IELTS Discuss Both Views Essay: How To Answer

This lesson will show you how to answer IELTS discuss both views essay questions.

These essay questions can cause problems for many IELTS test takers because they require a different approach to IELTS opinion essays. In opinion essays, you just need to say what YOU think. In IELTS discuss both views essays, you also need to write about the views of other people.

This is a particular challenge if you are aiming for a Band 7 or higher in IELTS Writing, because to get a Band 7 for Task Response, you must make your position clear throughout the essay.

(A position is your viewpoint. To learn more, go to my lesson on Position.)

How do you make your views clear throughout an essay, when you are asked to discuss the views of other people?

This lesson will tell you how:

Example IELTS Discuss Both Views Essay Question

Let’s look at this IELTS discuss both views essay task:

Some people say that advertising is extremely successful at persuading us to buy things. Other people think that advertising is so common that we no longer pay attention to it.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

(Cambridge IELTS Academic Book 15 Test 3)

So how do you make YOUR views on this topic clear throughout your essay, when you have been asked to discuss the views of SOME PEOPLE and OTHER PEOPLE?

You explain what YOU think are the reasons for each view.

IELTS Discuss Both Views Essay

Let’s look at the two views in this task. The 2 views are:

  • advertising is extremely successful at persuading us to buy things
  • advertising is so common that we no longer pay attention to it

Both of these 2 views are reasonable. You might not fully agree with them, but they are still reasonable views, and so there will be good reasons to support them. Your task is to say what you think they are.

Note: it’s important to understand that the two views in authentic IELTS essay questions will always be reasonable ones. They will be sensible, not crazy! You won’t get views like:

  • “advertising is completely useless and is always a waste of money”, or
  • “advertising should be completely banned because it forces us to buy things.”

The 2 views in the task above are sensible, even if you might not fully agree with them. So what reasons might there be to support them?

What Are The Reasons For These Views?

View 1: “advertising is extremely successful at persuading us to buy things”

Possible reasons for this view:

  • adverts for special offers on social media, within apps and on billboards can be effective (e.g. Black Friday offers)
  • targeted advertising on social media can be quite effective, as it’s based on people’s browsing habits (e.g. Facebook sponsored posts for courses on a particular topic)

View 2: “advertising is so common that we no longer pay attention to it”

Possible reasons for this view:

  • there are so many adverts on social media nowadays that we simply scroll past them unless they immediately grab our attention
  • advertising breaks on TV are often an excuse to check your phone or make a cup of tea

These reasons are what I think are the reasons for each view. And explaining these is how I make my position clear.

What NOT To Do #1

Remember, to get Band 7, you need to make YOUR position clear throughout your essay.

However, many students stuck at Band 6 don’t do this. They don’t discuss what THEY think, they discuss what SOME PEOPLE think.

They write like this:

  • BP1: “Some people think X…they think this because…”
  • BP2: “Some people think Y…they think this because…”
  • Conclusion: “I think Z…I think this because…”

In this structure, your position is only clear in the conclusion. This might be ok for a Band 6, but not a Band 7. To get a Band 7, your thoughts on the 2 views must be clear throughout your essay, including in the body paragraphs.

So DON’T write this:

“Some people think that advertising is a very effective method of getting us to buy things. Firstly, they think this because adverts for special offers on social media can be very successful.”

Write this:

“Advertising can be a very effective method of getting us to buy things. Firstly, adverts for special offers on social media can be very successful…”

Band 6 Band 7
Some people think that advertising is a very effective method of getting us to buy things. Firstly, they think this because adverts for special offers on social media can be very successful.” “Advertising can be a very effective method of getting us to buy things. Firstly, adverts for special offers on social media can be very successful…”

In other words, avoid writing “some people” and “they think this because…” Write about what YOU think, not what “SOME PEOPLE” think.

What NOT To Do #2

Another common problem is arguing that BOTH views are wonderful!

They write like this:

  • BP1: View X is great!
  • BP2: View Y is great!
  • Conclusion: “I think X because…”

Compare these pieces of writing:

Band 5-6 Band 7
BP1 Advertising is a very effective method of getting us to buy things Advertising can be a very effective method of getting us to buy things
BP2 Advertising is ignored by people

A lot of advertising may simply be ignored by people

The Band 7 writing chooses language that allows personal views to come through: “can be”, “a lot of”, “may simply be”.

The Band 5 to 6 writing states things as facts: “is”

In other words, making your position clear throughout your essay is partly the result of the LANGUAGE you use in your essay.

Let’s look at this language in more depth…

Position Language in an IELTS Discuss Both Views Essay

Here is a list of the sort of vocabulary that let your views come through in your writing:

  • modal verbs: might, may, will, could, can
  • adverbs of certainty: certainly, definitely, probably, possibly, perhaps, maybe, obviously
  • adverbs of frequency: often, sometimes, rarely, occasionally, usually
  • focusing adverbs: especially, generally, only, particularly, simply, just
  • evaluative adverbs: surprisingly, personally, obviously, clearly, interestingly
  • verbs: seem, suggest, show, indicate, find
  • adjectives: some, significant, considerable, a lot of (and lots more!)
  • comparing and contrasting: even worse, even better, likewise, unlike, unless, despite, in contrast to, as…as

Other Phrases

  • this is true to some extent
  • this is probably true to an extent
  • there are clearly compelling reasons for this view
  • it is true that
  • there are certainly strong arguments for

So if you want to get a Band 7+ in IELTS Writing, do these things:

  1. explain what YOU think are the reasons for the two views
  2. use a variety of language to make your views clear.
  3. DON’T talk about “some people” or what “some people think”. Say what YOU think

 

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Charles Cornelius is a former IELTS Examiner with 25 years' teaching experience all over the world. He has worked for some of the major English language schools including International House, IDP and The British Council. He holds a MA in Education from the University of Bath. His courses, for both English language learners and teachers, have been taken by over 80,000 students in over 160 countries around the world.