IELTS Discuss Both Views Essay: tips, common mistakes, questions & essays

In this lesson we are going to look at how to answer an IELTS Discuss Both Views essay, also known as a 2 sided discussion essay.

You will learn about this IELTS Writing Task 2 essay, using authentic IELTS essay questions, plus the most common mistakes. And I will finish with an IELTS model essay written by me in response to a sample IELTS essay question. So let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What Is Your Task?

In this IELTS question type, you are presented with 2 contrasting opinions on a particular topic. Your task is to discuss these two views AND give your own opinion on the topic.

Some people say History is one of the most important school subjects. Other people think that, in today’s world, subjects like Science and Technology are more important than History.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Cambridge IELTS 13 Academic Test 3

In this task, you are presented with two contrasting views on the topic of education, specifically, what are the most important school subjects. 

  • View 1: History is one of the most important school subjects
  • View 2: “Subjects like” Science and Technology are more important than History
You need to do two things in this task:
  1. Present the reasons for each view
  2. Present your own view. (This can include saying what you think about each of the two views)

Let’s look at this task in more detail.

Firstly, you need to present the REASONS for each view.

  • WHY do some people think that History is one of the most important school subjects?
  • WHY do some people think that subjects like Science and Technology are more important than History?

To get a Band 7 or higher, you should try to present the reasons for each view in an objective way. i.e. you need to think about the argument from the viewpoint of the people who think this. What are the reasons for their view that History is one of the most important school subjects? 

Here are a few reasons why these people may think this:

  • You need to understand your country’s past if you can really understand your country today
  • Understanding History gives you a shared cultural understanding with other people
  • Because the study of History may require a lot of reading and writing, it helps you to develop literacy skills

I don’t necessarily agree with these reasons. I just think these may be the reasons why some people think History is so important.

And why do some people think that subjects like Science and Technology are more important that History? Here are a couple of possible reasons:

  • the study of science and technology helps you to develop skills that are important in getting a job in today’s world
  • it’s useful to have a good understanding of science to help you navigate the modern world (e.g. advanced in health and electronics)

It’s important to understand that the 2 views given in an IELTS test question are going to be sensible, reasonable views. They won’t be crazy ones, such as “some people think that playing computer games is one of the most important school subjects”! So there WILL be good reasons for these views. You just need to think about and explain what they are.

Secondly, you need to present your OWN view. Your opinion. You need to say what YOU think.

For a high band score, it’s a good idea to base your view on your discussion of the 2 views. You could point out the weaknesses or limitations of the view you disagree with, and suggest which view is stronger.

“Studying History can certainly boost literacy skills, but then so can any other subject requiring lots of reading and writing.”

“Scientific and technological subjects should be given priority in the curriculum because they help young people get well-paid jobs in modern companies.”

You can write sentences like these either at the end of each body paragraph, or in your final paragraph, where you present your own opinion.

For more information about this, and how to make your position clear throughout your essay, read this special lesson on how to answer an IELTS Discuss Both Views essay question.

How To Plan An IELTS Discuss Both Views Essay

If you are aiming for a high band score (band 7 and above) it is absolutely vital that you plan your essay. A good plan will help you to see if you have answered the question, developed your ideas and organised them BEFORE you start writing.

We’re going to plan an essay using my 4 Step Planning Process.

4 Step Planning Process

Step 1: Understand The Task

First, you need to make sure you understand exactly what you need to write about. So you need to read the question carefully, not quickly!

These three questions will help you to get a really clear understanding of your task:

  • What is the topic about?
  • What is the topic NOT about?
  • How should you respond to the topic?
Let’s go back to this essay question, and answer those 3 questions:

Some people say History is one of the most important school subjects. Other people think that, in today’s world, subjects like Science and Technology are more important than History.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

What is the topic about?

In a discuss both views essay, you have 2 contrasting ideas…but what OVERALL issue are both groups thinking about? In this task, it’s the most important school subjects. Some people think History is one of those important school subjects, but other people think that Science and Technology are the most important school subjects. 

What is the topic NOT about?

It’s also a good idea to quickly think about what the topic is NOT about, so you don’t start writing about those things. The task is NOT about university, it’s about school (so students aged between 5 and 18).

