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IELTS Writing Task 2: Advantages & Disadvantages Essay

This lesson will help you to plan, structure and write an IELTS Task 2 essay from start to finish.

Key Points for Task 2 Writing

  • Task 2 essays carry 67% of the marks for the IELTS Writing Test.
  • You should write 250 – 280 words
  • You have 1 hour to complete both writing tasks but should not spend more than 40 minutes on this task as you will need 20 minutes for Task 1.
  • Writing fewer than 240 words will result in marks being deducted.

Analyzing the Question:

IELTS Advantages and Disadvantages Essay

Fast-paced modern lifestyles have led to people eating more and more fast food at the expense of more traditional meals. Do the advantages of eating more fast food outweigh the disadvantages?

 

First of all, you need to do the following:

  • Highlight the topic.
  • Highlight the task.

 

Fast-paced modern lifestyles have led to people eating more and more fast food at the expense of more traditional meals. Do the advantages of eating more fast food outweigh the disadvantages ?

Planning

In the planning stage, you should try to choose the advantages and disadvantages that are not too specific; otherwise, it will be difficult to fully develop your answers with details, reasons, results, and examples. Next, we have included some pics to give you ideas to fill out the planning table:

advantages and disadvantages

Advantage Disadvantage
Main Point (in general)  

 

Explanation: details/reasons/results

Structure and Content

Here is a breakdown of the overall structure:

Introduction   Sentence 1 Paraphrase General Statement & mention the main advantage and disadvantage
  Sentence 2 State your overall opinion.
Body paragraph 1 Present Sentence 1 Mention the main advantage
Extend Sentence 2 Explanation: positive details/reasons/results
Sentence 3
Support Sentence 4 Support with examples
Sentence 5 Summarise why it is important
Body paragraph 2 Present Sentence 1 Mention the main advantage
Extend Sentence 2 Explanation: positive details/reason/results
Sentence 3
Support Sentence 4 Support with examples
Sentence 5 Summarise why it is important
Conclusion   Sentence 1 State Opinion
  Sentence 2 Restate main advantage/disadvantage

Now, we’re going to look at each paragraph in a bit more detail with a sample.

Introduction

Introduction Sentence 1 Paraphrase General Statement & mention the main advantage and disadvantage
  Model Replacing conventional meals with junk food is fast becoming the norm for many people, and while this may be more practical, it presents some serious concerns for health and productivity.
  Sentence 2 State your overall opinion.
  Model This essay will discuss the pros and cons of this shift in behavior.

 

The introduction should have two main sections:

Sentence 1: General Statement – Here we paraphrase the ideas from the question using synonyms.

Sentence 2: Thesis Statement – This should inform the reader of what the essay will cover and attempt to achieve.

Paraphrasing Using Synonyms

Swap the words from the question with synonyms (words with the same or similar meanings).

Question Words Synonyms
normal everyday meals conventional meals
fast food junk food
at the expense of replacing
more and more fast becoming the norm
pros advantages
cons disadvantages

 

 

Introduction Sentence 1 Paraphrase General Statement & mention the main advantage and disadvantage
  Example Replacing conventional meals with junk food is fast becoming the norm for many people, and while this may be more practical, it presents some serious concerns for health and productivity.
  Sentence 2 State your overall opinion.
  Example This essay will discuss the pros and cons of this shift in behaviour.

 

 

Synonyms

To get a good mark in the grammar section we need to show some examples of complex structures. The following are two possible ways to do this:

Use Coordinating Conjunctions to form compound sentences.

FANBOYS: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so

Use Subordinating Conjunctions to form complex sentences.

E.g: because, while, whereas, as, after, since, although

IELTS TASK 2 Writing band descriptors (public version)

Body Paragraphs

Each argument in the body paragraphs should fulfill the PES section of the rubric.

Present

Extend

Support

task achievement

This means that each main point should be presented in general, fully extended, and supported with reasons or examples.

Body paragraph 1

Here we promote our side of the argument (the disadvantages):

Body paragraph 1 Present Sentence 1 Mention the main disadvantage
Model The most serious disadvantage of this issue is the damage to health and the effect on work rate.
Extend Sentence 2 Explanation: positive details/reasons/results
Sentence 3
Model In other words, eating fast food regularly means increased consumption of harmful fats and chemical additives. Studies show that consuming these regularly can increase the risk of conditions such as cancer or heart disease.  In addition to the increased risk of disease, being less healthy has a negative effect on productivity.
Support Sentence 4 Support with examples
Model For example, convenience food often contains fewer nutrients, and this can make people lethargic and affect performance.
Sentence 5 Summarise why it is important
Model Essentially, eating fast food regularly can cause serious damage to a person’s health, and this will negatively affect their abilities in other areas.

