Arguments

One type of essay asks you to discuss two sides of a problem. This type of question is phrased in different ways, asking you to discuss:

  1. advantages and disadvantages
  2. two different opinions
  3. two choices

These questions are asked in different ways and I have highlighted the key words in bold.

Advantages and disadvantages

In the future, we will have more and more leisure time as machines replace many of the tasks we do at home and work. Discuss the benefits this will bring and also the problems it will cause. (Academic writing practice)

Television has had a significant influence on the culture of many societies. To what extent would you say that television has positively or negatively affected the cultural development of your society?

Unemployment is one of the most serious problems facing developed nations today. What are the advantages and/or disadvantages of reducing the working week to thirty five hours?

In many countries there is a shortage of housing due to a growing population. Some people argue that new towns should be built in the countryside, others argue for the regeneration of cities. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the building new towns in the countryside?

The threat of nuclear weapons maintains world peace. Nuclear power provides cheap and clean energy. The benefits of nuclear technology far outweigh the disadvantages. Do you agree or disagree?

Two different opinions

Some people believe in the traditional idea that the woman’s place is in the home, while others say that idea is outdated and that women should play an increasingly important role in the workplace of the future. What is your opinion?

People are now living longer than ever before and many old people are unable to look after themselves. Some people believe that it is the responsibility of families to look after the elderly, while others say governments should provide retirement homes for them where they can be looked after properly. Discuss.

In some countries people pay different rates of tax depending on their salary, in other countries everyone pays the same rate. Which do you believe is the best system?

More and more qualified people are moving from poor to rich countries to fill vacancies in specialist areas like engineering, computing and medicine. Some people believe that by encouraging the movement of such people, rich countries are stealing from poor countries. Others feel that this is only part of the natural movement of workers around the world. Give your opinion. (Academic writing practice)

In many countries, children are engaged in some kind of paid work. Some people regard this as completely wrong, while others consider it as valuable work experience, important for learning and taking responsibilities. Discuss. (Cambridge IELTS 3)

Some people believe that the media, such as the press, TV and Internet should be more strictly controlled. Others feel that controls should be loosened to give people freer access to information. Which opinion do you agree with?

Two different options

Should museums and art galleries be free of charge for the general public, or should a charge, even a voluntary charge, be levied for admittance? Discuss this issue, and give your opinion.

Some people argue that universities should provide students with more practical training for their future career. Should university education be more vocational or academic. Discuss

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