Top Tips for IELTS

Dealing with double questions essay tasks

One common but tricky task in IELTS is when you get an essay that combines two different questions. This can cause problems with essay structure. The main idea is that you must 

answer both part of the questions

if you don’t you may well get penalised for task achievement. To get this right you need to think carefully about essay structure before you start.

General approach

My suggested approach is the same as for any type of essay question:

Understand the question

Decide on your point of view

Make the point of view clear in the introduction

Decide how to use your 2/3 main body paragraphs

Use the conclusion to reflect your introduction

The tricky part is probably getting the introduction and conclusion right.

Understand the question – make sure you understand both parts of the question

The first step is to understand the question and see that the question is asking you to do two things. A typical question looks like this:

Nowadays the way many people interact with each other has changed because of technology.

In what ways has technology affected the types of personal relationships?

Has this become a positive or negative development?

Think about structure

You should see immediately that there are 2 questions and the sensible approach is to structure your answer so that is 100% clear to the examiner that you have answered both parts. Before you start writing it is 100% important that you think about what the questions are asking you to do.

Think about what the questions ask you to do

 

Quite often with this type of question the two separate parts ask you to write in different ways and that typically (not always) one part of the question will ask you to discuss a problem and the other part of the question will ask you to give an opinion.

So in the example question

In what ways has technology affected the types of personal relationships? is a discussion type question which you can write more objectively

Has this become a positive or negative development? is an opinion question which requires a subjective opinion answer

This means your answer has two include two separate parts – a more general discussion and an opinion.

Suggested overall structure

My overall structure would look like this

Introduction

This is the issue. Technology has changed relationships.

Change happens in different ways

Opinion about whether change positive or negative

Main paragraph A – different types of change

A listing type paragraph showing the types of change – written as a discussion

Main paragraph B – opinion about positive or negative

A more opinion type paragraph with emphasis on why changes in paragraph A are good or bad

Conclusion

Short summary as to why positive or negative and what change is most significant.

Getting the introduction right

As I say, this may be the tough part of the essay as you need to make sure that in one paragraph you

identify both parts of the question

make sure your opinion/point of view is clear

This may mean that you will spend a little more time and energy on the the introduction than you would for other question types as you may have more to do.

See model introduction

Model introduction

Here is my example:

Advances in technology have without doubt influenced the way we communicate with each other in a number of different ways. While some of this change can have a negative influence on the we way interact, my view is that overall modern technology typically improves communication in personal relationships.

 

 

See notes

Notes

You should see that I clearly identify the two parts of the question:

Advances in technology have without doubt influenced the way we communicate with each other in a number of different ways.While some of this change can have a negative influence on the we way interact, my view is that overall modern technology typically improves communication in personal relationships.

Also note that I am 100% clear that I will have an opinion as the question asks me to do

Advances in technology have without doubt influenced the way we communicate with each other in a number of different ways.While some of this change can have a negative influence on the we way interact, my view is that overall modern technology typically improves communication in personal relationships.

 

Suggested structure for main body paragraphs

The simple and clear way to do this is to use a separate main body paragraph in your essay for each question. That way it will clear straightaway that you are on task. It may be possible to combine the two parts of the question in different ways, but don’t bother. Do the simple thing. Simple is good in exam circumstances. My very strong suggestion is

paragraph A – discuss how technology has changed relationships

paragraph B – discuss if this is a positive or negative

 Linking your paragraphs and being consistent

If you are aiming for a higher band score you also want to find a link between your two main body paragraphs. This will help your coherence score. My suggestion here is that you start the paragraph B about whether this is negative or positive by referring back to the changes in paragraph A. The key word is this or these.

See model paragraphs

Model paragraphs

Paragraph A

It is clear that technology has changed the way we communicate in several respects. Perhaps the clearest example of this is that nowadays many people prefer to keep in touch to their friends and relatives using applications and social networking sites like FaceTime, Skype and Facebook. Another way this change is evident is how the email and texting  have almost completely replaced the letter as the primary form of written communication. Because these modern forms of communication are typically much more convenient and instant, one result is that we can communicate more  easily with people who we do not see on a daily basis.

Paragraph B

I would argue that these innovations have mostly improved personal relationships. The principal benefit is that it just so much easier to stay in touch with people we might otherwise lose contact with. It is for example now very straightforward to keep in contact with friends from university who move to different cities after they graduate and this means relationships last longer. The only real drawback is that sometimes people become so addicted to their online social networks that they stop communicating with friends in the real world. That, however, is a minor issue.

See notes

Notes

You should see that Paragraph A lists different ways technology affects personal relationships: email/FB etc.

This is quite a neutral paragraph as my opinion is coming in the Paragraph B. You should see that the examples in paragraph A are referred to in paragraph B.

You need to be careful to make sure your ideas are consistent. Most of the examples in my paragraph A are positive because my paragraph B is positive. If you want a negative paragraph B, then your examples in paragraph A should be negative too.

