Where should I write my opinion in a Task 2 essay?

This is something my students ask me all the time. And the answer is always the same. If you want a high mark (more than a 6) for Task Achievement in your Task 2 essay, you must ‘present a clear position throughout the response’. These words come from the IELTS Task 2 Band descriptors that examiners use to mark your essay. So, if you do this, you’ll get a 7 for this criterion.If you do it really well, and your opinion is well developed, you might even get an 8. Or a 9. Click here to see the publicly available IELTS Task 2 Band descriptors.

Should I always give my opinion?

In an IELTS Task 2 essay, yes. Definitely. Even if you are not specifically asked to do so. Of course, in an Agree Disagree essay, you are directly asked to give your opinion. (‘To what extent do you agree or disagree?’). And in a discussion essay, you are told to do this too. (‘Discuss both sides and give your opinion’).  Other types of essay, such as Problem Solution essays and Advantages Disadvantages essays don’t actually say you should give your opinion.  But these are still opinion essays. That’s what an essay is. It’s a piece of writing in which you present your opinion about a particular issue. Plus, in IELTS, the examiner does not have a different set of marking criteria for different types of tasks. So, you still have to ‘present a clear opinion throughout the response’ to get those higher marks. Even if you’re not directly asked to do so.

So you mean I should write my opinion in the introduction?

Yes. In every Task 2 essay. This helps the examiner to see you are doing this right from the start. Let’s look at a couple of different types of Task 2 essays. We’ll focus specifically on those which do not specifically ask for an opinion, as these are the ones that are the most problematic for students.

Problem solution essay

Here’s the question:

An increasing number of medical professionals, such as doctors and teachers, are leaving their own poorer countries to work in developed countries. What problems does this cause? What can be done to deal with this situation?

And here’s a really good answer from one of my students:

It is said that the number of medical and teacher professionals that are migrating from third world countries to more developed ones is rising. The main issue caused by this phenomenon is the loss of talent in the countries being left behind. However, I believe there are various solutions that could be implemented to mitigate this problem.

As you will see, he has clearly shown that he is giving his opinion by writing ‘I believe’ in the last line of the paragraph.

Advantages Disadvantages Essay

Here’s a typical Task 2 essay question for this type of essay:

There seems to be an increasing trend towards assessing students through exams rather than continual assessment. What are the advantages and disadvantages of exams as a form of assessment?

And here’s what I wrote in my introduction.

These days increasing emphasis is placed on assessing students’ performance through examinations, as opposed to continual assessment. In my opinion, the use of exams in schools and universities has both positive and negative implications.

Again, I have given my opinion in the final sentence. I haven’t said whether I think there are more advantages or more disadvantages, because I haven’t been asked to do this. But I have given my opinion. I have said I believe that there are both.

Advantages Outweigh Disadvantages

In this type of essay, you do have to say if there are more advantages or disadvantages. And you need to say this from the start. So let’s take the question above, and change it a little bit:

There seems to be an increasing trend towards assessing students through exams rather than continual assessment. What are the advantages and disadvantages of exams as a form of assessment? Do you think the advantages of exams outweigh the disadvantages?

So my introduction could now also be changed slightly:

These days increasing emphasis is placed on assessing students’ performance through examinations, as opposed to continual assessment. In my opinion, using exams as a form of assessment is appropriate, but only in conjunction with continuous assessment.

That’s a balanced view. Or I could say this in the final sentence of my introduction:

In my opinion, I believe that exams provide a much fairer method of evaluation of students’ performance than continuous assessment.

So here, I am clearly showing that I believe there are more advantages than disadvantages.

Positive or Negative Development Essay

These kinds of essays clearly ask for an opinion. And, yes. You guessed it. You need to write it in the introduction.

Here’s a question:

Many people these days are now living alone. Is this a positive or negative development?

And here’s my introduction:

In these modern times, more and more people are living on their own, either through choice or because they are too busy at work  for any kind of family life. In my opinion, this is a negative trend.

Once again, right from the start, I have made my opinion clear.

What about the other types of essay?

Well, as mentioned earlier, there are two other types of essay. These should be treated in exactly the same way as those above. Students struggle less with these types because the question asks them directly to give their opinion. That’s why I haven’t included examples here. But if you like, you can check out two related articles I wrote about these kinds of essays. And you can look at my model introductions in the articles to see examples of where to give your opinion. Here are the links:

Discussion Essays
Agree Disagree Essays

And should I write my opinion anywhere else in the essay?

Of course. This article has focused specifically on the introduction, because as we have seen, it is important to start with your opinion. However, it is equally important to keep reminding the reader of your opinion through the whole essay, with words and phrases like these: ‘in my opinion’, ‘I firmly believe that’, ‘I think’. You could do this once in each body paragraph, and then again – and most importantly – in the conclusion.

So, in a nutshell…

Hopefully by now you realise how important it is to give your opinion all the way through your essay to get a higher mark. I hope also that you have a better understanding of how and where to do it. It’s worth spending some time practicing this when you write your next essay.

And if you’re still struggling to improve your IELTS score, perhaps it’s time to invest in some individual help. Instead of paying to take the exam again and again, without improvement. Which just leads to more frustration! Click below to find out about my Writing correction service.

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