Let’s take an IELTS Writing Task 2 topic reported in one of the recent exams and I’ll show you how to write an answer that can get a Band 9 score. You’ll be able to download the sample essay too. Let’s get started!
Some people think the government should subsidise fruit and vegetables to make healthy food more affordable. Others argue that the government should tax unhealthy food instead.
Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge and experience. Write at least 250 words.
After you carefully read the task, you should determine the type of task. I know some examiners say that there are no types of tasks, there is just IELTS Writing Task 2. It is true that all Task 2 essays are assessed in exactly the same way. One part of this assessment is checking if you have fully addressed all parts of the task. What are these parts? This is where our types of questions are helpful.
1. Address the first view. “The government should subsidise fruit and vegetables to make healthy food more affordable”.
2. Address the second view. “The government should tax unhealthy food instead”.
3. Give your opinion. You may agree with the first view, with the second view, or have a balanced opinion. I personally think the government should do both, subsidise healthy food and tax unhealthy food. But even if I agreed with the first view only, I would still have to discuss the second view in my essay.
Compare this question type to the so-called opinion essay questions. One of them is "To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?"
If you say that you fully agree, you should give reasons to explain why you agree, but you won’t be discussing the reasons why you disagree.
However, in a two-views-and-your-opinion essay, you must always discuss both views and give your opinion.
Basically, if you understand how you can answer each type of question, and what parts you should address, it's easier for you to write the essay. You can learn how to answer each type of question in our FasTrack IELTS courses.
The next step of writing an IELTS essay is to find ideas and structure your essay. In this lesson, we will be using the most common of them:
It seems most candidates already know that they should express their opinion in the conclusion, but many still make this common but serious mistake.
They discuss what other people think in their body paragraphs without revealing what they think until the conclusion. In this case, the examiner will never have a chance to learn why they think so… This is not good for their Task Response score.
You should make your opinion clear throughout your essay. That’s why I’m going to include my opinion in both body paragraphs.
Now, let’s have a look at each paragraph of this essay one by one.
We begin with a short background statement:
Health issues arising from consuming excessive amounts of junk food are a cause of great concern in many countries.
Now let’s present the two views:
There are calls for governments to either reduce prices of healthy foods through subsidies or to raise the costs of unhealthy products through taxation.
The word “foods” is in plural here because I’m talking about different kinds of food.
In my opinion, a combination of the two is the best way forward.
You don’t have to give your opinion in the introduction, but I like to do that to make my opinion extra clear and to build expectations as to what I’m going to write about in the body paragraphs.
View one: Some people think the government should subsidise fruit and vegetables to make healthy food more affordable.
On the one hand, I agree that the tax option can help to reduce the consumption of potentially harmful foods.
The linker “on the one hand” helps me link my introduction and the first body paragraph. In this sentence I directly say that I agree.
For example, the so-called “sugar tax” imposed in the UK on soft drinks with a high sugar content has had some positive effects.
When you’re looking for ideas, you may think about something personal. In your Task 2, try to turn your personal experience into a more general example. Now, I’m going to explore the other side of my example:
However, soft drink manufacturers have reacted by reducing sugar levels to just under the amount liable for tax and, as a result, most people tend to buy this slightly healthier version without really changing their overall dietary habits that much.
Basically, I’m saying that taxing unhealthy food has some advantages, but they are limited. Now I have one more argument:
Furthermore, it could be argued that this policy represents a kind of punishment for those consumers least able to seek better alternatives for financial reasons.
“Furthermore” is a formal linking word that helps us add another idea.
I’m keeping the style of this essay formal by using the passive voice. Instead of saying “people argue”, I wrote “it could be argued”. The passive voice is more impersonal, more formal and using it helps me vary sentence structures and achieve a higher score for my grammar.
View two: Others argue that the government should tax unhealthy food instead.
Subsidising healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables has, therefore, been proposed as a policy that would represent a reward rather than a punishment.
This sentence is closely linked to the last sentence in the previous paragraph. The linker “therefore” shows that my idea here is a logical conclusion I drew from the previous idea.
Indeed, this strategy of passing on price reductions directly to the consumer seems to have a greater impact on eating habits, and I see it as an important step towards encouraging people to eat better.
In this sentence, I presented a benefit of this policy and showed that I agree that this is important. I’m not just talking about other people; I’m expressing my own opinion.
Of course, one drawback is that persuading governments to spend money, rather than collect it through taxation, is no simple matter.
Here I’m showing that subsidising healthy food is not a perfect solution either. I’m discussing both views from all sides.
To conclude, I believe that the best way forward is to employ both strategies in tandem.
This is my opinion, and I present it very clearly. Now I need to summarise the main arguments from the body paragraphs that led me to this conclusion:
Imposing a tax on unhealthy foods and drinks can discourage people from buying them, and the money raised can then be used to subsidise fruit and vegetables, thus making them more attractive for consumers.
I’m not presenting new ideas, but rather showing how my previous ideas work all together to form my opinion.
The essay is 294 words, which is perfect. The essay is long enough to develop ideas, but not too long to take too much time to write.
This is just one way to write an essay on one topic.
For your IELTS Writing exam, you should learn:
I’ve designed my online courses specifically to teach you all this. These courses can help you get clarity on what you need to pass your exam and how to prepare step-by-step in less time. Check out FasTrack IELTS courses.
Actually, you haven’t seen the essay in full. You can download it right here:
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