 

 

Body paragraph 2

In this section we concede that there is another side to the argument (advantages).

Body paragraph

2

Present Sentence 1 Mention the main advantage
Model On the other hand, eating convenience food can save valuable time.
Extend Sentence 2-3 Explanation: positive details/reasons/results
Model There are times when people with busy schedules would be forced to skip meals if fast food options were not available. Our bodies need nutrition and it is probably better to eat one of the healthier fast food options than not to eat at all.
Support Sentence 4 Support with examples
Model For instance, picking up a quick snack from a fast food restaurant might be the only chance to eat for working people with very tight schedules.
Sentence 5 Summarise why it is important
Model To sum up, the pace of modern life means that fast food is sometimes the most practical option.

 

Conclusion

The final paragraph is the conclusion, and here we need to state our overall opinion. A good phrase to use is: “In conclusion the disadvantages outweigh the advantages because…”

After that we restate some of our body one disadvantages; of course, we need to paraphrase them to avoid repetition.

 

Conclusion Sentence 1 State Opinion
Model In conclusion, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages because health has to be a priority for most people.
Sentence 2 Restate main advantage/disadvantage
Model The increased productivity and life expectancy that good health brings is far more important than the short-term gains offered by a fast food diet.

 

 

Coherence and Cohesion

25% of the marks for IELTS writing are for Coherence and Cohesion

task achievement

Linkers and Discourse Markers

So, we really need to use cohesive devices or linking words.

Replacing conventional meals with junk food is fast becoming the norm for many people, and while this may be more practical, it presents some serious concerns for health and productivity. This essay will discuss the pros and cons of this shift in behaviour.

The most serious disadvantage of this issue is the damage to health. In other words, eating fast food regularly means increased consumption of harmful fats and chemical additives. Studies show that consuming these regularly can increase the risk of conditions such as cancer or heart disease.  In addition to the increased risk of disease, being less healthy has a negative effect on productivity. For example, convenience food often contains fewer nutrients, and this can make people lethargic and affect performance. Essentially, eating fast food regularly can cause serious damage to a person’s health, and this will negatively affect their abilities in other areas.

On the other hand, eating convenience food can save valuable time. There are times when people with busy schedules would be forced to skip meals if fast food options were not available. Our bodies need nutrition and it is probably better to eat one of the healthier fast food options than not to eat at all. For instance, picking up a quick snack from a fast food restaurant might be the only chance to eat for working people with very tight schedules. To sum up, the pace of modern life means that fast food is sometimes the most practical option.

In conclusion, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages because health must be a priority for most people. The increased productivity and life expectancy that good health brings is far more important than the short-term gains offered by a fast food diet.

Fast-paced modern lifestyles have led to people eating more and more fast food at the expense of more traditional meals. Do the advantages of eating more fast food outweigh the disadvantages?

Full Sample Essay

Replacing conventional meals with junk food is fast becoming the norm for many people, and while this may be more practical, it presents some serious concerns for health and productivity. This essay will discuss the pros and cons of this shift in behaviour.

The most serious disadvantage of this issue is the damage to health. In other words, eating fast food regularly means increased consumption of harmful fats and chemical additives. Studies show that consuming these regularly can increase the risk of conditions such as cancer or heart disease.  In addition to the increased risk of disease, being less healthy has a negative effect on productivity. For example, convenience food often contains fewer nutrients, and this can make people lethargic and affect performance. Essentially, eating fast food regularly can cause serious damage to a person’s health, and this will negatively affect their abilities in other areas.

On the other hand, eating convenience food can save valuable time. There are times when people with busy schedules would be forced to skip meals if fast food options were not available. Our bodies need nutrition and it is probably better to eat one of the healthier fast food options than not to eat at all. For instance, picking up a quick snack from a fast food restaurant might be the only chance to eat for working people with very tight schedules. To sum up, the pace of modern life means that fast food is sometimes the most practical option.

In conclusion, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages because health has to be a priority for most people. The increased productivity and life expectancy that good health brings is far more important than the short-term gains offered by a fast food diet.

 

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