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50 Recent IELTS Essay Questions 

Hey! It is so important that when you sit down to practice IELTS writing, you only use questions that are “genuine”. This means using either questions that come from the IELTS Cambridge 1 – 14 series or those that have been created by an exam writer, like those in my 100 IELTS essay question blog post. However, many students like to practice recent IELTS essay questions i.e. topics that have been reported by recent test-takers.

I understand why students want to do this – knowing what the recent IELTS essays questions are and checking that you can answer them is reassuring. However, unfortunately, test-takers rarely (if ever) manage to accurately remember the wording of the question that they had in their test.

Can they remember the general topic? Sure.

Can they remember the exact wording? Definitely not!

Sadly, changing even one word in a test can change the focus of a question and, therefore, make it impossible to answer! So, over the last month, I have collected 50 recent IELTS essay questions from students in My IELTS Classroom , and edited them so that they are as close to perfect as possible. Plus, I have divided the questions into Academic and General Training (so you can be sure you are tackling the right type of questions) and have highlighted the main topic of each question for you.

A graphic image of the words IELTS Essay Questions 2020 ArchiveThis page is updated monthly. If you want to see exam questions that appeared earlier in 2020, then you can look at my IELTS essay questions 2020 archive post.

As always, these questions are provided so that you can check that you have ideas for the nw topics. If you are preparing with a teacher or want high-quality feedback on your writing  then you should always use a question from the original IELTS Cambridge Series.


Academic IELTS Essay Questions (June – Sept 2020)

1. Some people believe that students should be taught international news as a subject at school. Others feel that this would be a waste of valuable school time. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

2. Some people think that the best way to learn about business is to study a course at college or university. Others believe that there are other better ways to learn about business. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

3. Some people believe that having a conversation on a mobile phone in a public or crowded place should be banned. Others feel that we should be able to talk wherever we like. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

A grid of all the thumbnails in the My IELTS Classroom video course4. Some believe that charitable organisations should help people no matter where they live. Others argue that charities should only help those living in the country where the charity is based. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

5. Some people believe that rich countries should provide poorer countries with help that is not financial aid. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

6. Full-time university students spend most of their time in class or working on assignments. However, some people think that it is important for students to get involved in non-academic activities on campus as well (for example, to join a sports team or take part in drama). To what extent do you agree or disagree?

7. The best way to solve environmental problems would be for the current generation to accept a simpler way of life for the sake of the next generation. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

8. Some people think that if a country is already rich, further economic development will not result in its citizens being any happier. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

9. The most effective way to solve the current traffic and pollution problems in cities is to encourage people to move from the suburbs or countryside into the city centre. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

10. Some people think that in order to produce a happy society, it is necessary to ensure that there is only a small difference between the earnings of the richest and poorest. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

11. Recent advances in air travel have focused only on those sitting in first class and have left other passengers with no benefits. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

12. Some people believe that countries should produce the food to feed their population themselves and import as little as possible. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

13. Some children find some school subjects difficult (for example maths or philosophy), so these subjects should be optional rather than compulsory. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

14. In recent years, television has contributed most to changing people’s quality of life . To what extent do you agree or disagree?

15. In the future it may be necessary for us to live on another planets. For this reason, some people believe that we should spend money now researching planets that could be a possible home, such as Mars. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Confused by IELTS essays? Then watch my FREE video lesson

17. Some cities create extra housing by building tall buildings. Other cities do this by building on wide areas of land. Which do you think is the best solution to the problem of housing? 

18. Many people continue to use cars and motorcycles even though they know that they are bad for the environment. Why is this? What can be done to reduce the use of these vehicles?

19. There are many female students who finish degrees in science and technology courses at university, but few move into the workplace after they graduate. Why is this? What measures can be taken to encourage them into work?

20. In many cities the construction of new houses and office buildings is not controlled. This leads to people building in whatever style they want without thinking about design. Do the advantages of this trend outweigh the disadvantages?  

21. Young people are often influenced by their peers. Do the advantages of peer pressure outweigh the disadvantages? 

22. Many developing countries place a lot of importance on tourism. Why is this? Do you think that this is a positive or negative development?

23. In the modern world, it is possible to shop, work, and communicate online without any face-to-face contact with other people. Is this a positive or negative development?

24. In the future, there will be a higher proportion of older people than younger people in many countries. Why is this? Is this a positive or negative development?

25. Some people believe that if an individual behaves in an anti-social manner, such as committing a crime, then society is to blame. What are the causes of anti-social behaviour? Who do you think is responsible?

