Factory farms – sample IELTS essay

This is the next in my series of sample IELTS essays. The focus in this lesson is on how to organise the essay so that it is coherent when you have a lot of different ideas. The suggestion I make is to think about using a listing paragraph structure  and using impersonal phrases to begin your sentences. One benefit of doing this is that the essay becomes easier to write.

The essay question and the essay structure

In recent years, farming practice has changed to include methods such as factory farming and the use of technology to improve crops. Some people believe these developments are necessary, while others regard them as dangerous and advocate a return to more traditional farming methods. Discuss both points of view and give your own opinion.

This type of question asks you to do two different things. You must:

  1. discuss both sides of the issue
  2. give your own opinion
The logical approach is to use this structure:
  1. introduction identifying the issue and making your opinion clear
  2. one paragraph about why people believe the new developments are positive
  3. one paragraph about why other people disagree
  4. a conclusion stating your own opinion
You should note that in this form of essay the conclusion is “heavier” than in an essay where you just use the conclusion to summarise the main points in the content paragraphs. Here, you are going to add content by explaining the opinion you outlined in the introduction.

Ideas for the essay

There are a number of possible ideas for this essay. In favour of new methods of farming, you can consider:

  1. recent growth in population requires more food
  2. some countries suffer from famine from lack of water/drought
  3. genetically modified crops are more “efficient” than traditional crops
  4. new methods of farming are less labour intensive
In favour of more traditional methods, you can say:
  1. there are problems with health connected to factory farming
  2. factory farms are cruel to animals
  3. the long-terms effects of genetically modified crops on the environment are unknown

Use a “listing” paragraph structure

When you have an essay topic for which you have a lot of connected ideas, it is possible to use a listing paragraph structure where you list all the arguments in favour of the main idea.

How to do it

In your first sentence you state that there are different ideas to support the main point. Then you begin each sentence with “listing” words such as “Firstly”, “Secondly”. To see how to do this, look at this paragraph:

There are several reasons why these innovations in agriculture can be said to positive. One is that the world’s population has exploded within the past century and that traditional methods of agriculture could not provide sufficient food for everyone. It can also be argued that we need more efficient methods of farming because many countries in Asia and Africa suffer regular famine and droughts and the people would starve if it was not for genetically modified crops that are drought resistant. It should also not be forgotten that the quality of life of farmers has been improved by these advances which are less labour intensive.

You should note that the key word here is “also” – a simple but effective way of listing ideas.

The essay

Read the essay

In recent years, farming practice has changed to include methods such as factory farming and the use of technology to improve crops. Some people believe these developments are necessary, while others regard them as dangerous and advocate a return to more traditional farming methods. Discuss both points of view and give your own opinion.

There is some controversy about how farming has been revolutionised in the past decades. While it is possible to claim that the net effect of these changes has been for the benefit of mankind, my view is that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. In this essay, I shall explain my point of view by analysing both sides of the argument.

There are several reasons why these innovations in agriculture can be said to positive. One is that the world’s population has exploded within the past century and that traditional methods of agriculture could not provide sufficient food for everyone. It can also be argued that we need more efficient methods of farming because many countries in Asia and Africa suffer regular famine and droughts and the people would starve if it was not for genetically modified crops that are drought resistant. It should also not be forgotten that the quality of life of farmers has been improved by these advances which are less labour intensive.

Those who argue for a return to smaller scale and more organic farming base their arguments on the impact of agriculture on health and the environment. Firstly, it is claimed that a variety of diseases such as BSE, swine flu and bird flu were caused by conditions in factory farms and that organic food is much healthier. Then, there are concerns about the lack of research into how genetically modified crops might affect the ecosystem for the worse.

While there are strong arguments on both sides of the case, my personal belief is that the long-term dangers of these developments mean that we should be extremely cautious. I suggest that there should be more investment in traditional farming methods to make them more efficient and that there should be stronger legislation to ensure that both factory farms and GM crops are safe.

Understand the structure of the essay

One way to understand this essay is to see how it uses “structural” phrases. These are phrases that you can borrow and use in your own essays on different topics. Use phrases like these and almost a third of your essay is written before you reach the exam.

You should notice how each sentence of the essay begins with a phrase that tells the reader what that sentence is about. This is excellent for coherence and cohesion. Each sentence links into the next.

See the essay model

Introduction

There is some controversy about______________. While it is possible to claim that______________ , my view is that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. In this essay, I shall explain my point of view by analysing both sides of the argument.

