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How Many Different Kinds Of Essays Are There

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

What is an essay? Interestingly, but the majority of students gets confused or even stressed the very moment they are asked to come up with this piece of academic work.

  • Firstly, an essay evaluates an issue, with the purpose to present your personal academic opinion on a given subject.
  • Secondly, each type of writing is designed to convey a certain message and perform a certain function. 
  • Thirdly, you have to take various viewpoints into account, organize them properly & reflect the informed opinion on the topic.

PrivateWriting offers premium quality services in writing different types of essays. You will get top-quality writing, done in strict accordance with your requirements. Order now and save your time!

10 Most Common Essay Types to Feel Quite at Home in Academic Setting

Descriptive Essay | Definition Essay | Compare and Contrast Essay | Cause and Effect | Narrative Essay | Process Essay | Argumentative Essay | Critical Essay | Expository Essay | Persuasive Essay

An essay is like an empty canvas. So, fill it with vivid and clear ideas! Vivid picture + clear understanding are your top priorities.

These Are the Top Types of Essay Writing


#1 Descriptive Essay, or "What’s This?"

A descriptive essay describes whatever one likes, sees, feels, makes or how it works, happens, sounds, tastes, smells – from the beautiful flower in a vase to the process of honey-making by bees. Descriptive essays provide every sensory detail of what is actually described.

DESCRIPTIVE ESSAY EXAMPLE


#2 Definition Essays, or "Love Is…"

A definition essay defines the true meaning + importance of abstract concepts, timeless values, specific terms.

Definition essays explain deeper & more directly than dictionaries.

Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for definition: speaking about (this), in other words, (or) rather, moreover, in fact, on the one/the other hand, above all.

GET IDEA TO WRITE YOUR DEFINITION ESSAY


#3 Compare & Contrast Essays, or "Spot the Difference/Similarity!"

A compare/contrast essay explores either differences or similarities (likenesses) between 2 places, religions, people, things, concepts, etc. Comparison/contrast essays focus on the similarities and/or differences, which is done to convince or entertain the reader. A compare essay reviews the similarities, a contrast essay reviews the differences.

TOP 30 TOPICS FOR COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY 


#4 Cause & Effect Essays, or "How It Comes"

A cause/effect essay explains the way why things happen, how it comes & what follows next. Cause/effect essays resemble a study of how it all began & what will be the conclusion of all this. This type of essays may address either causes & effects tied together, or each of them alone. For example, 3 effects as a result of 1 cause or 3 causes resulting in 1 effect.

Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for cause-and-effect: for the (simple) reason that, due to (the fact that), whatever happens, in case, even/only if, as a result (of this), thus/consequently/therefore.

 READ A SAMPLE OF A CAUSE AND EFFECT ESSAY


#5 Narrative Essays, or "One Night I Fell to Thinking of the Past…"

A narrative essay always tells a story about a single personal experience – either a boring party or an exciting sightseeing excursion, daily routine event or life-shaping voyage. Narrative essays are generally written in the 1st person, using ‘I’.


#6 Process Essays, or "Step-by-Step Guide"

A process essay typically guides on how to do this or that, how this or that is done. It’s a walkthrough, the so-called ‘stepwise refinement’. Process essays work out in detail, demonstrating specific actions/giving specific instructions to be performed in a series.

Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for process discussion: in the (first, second, etc.) place, initially, next, eventually, last but not least, finally, in conclusion.


#7 Argumentative Essays, or "5 Watertight Arguments Why You Should Learn to Write Essays"

An argumentative essay functions as a means for a writer to get a solid argument across to a reader. The purpose of this type of essay is to express an argument in order to sway the reader to see the topic through the author’s point of view. It is a useful type of essay for students of any educational level because it is good practice to not only argue a case but also to articulate one’s thoughts on a certain matter.

This type of essay uses stern language, solid facts, and undeniable examples as proof that the argument is immaculate. Without these features, the argumentative essay ceases to flow well and comes across as weak. A good argumentative writer has a solid sense of what he or she believes should be said in any situation. They also have an organized idea of how to articulate the argument against possible opposing ideas.

ARGUMENTATIVE ESSAY TOPICS


#8 Critical Essays, or "The Court Delivers a Verdict"

A critical essay brings somebody or something into focus, analyzing the strengths or weaknesses of things, events, people, etc.

Critical essays discuss how well the work is done & whether its creator has managed the task by conveying the message in his/her book, film, painting.

Here are TOP-7 effective transitions for criticism: frankly speaking, with attention to, important to realize, another key point, first thing to remember, most compelling evidence, on the positive/negative side

CRITICAL ESSAY


#9 Expository Essay

An expository essay is an essay that requires extensive research on an idea or issue. The writer must present an evaluation of the issue and the conclusion based on his or her findings.

One of the functions of this essay format is to learn how to conduct a research. Research requires a certain set of skills. It takes a lot of practice to obtain them. Students may want to draw from their own experiences when discussing certain issues they write about. But through expository essay writing, students will find out, that doing research can be rewarding. Expository essay writing brings a new light to an aspect or idea they probably would not have come to on their own.

Expository essays are opinion based essays, so there are no wrong answers when presenting it. However, expect this essay type to be at least 5 paragraphs in length.

READ A SAMPLE OF AN EXPOSITORY ESSAY


#10 Persuasive Essay

Unlike the argumentative essay, the persuasive essay’s main purpose is to persuade readers towards the author's case. Argumentative essays express an argument or opinion. They are not meant to change the reader’s perspective.

Most persuasive essays focus on current issues and what people should do about them. Persuasive essays can be really challenging. Students must show confidence and authority in their writing. They must come across as credible writers. When a persuasive essay loses its credibility, it will ultimately lose the reader.

In everyday life situations, charm allows a person to easily persuade another one. Since a persuasive essay is a written piece, it lacks that personal connection. So, the writer should present strong views to sway their readers and do not come across as pushy. 

Most writers and persuasive essay authors are able to find their own personal connection to their readers through their writing experience. Many students find this as a challenge early on, but with practice and guidance, they soon write persuasive essays naturally.

30 IDEAS FOR PERSUASIVE ESSAY TOPICS

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