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April 19, 2017


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Thank you so much, Teacher Simon!
You synthesised all 4 "systems" so clearly and easily to understand and distinguish.

Strong answer, two supporting ideas

Strong answer, refute the opposite view

Balanced opinion

Almost balanced opinion, but favouring one side

Strong answer, two supporting ideas
Strong answer, refute the opposite view
Balanced opinion
Almost balanced opinion, but favouring one side

Oh I realized that I copied and paste the wrong link for type 4. I opened too many tabs of your blog that I made this silly mistake when I copied the link.
Here is the right link for type 4:
Almost balanced opinion, but favouring one side

The link for "Almost balanced opinion, but favouring one side" that I posted in my previous comment is wrong. I wish we could edit our comments after we posted them. Anyway, just ignore it since I used a discussion essay link by mistake.


Hi Adib,

I supposed there is a benefit if our comments cannot be edited. We will be able to identify and to learn from the past mistakes.

Have a look at this following lesson.

Hello Simon,

I have one week for my exam. What should i do? Do you have any advice for me?

Hi Achilles,

Take this valuable advice and you could figure out what to do.

Thanks a lot, Rio! I will also be sitting the Ielts exam next week, so that's very useful!

Hi Teacher Simon, do you remember what I told you about my target( I guess you have forgotten^^). I will achieve that. I have been working really hard. I will be the next one to use my result to show that all of your advice is absolutely scientific, useful and sound!
"Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you will land among the stars"

Dear Simon

Thank you for your explanation and example about how to write ' to that extent' task.
However, I cannot make sense a little especially when refuting the opposite view. Although 'balanced' or 'almost balanced' are difficult to write,
others are understandable.
You said below

Strong answer, refute the opposite view

1. Introduce the topic, then state a strong opinion (e.g. I completely agree)
2. Main paragraph: explain your opinion
3. Main paragraph: explain why you think the opposite view is wrong
4. Conclusion: repeat / summarise your view

My problem is here. When I use own opinion for Main paragraph 2, I feel that there is a risk to affect 'Task Response' negatively. This is because there is a possibility that my position will become unclear or vague by using my opinion for both. Although, it is ok to use own opinion to both sides for people have enough English skill. They can explain the detail with enough English skill. On the other hand, people with insufficient English ability can use other opinion for opposite side to make our position clear. we can also weaken opposite side by using other's opinion. How do you think?

If I will lose 'Task Response' by using other's opinion, I will never use this method.

Thank you.

Dear Teru,
To be honest, I don't see any connection between "expressing your own opinion" and "English proficiency". Learning a language is actually memorising and mimicking things. There are some issues on which I can express my opinions well in English and there are not, so I must try to figure out how native speakers would say if they had the same ideas as mine . That's why I have to "learn". Keep working on what you don't know and practising it. There will be a chain of reactions gradualling forming in your brain, that chain will become better and better, and one day, you will have no problem expressing your own opinions on which you were not used to in English. You may not believe me, but you must believe in yourself. We humans are the smartest creatures on Earth!

Dear Anh

Thank you for your comment and I really appreciate that you gave me useful advice.

I understood I can use both side as my opinion, but I am not convinced why I do not have to write 'other's opinion' for opposite view. This is because if the opposite side is really strong and understandable opinion, my position and claim would become vague. This means 'TR' and 'CC' become worse. On the other hand, if people are familiar with English, they can explain detail and can put some strength into their claim.

If you have good tips for my problem, I would like you to advice me additionally.

Thank you!!

Dear Teru,
I am glad that my advice is appreciated. I think that if you still think that the opposite view is really strong and reasonable in some ways, and you agree with that view too, you can write in the style"Balanced/ Partly-agree"(type 3) or "Almost Balanced, Favoured.." (type 4, in the essay you will favour the opposite view). I think you should only write in the style" strong answer, refute the opposite side" when you think the opposite side is really wrong and unreasonable and of course, you have enough ideas to refute that view. I am not sure my answer is on-topic because I do not really understand exactly what you mean, but it's absolutely not because you English is not good, in fact, I think that your English is very good, I do learn a lot from the way you express your ideas. I think that Teacher is much more experienced and professional, he may give you the answer you truly hope for.

I think that Teacher Simon or Teacher Sjm( if he is online) are much more experienced and professional, they may give you the answer you truly hope for.


You don't have to use all of the structures that Simon has outlined. Just use the one you like the best, and practice that one.

In my experience, the first (strong answer) and the fourth (favouring one side) are the easiest to write clearly. Refuting a view, and expressing a 'balanced' view (you find both sides convincing) are often harder for candidates to write.

Also, you can certainly refer to other people's views in an essay as long as you clearly state if you agree or disagree with them. Just make sure you begin every body paragraph with a clear topic sentence that expresses your view.

Thank you very much, Teacher Sjm. I am clearer, too!

Dear Teacher Simon and Teacher Sjm,
I have been looking into this essay:
I am not sure what this sentence means. Could you please explain it to me? Thank you very much!
"On the societal level, by forcing people to choose particular university subjects, governments can ensure that any knowledge and skill gaps in the economy are covered."

