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IELTS compulsory education essay

This is one of my model IELTS essays lessons where you can

  • read the essay
  • do a vocabulary exercise
  • get a full lesson on how to write the essay

Read the IELTS compulsory education essay

Everyone should stay in school until the age of eighteen. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

It is often said that if you want to succeed in life, you need a proper education. While there may be arguments for making school compulsory until the age of 18 , I disagree that this should apply to everyone.

Perhaps the strongest reason for not leaving school early is that it prepares you for your working career. If you leave school early with only a basic education, you are unlikely to be able to find any skilled work. Indeed, the education you receive between the ages of 16 and 18 is crucial for anyone who does not want a lifetime of unskilled work in a factory.

Another compelling reason for remaining in school until 18 is that school provides moral and social education too. This is particularly important for  people between 16 and 18 who have many temptations and benefit from the organised framework that school provides. Young people who stay in school until the age of 18 tend to be more responsible and help build a stronger society.

There are, however, equally strong arguments against making school compulsory until the age of 18. One such argument is that not everyone is academic and that some people benefit more from vocational training. For instance, someone who wants to become a car mechanic may find better training and more satisfaction in an apprentice scheme. Another related argument is that, in today’s world, young people are maturing ever more quickly and are able to make their own life decisions by the age of 16.

To my mind, everyone should be encouraged to stay in school until 18 both for social and career reasons. However, I believe it would be a mistake to make this compulsory bearing in mind that different people have different needs and abilities and the possibilities of other forms of vocational training.

Practise using the essay vocabulary

 Learn how to write the essay

Do the lesson

How to approach the essay

Address the question

The first step is to make sure you address the question. It asks you to discuss to what extent you agree or disagree with the proposition. One logical way to approach this type of essay is to look at both sides of the argument and then state which side of the argument you favour. A very useful tip is that in “agree/disagree” essays, there are at least three possible answers:

  1. I agree
  2. I  disagree
  3. I agree and disagree
Many candidates do not see the possibility of answer number 3. This is a shame as it is often the most intelligent way of answering the question for mat least 3 reasons:
  1. “to what extent” means “how much” and this implies that the answer is something like “completely”, “not at all” or “slightly”, rather than “I agree” or “I disagree”
  2.  in academic writing, we almost always look at both sides of the question and then come to a balanced conclusion. Also, if you take a more balanced approach
  3. if myou balance your arguments, you get to use some extra grammatical constructions such as “may” “tend to” “sometimes” – this extends the range of your grammar and vocabulary

Education vocabulary

This essay is about school and so we will need a variety of vocabulary for “school”. My first step is to write down as many related words as possible. I do this before I start writing as it should help me get ideas. Here are the words I came up with:

school –  education – college – university – further education – higher education – training – academic – vocational – apprentice

You can find lots more education vocabulary and some exercises to help you learn it on my education vocabulary page.

Another issue is to vary the language for “stay in school” and “until the age of 18”. There are fewer possibilities here, but there is some choice:

stay in school – leave school – remain in school – compulsory education

until they are 18 – the age of 18 – 18 year olds – from 16 to 18 – young people – teenagers

I’m not going to use all this vocabulary, but now at least I have some choice.

Other useful vocabulary

This essay contains some useful language you can borrow for discussing “reasons” and “arguments”. I repeat these words in the content paragraphs of the essay; this is not ideal but see how I use good word combinations to vary the language a little:

  • strongest reason
  • Another compelling reason
  • equally strong arguments
  • One such argument
  • Another related argument

You should also note that repeating these words actually helps the paragraphs become more coherent. See paragraph coherence 3.

Essay structure

I am going to look at both sides of the question. This is one possible approach for “agree/disagree” essays. It is possible to write from just one point of view but it is easy to run out of things to say. The main body is going to have 3 paragraphs:

  1. good idea: career – need education for skilled work
  2. good idea: social responsibility – young people need guidance
  3. bad idea: vocational training better/people differ – car mechanics need apprenticeships

Answering the question

In the introduction, I am going to outline that there are 2 points of view, but state that it is “debatable” whether it should be compulsory. “Debatable” is a very useful word as it signals my point of view and allows me to discuss both sides of the issue.

In the conclusion, I give my own answer to the question (“To my mind”). This answer that they “should be encouraged” to stay in school but not forced to reflects the balance of the essay.


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15 Responses to IELTS compulsory education essay

  1. emma November 16, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    It is really wonderful and excellent eassy. I would pass my IELTS exam with your significant help.

    • Dominic Cole November 16, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

      Thank you for the comment. Best of luck with your IELTS

    • Anonymous February 7, 2014 at 11:51 pm #

      keep it up

  2. kirti November 16, 2010 at 10:49 pm #

    like is this. this is very useful for us

  3. rony November 22, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    Thanks, your sending email is very helpful, so, I am very grateful to you.

  4. Nadia Utrera August 10, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    thanks for you help

  5. Rohit June 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    Hi Dominic..

    Thank you its a great essay. I am learning a lot from your website. Thanks heaps for making such great effort. I am currently required to get a minimum score of 8.0 in all parts of the exam i.e. L,R,W,S (GT). My current score is L 9.0, R 9.0, S 8.5, W7.0. I gave the exam 7 times and now i am really frustrated. I don’t know what am i doing wrong in writing.

  6. tienle July 14, 2012 at 10:41 am #

    Hi Dominic,

    Thank you very much for your great effort.
    The link you posted above doesn’t work. Could you check it.

    • Dominic Cole July 14, 2012 at 12:19 pm #

      Thank you for letting me know. it should be fixed now. I have incidentally updated the essay and the lesson slightly. The idea is that the question is “to what extent do you agree or disagree” and this means that it is perfectly possible to look at both sides of the question as you may only slightly agree/disagree

  7. mohamed March 9, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

    thanks for your great effort, really helpful.
    may i ask you an advise to jumb from 6.5 band to 7.5
    i have taken the test two times before with the same band 6.5 modules are either 6 or 6.5

  8. sonu May 29, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

    it’s a super sa vr learning more things from this sa thanq

    • sonu May 29, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

      thanq so

  9. Paulina July 5, 2015 at 1:04 am #

    This is really wonderful and helpful! Thank you so much. 🙂


  1. IELTS writing – paragraph coherence 3 | Dominic Coles IELTS Blog - November 17, 2010

    […] third example comes from my sample essay on compulsory education. There are, however, equally strong arguments against making school compulsory until the age of 18. […]

  2. Sample IELTS essays | Dominic Coles IELTS Blog - November 18, 2010

    […] compulsory education […]

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