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Two IELTS health essays – focus on the question

In this lesson I give you two different essays to read and download about health and the future. Why? They answer two different questions. The aim is to draw your attention to a very common mistake of writing generally about a topic and not answering the question itself.  Different questions need different answers!

Read the questions – read the IELTS health essays

Read through these two questions and then the two essays. Which one is which? Can you match the essay to the question? Much of the language is the same and I use similar “ideas”. But you should see that in each case I make sure my essay is structured to the question.

Question 1

Despite advances in medicine and improved access to healthcare, the overall level of health is falling in many countries. Why is this happening and what can be done to solve this problem?

Question 2

Despite advances in medicine there are concerns that certain diseases such as diabetes are increasing and some people believe future generations will face greater problems with health and die younger than we do today. What is your opinion?

Read the first essay

It is undoubtedly the case that medical science has improved dramatically in recent years. Unfortunately, however, this has not always led to an improvement in standards of health because of modern diets. Part of the solution to this problem must be to improve health education among the young.

The principal reason why general standards of health are decreasing is because young people in particular are not eating healthily enough. Indeed, many experts have established that the current obesity epidemic among the young is directly related to the rise in diabetes, which is one of the leading causes of ill-health nowadays. Most evidence suggests that  the diet of many youngsters is largely composed of convenience and junk foods that contain extremely high levels of sugar and harmful food additives. This diet, which lacks essential forms of nutrition such as vitamins, is the root of the problem and the cause of many health problems today.

The most effective method of addressing this problem is almost certainly to provide better health education in schools. The main reason for this is that young people need to be told at a young age what the long-term effects of a poor diet can be and the most effective forum for this is school. If, for example, a child has lessons on the need for a well-balanced diet in biology classes and does a research project on what types of food provide the best nutrition, then they will almost certainly learn healthy eating habits which will protect them later in life. This is a case where prevention is stronger than cure.

My conclusion is that while falling standards of general health caused by poor diets is a concern, the problem can solved if we prevent it at source by providing appropriate health education.

(299 words)

Read the second essay

There is no question that medicine has progressed dramatically over the last century, but this does not mean that all our medical problems have been solved. Indeed, my belief is that the average life span in the Western world may actually fall in the 21st century. This is in contrast to the situation in developing countries where I expect health provision to improve and longevity to increase.

The main reason why overall health may become worse in the industrialised nations of the West relates to modern lifestyles there. This is partly because we now take less exercise than ever than before and our diet is much less healthy and there is already evidence that this has led to an obesity epidemic in many countries. Many experts are predicting that this is going to have a serious impact on their health in old age. So, for example, a child of today who grows up a diet on convenience food, rich in sugar and full of additives, and who does take regular exercise may only live to be 65, whereas current life expectancy is around 80.

The situation in the developing world is, however, quite different and overall health is likely to improve. This is because there are currently serious problems with access to healthcare and the quality of healthcare in these countries. For instance, in some places there is no local hospital or the local hospital lacks the appropriate treatment for preventable diseases such as cholera. That is likely to change in the future as the overall economy and infrastructure improves in these countries.

My conclusion is therefore a mixed one. While it is true that people may face greater problems with their health in the future, this only applies to industrialised nations and not to the developing world where life expectancy may increase.

(303 words)

See the answer

The first essay was question 1 and the second question 2. I hope you got that right. Here is how you can learn to answer the question in your essays:

  1. think carefully about the question – don’t just focus on the topic, look for the task – the bit of the question that tells you what to write. Do you need an opinion? Do you have to agree? Do you have to find a solution? Nearly all the time the words are quite clear, you just have to look for them.
  2. structure the essay according to the question – think about how you are going to use your two body paragraphs. Are they going to say the same thing in two different ways (I agree because x and I agree because y) or are they going to make different points (this is the problem and this is the solution)
  3. focus on question and outline the point of view/opinion in the introduction
  4. provide an answer to the question in the conclusion

Concentrate on the question when you structure your essay – think body paragraphs

Ask yourself what the question is asking you to do and how you will structure your answer – in particular how are you going to use your two main body paragraphs.You really, really don’t need to learn different models of essay. Much easier I believe just to read the question and deicide how you are going to use each paragraph.

My  answer here

Question 1

The first question asks me to explain why a problem is happening (why health is getting worse) and what I think the solution is. This means my answer must contain an explanation of the problem and a solution.

For me, the logical way to organise this essay is to use one body paragraph for the explanation and the other for the solution.

Para 1 – this is why the problem is happening

Para 2 – this is how we can solve it

Question 2

The second question asks me for my opinion about what will happen in the future. Will people be more healthy and will they live longer?

There are perhaps more ways of answering this question. The main idea though is the same in each case – you need to find a logical way of using your two body paragraphs. The main possibilities are:

the AA essay

para 1 – I think it is true for this reason

Para 2 – I think it is true for another reason

or the BB essay

Para 1 – I don’t think it is true for this reason

Para 2 – I don’t think it is true for another reason

or the AB essay

Para 1 – I think it is true up to a point/sometimes

Para 2 – I think that it is not true some other times

Get the introduction and conclusion right

When you are writing you want to focus on the question in both your introduction and conclusion.

You don’t want to waste too much time writing introductions. But you still need to write them carefully. In your introduction you need to identify the question and show show the examiner your “point of view” or how you are going to answer the question.

The conclusion works in the same way. This is where you give your final answer to the question. To do that you need to identify the question and write a clear answer to the question in your conclusion.

