opinion ielts essay guide

Opinion essays are a very common writing task 2 essay type. As you would expect from the name, you need to write a well-structured IELTS writing essay topics that give your opinion. We’ve put together a guide with everything you need to know to write a great IELTS writing task 2 opinion essay. Let’s get started!

1. Opinion Essay Overview

An opinion essay is also known as an agree or disagree essay. As with all writing task 2 essays, you will have 40 minutes to write at least 250 words.

Read on to find out how to produce a great opinion essay.

1.1 Understanding the question

It is important that you first understand what writing task 2 essay question you have been given before you start writing. The type of essay question you get will slightly change the structure of your essay.

Remember, there are five main types of writing task 2 questions:

  • Advantage/disadvantage
  • Discussion
  • Double question
  • Problem/solution
  • Opinion

You will be given an IELTS statement and a question. Here are some common questions/sentence starters that tell you that you have been given an opinion essay:

  • What is your opinion
  • Do you think…
  • To what extent do you agree?
  • To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
  • Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

The main aims of this type of essay are:

  1. Choose one side of the argument
  2. To state your opinion about a given topic
  3. Support your opinion with clear reasons and examples

A common mistake test takers make when writing an opinion essay is that they treat it like an advantage/disadvantage essay and try to write about both sides of the argument in detail (see our guide on advantage/disadvantage essays and compare the difference).

For an opinion essay, you need to pick a side: it does not matter which side of the argument you choose, just pick the one that you can develop the best argument for.

However, you should briefly acknowledge the other side of the argument, and will show you how to do this in your introduction, main body paragraphs, and conclusion.

You should not give reasons to support the opposing argument, only support one side with reasons and examples.

Make it clear to the examiner what your opinion is from the beginning to the end of your essay (this is called a thesis-led approach: leading with your opinion).

1.2 Example opinion questions

Here are some example opinion writing task 2 questions to help you recognize them in the IELTS exam:

Some people think that more money should be spent on protecting endangered species while others think it is a waste of valuable money.

What is your opinion?

Systems of funding university education are different from country to country. While some countries charge students for studying at university, others offer university education for free.

Do you think students should pay for higher education?

Every school system in the world includes regular tests and exams, and many people think that it is important for students to take lots of exams.

What is your opinion?

Children should not start school until the age of six or seven because they need to have more time to play and develop before they go to school.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Scientists and technology experts seem to be more valued by modern society than musicians and artists.

To what extent do you agree?

IELTS writing correction

2. Essay Structure for Opinion Essays

Although there is more than one way you could choose to structure your essay, we have provided you with a foolproof structure you can always use for opinion essays to score highly in Coherence and cohesion, as well as address all parts of the task to do well in Task achievement:

Introduction
  • Paraphrase the given IELTS statement and question
  • Show that some people have a different opinion to the writer (you)
  • Give your opinion
  • State what your essay will do
Main body paragraph 1
  • Topic sentence giving the first reason to support your opinion
  • Example
  • Result/consequence of example
Main body paragraph 2
  • Topic sentence giving the first reason to support your opinion
  • Example
  • Result/consequence of example
  • Briefly mention the other side of the argument
Conclusion
  • Paraphrase yourself: summarise the key points in your body paragraphs
  • Briefly show that you have understood the other side of the argument
  • Restate your opinion
  • Select the most convincing argument to support your opinion

3. Planning your Opinion Essay

Don’t skip this step! Taking 5 minutes to plan your essay could be the difference between your desired score and a missed opportunity.

3.1 Identify keywords and phrases

By identifying the topic of your essay, you are making sure that you are going to write about the correct topic and not go off-course. Test takers that rush and panic can make the mistake of writing about a completely different topic to the one they have been asked to write about. Don’t be one of those test taskers and make a plan!

Let’s take a look at the question for our sample answer where we have underlined the topic words:

Some people think that more money should be spent on protecting endangered species while others think it is a waste of valuable money.

