How To Answer Agree Or Disagree Essay Questions

Introduction

This lesson will help you write better ‘agree or disagree’ or ‘opinion’ IELTS task 2 essays.

Agree or disagree essays are one of the most common on the IELTS writing paper.

Agree or Disagree Essay

Many students fail to do well in this type of question because they do not have a clear opinion and they do not use an appropriate structure.

In this post we will look at:

  1. Structure
  2. Deciding Opinion
  3. Idea Generation
  4. Writing an Effective Introduction
  5. Writing Supporting Paragraphs
  6. Writing a Conclusion

We will use a question from an IELTS past paper to help us understand the task.

Structure

The best structure you can use for this type of essay is:

Paragraph 1- Introduction

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Thesis Statement

Sentence 3- Outline Statement

Paragraph 2- Supporting Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- Topic Sentence

Sentence 2/3- Explain Topic Sentence

Sentence 3/4- Example

Paragraph 3- Supporting Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- Topic Sentence

Sentence 2/3- Explain Topic Sentence

Sentence 3/4- Example

Paragraph 4- Conclusion

Sentence 1- Summary and reiteration of your opinion.

That’s it! Four paragraphs. You don’t have to use this structure and other structures can get you a high score, but this structure has been approved by IELTS examiners to be one that will allow students to write a clear and cohesive essay. This structure will allow you to focus on generating your ideas and then writing an effective essay.

Deciding Opinion

In this essay IELTS examiners want you to give a clear opinion, so it’s really important for you to make a decision when you read the question. You will also need to do this in order to write an effective thesis statement.

Let’s look at an example:

 

In some countries an increasing number of people are suffering from health problems as a result of eating too much fast food. It is therefore necessary for governments to impose a higher tax on this kind of food.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

With this type of essay we have two choices:

  1. We agree with the statement or;
  2. We disagree with the statement

Some teachers advise that you can partly agree and disagree but this often leads to an essay with no clear focus and a confusing structure.

So for this agree or disagree essay you can say either:

  1. This essay agrees that governments should tax fast food or;
  2. This essay disagrees that governments should tax fast food

I think I will have more ideas for A, so I’m choosing this one. Always choose the one that you feel comfortable writing about even if you don’t personally feel that way. There are no points for writing about how you feel, you just want to impress the examiner.

Idea Generation

Now we have to think of ideas for why governments should tax fast food.

Here are some:

  • Cigarettes and alcohol are taxed in the same way
  • The money raised could be used to treat people with health problems
  • Fast food companies should be punished for selling unhealthy food to people
  • Making the food more expensive would stop people eating it
  • The money raised could be used to educate people about healthy eating

We don’t need to use all of these, just two for our supporting paragraphs. I’m going to pick the first and the fourth ones because I know a little about these two and feel confident I can expand on them with explanations and examples. Remember the examiner wants you to fully support your arguments, not just list a lot of ideas.

Now we have two supporting ideas we can move on to our introduction.

Introduction

As previously stated, we will use the following structure:

Paragraph 1- Introduction

Sentence 1- Paraphrase Question

Sentence 2- Thesis Statement

Sentence 3- Outline Statement

For a more detailed explanation please see our post on writing an effective introduction.

In order to paraphrase the question we simply restate it with a different meaning using synonyms. I will also reorder the question. Here is the question again:

In some countries an increasing number of people are suffering from health problems as a result of eating too much fast food. It is therefore necessary for governments to impose a higher tax on this kind of food.

Paraphrased: It is argued that governments should levy a tariff on junk food because the number of health risks associated with consuming this kind of food is on the rise.

This is our first sentence.

We now need to write our thesis statement. This is our opinion in one sentence. This essay will agree with the above statement and will therefore look like this:

This essay agrees that a higher rate of tax should be paid by fast food companies.

This is our second sentence.

We now need to write our third and final sentence, which is the outline sentence. This sentence outlines what you will write about in the main body paragraphs.

Firstly, this essay will discuss the fact that alcohol and tobacco companies already pay higher taxes and secondly, discuss how higher taxes could raise prices and lower consumption.

So our full introduction will look like this:

It is argued that governments should levy a tariff on junk food because the number of health risks associated with consuming this kind of food is on the rise. This essay agrees that a higher rate of tax should be paid by fast food companies. Firstly, this essay will discuss the fact that alcohol and tobacco companies already pay higher taxes and secondly, discuss how higher taxes would raise prices and lower consumption.

3 sentences, 77 words.

We now need to write our supporting paragraphs for our agree or disagree essay:

Supporting Paragraph 1

This paragraph should include:

  1. Topic Sentence
  2. Explanation
  3. Example

A topic sentence tells the examiner what the rest of the paragraph is about. In other words, it is a summary of your first idea. It should look something like this:

Higher excise on liqueur and cigarettes has proven to be successful at curbing the harm caused by these substances.

We now need to expand on this point a little. A good way of doing this is to assume that the examiner has no knowledge of this subject and you have to explain clearly what you mean. Here is what this could look like:

This revenue has been used to treat health problems associated with these products and has proven useful in advertising campaigns warning people about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco abuse. Tax from fast food could be used in the same way.

We should now think of an example to support our point. Think about any recent news stories, studies or adverts. If you can’t think of one, make one up. The examiner won’t check if it is real or not.

The United Kingdom is a prime example, where money from smokers is used to treat lung cancer and heart disease, while at the same time, pumped into health campaigns in schools to warn children about the dangers of smoking.     

