Writing Task 2: How to plan and structure your answer
There are several different ways of answering a Task 2 question, but you can adapt the models below to suit any question type.
Write a quick plan like this before you start.
Paragraph 1 – Introduction
What’s the topic? (General Statement – no opinion, just facts)
What’s the issue? (What do some people think and why do they think this?)
What’s your opinion? (What do you think?)
Paragraph 2: (depending on the question)
- the good points OR
- reasons to agree OR
- the problems
- the bad points OR
- reasons to disagree OR
- the solutions
Paragraph 4 – Conclusion
Summary of the issue.
Summary of your opinion.
A final thought, recommendation or consequence.
Let’s look at two examples:
Writing Example 1
Using animals to test the safety of cosmetics or drugs used for medical reasons is never acceptable.
To what extent do you agree with this statement?
The topic – we test cosmetics and drugs on animals.
The question – people think this is the only option.
Your opinion – there are other ways to test cosmetics and drugs.
Before any new product is put on the market, whether it is a cosmetic product or a potentially life-saving medicine, the manufacturers have to ensure that it is safe for humans to use. Advocates of vivisection would argue that testing products on animals is the only reliable method of doing this. They believe that it is better for an animal to suffer than a human. Although I can see convincing arguments behind testing drugs on animals for medical purposes, I am strongly opposed to the practice of using animals to test the safety of cosmetics, and I will outline my reasons below.
Reasons to agree – it has helped save lives.
It cannot be denied that animal testing has helped scientists to make great discoveries in the field of medicine, providing effective drugs against cancer, heart disease and other potentially fatal illnesses. Indeed, many lives have been saved and prolonged due to research carried out on lab rats. But increasingly there are new ways of testing products, using cell cultures, which need not involve animals at all. Therefore I would prefer such testing to be kept to a minimum wherever possible.
Reasons to disagree – it is unnecessary for cosmetics
On the other hand, when it comes to the cosmetic industry I cannot possibly see why it is necessary to test these types of products on animals. We already have far more makeup and toiletries on the market than we will ever need. In fact, several well-known brands such as The Body Shop and Lush have always used human ‘guinea pigs’ to test their products without any detrimental effects. So in my view, we no longer need to exploit animals for the sake of human vanity, and this kind of testing is completely unacceptable.
Paragraph 4: Conclusion
Summary, opinion and recommendation.
In conclusion, though I agree to a certain extent that testing on animals is a necessary evil, it must be reserved for essential scientific work and to help end human suffering, and never for enhancing our appearance.
Writing Example 2
Advances in technology have meant that they increasingly use machines to do jobs that were previously done by humans. The benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?
The topic – technology can replace humans in certain jobs
The question – is this a good thing?
Your opinion – yes, it is.
We are living in an age of fast-paced development. Thanks to technological advancements, new inventions are constantly being produced that are supposed to help us. However, machines are now often chosen over humans as they are more cost-effective. Despite this undesirable development, I completely agree that there are more advantages than drawbacks and I will outline my reasons below.
The bad points – loss of jobs, community and health.
The main argument against using machines is that they take away jobs from humans. Examples include cash machines which have meant redundancies in the banking sector, and factories, where fewer people are required as the production line becomes more mechanised. Businesses have taken these measures because ultimately machines save companies money. Increased technology and mechanization have also affected our personal lives. For instance, in the past we would visit our neighbours and friends, whereas nowadays people either jump in their car or simply pick up the phone. As a result, we have become less active and problems linked to this, such as obesity, are on the increase.
The good points – more free time, different types of jobs.
However, it has not all been negative. First of all, we have been liberated from certain household chores thanks to labour-saving devices like washing machines, vacuum cleaners and dishwashers. This means we have more time available for leisure activities and seeing friends and family. Furthermore, technology has actually created many jobs, from design to production and sales. In order to do these jobs, people need training which has led to more jobs in education and people having more highly specialised careers.
Paragraph 4: Conclusion
Summary, opinion and recommendation.
To conclude, although technology has had both desirable and negative effects, it has given us the potential to reach new heights that would not have previously been possible. We should now focus our efforts on ensuring that we receive a higher level of specialization in the workplace whilst not letting ourselves become less healthy and active.
- always write a plan
- always use 4 or 5 clear paragraphs
- always have a topic sentence for each paragraph
- always make the opening sentence a general statement about the issue – no opinion, just facts.
- always put your opinion clearly in the first paragraph and then throughout the rest of the answer
- always use a variety of linking words
- always explain your points – give an example or say why it is important
- always with end with a final thought, recommendation or consequence
These examples come from my book of Task 2 model essays, which is free in the Members Academy. In this book…
- I write the models using colour-codes, so that they are easy to follow, and easy for you to copy and to remember.
- Each paragraph always starts with a TOPIC SENTENCE in blue – this clearly tells the reader what each paragraph will be about.
- Then I make sure my opinion is clear from the start – I put this in orange/yellow, so that it stands out.
- I put any linking words in bold so that you can see that there is a variety of types depending on the essay e.g. ‘This means that’ ‘Because of this’ ‘This led to’ ‘As a result’ (cause and effect linking words).
- I put any contrast linking words in red. In the first paragraph it’s a good strategy to question what most people think. Say something like ‘However, in my opinion…’. This shows the examiner that you have ideas and a clear opinion.
Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for more models like this, and find the whole book of essays in the Members Academy.
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