Discussion essays usually present you with two sides and ask you to discuss them. Some of them even ask for your opinion.
In this article, I’m going to go through an example and write a high-scoring sample. I will walk you through all the steps so that you can write a high-quality essay. The question is from IELTS past papers.
Here is the essay question we’re going to work on:
Some people think that all university students should study whatever they like. Others believe that they should only be allowed to study subjects that will be useful in the future, such as those related to science and technology. Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.
In this kind of essay, you need to choose a side, talk about both sides equally, and give your opinion.
Therefore, you’ll have two options to choose from when structuring your essay:
1. You agree with one side and disagree with the other:
If you choose this option, you should have 4 paragraphs (introduction, body 1, body 2, and conclusion). You should discuss the side you don’t agree with in the first paragraph and be clear at the same time that you disagree with it. Then discuss the side you agree with in the second body paragraph. This is what I recommend because it’s easier and faster to write. In this article, I’ll be using this option to develop my essay.
2. You don’t completely agree with either side:
This option usually requires you to have a third body paragraph. The first two will discuss the two sides, and the third will be about your own opinion. The reason you need this third body paragraph is that you should have one main idea per each body paragraph. It requires more time to think, plan, write, and edit an essay with this option. So unless you are sure that you can make it, go with the first option.
As discussed in our guide to writing task 2 here, you should start with thinking and planning, which should take about 10 minutes.
First, analyze the question and fully understand what it wants you to do. This should take no more than 2 minutes.
Side 1: University students must only be allowed to study certain key subject areas like medicine, agricultural sciences, engineering, etc.
Side 2: University students should be free to choose their majors.
Question: Why did you switch the places of the two sides in the question?
Answer: I want to discuss the side that I agree with in the second paragraph, just before the conclusion. This way, my argument will be stronger. Save the best for the last!
My opinion: I agree with side 2.
What am I supposed to do? I need to discuss both sides equally and clearly state my opinion.
Second, develop your thesis statement, main ideas, and supporting sentences. They must be relevant to the main topic. This step should take about 8 minutes.
Here’s my plan:
Note: You may not understand some parts of my plan until you’ve read my full essay. That’s because my planning is my thinking process written fast using signs. It’s just to remind me what to write in my essay. I have included it just to show you how you can plan. You can also make yours even shorter by using more signs of your own.
Paraphrase the question and write the thesis statement:
- There are different opinions when it comes to freedom of choice…
- While some people believe in ………, I believe that….. is a better option.
Body Paragraph 1:
Main idea: Two main reasons why people believe this:
Reason 1: personal aspect→occupational prestige and higher income→ better quality of life
Reason 2: Industrial point of view: population growing→need better tech to produce more food faster→ better machinery and fertilizers that speed things up
Body paragraph 2:
Main idea: Freedom of choice is important because A: Higher job quality B: Key subject areas will always be attractive to many with or without the freedom of choice
Support 1: People do things better when they are passionate about them → if forced→ unsatisfied workers→ low job quality.
Passionate students → motivated graduates → work hard → faster advancement in all fields
Support 2: population growing → more people available for all subject areas: different people, different interests→ will eventually attract enough people.
Conclusion: Summarize everything in one complex sentence or two sentences. No new ideas!!!
Now that I have done my planning, I can finally start writing. You should complete this step in under 25 minutes.
Here’s the full essay:
People have different opinions when it comes to whether university students should have the freedom to choose their majors. While some believe that only certain key subject areas such as agricultural sciences and engineering should be allowed to study at university, I believe that giving students the freedom to choose what they want to study is a better option.
It is believed by some that focusing only on science and technology has two main benefits. First, graduates of such fields have a higher occupational prestige and income level compared with those of arts and humanitarian subject areas. Second, from an industrial perspective, the ever-growing population of the world requires us to come up with better technologies that will enable us to produce more food in a shorter span of time. This can only be achieved by better machinery and more efficient fertilizers. Therefore, those people assert that forcing people to study such subjects is essential for the survival of humanity.
Despite the above argument, I whole-heartedly believe that we not only don’t need to use force in this regard but will also benefit from the freedom of choice. In my opinion, if students are forced to study a subject, they will never apply themselves to improve in their studies. However, allowing them to choose what they are passionate about will result in having motivated graduates ready to work hard in their jobs, which leads to faster advancement in all fields, including farming, engineering, and so on. Furthermore, with the population of the world growing rapidly, it seems unlikely that science-related fields will not attract anyone. In other words, different people come with different desires, so it is safe to assume that there will be enough students for all fields of study.
In conclusion, I believe that the reasons behind forcing students to only study particular fields are not well-justified. In fact, giving people the freedom to choose their majors at university would bring about a brighter future for the world.
Read your writing and correct all your mistakes within 5 minutes.
This is the final step. You should allocate about 5 minutes to this so that you can spot your mistakes and correct them; therwise, it will be hard for you to get to high band scores.
You can find the checklist that will help you review your work efficiently at the end of this article.
Here’s the summary of all the steps:
- Understand the question in 2 minutes.
- Plan your essay in 8 minutes.
- Write your essay in 25 minutes.
- Edit your work and correct your mistakes in 5 minutes.