How should you respond to the topic?

The instruction, “discuss both these views and give your own opinion” tells you how to respond to the topic. Make sure you do that! Don’t write an essay that only argues why History is important – that would be an opinion essay and this will limit your band score for Task Response to Band 5 at best.

Step 2: Decide Your Position

Next, you need to decide your position. In other words, you need to decide what you think.

In a discuss both views essay, your position is your discussion of the two views, plus your own view, so it’s a little more complicated than for other tasks.

When you discuss the two views, you need to present the reasons for the views. Why do these people take this view? But it’s also a good idea to point out any strengths or weaknesses in the 2 views, so that your own view comes through.

Step 3: Extend Your Ideas

When you decided your position, you may have started thinking about the reasons for your position, the reasons for your answer. In other words, WHY are you taking this view?

Giving reasons for your view is essential in an IELTS essay. In fact, all IELTS questions tell you to give reasons for your answer”. So in Step 3, you need to think about your reasons a little more.

However, just presenting your  reasons is not enough. You need to develop them.

The two best ways of developing your ideas is by:

  • giving explanations of what you mean
  • giving specific examples which illustrate what you mean

Together, these add more detail to your answer. 

You MUST do this to get Band 7. If you fail to develop your ideas in detail, your band score for Task Response may be limited to Band 6. 

Step 4: Structure Your Essay

The final step in the planning process is to structure your essay. This simply means deciding which main ideas to put in which paragraphs.


In a discuss both views essay, here’s the structure I would recommend:

  • Paragraph 1: introduce essay
  • Paragraph 2: present the reasons for the 1st view
  • Paragraph 3: present the reasons for the 2nd view
  • Paragraph 4: present your opinion
ielts-discuss-both-views-essay

How To Write Your IELTS Discuss Both Views Essay

Let’s go through how to write the different parts of the essay.

How To Write The Introduction

In the introduction to an IELTS Discuss Both Views essay, you can do two things: introduce the main topic and the two views. (You can also present your opinion in a third sentence, but it is not essential.)

Introduce The Topic

You can begin with a background sentence which introduces your reader to the topic of the essay. This is not absolutely essential, but it helps to show the examiner that you understand the task.

In our example question above, the task presented us with 2 views:

“Some people say History is one of the most important school subjects. Other people think that, in today’s world, subjects like Science and Technology are more important than History.”

But what is the wider topic? What big topic are the 2 groups of people discussing?

It’s the most important school subjects.

So you could introduce the first sentence like this:

“There is often a lot of debate on the topic of the most important school subjects.”

or you could even write a question:

“What are the most important school subjects?”

If you find identifying the wider topic difficult, then don’t write this sentence. Just present the two views instead.

Introduce The 2 Views

Next, you need to introduce the two views. 

The best way to do this is to paraphrase the two views in one sentence.

How To Paraphrase

Think about the meaning of the two views, and briefly rewrite them using your own words. Try not to use the same grammatical structures as in the essay question, and try to move language around. In other words, be flexible. This is important if you are aiming for a Band 7 or higher. 

In the example essay question above, the two views are: 

“Some people say History is one of the most important school subjects. Other people think that, in today’s world, subjects like Science and Technology are more important than History.”

Here is one way of paraphrasing these views:

“Some people argue that one of the most essential subjects is History, while others disagree and want to see Science and Technology prioritised.”

or you could write about the “argument” rather than the “people”:

“One argument is that one of the most essential subjects is History, while another takes the view that Science and Technology should be prioritised instead.”

How NOT To Paraphrase

When you paraphrase, do NOT just change individual words with synonyms, or you will get some very strange sentences, e.g.

“Many citizens say the study of the past is among the most crucial educational topics. Other individuals ponder that, in nowadays earth, areas like scientific knowledge and technological skills are more essential than the past.”

DON’T DO THIS! It sounds unnatural and can be confusing.

Present Your Opinion

You could also add your own opinion as a third sentence, but I don’t think this is necessary. It’s better to get straight to the body.

Just start writing the body.

How To Write The Body Paragraphs

In an IELTS Discuss Both Views essay, you need to present the arguments for the two different views, plus your own opinion.

Write the arguments for each view in a separate paragraph. 

