The words 50 recent IELTS essay questions in red sit on a white background

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 – 15 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, every month, I collect 50 recent IELTS essay questions from students in My IELTS Classroom , and edit them so that they are as close to perfect as possible. Plus, I divide 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 and is now showing questions from 2021. If you want to see exam questions that appeared 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 (Sept 2020- January 2021)

1. Some people believe that companies should manufacture products that last for a long time. Others feel that the emphasis should be placed on producing goods that are cheap. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

2. Some people think that when many imported films or TV programmes are shown in a country, it can improve the country’s culture. Others feel that it is better for a country to make and broadcast its own movies and TV shows. Discuss both sides and give your own view.

3. Some people believe that charities should help people in need no matter where those people are in the world. Others feel that these organisations should only serve the people living in the country where they are based. Discuss both sides and give your own view.

The front over of the ebook "An ex-exmainer's guide to the IELTS Band Descriptors"
Download my FREE ebook today

4. Some people believe that good teamwork is what makes companies successful. Others feel that it is more important to have a good leader. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

5. Some people think watching TV and films makes children more creative. Others think that it can actually lower their creativity. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

6. Some people believe that visual images (such as photos and videos) provide enough evidence that a crime was committed. Others think that they are not enough on their own and other evidence is needed. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

7. Some scientists think that computers will soon become more intelligent than humans. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

8. Although there is a lot of software available today that can translate from one language to another, it is still necessary for people to learn a foreign language. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

9. In many countries, governments spend a lot of money celebrating national holidays and festivals. However, some people think that spending money on these celebrations is a waste. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view? 

10. When designing a building, the most important thing for architects to consider is the intended use of the building rather than its outward appearance. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

11. Some people think that dangerous extreme sports such as rock climbing and sky-diving should be banned. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this view?

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 people think that it is a waste of time for school students to study nature. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

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 the most recent IELTS essay questions from January 2021 is that there have been A LOT of Discuss Both Sides and To What Extent questions. In fact, this is more or less all that I have seen in the first month of the new year, so be sure that you are ready to answer these.

NEW EPISODE January 2021! Want to listen to two ex-examiners discuss SIX 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!

GT IELTS Essay Questions (Sept 2020- January 2021)

1. Some people believe that celebrating personal events is a waste of money. Others feel that these celebrations play an important role in the lives of individuals and in society as a whole. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

2. Some people believe that traveling alone is the best way to experience a country or a culture. Others feel that it is better to travel with people you know. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

3. Some people feel the best way to reduce the number of accidents on the road is to further limit the speed of vehicles. Others think that there are better ways to tackle this issue. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

4. Some people think that older employees contribute most to the success of a company. Others think that younger people play a more vital role. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

5. Some people believe schoolchildren should help to create rules in their schools. Others say teachers alone should decide what the rules are. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

6. Some people think that students should learn a range of practical skills at school (such as car maintenance or managing money) alongside traditional subjects like maths and physics. Do you agree or disagree with this view?

7. In cities, space for housing should be created by knocking down historic buildings. What is your opinion?

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?

9. People’s behaviour (for example, their table manners and they way they dress) varies from country to country. When traveling to a different country, people should copy the behaviour and habits of the inhabitants of the country they  visit. Do you agree or disagree?

10. The best way to increase road safety is to make car drivers retake their driving test every year. Do you agree or disagree?

11. Some people believe that family is more important than friends. What do you think?

12. The Internet is the best place to find information. Do you agree or disagree?

13.  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? 

14. People who are learning a foreign language can face a number of difficulties. What are some of these problems? In your opinion, what are the best ways to overcome these difficulties?

15. 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? 

16. 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? 

17. Nowadays, many people drive to work or school instead of walking, cycling or using public transport. Does this trend have more advantages or more disadvantages?

18. 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?

19. Nowadays some parents give money to their children if they perform well at school. Do you think this is good or bad trend? 

20. Most children want to watch the same TV programmes or play the same video games as their friends. Do you think parents should allow their children to do this?

21.Governments spend a large amount of money every year on works of art (for example, paintings & sculptures.) Do you think this this a good or bad use of public money?

22. Many people today spend most of their free time at home watching TV series or movies instead of going out. Do you think this is right or wrong?

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. Children can learn many things from watching films or movies. What are some of the different things they can learn? Are these lessons always good for them?

25. Playing team sports at school can teach students a number of lessons that are useful outside of sport. What values can students learn from playing team sports? How can they apply these values in the future? 

This year, I have noticed two main trends for the recent IELTS essay  questions for General Training students. First, there continue to be more 2-part questions than in the Academic test, and the topics seem to be more and more diverse. Also, the test writers seem to making small changes to the wording of questions, which don’t actually change what you are expected to do, but may confuse some students. For example, in the past, you were always asked “Is this a positive or negative trend?” but recently the same question has been phrased as:

  1. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
  2. Do you think this is right or wrong?
  3. Do you think this this a good or bad use of public money?

If you enter the exam room and feel confused by the question, my advice is always to simply answer the question that you have been given. Yes, there are question types that repeat, but if you are given a direct essay question or a type of question that is unfamiliar, simply focusing on answering the question/s you have been given clearly is always the best approach!

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.

If you like my blog, you'll love my IELTS writing course

  • 35 hours of video lessons with an ex-examiner that prepare you for ANY IELTS question
  • integrated grammar and writing skills lessons to help you reach 7.0+
  • hundreds of downloadable practice activities and model answers
Find out More