types of essays in ielts

Types of Essays in IELTS and How to Write them!

Updated on 13 October, 2022
Mrinal Mandal

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is a standardized test designed to assess the language ability of the candidates wishing to study or work in a country where English is the primary language of communication. The Academic IELTS is required for university or college admission, while the General Training IELTS is intended for career and immigration purposes. IELTS has four papers - Writing, Speaking, Reading, and Listening. The writing section is compulsory, as writing skills are important to assess the English language proficiency of non-native English speakers before they start residing in an English-speaking environment for work or education.

The writing section in IELTS has two tasks, and Task 2 requires you to write an informal essay in response to a statement. Let’s discuss the types of essays in IELTS task 2 in detail. Writing Task 2 is an essay writing of 250 words in 40 minutes. The topic presents a point of view, argument, or problem, and the test-taker is asked to write an essay in response. The IELTS writing task 2 essay types are designed to understand the writing skills, grammarvocabulary, ideas, and reasoning capabilities of applicants.

You will be presented with a topic and will be tested on your ability to respond by giving and justifying an opinion, discussing a topic, summarizing details, outlining problems, identifying possible solutions, and supporting what you write with reasons, arguments, and relevant examples from your knowledge or experience. 

The questions for IELTS Writing Task 2 are fairly general and cover a wide range of topics. There are various types of essays given in the IELTS examination. The applicants need to focus and prepare all types of essays to make it easy to write a winning essay on the examination day. Questions can be written in many different ways, which can make it difficult to determine, which type they are, so it is essential to know all the patterns, formats, and types of essays in IELTS.

Types and Categories of IELTS Essay Writing Questions

It is important to practice all the patterns of essay writing so that it is easy to attempt on the day of the examination. Here are the different types of essays in IELTS, with examples to understand the pattern and format. 

IELTS opinion essay

IELTS discussion essay

IELTS problem and solution essay

IELTS advantage and disadvantage essay

IELTS direct question essay

IELTS two-part essay

IELTS compare and contrast essay

IELTS cause and solution essay

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IELTS Opinion Essay

The opinion essay is the most common type of IELTS Task 2 question. Here, the question will be presented with a particular opinion. The applicants need to either agree or disagree with the opinion. Applicants need to provide their opinions, based on relevant information, ideas, and experience. This is also an argumentative essay where the opinions are discussed, and the contrary statements are also produced. There should be suitable reasons behind agreeing or disagreeing with the particular opinion in the question. It is important to discuss both the views, from agreeing and disagreeing points of view, and then end the essay with your own opinion. Example: A big salary is much more important than job satisfaction. Do you agree? Do you disagree? What is your opinion? This is a highly scoring type of essay, but it is essential to understand the question and then present a relevant opinion with the support of evidence and ideas.

IELTS Discussion Essay

In discussion essays, applicants have to discuss both sides of an argument, presenting both positive and negative sides. When a topic is given, students need to state points to agree with the statement and produce statements that support the disagreement part. Students are usually asked to present their opinion. The easiest way to approach this type of IELTS Task 2 question is to choose one point of view to agree with and one side to disagree with. For this, applicants need to understand the question well. It is important to be on both sides of the statement and then draft the essay so that you do justice to both agreement and disagreement. This is up to students to decide whether they agree with the statement or not. To score a good band, it is important to understand the question, take 1 minute to plan the essay, and then write it down. Example: Many people consider television is good for students, while some think it is a bad influence. Here, you need to speak on both sides and finally pen down your opinion. 

IELTS Problem and Solution Essay

The problem and solution essay is the type where applicants are required to list out problems associated with a particular topic and then need to suggest solutions to those problems. A particular statement will be given as a question; the applicants need to write all the problems related to that statement. After stating the problems, students need to draft the solutions or remedies to those problems. Such an essay will need a lot of understanding, and with proficiency in the English language, one can write a winning essay. The topics will be very common and of general interest so that the applicants can deliver a good write-up with relevant information and unique ideas. Applicants need to be very creative and innovative while writing all the problems and solutions. For example - Traffic congestion has become one of the major issues in cities. What are the problems people face due to traffic? Discuss the possible solutions to overcoming it. The more unique, coherent, and cohesive you write, keeping all the aspects like vocabulary, grammar, fluency, no spelling mistakes, and idea generation in mind, the better you score. 

IELTS Advantage and Disadvantage Essay

An advantage and disadvantage essay is also a two-part essay, where applicants need to enlist all the advantages and disadvantages of a particular thing, event, or situation. It is essential to understand the question; only then will candidates be able to note down all the perks and drawbacks of a certain sentence. For example, a topic like “Some people think it is good to take a year gap before joining the university.” Write the advantages and disadvantages of this statement. After understanding the statement, students need to write the benefits and the drawbacks of taking a gap before joining a university. Here, the applicants are not supposed to speak in favor or disagree with the statement. It is an informative essay where the applicants discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a particular event or thing. Make sure the points are valid for both sides. There is no need for writing your own opinion if you get an advantage and disadvantage essay type in your question paper.

