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Expressing Disagreement Essay Format

This lesson is meant to help you with to what extent do you agree or disagree essay structure. Below I outline some different plans, but the real idea is that you follow an approach that will work for most any IELTS essay. Work from these principles:

  1. understand what the question is asking
  2. decide on your point of view
  3. make your point of view clear in the introduction and conclusion
  4. decide how to use your 2/3 body paragraphs

The only hard bit is deciding what to do with your body paragraphs. See my lesson on IELTS essay structure and this download Structure IELTS essays plan (7342).

Understand the question

You need to answer the question directly and this means that you need to say how much you agree or disagree with the idea. It is not really enough to say “I agree” or “I disagree”. If you do that you haven’t answered the question fully.

Understand the possible answers

The next step is to see that there are 3/4 different possible answers and you need to decide which one you want to use. The answers are

I agree completely

I disagree completely

I disagree/agree either slightly/mostly/a lot

 It’s important that you are clear on your point of view before you start writing. It’s also important that you know how to explain the point of view with reasons and explanations before you start writing. The essay structure you choose depends a lot on what you know and what you think. Do not choose a “model” structure just because you think that’s the right way.

Make your point of view clear – the introduction and conclusion

Make your point of view clear in the introduction and the conclusion. This will be the same no matter what your opinion is.

Introduction

here is the idea/issue/question

point of view

 Conclusion

restate the point of view

For me it’s really important that you get the introduction and conclusion correct. Please use language that makes it clear that you strongly/weakly agree/disagree etc. If you don’t, you might just write another opinion essay that doesn’t answer the question. A crime.

Explain your point of view – body paragraphs

This is where you have choices. Whichever option you choose, you should make sure that the structure of your essay is clear and the examiner can follow your reasons. You must decide how to use each body paragraph. The option you choose will depend on what you think and what you know. Do not rely on one essay model – practise writing different models of essay – you just don’t know what question you will get. 

The AA or BB model

If you strongly agree, you could try this  AA model

A. I agree because [one reason the idea is right]

A. I agree because [another reason the idea is right]

or of course if you disagree

B. I disagree because [one reason why the idea is wrong]

B. I disagree because [another reason why the idea is wrong]

If you choose this approach, make sure that you can write 2 complete paragraphs (with reasons and examples before you start).  This approach sometimes goes wrong because the two reasons are too similar and the essay gets repetitive.

The AB model

If you strongly agree or disagree you can also try this approach when there are two options in the question.

A. Explain why the idea is right/wrong [reasons and examples]

B. Explain why the other option is worse/better [reasons and examples]

This is really just a variation of the AA model, but the difference is that you look at both sides of the argument.

The AB model – weakly agree/disagree

If you have a weaker opinion, then you really need to look at both sides of the argument and use this AB model.

A. Explain that there are some good points [reasons and examples]

B. Explain that there are some problems too [reasons and examples]

This approach can of course go wrong too – often because the point of view is unclear. To get it right make sure that your overall opinion is clear in the introduction and that you start each paragraph with a clear sentence making it obvious that you are either going to write about  reasons why you agree or disagree.

Are there other options?

Yes. The problem with the other options though is that they tend to be more complex and complex is not great in exam circumstances. My very strong advice is to aim for simplicity and clarity in structure. If you need/want to show off, do that with your language not your structure.

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)

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