How to write IELTS agree disagree essay introductions!

Hey! Today Nick and I are trying a new style of lesson. Instead of giving you lots of information about one topic, we are going to break down one element of essay writing – how to write an introduction to an IELTS agree disagree essay.
Join us to learn the three ingredients that you need to write an introduction well (they may not be what you expect) and how you can tackle questions that include “some people” or a background statement.

By the end of the short lesson, you should be able to write an introduction to any agree / disagree essay with ease, which should give you more time to tackle the body of the essay, which is where all of the points are to be gained.

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)¬†ūüöÄ

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The three ingredients for a great IELTS agree disagree essay introduction

In IELTS writing, there are no real points to be gained in the introduction. If you take a look at the band descriptors, you will see that most points for Task Response come from your paragraphs in the body of the essay, where you need relevant arguments that are well developed (and if you don’t know how to write those, you can take at this recent blog post).

However, that does not mean that your introduction is not important.

What you write here will be the first thing that the examiner reads and you really do want to make a good first impression. Plus, the introduction will be the place where you first clearly express your opinion, and this really is an important element of Task Response, so you want to make sure that you get it right.

The good news is that there are just three ingredients in a good introduction for an IELTS agree disagree essay, and if you spend as little as 30 minutes practicing them, you will be able to write one in your exam without even thinking! That will give you more time and brain space to focus on the body. So, what are the three ingredients?

1. Introduce the general topic of the essay

Many students write IELTS agree disagree introductions in the following way:

  1. Paraphrase the task in the first sentence
  2. Write a memorised sentence such as “I agree with this statement and will explain why in the following paragraphs”

We do NOT recommend that you use this approach. Firstly, the second sentence here is entirely memorised so will be discounted by the examiner as it can be used in any essay. More importantly, no English writer would ever present their opinion in this way. There is no need at all to present your opinion in a separate sentence.

As we will see in a moment, you can easily present your view along with the paraphrase in ONE sentence. 

If you do this, you will have space in your introduction for an opening sentence that introduces the general idea of the essay.¬†There are no ‚Äúmodels‚ÄĚ for these sentences, but some useful structures are:

  1. Nowadays + present continuous (for a change that is still happening) or present simple (fact)
    1. Nowadays, the number of people suffering from obesity is increasing at an alarming rate. = CHANGE STILL IN PROGRESS
    2. Nowadays, more people than ever use social media to keep in touch with family and friends = FACT
  1. Recently + present perfect (for a change that has already happened)
    1. Recently, the number of electric cars on the road has increased. = CHANGE FINISHED
  1. X is one of the most important Y
    1. Being able to speak a foreign language is one of the most important skills that a person can have in the modern world.

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2. Present your opinion

This should be the easiest sentence that you write in the introduction. If you agree in an IELTS agree disagree essay, you will simply start the sentence by saying “I agree” and then paraphrase the task. If you disagree, you will do the same, but you will start the sentence with “I disagree”.

  • I agree that countries¬†should invest in railways instead of roads.
  • I disagree that countries¬†should invest in railways instead of roads.

In the episode, Nick and I will discuss how you can paraphrase well by identifying words that CANNOT be paraphrased, and changing the word order. The easiest way to tell if you have paraphrased well is to give your paraphrase to a friend and check that they can understand it. If they cannot, try again.

Remember that it is better to use a word directly from the prompt than to replace it with a word that does not have a clear meaning.

3. Make sure you have good cohesion

The final ingredient in our introduction to an IELTS agree disagree essay will be adding a few words to make sure that you have good coherence and cohesion. Firstly, you will need to add a transition signal between the first and second sentence in your introduction. This will either be “However” or “In fact” depending on the relationship between the first sentence and your opinion.

Take these introductions for example. My opinion is the same (I agree) but the transition is different as in the first introduction, there is contrast between the opening sentence and my opinion sentence, and in the second introduction there is not.

Cleaning is not usually a job that people look forward to. However, I agree with those who feel that having a tidy, well-organised home or workplace is important.


Cleaning is a common chore that most people have to complete on a regular basis. In fact, I agree with those who feel that having a tidy, well-organised home or workplace is important.

Then, to complete your introduction, you should foreshadow the structure that are going to use by telling the examiner how many paragraphs that they should expect to read. To do this, all you need to do is add “for 2 main reasons” or “for three main reasons” to the end of your introduction (depending on how many reasons you are going to offer!)

Cleaning is not usually a job that people look forward to. However, I agree with those who feel that having a tidy, well-organised home or workplace is important for two main reasons.

Let’s practice writing IELTS agree disagree introductions together!

This week, we want you to work as hard as we do, so we are inviting you to write your own introductions to the following questions as you listen to the lesson.

Governments should spend money on railways rather than roads.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Universities should accept equal numbers of male and female students in every subject.

To what extent do you agree or disagree? 

Some people say it is important to keep your home and workplace tidy, with everything organised in the correct place.

What is your opinion about this?

Many manufactured food and drink products contain high levels of sugar, which causes many health problems. Sugary products should be made more expensive to encourage people to consume less sugar.

Do you agree or disagree?

Every year several languages die out. Some people think that this is not important because life will be easier if there are fewer languages in the world.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

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