphrase the question
    • Outline your main ideas
    • State your opinion (if the question asks)
  • Paragraph 1
    • State one advantage
    • Explain the benefits of this advantage
    • Give an example or a result
  • Paragraph 2
    • State one disadvantage
    • Explain the negative aspect of this disadvantage
    • Give an example or a result
  • Conclusion
    • Summarise your main ideas
    • Give your opinion (if asked)

Problem and Solution essays:

In a Problem and Solution essay, such as the one below, you need to think carefully about how to respond to the questions posed. It is also important that you address all parts of the task. The first question will refer to the problem or cause and the second question will refer to the solution. Try to limit yourself to answering these questions only and don’t introduce any further questions/points of your own otherwise you might stray off task.

Overpopulation is a major problem in many urban centres around the world. What problems does this cause? How can we solve the issue of overpopulation?

Try this structure to organise your essay:

  • Introduction
    • Paraphrase the question
    • Outline your main ideas
  • Paragraph 1
    • State the problem
    • Explain the problem
    • Explain the consequence (result) of this problem
    • Give an example
  • Paragraph 2
    • State the solution
    • Explain the solution
    • Give an example
  • Conclusion
    • Summarise your main ideas

Discussion essays:

In a Discussion essay, such as the one below, you will be presented with two sides of an issue and you will need to examine both perspectives equally before giving your own conclusion.

In today’s competitive world, many families find it necessary for both parents to go out to work. While some say the children in these families benefit from the additional income, others feel they lack support because of their parents’ absence. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

In this case, your essay structure could look like this:

  • Introduction
    • Paraphrase the question AND/OR state both points of view
    • Give your thesis statement (which view you prefer)
  • Paragraph 1
    • State first point of view
    • Discuss this perspective
    • Give a reason why you agree or disagree with this viewpoint
    • Give an example to support your view
  • Paragraph 2
    • State second point of view
    • Discuss this perspective
    • Give a reason why you agree or disagree with this viewpoint
    • Give an example to support your view
  • Conclusion
    • Summarise your main ideas
    • Restate your opinion

Two-part esssays:

In a Two-part question essay, such as the example below, you will get two questions. You must answer both questions fully otherwise you risk getting a low score for Task Achievement.

In today’s society, success is often measured in terms of wealth and possessions. Do you think these are the best measure of success? What makes a successful person?

So, in this case, I suggest organising your ideas in the following way:

  • Introduction
    • Paraphrase the question
    • Briefly answer both questions
  • Paragraph 1
    • Answer the first question directly
    • Explain your reason(s)
    • Expand your argument (evidence, examples, personal experience)
  • Paragraph 2
    • Answer the second question directly
    • Explain your reason(s)
    • Expand your argument (evidence, examples, personal experience)
  • Conclusion
    • Summarise your main ideas

Please bear in mind that these structures are my suggestions; they are not fixed in stone and you can adapt them to fit what you want to say. However, I highly recommend using these templates to practise organising your ideas into paragraphs then developing them into an essay, in preparation for the writing exam. Having a clear idea of these essay structures will help you stay on task in the exam, manage your time more efficiently and express your ideas clearly.

Remember too to use linking words and phrases to connect your sentences and paragraphs together to improve your scores in Coherence and Cohesion. Stay tuned for a blog post on this topic very soon!

We will soon be launching IELTS Write, where you can supercharge your writing score! Sign up to IELTS Write to access a variety of exclusive IELTS Writing tasks. Our experienced IELTS tutors will give you quick, detailed feedback on your writing. Sign uphere and you’ll be the first to know when we launch!

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Filed Under: Writing Task 2

An essay is a piece of academic writing that describes, analyzes, and evaluates a certain topic or an issue. An essay generally contains a combination of facts and figures and the personal opinions, ideas of the writer. In this article, we are first going to  look at some different types of essays and then highlight some commonly written essays.

 Different Types of Essays

  • Descriptive Essay
  • Narrative Essay
  • Argumentative Essay
  • Persuasive Essay
  • Expository Essay
  • Compare/Contrast Essay
  • Critical Essay
  • Cause /Effect Essay     
  • 5 Paragraph Essay
  • Deductive Essay

How to Write an Essay

Descriptive Essay

Descriptive Essay is a piece of creative writing that contains many descriptions. This type of essay often provides information about a person, a place, an object etc. In this type of an essay, the writer can capture the attention of the readers by using a lot of sensory details (sight, sound, smell, touch, taste). There is no strict format as this genre of essays permits lot of artistic freedom to the writer. Some examples of descriptive essay topics are “My favorite food”, “My family”, “My school” etc.