The topic words are underlined and show the general topic of this essay question is protecting endangered species.

Now that we have identified the topic sentence, we should also look for any other keywords or phrases that give more information about the topic. Look at the words in bold below:

Some people think that more money should be spent on protecting endangered species while others think it is a waste of valuable money.

So this question is not only asking you to give your opinion on protecting endangered species, but also the amount of money that is spent on this cause.

A test taker that had only addressed the first point would likely have scored poorly in Task achievement.

3.2 Organise your ideas

There are so many ways you could choose to organize your ideas. We have chosen to note down our ideas by paragraph:

Introduction
  • Opinion– Funding should be used for wildlife conservation
Body Paragraph 1
  • Reason– Animals are an essential part of maintaining the health of an ecosystem
  • Example– Species becomes endangered: signals that an ecosystem is out of balance
  • Result/consequence– Loss of species leads to other environmental problems
Body Paragraph 2
  • Reason– Benefits to the human race
  • Example– Quality of clear air, water, agriculture
  • Result/consequence– Reduction of other species
  • Other side– Money could be spent on renewable energy
Conclusion
  • Most convincing argument– Protecting species also protect people and environment

We give more note taking and idea generation tips in  Master Guide for IELTS writing task 2.

3.3 Identify vocabulary

If any useful IELTS vocabulary for writing comes to mind during the planning process, it is useful to write it down so you don’t forget (remember to cross out any notes or planning before the end of the 40 minutes so the examiner does not mark this as your essay).

4. Writing your Opinion Essay

4.1 Introduction

Paraphrasing means being able to write something in your own words without changing the meaning. This is an essential skill needed for the IELTS exam, especially writing task 2.

There is no one right way to paraphrase an IELTS statement. You could choose to use synonyms or parallel expressions (phrases with more than one word but have the same meaning). You could also change the sentence structure, but make sure it is still grammatically correct. Another paraphrase technique is to change a word class, for example, a noun to a verb form.

Take a look at our example, can you see the main changes we have made?

IELTS StatementParaphrased Statement
Some people think that more money should be spent on protecting endangered species while others think it is a waste of valuable money.

What is your opinion?

These days, the number of species facing extinction is growing, and as a result,  a larger number of people are becoming involved in environmental issues.  It is argued by some that the protection of endangered animals is wasteful. However, my view is that more government funding should be used for wildlife conservation.

Although this is a formal essay, you are still allowed the use of the first person ‘I’ and ‘my’, you will need to use this when giving your opinion (just don’t over-do it).

Notice that in this example, the opinion has been clearly stated whilst presenting both sides of the argument:

Opinion: However, my view is that more government funding should be used for wildlife conservation.

Other side of the argument:  It is argued by some that the protection of endangered animals is wasteful.

Not all sample essays will show this, but you can choose to briefly state what your essay will do, for example:

This essay will explain my opinion in more detail.

Now let’s move on to the main body paragraphs.

4.2 Main body paragraphs

A topic sentence is usually found at the beginning of your paragraph. This should give the reader the main idea of your paragraph in one sentence.

Here are two examples taken from the sample answer:

  1. One reason that I believe more money should be spent on the conservation of wildlife is that animals are an essential part of maintaining the health of an ecosystem.
  2. Another reason to support spending on wildlife protection is that it also benefits humanity.

The start of your sentence indicates to the reader that you are clearly stating a reason for your opinion and that you are going to develop this idea throughout the paragraph.

You could also choose to start your topic sentence with the following structures:

  • One reason that I believe…
  • One argument in favor of… is that…
  • The main reason that I think…
  • Another reason to second…. (note that second here means ‘to agree with an idea)

You could also use the grammatical structure ‘Not only… but also…’ to avoid repetition and put emphasis on the second reason, for example:

Not only does spending money on conservation help the animal kingdom, but it also benefits society as a whole.