That’s it. Four sentences. The full paragraph should look like this:

Higher excise on liqueur and cigarettes has proven to be successful at curbing the harm caused by these substances. This revenue has been used to treat health problems associated with these products and has proven useful in advertising campaigns warning people about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco abuse. Tax from fast food could be used in the same way. The United Kingdom is a prime example, where money from smokers is used to treat lung cancer and heart disease.

Supporting Paragraph 2

We now repeat the same formula with our second supporting point- higher taxes will increase prices and reduce consumption.

Our topic sentence:

Increasing taxes would raise prices and lower consumption.

Explaining this further:

Fast food companies would pass on these taxes to consumers in the form of higher prices and this would lead to people not being able to afford junk food because it is too expensive. Junk food would soon become a luxury item and it would only be consumed occasionally, which would be less harmful to the general public’s health.

We now support our point with an example:

For instance, the cost of organic food has proven prohibitively expensive for most people and that is why only a small percentage of the population buy it regularly.

The full paragraph would look like this:

Increasing taxes would raise prices and lower consumption. Fast food companies would pass on these taxes to consumers in the form of higher prices and this would lead to people not being able to afford junk food because it is too expensive. Junk food would soon become a luxury item and it would only be consumed occasionally, which would be less harmful to the general public’s health. For instance, the cost of organic food has proven prohibitively expensive for most people and that is why only a small percentage of the population buy it regularly.

Four sentences.

Conclusion

As stated before a good conclusion for agree or disagree essays should include:

Sentence 1- Summary of main points

Sentence 2- Your opinion

Don’t write any new ideas in this paragraph.

A good conclusion should just restate your thesis statement and your main supporting points.

In conclusion, junk food should be taxed at a higher rate because of the good precedent set by alcohol and tobacco and the fact that the increased cost should reduce the amount of fast food people buy.

Agree or Disagree Sample Essay 

It is argued that governments should levy a tariff on junk food because the number of health risks associated with consuming this kind of food is on the rise. This essay agrees that a higher rate of tax should be paid by fast food companies. Firstly, this essay will discuss the fact that alcohol and tobacco companies already pay higher taxes and secondly, discuss how higher taxes would raise prices and lower consumption.

Higher excise on liqueur and cigarettes has proven to be successful at curbing the harm caused by these substances. This revenue has been used to treat health problems associated with these products and has proven useful in advertising campaigns warning people about the dangers of alcohol and tobacco abuse. Tax from fast food could be used in the same way. The United Kingdom is a prime example, where money from smokers is used to treat lung cancer and heart disease.

Increasing taxes would raise prices and lower consumption. Fast food companies would pass on these taxes to consumers in the form of higher prices and this would lead to people not being able to afford junk food because it is too expensive. Junk food would soon become a luxury item and it would only be consumed occasionally, which would be less harmful to the general public’s health. For instance, the cost of organic food has proven prohibitively expensive for most people and that is why only a small percentage of the population buy it regularly.

In conclusion, junk food should be taxed at a higher rate because of the good precedent set by alcohol and tobacco and the fact that the increased cost should reduce the amount of fast food people buy.

290 words (band score 9)

Next Steps

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Writing Task 1

Writing Task 2

IELTS Preparation

How do I answer ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree’ questions? What should be included in the introduction paragraph? Is it necessary to discuss different views in the body? If you have trouble in answering this kind of question for IELTS writing task 2, take a minute to read today’s blog! Here are some useful tips for you to tackle it.

Past questions

First of all, let’s take a look at several past questions to get familiar with this question type.

  1. Maintaining public libraries is a waste of time since computer technology is now replacing their functions. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
  2. The leaders or directors of organizations are often older people. But some people say that young people can also be leaders. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
  3. People’s shopping habits depends more on the age group they belong to than any other factor. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

There are more questions in the post on past IELTS writing questions!

Choose a point of view

Before writing anything, you should have a clear point of view. You should include adverbs to answer to what extent. Here are some possible ways to answer the question.

  1. I totally/completely agree…
  2. I totally/completely disagree…
  3. I mostly/partly agree/disagree…

Structure your essay


Then you can structure your essay. Here are some templates for you!

  1. I totally/completely agree…

Introduction: State that you totally agree with the view in the question.

Body paragraph 1: State why you agree.

Body paragraph 2: State why you agree.

Body paragraph 3: State why you agree or explain why the opposite view is wrong.

Conclusion: Restate your view.

 

  1. I totally/completely disagree…

Introduction: State that you totally disagree with the view in the question.

Body paragraph 1: State why you disagree.

Body paragraph 2: State why you disagree.

Body paragraph 3: State why you disagree or explain why the opposite view is wrong.

Conclusion: Restate your view.

 

  1. I mostly/partly agree/disagree…

Introduction: State the points that you agree with and the points that you disagree with.

Body paragraph 1: State why you agree with some of the points.

Body paragraph 2: State why you disagree with some of the points.

Conclusion: Restate your view.

 

1 and 2 are slightly easier to write. They are similar to the answers to ‘Do you agree/disagree?’ questions. If you are unconfident about your writing, just use the first or the second structure and be sure to include the adverb totally/completely.

In conclusion,  to answer ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree?’ questions, you need to state your degree of agreement/disagreement with different adverbs in the introduction paragraph. Then use the rest of the essay to support your view. To learn more about how to write a good IELTS essay, check out our post on how to organize ideas in IELTS writing task 2 and the Magoosh IELTS prep!

 

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