My observation of  May / June’s Academic IELTS essay questions is that there was a wider mix of question types than in January (although there are not as many problem / solution essays as usual  I think that there are three difficult questions here:

  1. People across the world are more similar than they are different. To what extent do you agree or disagree? This is a deeply philosophical question and many students will struggle to find ideas for this.
  2. It was predicted that people in the 21st century would have much more free time than in the past. To what extent has this prediction come true? I have never seen a question that asks you to evaulate a prediction before. This requires some specific language (It was thought …. , but actually …..) and I think many students will have struggled with this under exam conditions. 
  3. The most effective way to solve the current traffic and pollution problems in cities is to encourage people to move from the suburbs or countryside into the city centre. To what extent do you agree or disagree? This is great example of why you have to read every IELTS question carefully. There have been many questions in the past about people moving to cities for work, but none offering this as a solution to the problem of traffic. I wonder how many people thought that the suggestion was to move TO the countryside……!

NEW EPISODE SEPTEMBER 2020! Want to listen to two ex-examiners discuss FIVE of the questions and explain the ideas and organisation they would use to answer them? Then listen to this episode of the My IELTS Classroom Podcast!

General Training IELTS Essay Questions (June – Sept 2020)

1. Some people think the most important skill nurses should have is having good medical knowledge. Others believe there are other more important qualities. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

2. Some people think that school children should be asked to work individually in class. Others believe that working in small groups is better. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

3. Some people believe that successful sports teams are always those with the strongest or fittest players. Others think that success depends more on the team’s mental strength. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

4. Some people think that job satisfaction is the most important factor when looking for a job. Others think that having job security is more important. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

5. Some people believe that it is best to do the same type of work throughout your life. Others feel that it is beneficial to change jobs often. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

6. Some people think the news has no real connection to people’s lives, so reading newspapers or watching news programmes on television is a waste of time. Do you agree or disagree?

7. There is less communication between family members today than in the past. Do you agree or disagree?

8. Some people believe that only employees who have worked at a company for a long time deserve to be promoted to a higher position. What is your opinion about this?

Struggling with ideas? Get help here!

9. Some people believe that all students should be made to have an unpaid job in their free time. Do you agree or disagree? 

10. Many people think that the most important things in life are free (i.e. they cannot be bought). Do you agree or disagree?

11. Mobile phones and the Internet are used by millions of people every day, but old people use these forms of technology the least. In what ways can mobile phones and the Internet be helpful for older people? What measures can be taken to encourage older people to use them more?

12. In some countries, people waste a lot of the food that they buy in shops and restaurants. Why do you think this is? What can be done to solve this problem?

13. In some countries, people prefer to rent a house than buy one. What are the advantages and disadvantages of renting a property?

14. In many countries traditional customs are being lost. Why do you think this is? What can parents and schools do to keep traditional customs alive? 

15. Nowadays people are less fit and healthy than they were in the past, which could affect their long term health. Why do you think this is? What can be done to solve this problem? 

16. Young people today are often less polite and show less respect than previous generations. Why do you think this is? What can be done to solve this problem? 

17. Some people today struggle to use modern electronic technology such as smartphones and computers. Why do you think this is? What can be done to solve this problem? 

18. Many university students have part-time jobs while they study. Is this a good or a bad thing?

19. After finishing school, some students go travelling or work for a period of time instead of going directly to university. Do you think the advantages of gap years outweigh the disadvantages?

20. Some people decide to move to another country when they retire. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this practice? 

21. In the past, people wore clothes that were unique to their own culture. Today, people all over the world wear the same types of clothes. Is this trend a positive or negative development?

22. The world of work is changing rapidly and people cannot depend on having the same job or the same working conditions for life. What are the possible causes of this rapid change? How can people prepare for work in the future?

23. People nowadays send text messages more frequently than they talk the phone. What are the reasons for this trend? Do the advantages of texting outweigh the disadvantages?

24. Some sports are extremely dangerous for those who play them. Why do people participate in such sports? What measures could they take to minimise the risks involved?

25. Most companies use interviews to hire new employees. What other ways could be used? What do you think is the best way?

This month there are far fewer opinion questions (Discuss Both Sides and Agree / Disagree) and far more problem / solution essays. In terms of topics, most are the same ones that appear every month, but I have never seen a question about raising children in cities / the countryside (which I think is a good question) or  hot / cold environments. 


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OK – those are the 50 most recent IELTS essay questions. I will try to do this every month so that you can be sure you have ideas for every possible IELTS question in your exam. Well, maybe not to every question, but at least by practicing with these, you will have sharpened your idea-generation skills. Plus, you can help me by adding any questions that you can remember from a recent IELTS exam in the comments below 🚀

If you want to know how your IELTS essay will be marked by the examiner and how you can avoid the errors that I saw as an IDP and BC examiner, then download a FREE copy of my ebook “An ex-examiner’s guide to the IELTS band descriptors” by clicking here.

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