Not only will preventing the extinction of species help the animals themselves, but it will also have a positive effect on the quality of air, water, and agricultural land.

As this is an opinion essay, it is essential that you use a range of phrases to give your opinion. Far too often, candidates just repeat the phrase ‘In my opinion…’ Here are some other sentence starters you can use to impress the examiner

  • My point is that…
  • I am of the opinion that…
  • My argument is that…
  • As far as I am concerned,…
  • In my view…

IELTS writing correction

4.3 Conclusion

Your conclusion is a very important part of your essay. You need to restate your opinion (in different words than your introduction) as well as choose the most convincing argument from your essay.

Remember to also briefly mention the other side of the argument to show the examiner that you understand there are two sides and you have clearly chosen one.

Here is a useful structure to do this:

Although it is true that… on balance I believe that/ I am of the view that/ another opinion phrase)…

And here is the full example from our sample essay:

although it is true that there are valuable uses for funding that could aid environmental protection, on balance I am of the opinion that governments should invest in the protection of endangered species.

5. Example Opinion Essay and Exercise

Now it’s time to test your knowledge about IELTS writing task 2 opinion essays. We’ve created a model answer, but removed some of the keywords and phrases.

You need to select the correct missing words and complete the model answer. Good luck!

5.1 Complete the Sample Opinion Essay

Some people think that more money should be spent on protecting endangered species while others think it is a waste of valuable money.

What is your opinion?

IELTS Writing Task 2: Opinion Essays- Benchmark IELTS

Excercise

These , the number of species facing extinction , and as a result, a larger number of people are becoming involved in environmental issues. It is by some that the protection of endangered animals is . However, my view is that more government funding should be used for wildlife conservation. This essay will my opinion in more detail.

One reason that I more money should be spent on the conservation of wildlife is that animals are an essential part of maintaining the health of an . If a species becomes , it signals that an ecosystem is out of balance. As a , the loss of one species may the loss of others and may lead to irreversible consequences for the animal kingdom.

Another reason to support spending on wildlife protection is that it also benefits . For example, if the ecosystem is out of balance then the health of the environment is also negatively , for example, the loss of wildlife can affect the quality of clean water and air for a population. In addition, the of agricultural land may also be reduced with the loss of certain species. Having said that, there are those that argue that this is a costly and use of public funds. They think that money would be better spent on other schemes such as energy projects.

In conclusion, looked at the topic in detail, it is true that there are valuable uses for funding that could aid environmental protection, on balance I am the opinion that governments invest in the protection of endangered species. The main reason is the protection of wildlife will not only benefit the animal , but also the human race and the environment we inhabit.

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5.2 Opinion Sample Essay

These days, the number of species facing extinction is growing, and as a result,  a larger number of people are becoming involved in environmental issues.  It is argued by some that the protection of endangered animals is wasteful. However, my view is that more government funding should be used for wildlife conservation. This essay will explain my opinion in more detail.

One reason that I believe more money should be spent on the conservation of wildlife is that animals are an essential part of maintaining the health of an ecosystem. If a species becomes endangered, it signals that an ecosystem is out of balance. As a result, the loss of one species may trigger the loss of others and may lead to irreversible consequences for the animal kingdom.

Another reason to support spending on wildlife protection is that it also benefits humanity. For example, if the ecosystem is out of balance then the health of the environment is also negatively affected, for example, the loss of wildlife can affect the quality of clean water and air for a population. In addition, the fertility of agricultural land may also be reduced with the loss of certain species. Having said that, there are those that argue that this is a costly and inefficient use of public funds. They think that money would be better spent on other schemes such as renewable energy projects.

In conclusion, having looked at the topic in detail, although it is true that there are valuable uses for funding that could aid environmental protection, on balance I am of the opinion that governments should invest in the protection of endangered species. The main reason is that the protection of wildlife will not only benefit the animal kingdom, but also the human race and the environment we inhabit.

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