Sample IELTS overpopulation essay

This is the next in my series of sample IELTS essays. This is an essay that asks you to find a solution to a particular problem – overpopulation. This can be a dangerous question as it is easy to go “off task” by writing about the general topic and not directly answering the question. To help you with this, I have included an exercise for you to write your own introduction to the essay.

Understanding the IELTS overpopulation essay question

One of the most pressing problems facing the world today is overpopulation. What policies do you believe governments should adopt to address the causes and effects of this problem?

What does this essay ask you to write about?

  1.  overpopulation
  2.  the causes of overpopulation
  3. the causes and effects of overpopulation
  4. policies to deal with the causes and effects of overpopulation

It is of course 4. If you try 1,2 or 3 you will lose heavily. This is an easy mistake to make and many, many candidates will do just that.

The importance of the introduction

If you want to avoid the mistake of not answering the question, you need to get the introduction right. What you must do is identify all the following:
  1. causes of overpopulation
  2. effects of overpopulation
  3. the policies to deal with causes and effects of overpopulation
If you can do that, the essay you write will almost certainly be on task. You have set the “programme” for the rest of the essay.

Your challenge

You will find the full essay to download further down the page. For now I am only going to show the main body and conclusion. Your task is to write the introduction. Do try it. There is a lot to learn from exercises like this. There is a particular skill in writing an introduction that needs to be practised.


As a training exercise try and use these words from the question

  • policy
  • overpopulation
  • cause
  • effect
If you do that, you are almost certainly on task. You may then look at my essay to see if you can find words/phrases to replace those words because in the ideal world you don’t want to repeat the language of the question too much.

Most of the essay

This time I am only going to highlight the all-important topic sentences. I want you to see the structure. The sentences

  • come early in the paragraph
  • are short
  • are clear
You should also see that these sentences relate directly to the task of the question. If yours don’t, you may well go off task. Or be marked as not making the task response: “visible enough”.


One of the most pressing problems facing the world today is overpopulation. What policies do you believe governments should adopt to address the causes and effects of this problem?


The first step is to recognise what the consequences of overpopulation are. Only by doing this can we find an appropriate solution. Perhaps its most important effect is the increased rate at which we are consuming the Earth’s resources such as oil. To combat this, governments need to do more research on alternative and renewable energy supplies so that we do not use up all the oil reserves. Another negative effect of overpopulation is how some countries suffer from a lack of basic necessities such as food. Here, an answer could be greater international co-operation so that countries with a food surplus donate what they do not need to the less fortunate countries.

It is not quite so easy to decide how governments should deal with the causes of overpopulation. The Chinese have adopted legislation that requires parents to pay a special tax if they have more than one child. I doubt, however, whether this solution is realistic in other countries. Another option would be to improve levels of sex education by explaining the difficulties caused by having too many children.Promoting contraception though may be problematic in many regions on cultural and religious grounds.

In conclusion, while it may be possible to find ways to address some of the consequences of overpopulation by international co-operation, it is harder to find policies to deal with its causes. It might be that the only way forward is for different countries to adopt policies that work within their particular culture.

Download the IELTS overpopulation essay

Sample essay - overpopulation (8267)

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5 Responses to Sample IELTS overpopulation essay

  1. Mahmoud July 16, 2011 at 11:05 am #

    Very interesting, very simple and indeed very helpful.
    Thank you for the best online IELTS blog

  2. Pilar Gomez July 16, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    I believe this example illustrate clearly the challenge of many question and how to deal with them. Very helpful. Many thanks!

    • roro April 2, 2013 at 12:02 am #

      hi helfully

  3. leman July 17, 2011 at 6:48 pm #

    hi i want to use it but i cant use .please tell me how can i use?

  4. Avatar of Dominic Cole
    Dominic Cole July 17, 2011 at 7:40 pm #


    The idea here is to show you how to read the question and organise your answer.

    The main point is that your introduction should reflect the task of the question. The other significant point is that each paragraph should also have a topic sentence that clearly relates to the task.

    What I’d like you to do is write your own introduction and then compare it to mine, Did you do the same things or something different? You will find my introduction in the download.

    I’m a teacher. I don’t want to make it too easy and for you simply to copy my essay – you probably won’t learn anything that way. I’d like people to learn about writing introductions. One good way to do that is just to write the introduction and not the whole essay.

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