The conclusion

Just as with the introduction you want to try and identify both parts of the question. Ideally, you want to refer to the different changes and your opinion.

 

See my conclusion and notes

Model conclusion

My conclusion is therefore that new forms technological communication have in fact largely improved human interaction because emails, texting and social networks enable us to maintain friendships which might otherwise be lost.

Notes

This is a great conclusion as it covers both parts of the essay task. It also manages to include my main reason.

The top top top tip is to re-read your essay before you write the conclusion. That way it is much easier to write a summary like this.

Download the model essay

Communication and technology essay (2439)

   

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10 Responses to Dealing with double questions essay tasks

  1. Mar April 15, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    Since part of the question is “In what ways has technology affected the types of personal relationships”, would the essay checker expect to see something related to types of personal relationships? Or is discussing the effects on personal relationships already sufficient?

    Thank you.

    • Dominic Cole April 15, 2014 at 10:59 am #

      Great question. There are always different approaches possible and one such would be to focus more overtly on the TYPE of relationship.

  2. rajwinder April 24, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

    hiii…
    how to struct this essay?

    children these days during their free time take parts in sports versy seriously.they dont play it for fun.
    is it a positive or negetive development?

    is it a double question essay??
    intro
    paragraph2(positive)
    paragrah3(negetive)
    paragraph4(own opinion)
    conclusion
    is it rigth structure

  3. rajwinder April 24, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    hiiii….

    Nowadays the way many people interact with each other has changed because of technology.

    In what ways has technology affected the types of personal relationships?

    Has this become a positive or negative development?

    can i make this essay like this:

    intro
    paragraph2(discuss how technology has changed relationships)
    paragrah3(positive)
    paragraph4(negetive)
    paragrah5(own opinion)

    conclusion
    if it is write structure then how can i make it introduction ,

    • Tiffany July 13, 2016 at 9:51 am #

      Actually I think it’s totally an Argument essay which you should just give your opinions.

  4. rajwinder April 24, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    sorry i wote write in place of right

  5. aamir December 1, 2014 at 9:32 am #

    example essay .please comment is it right?

    Technology has made the dynamic/significant change in the life of people live. However, they are some people who are always connected with their family and friends through technology consider it as positive, while others consider it as negative because they believe that due to technology there is no get to gather and interaction. I am going to examine the both points of view.
    On one side of the argument there are people who argue that the benefits of considerably outweigh its disadvantages. The main reason for believing this is that the technology has made communication easy and cheap. As communication is an essential element of strong relationship. A Person uses facebook, viber, skype and social media tools to communicate with his friends and family. One good illustration of this is 8years ago my aunt made call through mobile phone to my uncle who was residing at Saudia Arabia for Rs. 20/ per minute, and now due to G3/G4 and internet services she can talk him at any time for a log hours on any social channel (skype, Facebook. etc).
    On the other hand, it is also possible to make the opposing case. It is often argued that technology has very dangerous effect on people life. People have stuck in such social media and their friends and family get to gather have reduced approx. eliminated. Due to which relationships are not as stronger as it was in technology free era. For Instance, My father had very strong friendship, and his friends still meets and have get to gather, but if I compare with myself I occasionally meet with my friends but, we are always connected on social sites.
    As we have seen, there are no easy answers to this question. On balance, however, I tend to believe that we should keep balance.

  6. Julia January 8, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    That is indeed a Awesome job… Love you!!!

  7. Rajveer kaur May 30, 2015 at 6:55 am #

    Thanks a lot for great help.

  8. Rajveer kaur May 30, 2015 at 8:18 am #

    Undoubtly,the ways people interact in personal relationships have changed alot.According to my point of thinking,these changes have several benefits except few disadvantages which;however can be ignored.

    Firstly,the technological methods of communication like facebook,whatsapp,viber etc have made it much easier to maintain contact with college or university friends even if they are living in different cities.Additionally,it was not possible about three decades ago because there were no mobile phones and social networking sites to follow friends after being apart.

    The second most common example to clarify the influence of technology on personal relationships is of lovers.In the past, they had to keep their relationships by the way of face-to-face interactions,letters etc.these measures used to consume more time and were less efficient too.But nowadays couples can use distant apps on their personal mobile phones in order to communicate.For instance -skype and wechat.

    So,from above examples ,it is clear that technology has affected personal relationships in positive way and the additional reasons are below.Firstly,it assists to mature bonds with loved ones who are far.The methods are not only convenient but efficient also.Moreover,being in touch with freinds is also helpful in increasing the knowledge about other’s region and to be up-to-date in necessary information such as,professional knowledge.

    Overall,the technology has more advantages from the point of view of communication in personal relationships on acount of online sites such as facebook and skype.

    Please chech my essay ,I need to ackowledge myself for improvement areas.
    Please give band score also.
    I have the target of 7 in writing.

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