When discussing the arguments for each view, the body paragraph should contain:

  • A reason for the view (your main idea)
  • A more detailed explanation of this reason
  • An example which illustrates this reason

You can include a second reason for each view in the same paragraph.

Read a more detailed explanation of how to write the body paragraphs here.

How To Write The Conclusion (Opinion Paragraph)

In the conclusion to an IELTS Discuss Both Views essay, you need to do one thing:

  • state your own opinion

The best way to do this is by pointing out the weaknesses in the view you disagree with, and the strengths of the view you agree with.

You do not need an additional paragraph which summarises your points again.

Common Mistakes in an IELTS Discuss Both Views Essay

These are the most common mistakes made by Test Takers when writing an IELTS Discuss Both Views essay:

  • presenting too many reasons for each view: you MUST develop ALL of your ideas to get a high band score, so it’s best to present 1-2 reasons for each view and explain them all
  • not giving your own opinion
  • not writing your opinion in much detail. You should try to give some reasons for your view
  • Writing an overly general statement about the topic in the introduction (e.g. “Healthcare is a topic of hot debate.”)
  • Your main ideas are not explained and illustrated enough. You need to develop all of your ideas to get a band 7 and higher.
  • Including ideas and information that does not directly answer the essay question
  • Not fully understanding the essay question(s). This is often caused by reading the question quickly, not carefully.
  • Using memorised phrases (e.g. “a hot topic”, “in a nutshell”, “my considered opinion”)
  • Using “research studies” as examples: examples should illustrate your ideas, not prove them. Read about how to use examples in IELTS essays.
  • Trying to use rare or “novel” language: examiners are looking for groups of words used naturally, not rare words.

Sample IELTS Discuss Both Views Essay Questions

Some people think that parents should teach children how to be good members of society. Others, however, believe that school is the place to learn this.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Cambridge IELTS 8 Academic Test 1

Some people think that the teenage years are the happiest times of most people’s lives. Others think that adult life brings more happiness, in spite of greater responsibilities.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Cambridge IELTS 9 GT Test B

Some people believe that it is best to accept a bad situation, such as an unsatisfactory job or shortage of money. Others argue that it is better to try and improve such situations.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Cambridge IELTS 14 Test 1

Some people like to try new things, for example, places to visit and types of food. Other people prefer to keep doing things they are familiar with. 

Discuss both these attitudes and give your own opinion. 

Cambridge IELTS 16 General Training Test 2

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. 

Model IELTS Discuss Both Views Essays

Here is an IELTS Discuss Both Views Essay that I wrote in response to this task:

Some people say that now we can see films on our phones or tablets there is no need to go to the cinema. Others say that to be fully enjoyed, films need to be seen in a cinema.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Cambridge IELTS Book 13 General Training Test 3

Now that mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets have become more powerful and affordable, there is some debate as to whether there is a need any longer to go to the cinema to watch movies.

It’s certainly true that going to the cinema is not essential. The versatility and portability of these devices mean you can easily watch films while lying on your bed at home, sitting in a cafe or commuting to work or college. Moreover, online services such as Netflix provide low-cost and rapid access to a vast catalogue of movies, whereas cinemas only screen a handful of films at any one time.

However, there are strong arguments in favour of going to the cinema, foremost of which is that modern cinemas, such as IMAX, offer surround sound systems and huge screens, meaning that moviegoers are immersed in a movie, an experience that cannot be replicated by mobile devices. In addition, new movie releases tend to be exclusive to cinema chains, so if you want to watch the latest Bond or Batman movie on your tablet, you may have a long wait.

Personally, I think that while there are clear arguments for both views, someone’s preferences are likely to be influenced by the kind of movie they want to watch. Sci-fi and action movies, for example, are far more enjoyable in a cinema because of the special effects they include, whereas gentle romantic comedies or biopics can easily be enjoyed on a tablet or phone. It also depends on whether you want to watch movies with friends: it’s simply much easier to watch them together in a cinema rather than huddled over a small screen with a tiny speaker.

(282 words)

Read my full plan and comments for this essay.

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Posted in IELTS Writing Task 2.

Charles Cornelius is a PGCE and CELTA-qualified teacher and 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 70,000 students in over 160 countries around the world.

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