Hi everyone,
One of the difficulties in recognising Balanced opinions seems to be, should you say "partly agree" or "disagree"? In my understanding there are still two subsections in balanced opinions,

[Balance 1]
If not totally X, then you go "partly agree".
e.g. "I partly agree with this assertion; while it may be true in the case of ..." (http://ielts-simon.com/ielts-help-and-english-pr/2017/02/ielts-writing-task-2-traditions-and-technology-essay.html); "While I agree that enjoyment seems to be the priority during festival times, I do not agree that people have forgotten what these festivals mean."(http://ielts-simon.com/ielts-help-and-english-pr/2016/12/ielts-writing-task-2-festivals-essay.html)

[Balance 2]
If not only X, then "disagree".
e.g. "Personally, I believe that both types of hobby can be fun, and I therefore disagree with the statement..." (http://ielts-simon.com/ielts-help-and-english-pr/2012/04/ielts-writing-task-2-hobbies-essay.html)

[Almost balanced]
In the case of "Almost balanced opinion", you can simply say "(completely) agree".
e.g. "I completely agree with the idea that businesses should do more..." (http://ielts-simon.com/ielts-help-and-english-pr/2016/05/ielts-writing-task-2-business-responsibilities-essay.html)

Reasp Sir,

Thank you very much for clearing this topic area for Task 2. I have explored all relevant above mentioned sites.I want to still clarify. I would be very grateful if you could pl guide.

Thank you

Task 2 :

Nuclear power is necessary evil. Despite the potential human and environmental consequences of radioactive fallout, nuclear energy is a genuine alternative to non-renewable energy sources like oil and coal, which are quickly running out.
In short, the benefits of nuclear power far outweigh the risk of using it.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Can I write…..
on one hand, disadvantages…… … are still manageable with proper management of nuclear waste and plant management……. Arguing that disadvantages are less than benefits….

Nonetheless, there are far more benefits, like….. explaining why its more beneficial.

sorry for some spelling mistakes, I am poor at typing

Dear Anh

Thank you for your advice again.
Your answer is of cource on topic.

I will try it!

Dear Sjm

Thank you for your beneficial advice.

I agree with your opinion that it is easier to use the first structure, although I do not have confidence for writing the fourth. This is because if one side is strong, it will become the same situation as the second. To show my position clearly, I feel that I need to demonstrate why favourite side overwhelm the one side. Otherwise, I am anxious that examiners cannot understand which side is candidate's position. This means that if we cannot come up with two strong ideas which are the same side, we have to make our claim clear. Therefore, I feel that it is better to avoid the second, third and fourth structure to write for especially candidates with insufficient English skills. When our position become unclear, we will lose TR and CC. This is the reason that most of candidates feel IELTS Writing is really difficult.

However, I become able to more confidence in my method because of your advice that 'Just use the one you like the best, and practice that one.'

I really appreciate you.

I'm confused :|

Dear beloved Simon,
I can admit now that you are the best and the most reliable tutor.
I received my results 2 days ago, and I got 7 in the writing part by following your simple and clear advice in spite of the inadequate time and not finishing the conclusion till the end.

Respected Simon,
As you have written that we should use "Firstly, Secondly, Finally" if the question ask for reasons, solutions etc, I just want to know if question is about problems and solutions, do we need to list problems in 1st paragraph one by one and then give solutions on the 2nd paragraph respectively in the same manner?

For example, if question is about reasons behind climate change and their solutions, if we list the reasons in format "Firstly, Secondly, Finally", do we need to give the solution for each reason in the same "Firstly, Secondly, Finally" manner?

Although it looks repetition but in order to connect it with 1st paragraph, we definitely need to keep the order of solutions in 2nd paragraph with respect to that of reasons in 1st paragraph.

Dear Simon,

Can you please advise how to answer the question "To what extend the advantages of.... outweight the drawbacks/disadvantages?"

Is it similar to this agree/disagree question?

Thank you.

Hi Simon
Thanks for your great reply for the question I have asked a couple of days ago about this type of essay. Now it is clear to me and I was confused about the refuting the others view with that of supporting others view. Thanks a lot sir.

Dear Mr. Simon,

I am quite confused 2 cases " Balanced Opinion" and "Almost Balanced Opinion, but favouring one side", although I read its 2 example essays of yours. Could you please make it clear the differences of 2 types?

Thanks a lot

Hi Simon,
Your explanation is quite clear, to infer the pattern of agree-disagree Essay. It is very useful. Actually, I am grateful. The structure you suggest for agree and disagree essay. Is it goes with advantage and disadvantage essay? If not, please let clear the structure of Advantage and disadvantage essay in this way.

Dear Mr. Simon,
I just got 5 writing and still trying to figure out because of my grammar mistakes or problem at my essay structure.
Here is the topic on 20 Jul

The tendency of new reports in the media to focus more on problems and emergencies rather than positive developments is harmful to individual and society. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

My essay structure follow your last one, almost balanced opinion but favouring 1 side
Par1: while I accept people should be kept infomed with good news, I believe Tragedies and pressing problems posed no harm to individuals and socielty
Par2: 1- I explain why positive developments are needed to be hear
2- I explain there are many environment issues threaten our lives and paedopliles... act as a deterrent (support to the idea of calling people to have actions)

Pls tell me Did I have sth wrong in that way?

Thank you for your advices always!

Hi Anh, I think your essay failed to meet the Task response and your introduction did not have a clear statement. The test did not ask you to answer whether or not “people should be kept informed with good news” but whether or not “The tendency of new reports in the media to focus more on problems and emergencies is harmful to individual and society”. Therefore you explain that ‘why positive developments are needed to be heard’ is redundant.
I suggest that in the body paragraph you should answer whether “The tendency of new reports in the media is to focus more on problems and emergencies rather than positive developments” firstly and then whether ‘bad news is harmful to individual and society”.
Hope it helps ^^

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