Now download the complete IELTS health essays

I hope you will see now that the two questions are quite different and need different answers. If you read through my two essays again, you will see that while the ideas and language are similar, the structure and introduction and conclusion are quite different.

Health and future - problem essay (1368) Health and future - opinion essay (1185)


A useful exercise is of course try to write the essays yourself. The main reason I post these essays in lesson form is to help you write for yourself. This time around, why not write both essays? To see how it can be done, take a look at Zara’s essay added as a comment to this lesson on essay structure.  I just can’t promise to comment on it!


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8 Responses to Two IELTS health essays – focus on the question

  1. zara February 25, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Dear Dominic
    Here’s my response to Question 1. Please provide your valuable feedback.

    Over the past few years, people are increasingly faced with health related problems irrespective of the advancements in the medical field. In my opinion, a great number of these complications are associated with the unhealthy life style. Health of the public can only be improved if they are educated about healthy ways of living and safe eating.

    The most significant reason why there is a decline in health standards of many nations is that majority of people have adopted an unhealthy approach to life. This harmful attitude accounts for bad choices in food like processed foods or eating out at fast food restaurants. As a result increased consumption of food, which consists of high glycaemic index, makes people lazy and prohibits them from taking regular exercise. This diet accompanied with lack of physical activity is the root cause of increasing health problems among the present generation.

    This situation can be improved if an awareness is created among public especially youngsters about making healthy choices in life. In order to educate young people about nutritious and natural foods, schools should teach subjects relating to diet and nutrition. This fundamental knowledge about the long-term effects of meal intake would make youngsters cognisant of their choices and encourage them to opt for the natural ingredients instead of processed or packaged meals. In addition, schools should make health and physical education compulsory for all students so that they participate in games and activities. It will allow them to keep fit and thus avoid diseases resulting from physical inactivity.

    In conclusion, people’s inclination towards inadequate style of living is causing serious concerns for health. However, this issue can be effectively handled if public especially younger generation is empowered by providing adequate health education.

    • Dominic Cole February 25, 2014 at 3:29 pm #

      Another good essay. Well-structured and coherent. A couple of quick notes.

      You seem quite fond of “show-off” words. This can be a dangerous habit. The more complex the word, the more likely it is to go wrong – unusual words are unusual for a reason – we don’t use them that much or we use them in only specific circumstances. That is the point behind my series on the AWL – those are the words we actually do use. Here “advancements” doesn’t exist and “cognisant” is a very unusual choice. i’d go for “aware” – even though you have used “awareness” slightly earlier.

      The other point is that you have a slight problem with articles – who doesn’t! They are one of the peskiest bits of English grammar that trip up even very level people like you. Read your first para again, can you see any mistakes? If you can, that tells me you aren’t checking in the right way. You need an error check list where you check for certain types of mistakes. What is on that checklist will vary from person to person, but I’d suggest that articles is one bit of grammar that should be on everyone’s list.

  2. zara February 25, 2014 at 10:33 pm #

    Sorry for the late response, the time difference between Manchester and Melbourne is huge.
    I think i mentioned earlier that articles is a major area i need to improve. Can you suggest me any good website or any other source which could be used to work on this area? Yes i think i’ve a bad habit of trying to write unnecessarily complex words. Thanks for pointing out and I am working on this and pushing myself to write simpler as per your instructions.

    In the first paragraph, i think ‘the’ is not required with ‘advancement’ and ‘unhealthy lifestyle’.

    Do you think that starting the second body paragraph with a phrase like ‘this situation’ is acceptable or should it be changed with some other simple sentence like ‘Overall level of health can only be improved if …’? Is there any harm in using the phrase from the essay topic at any stage?

  3. norobatey.hieng February 27, 2014 at 3:04 am #

    Can i download this lesson.?

  4. Marina March 28, 2014 at 5:19 am #

    Could you kindly provide me with your feed back on my reply for question 2?

    The tremendous progress in the medical field, within the recent three decades is undeniable, but on the contrary, it is still seems that overall health level is declining, and the average life length is decreasing. While I agree on the first point, I still believe that the second one is unpredictable to some extent.

    Primarily todays’ lifestyle in regards to long working hours, and increasing numbers of working mothers, in addition to, the enormous dependency on fast and preserved food; which will obviously increase the health problems, and even create new types of them. For example, the average child those days spend most of his free times playing electronic games, and consuming fatty food, which is usually working mothers rely on; not mentioning the huge amounts of sugary products including candies, chips and canned drinks. The probability of this child having obesity problem is high, in addition to, the risk of getting high blood pressure or debate on the future.

    On the other hand, science is becoming more advance than ever, and most governments do not hesitate to allocate a decent portion of their budgets on the medical field. For instance, the United States is dedicating fair amounts of its health budget on fighting diseases like: cancer, Aids, diabetes, and even obesity ; and the agenda are in continues increase. This leads to remarkable advance in the health sector in general, and on extending human’s life span in particular.

    To conclude, it can be said that although the remarkable decline on the health quality, there is still hope that some solution could be found to maintain or even prolong the average age of future generation

    • Dominic Cole March 28, 2014 at 7:17 am #

      Hi Marina

      Could you post this in the forum please. Then there is a goodish chance that someone would look at it.



  5. kikiyang April 8, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    Hi Dominic,

    In your 2ed essay, you wrote ” than ever than before” and “grows up a diet”. Is it right to say ” than ever before” and “grows up with a diet”?



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