Para 1

There are several reasons why ______________________. One is that ___________________________. It can also be argued that we ___________________. It should also not be forgotten that___________________________________.

Para 2

Those who argue for _______________________________. Firstly, it is claimed that ___________________________________. Then, there are concerns about ______________________________.

Conclusion

While there are strong arguments on both sides of the case, my personal belief is that ______________________. I suggest that __________________________________.  

Download the essay

Factory farming - sample IELTS essay (5765)

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23 Responses to Factory farms – sample IELTS essay

  1. Gaukhar August 23, 2011 at 10:58 am #

    thank you!

  2. Reema August 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    wow It is strongly impressed.

  3. humble August 23, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    wwwo.unbelieveable

  4. humble August 23, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    No one do what you always prepare for us I SWEAR

  5. rosaline August 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm #

    please send me more essay , reading topics

  6. Daphne August 29, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    Hi Dominic, can u please explain the sentence “…the people would starve if it was not for genetically modified crops that are drought resistant.”? i don’t quite understand its meaning. Thank you very much and for all of things you have done for us, you’re absolutely a great teacher!

    • Avatar of Dominic Cole
      Dominic Cole August 29, 2011 at 10:11 am #

      Okay fair question. The main idea is that people in some countries would not have enough to eat (starve) if they only had normal crops (wheat etc) as there is too little rain (drought). However, the new crops that are engineered by scientists (Genetically modified or GM crops) are able to grow (they are resistant) even if there is not enough rain.

      • Daphne August 29, 2011 at 10:39 am #

        Thank you!

  7. kanu August 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Hi Dominic
    Will you plz tell the structure how can we make paragraph for this topic? This topic came in ielts in australia on 27/08/11.
    In recent years people have started watching more overseas movies?
    WHY IS IT SO?
    SHOULD GOVERNMENT GIVE SOME FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO LOCAL CINEMA TO PRODUCE LOCAL FILMS?

    Thanks & Regards

    • Dominic August 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

      I’ll write you a model later this week

    • Avatar of Dominic Cole
      Dominic Cole September 1, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

      Up today. Good luck Saturday.

  8. kanu August 30, 2011 at 1:56 am #

    Thanks for your reply. Is it possible for you to give us suggestios before this saturday because I am taking the test this weekend.
    Thanks for your consideration

  9. Afsane September 14, 2011 at 8:49 am #

    You’re definitely a life saver Mr.Dominic!! I’m gonna read ur blog cover to cover(dunno what phrase to use for a blog!) in these two days i’ve got before my exam.

  10. s November 3, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    Dear Dominic,

    My ielts exam is on Nov 5, Saturday. I am getting nervous because I have not practiced much. On top of that taking a paper-based exam will probably be arduous because I am only used to writing on the computer. I am hoping to get at least 6.5 overall band score so that I can fulfill the requirement of the school I am applying to. I will keep my fingers crossed. If I get through the exam, I will owe most of it to you. Even if I dont, I will still be thankful to all the valuable information on your blog. I will share my results with you once its out.

  11. Bahar November 11, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    Thank you, really helpful.

  12. alia December 17, 2011 at 4:32 am #

    What a highly qualified, impressive teacher !!!!!!!!!!

    I pray for god to give you a contenious healthy and happy life.

  13. alia December 17, 2011 at 4:36 am #

    What a highly qualified, impressive teacher !!!!!!!!!

    We ask our god to let you enjoy happy and healthy long life.

  14. jimmy April 24, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    simply unbelievable.you are a legend

  15. jimmy April 24, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    Hi dominic
    Thanks for another brilliant lesson but i am not comfortable with the second sentence
    ”While it is possible to claim that the net effect of these changes has been for the benefit of mankind”

    To put it simply,Can we write
    ”while it is possible to claim that these changes are highly beneficial for the mankind……………..

  16. Komal November 18, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    U have a great ability of explaining things the right way ……hats off to u!!!!

  17. Dr Arif January 8, 2014 at 12:24 am #

    HI Dominic..
    can you please tell me, what if we do not give a definite opinion in this essay?
    in conclusion can we say that both sides of the arguments are quite valid and it is up to the scientists to carry out studies in order to weigh the advantages over the disadvantages and then make the new advancements available for man.
    Thanks!

    • Avatar of Dominic Cole
      Dominic Cole March 3, 2014 at 4:22 pm #

      Good question. The question does ask you to give an opinion so you do need to make it clear what your opinion is. It is perfectly possible, however, to have a fairly noncommittal opinion.

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