One of the most common questions asked about IELTS writing is how you should present your opinion in an IELTS Discuss Both Views essay. Do you need to write a separate paragraph with your opinion? Can you wait until the conclusion to “reveal” your opinion? And what does it mean to offer “positive” arguments for each view? That is what Nick and I will discuss in today’s episode.
Below, you can find a summary of the episode, which includes all of the links to useful materials and the times of each part of the discussion (so you can go directly to the part you want to listen to) 🚀
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How should you present your opinion in an IELTS Discuss Both Views essay?
Nick and I will definitely explain how we think you should present your opinion in an IELTS Discuss Both Views essay at the end of the episode, but to start, it might be better to show you what you should NOT do and explain why. Let’s begin by discussing where you should place your opinion.
1. Do not write a separate paragraph that contains your opinion
I understand why people do this. After all, the question clearly says discuss both views and give your own opinion. However, your opinion is almost always going to agree with one of the views. Therefore, if you present your own view in a separate paragraph your essay is going to be repetitious. It is much better just to agree with one of the views and then present the arguments in favour of that view and your opinion together (we will explain how to do this shortly).
Now, this begs the question, what should you do if you do not 100% agree with either view? The simple answer is lie!
The key to getting a high score in IELTS writing is always to have a clear opinion. Choosing a “balanced approach” almost always leads to essays that have a confused position because students try to “agree” with both views. However, 99% of the time this is impossible as the views contradict one another, so it is simply impossible to agree with both.
What you will have to do instead is outline a third completely unique view in a separate paragraph. Again, this is not just a paragraph giving me the positives of each of the two views, but a paragraph that outlines your own unique view (that does not match either of those given) Let me give you an example of how a balanced approach essay would work.
Some people believe that there should be fixed punishments for each type of crime. Others, however, argue that the circumstances of an individual crime, and the motivation for committing it, should always be into account when deciding on the punishment.
Discuss both the views and give your own opinion.
In this question we have two opposing views;
- View One (BP1): Fixed punishment for every crime
- View Two (BP2): Look at circumstances for all crimes
If I wanted to take a balanced approach here, I would need a third paragraph that argue why neither of these approaches works on their own, and outline a new approach that is better.
- My view (BP3): We should look at the circumstances for most crimes, but some are so serious that they should have a fixed sentence (i.e. murder / rape)
Do you see the difference? In this third paragraph, I am offering a third unique position that does not match either View 1 or View 2. This is the ONLY time that you will need to write a third paragraph, and I do NOT recommend that you try to write a balanced approach essay unless you have guidance.
However, again, there is nothing “better” about this type of essay and you have a far higher chance of getting a high score (even a 9.0) by simply agreeing with one side and then focussing on making your argumentation and language.
Want to learn how maximise your writing score with an ex-examiner? Then why not find out more about our Gold Writing Package. It contains everything you need to get a 7.0+ in Writing Task One and Task Two.
2. Do not wait until the conclusion to reveal your opinion
Just as you shouldn’t have a separate paragraph that contains your opinion, you also don’t want to wait until the conclusion to reveal your opinion in an IELTS Discuss Both Views essay. The reasons for this is very simple.
The band descriptors clearly state that for a 7.0 or higher for Task Response, you must give your opinion throughout the essay.
Therefore if you only give your opinion in the conclusion, you are automatically limiting your task response go to a 6.0. This is a shame as it is very easy to show your opinion in the body of a Discuss Both Views essay. In the very simplest terms, you can do this in your topic sentences by making it clear which view you agree with and which you don’t:
- On the one hand, it could be argued that + paraphrase of view you disagree with
- On the other hand, I agree with those who believe + paraphrase of view you agree with
Obviously, there are more sophisticated ways of making your opinion known in. your body paragraphs, but simply using these sentence stems could be enough to open the door to a 7.0 for Task Response.
3. Make sure you actually discuss both views and not just both topics
This is perhaps the number one error made by IELTS test-takers. When you write a Discuss Both Views essay it is absolutely imperative that you offer positive arguments in favour of each view. I have written a separate blog post about this and I strongly recommend that you read it now (if you haven’t already) as it clearly explains the difference between discussing a TOPIC and discussing a VIEW.
In today’s episode, we look at a similar error but one that is more difficult to spot. Why not have a go yourself? Look at the paragraph written in response to this IELTS prompt and see if you can spot the problem with one of the arguments.
Some people think it is best to accept a bad situation, such as an unsatisfactory job or a shortage of money. Others argue think that it is better to try and improve such situations. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.
On the one hand, it could be argued that acceptance during hard times is the most effective approach. There are circumstances where people are not in control of their lives due to external factors. For example, a young man who dreams of becoming a musician may have to comply with his parent’s will to take the job of a lawyer, although it doesn’t satisfy him. Thus, accepting the situation will allow a person to find happiness in other areas of their lives and not live in constant regret of the ones that they cannot change. What is more, those who are in favour of living with tough situations feel they lack the willpower to do anything about them. After all, changes can be intimidating and it requires great courage to step out of the comfort zone
Can you spot the error? Listen to the episode to find out what it is!