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IELTS Direct Question Essay

In a direct question essay, there can be one question or several questions to answer. If there is a single question, the entire essay needs to be about that particular topic. If there are more than two or three questions, the applicants will have to plan the 250-word essay so that all the questions are covered in it. Students cannot miss out on any question or exceed the word limit, as 40 minutes is given to complete writing task 2. For example - More people are looking out for jobs in the cities. Questions are: What are the problems due to this? The second question is - what are the possible solutions to this statement? Candidates need to understand that all the parts of the questions need to be answered. To do well in the direct question, applicants must have good time management skills. 

IELTS Two-Part Essay

An IELTS two-part essay is one where there are two questions. In support of one sentence, there are two very related questions. Students must make sure they answer both the questions in your essay. If a student forgets one question, it will be an incomplete test even if they have drafted an essay of 250 words. All the parts of the question need to be answered. This is a scoring question where students will get many points to write. Applicants can make their essays unique by stating various facts, opinions, ideas, and descriptions. For example - Many children have become habitual using mobile applications excessively day and night. Why do you think this is so? What can parents do to avoid this situation from getting worse further? There are two questions for the particular statement, and you need to answer both the questions in the best way within 250 words. Students should not miss out on any part of the question, or else they will score low band, even if they write an exceptionally good essay. 

IELTS Compare and Contrast Essay

A compare and contrast type essay requires an applicant to distinguish between two items by listing their similarities and differences. There will be two items; they can be anything - event, element, or a situation where comparison and contrast between both the things should be made. To do this essay, students need good analyzing and understanding skills. A compare and contrast essay is the best form of essay where students need to use their vocabulary and defining skills so that they can significantly underline and outline all the similarities and dissimilarities between two things in the question. For example, some people choose to live in homes, while others think apartments are preferable to houses. Compare and contrast the benefits and drawbacks of living in houses versus apartments. An applicant getting a 9 band in this type of essay can clearly state and analyze two situations or elements so that it is easy to underline how two things contrast one another.

IELTS Cause and Solution Essay

A cause and solution essay is similar to a problem and solution essay. In a cause and solution essay, the causes of a certain situation or event need to be described, along with all the solutions or precautions to avoid such problems. When applicants get a statement, they must analyze and interpret it to find the causes and then think of unique and competitive ideas that can stop those problems or prevent them. The applicants can also provide solutions along with precautions. Sometimes, it can be a three-part question, where they need to write all the three elements- problems, causes, and solutions of a particular event or thing. For instance - pollution has drastically increased with more and more people switching to personal vehicles. What are the other causes of pollution? Discuss the solutions to overcome the problem of pollution.

When the decision to go abroad or study abroad, IELTS becomes one of the most pivotal factors. To score a higher band in IELTS, students need to understand clearly the types of essays they are required to write in IELTS. 

To cater end-to-end requirements of learners planning to pursue higher education abroad, upGrad Abroad has launched a Booster Program. The 12-weeks long extensive program is designed with a keen focus on equipping learners to kick-start their international undergraduate/ postgraduate journey after completing their first year in India. The program is designed to offer support to students in preparation for IELTS, Academic Writing, Profile Building, International Faculty Masterclass, University Application, Education Loan, and Visa Support. Under the Booster Program, all the necessary services are required for a smoother transition from India to abroad.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How many types of essays are there in IELTS?

There are five types of essays in IELTS. The different types of essays are: Discussion and Opinion Based Essay, Agree/Disagree Essay, Compare and Contrast Essay, Problem and Solution Essay, and Advantages and Disadvantages Essay.

Q. How many types of essays are in IELTS task 2?

In the IELTS writing task 2, students are asked to write an essay of a minimum of 250 words and should be written in 40 minutes.

The five main types of IELTS Task 2 essays: 

  1. Opinion Essay
  2. Discussion Essay
  3. Double Question Essay
  4. Problem and Solution Essay
  5. Advantages & Disadvantages Essay

Q. How to write examples in an IELTS essay?

In IELTS writing task is vital to be able to extend ideas to support a student’s viewpoint about a topic. This can be done with supporting points and specific examples. Using examples gives the examiner a clear idea of how a candidate develops the essay's main idea. Stick to one idea in each paragraph and explain it with the topic. The main concept must be relevant and particular to the question asked.

Q. How many types of essays are in IELTS task 1?

IELTS Writing Task 1 is different from the IELTS General test and IELTS Academic Test. In the general test, applicants are presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining a situation. In the academic test, candidates are presented with a graph, table, chart, or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in their own words. In IELTS task 1, students are rather asked to write a report than an essay.

Q. How to improve essay writing skills for IELTS?

Here are some tips to improve your essay writing skills for IELTS: 

  1. Use your time wisely
  2. Understand the task
  3. Organize your ideas logically
  4. Work on your grammatically range & lexical resource
  5. Learn from your mistakes

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