In this lesson, we will take a look at a full Band 9 IELTS Writing sample essay on self-employment, and explore how it meets all the requirements used by IELTS examiners.
Self-employment is a topic that regularly appears in real IELTS exams. It refers to people who work for themselves rather than for a company, such as freelancers or entrepreneurs who open their own businesses.
Here’s the full task:
Nowadays many people choose to be self-employed rather than work for a company or organisation. Why might this be the case? What could be the disadvantages of being self-employed?
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience. Write at least 250 words.
To achieve a Band 7 or higher score in IELTS Writing, it is essential to fully answer the question. Understanding what type of task you are given can help you structure your essay accordingly.
Generally, there are five types of tasks:
The first question is, “Why might this be the case?” In other words, why do people choose to become self-employed? What are their reasons? Or what advantages does self-employment offer? In this particular case, reasons and advantages mean the same thing.
The second question is, “What could be the disadvantages?” This means that we should provide several downsides of being self-employed in comparison with having a job.
Our task type is two direct questions. How can we make sure we answer it fully?
For our question type, the essay structure is quite straightforward:
- an introduction
- an answer to the first question
- an answer to the second question
- a conclusion
There are two keys to structuring your essay so you can get Band 7 and up:
Let’s have a look at how it was done in this essay.
An increasing number of people today opt to work for themselves instead of having a job.
In this first sentence, I directly paraphrased the task sentence. You may choose to introduce the topic more generally first, but I decided that it’s not needed in this case.
This choice has a number of benefits and drawbacks, which will be discussed in this essay.
As our task doesn’t require an opinion, I’m just giving an outline of what the essay is about. I prefer not to give a summary of ideas in the introduction and instead keep it for my conclusion; otherwise, the essay might get repetitive. It’s important to keep your introduction short and to the point. Use more of your time for your body paragraphs.
In the first body paragraph, we’re answering the first question, “Why might this be the case?” I have two main ideas to present:
Before you get into all the details and examples, make sure you have a topic sentence that introduces the whole paragraph:
Some of the most common reasons for self-employment are the income and lifestyle that it may provide.
So, I introduced both my ideas. Now I’m going to talk about the first.
Unlike employees, whose responsibilities and income are determined by their employers, people who work for themselves are free to implement their ideas as quickly as they can, and they receive all the revenue.
Let’s develop it further. What does it mean?
That means that self-employed people can potentially earn much more than those with similar skills and experience who work for a salary.
Now, the second idea and a linker:
Moreover, not having a boss means that people can choose their own working hours and number of holidays, among other things.
This reason is clear enough. If your idea is clear, don’t repeat it several times. Make your point and move on. To wrap it up, I’m going to sum up my ideas and link this paragraph back to our initial question.
Not surprisingly, more and more people are leaving the safety of a salaried job to become self-employed.
Most IELTS candidates know they need to have several paragraphs in the essay, but it’s equally important to have a logical structure inside each paragraph. In my body paragraph, it’s clear what it’s about, when it begins and when it ends. This is very important for a good score.
In my courses, we pay a lot of attention to this and you can how to write each paragraph of your essay sentence by sentence.
Now we’re answering the second question, “What could be the disadvantages of being self-employed?”
Make sure that your essay is balanced. It doesn’t matter whether you think that being self-employed is great or terrible, you need to give several reasons why people choose it, and give several disadvantages of it.
My disadvantages or downsides are:
- financial uncertainty as they might not know how much they will earn
- more responsibilities
- a higher level of stress
Let’s start with a simple statement that describes the whole paragraph:
Despite the obvious appeal, being self-employed is riskier than working for someone else.
This sentence is short, but it’s highly complex from a grammatical point of view.
The phrase “despite the obvious appeal” links this paragraph to the previous one where we discussed the appeal or the reasons why people choose it. Don’t forget your comma!
Next, we have a gerund, “being self-employed”, another piece of advanced grammar. Finally, I established a comparison by using “than”.
A complex sentence doesn’t have to be long. Now that I’ve introduced the paragraph, let’s go to the first idea:
One of the risks is financial uncertainty.
It’s simple and to the point. Band 9 essays can have simple sentences. Let’s clarify this idea.
Entrepreneurs and freelancers are not guaranteed a certain level of income, nor are they eligible for a pension, paid holidays, and sick leave.
This is more complex. We have an inversion: “nor are they eligible”; the verb “are” comes before the subject “they”.
The workload may be higher too.
This is another very simple sentence. And now:
Unlike employees who can specialise in one function, the self-employed are responsible for all of the business operations, from attracting clients to delivering products or services to preparing their financial accounts, to name a few.
This is probably the longest sentence in my essay.
Vary your structures. One sentence may be simple and short. The next may be long and complex.
The multitude of issues that self-employed people have to manage…
I’m already summarizing the disadvantages I’ve named so far.
…may cause them more stress and anxiety than full-time employees tend to experience.
This is my last idea, which also summarizes my paragraph: self-employed people face a number of issues, which cause stress. Now that the paragraph is finished, all we need is a conclusion.
To conclude, more and more people are becoming self-employed,..
I’m restating what this essay is all about.
…choosing the flexibility and unlimited potential that this career path provides.
That’s the summary of the reasons. Now the summary of the disadvantages:
On the downside, these people are not guaranteed any income and must take full responsibility for themselves.
It’s short and to the point.
This essay is 286 words long. I must say that I’ve spent a fair amount of time on making this essay shorter while keeping all the ideas. If your English is advanced and you can write fast, your essay may go above 300 words; that’s not a problem. You need enough space to develop your ideas. If, however, there’s a risk that you may run out of time before you finish, keep your answer under 300 words.
This is just one way to write an essay. For your exam, you should learn what types of tasks exist in Task 1 and Task 2 and how to answer each of them; what to write in each part of your answers, and more generally, what the IELTS Writing requirements are and how to meet them.
I’ve designed my online courses specifically to teach you all this. These courses can help you prepare for IELTS Writing and Speaking in less time and achieve a higher score.
You haven’t seen the sample essay in full. You can download it in PDF right now.
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