What does this look like? • How does this taste? • How does this smell?

 

How to Write a Descriptive Essay

Narrative Essay

As the name suggests, a narrative essay narrates a story. A good writer of a narrative essay can make the readers feel that whatever he is writing is genuine and interesting. First person point of view is generally used in narrative essays. A conversational tone is used in this genre as the essay contains a story. Some Examples of Narrative essay topics are”First day at school”,”Trip to the zoo”,”An unforgettable day” etc. 

Narrative Essay: Tells a story

 

How to Write a Narrative Essay

Difference Between Narrative and Descriptive Essay

Persuasive Essay

A persuasive essay is a piece of writing that attempts to convince the readers to agree with writer’s opinions. In this genre of writing, the writer can use his own views, opinions and stir up the emotions in the reader in order to convince them to agree to his opinion. Some examples for persuasive essay topics are “Extracurricular activities should be made obligatory in School”, “Skipping meals is better than eating junk food”, “Grades can’t measure students’ intelligence and performance” etc.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay

Expository Essay

This is a simple, informative type of writing that provides a step by step analysis of an issue. In this type of essay, an explanation for a major concern is provided with the help of evidence, facts, and statistics. The purpose of expository writing differs. The purpose could be identifying cause and effect relationships, comparing and contrasting pieces of work, or providing step-by-step instructions. “What causes people to become addicts? Is there a way to provide environmental pollution?” “What is your favorite book? What did you enjoy the most about it?” ,”What were the direct and indirect causes of World War II?” are some examples for expository essay topics.

How to Write an Expository Essay

Argumentative Essay

Argumentative essay is a piece of writing that  attempts to convince the reader to accept the writer’s opinion as truth. This essay is based on logic and reasoning. The writer tries to validate his opinion by presenting facts, statistics and evidence. A writer should do a complete research; gather accurate facts and figures to defend his  views, before writing an argumentative essay as this is more like a debate written on paper. Some examples for argumentative essays are “Sex education is the only way to prevent many issues, including teenage pregnancy.”,”Women are less involved in crime than men.”,”Are social networking sites harmful?” etc.

Difference Between Argumentative and Persuasive Essay

Difference Between Argumentative and Expository Essay

Cause /Effect Essay

Cause /Effect Essays explain why and how something happened and/or discuss results of a certain event. This type of essay studies the connection between two or more events or experiences. This essay can discuss both causes and effects, or it can simply address one or the other. A cause essay usually analyzes the reasons why something happened. An effect essay analyzes the effects/results of a specific event. “Effects of Global Warming,” “Major factors of environmental pollution,” “Positive effects of social media sites” etc.

Compare/Contrast Essay

This essay discusses similarities and differences between two things. It could analyze both similarities and differences or focus on either similarities or differences.

Contrast Essay is an essay that focuses only on differences. (Examples: Discuss differences between leadership and management, Discuss difference between efficiency and effectiveness etc.)

Comparison essay is an essay that focuses only on similarities. (Examples: Discuss similarities between Buddhism and Christianity, Discuss similarities between Cane and Bamboo etc.)

Critical Essay

A critical essay analyzes the strengths, weaknesses, and techniques of someone’s work. These essays begin with a brief summary of the main points of the text, film, or piece of art, etc., followed by an analysis of the work’s meaning. Then the writer should discuss how successful is the creator/author of the original work in accomplishing his goal.

5 Paragraph Essay

5 paragraph essay is an essay format that consists of 5 paragraphs. The first paragraph acts as the introduction and the next 3 paragraphs include the main body of the essay. This part of the essay should include all supporting ideas, details, and examples. Each paragraph should focus on a single subtopic or idea to support the main idea. The last paragraph which reinstates the main idea serves as the conclusion.

Deductive Essay

Deductive essay is a specific method of evaluating the academic progress of students in many different subjects. A deductive essay examines the ability of the writers to use the given information to arrive at a logical conclusion. There are 3 main parts in a deductive essay: Premise, Evidence, and Conclusion. In premise, the writer is the basic idea or the fact used in the essay. There can be more than one premise in an essay. Evidence is the information that is analyzed in the essay.

Definition Essay

A definition essay is writing that explains the meaning of a term. Some terms like cat, house, tree, ocean etc. have definite, concrete meanings. However, the meaning of certain terms depend on a person’s point of view (Examples: nobility, feminism, love, fear). The writer can define these terms by explaining their  function, format or comparing them to similar and/or different aspects. 

How to Write a College Essay

How to Write a Scholarship Essay

 

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“blueberry’s storyboard 2″ by Roland O’Daniel (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr