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January 25, 2012


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First of all thank you so much for your brilliant work. You are an Angel!!
I have a question this format will be appropriate for 'discuss both views and give our opinion but would it be fine if we use the essay structure in ' agree or disagree essay question. Can you please explain difference between balanced opinion and discuss both views essay questions.

Once again thank you for this fantastic website. Bless you!

Hi Simon!

All your courses as well as this one are pretty helpful! THANK YOU! I am going to take the exam on 18th February and I only need 6.5 band score for a master.

However, I dont know how to use articels and propositions properly. I studied it from grammer books over and over again but, unfortunately, it does not help!

If I write an essay which is pretty good but has constantly article mistakes ( the,a)or propositions ( off, of, for, on, over), would you consider that I can still reach to point 6.5?

Or do you have any further advice?

Because of this problem I can never write error-free essays!

Thanks for your help!

Hi Anna,

"Balanced opinion" essays (in response to agree/disagree questions) and "discuss both views and give your opinion" essays are very similar.

The only small difference is that in a balanced opinion answer, both views are YOUR views because you accept elements of each side of the argument. Therefore, you shouldn't talk about "some people" or "other people". By contrast, you can talk about "some people's/other people's" views in a discussion essay.

I hope this helps, and I'm glad you like the site!

Thanks you so much for your prompt response as I am now working on learning different essay formats. I understood the difference but it would be great if you could post a link or an example of ' balanced opinion' essay.

After reading example of balanced opinion essay, I will get crystal clear understanding of my question today.

Thanks a lot.

Hi dear Simon,
First of all, I want to say a big hanks for your time using for us.Secondly, I have a question about the lenght of an essay.If it is longer than 250 words,will hey penalise us or not?

Hi Simon,

You essays are very instructive. It's kind of you to give us an out line for Problem/solution essay like what you had given already for agree/disagree essays. How many paragraphs should we have? what is the main theme of each paragraph?
I really appreciate your time and looking forward hearing from you.

Best Wishes,

Hi Simon
1. Honestly I have spent at least 20 hours in the past 3 days reading all your posts and all the related comments, you also kindly answered a couple of my question which was very useful for me, but this essay type format issue is killing me! i thought i had understood everthing till I read this comment you had given to sb almost a year ago, here it goes :
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Hi Simon,

Does the discussion essay in your post mean "argument essay that give both sides"?
"Hi Anh,

It comes from a "Discuss both views and give your own opinion" question.

I call it a 'discussion' question when you are told to mention both sides. I call it an 'opinion' question when it doesn't tell you to mention both sides (e.g. Do you agree or disagree?)"

well, as I had understood,opinion essays ask for your opinion, but discussion essays dont. U had also told me discuss both views is discussion but discuss both views and give your opinion is opinion essay.
but based on what you said to Anh, discuss both views and give your opinion is discussion! could you pleaseeee help me figure out the differences?

2.based on you comments, we should not present our opinion in discussion topics. but in your post dated Wednesday, February 09, 2011, you clearly stated your opinion in the introduction for discussion question, could you explain that to me please?
thanks for all the patience and support dear Simon

Respected Simon,
This is Rohit again.
I hope you are well. I am looking for letter writing. Do you give any guidance please start posting "letter hints"
I have booked my IELTS a month later from now.
I am quit interested in your eBook, do you have any letter writing material in your eBook?


Happy Australia Day.

hi simon,
sarah here.thanx for d essay..it is so well written.my doubt is regarding the choice we make in d essay..if u feel dat u agree wit d given statement dnt we start writing it first and then stating wat other ppl think or feel i.e introducing d opposite in 3rd paragraph..

Hi Simon,
Is it Ok to write faked statistics in our essay to clarify an opinion. For example if the main point is about obesity, Is it possible for me to write" according to Health World Organization(WHO) 40% of mortality has linked with malignant tumors"?

Some think that the environmental problems are too big for individuals to solve.To what extent do you agree or disagree?

I want to express a balanced opinion because i believe one individual can not solve the problems, but all the individuals in the world working together can solve the problem. is it right?

Hi Anna,

I'll try to do one soon. Here's a balanced opinion essay plan in the meantime:



Hi Nafiseh,

No, there is no maximum word limit.


Hi Mehdi,

The problem/solution essay structure is easy:

1. Introduction
2. Explain the problem (causes, reasons, effects - depending on the question)
3. Explain the solutions
4. Conclusion


Hi Iman,

Please remember that 'discussion', 'opinion' etc. are terms that we IELTS teachers have invented to generally define the types of questions. The IELTS examiners are not thinking to themselves "this is a discussion question". They simply read the question and then assess how well you have answered it.

It really doesn't matter whether we call "Discuss both views and give your opinion" a 'discussion' question or an 'opinion' question because it clearly tells you what you have to do.

The way I define it is:
Discussion = both sides (and sometimes your opinion too)
Argument/opinion = your view (no need to mention the other side)

2. The introduction I wrote on Feb 9th (2011) was for a "discussion + opinion" question. As I said to Anh, I put this in the 'discussion' group (even though it also asks for an opinion) because both SIDES of the argument are needed.

I hope this clears things up. Please don't spend any more time worrying about these definitions - it's much more useful to focus on what each particular question asks you to do.


Hi Rohit,

I'm afraid I don't do task 1 letter writing on this site. All of my students take the academic test, so I don't make any materials for the general test. Sorry.


Hi Sarah,

No, the question didn't ask what other people think. It asked whether YOU agree or disagree. Only do what the question asks.


Hi Mehdi,

It's not wrong to do that, but I wouldn't do it personally.


Hi Bart,

Yes, I think that would be fine.

hi there
this is still confusing about advantage disadvantage type,
these are from your previous comments"
"Hi Simon
Will I get negative marking if I give my opinion after discussing both sides in question 2 & 6? Thanks(2,6 being advantage disadvantage questions)
Hi Shams,

It will be considered irrelevant detail, and that could affect your score.
Posted by: Simon | Monday, October 10, 2011 at 09:25

however in your lesson on conclusion types you mentioned your opinion in the conclusion,

3. Advantages and Disadvantages

In conclusion, I would argue that the benefits of... (topic) outweigh the drawbacks.

could you please help me with this problem?

plus, please consider this comment too:
Hi Shams,

What I mean is that for question type 2, you don't need to decide whether you think there are MORE advantages or MORE disadvantages. In other words, the question doesn't ask for a FINAL opinion or decision.

so could you please explain whether or not we should include our own opinion in the conclusion of advantage disadvantage questions or not?

Hi Iman,

Well noticed. I think I was writing a conclusion for a "do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages" question. This is the same as "discuss both views and give your opinion" because it is asking you to decide whether there are more advantages or disadvantages.

The questions can vary:

1. "Discuss the advantages and disadvantages" = this doesn't ask for your opinion.

2. "Do the benefits (advantages) outweigh the drawbacks (disadvantages)?" = this is asking you to make a decision (after considering both).

Useful questions Iman! Hopefully it's becoming clearer.

hi simon
in your discussion with aman you have answered him that in questions which ask "do the advantages outweigh disadvantages",we have to make decision after considering both.Does this mean that we don't need to give our opinion in introduction?

Hi simon,
As I found out some people are confused about your answer for this kind of topic and I know that you have written the essay covering all parts of the questions, it could be a good idea to disagree with having a defined career path. In this way, we can concentrate on only one side (argument), and cover the latest part of topic (describe others who tend to change their career):
• Introduction: rephrase the topic + the opinion
• Body 1: to improve job skills and knowledge by new experience
• Body 2: to find new friends in the next working relationship
• Conclusion: repeat and summarize the opinion

best wishes

Hi Sohaib,

My rule is that I always answer the question in the introduction (in a general way), so I would give my opinion there, and I'd repeat it in the conclusion. Maybe I didn't make this clear in the comment you read.


Hi Hamed,

Yes, it's often easier to have a strong opinion and focus only on one side of the argument. I'm glad you like the site!

"On the one hand" is it a correct phrase.. since it contains two articles one after the another ?

Hi Bhupen,

It's a very normal phrase in English. Just Google it to see millions of examples.

Hello Simon, Can you please check and give me the rating for my essay.I have Ielts exam this weekend.

Your topic:

Many people decide on a career path early in their lives and keep to it. This, they
argue, leads to a more satisfying working life.
To what extent do you agree with this view?
What other things can people do in order to have a satisfying working life?

Lately, we have seen a trend of people, right from their childhood, becoming more conscious of the professions they would like to undertake when they grow up. Some are inspired by real world heroes while some on their parents insistence, choose certain occupations like entertainment industry and sports. I completely agree with the above thought though sometimes it makes sense to take life as it comes and enjoy what one has in hand today.
Firstly, planning our career path while still in school helps us in choose the subjects in our high school and university which would be in line with our career goal. Moreover, we have a clear cut flowchart in their mind as to what all needs to be done to get to that position with exact timelines. Moreover, you can always look for likeminded people and learn from their experience while growing up which would help you avert the mistakes they did when they started. You tend to enjoy working if you are working on the things that you are most passionate about.
That being said, there are other things that can be done to have a satisfying working life. The foremost is having a good work-life balance which would reduce any unnecessary stress that creeps in while working. Also, working in company that values your time and effort is also a motivating factor in keeping up with good work life balance. Keeping ourselves occupied with challenging work is again an important factor in decimating any undue stress, and changing a job if the current position has become monotonous.
In conclusion, though planning ahead for one's career while he is still young very much paves way for a fulfilling work life, taking into consideration the other aspects like having work-life balance and stress reduction play an important factor for a rewarding career.

hi, Simon.

Whenever I read your essay, I can't help admiring how well-written your essay is. I thought even in my native language, I couldn't express myself like this.

Thank you for the beautiful essay.

No problem Sue. Yes, it takes practice to write a good essay, even if you're a native speaker of the language!

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