Traffic Congestion and Pollution: 2 Part Question

This IELTS model essay is on the topic of traffic congestion and pollution. It’s a 2-part, or IELTS direct question essay.  It is taken from Cambridge IELTS 8.

Increasing the price of petrol is the best way to solve growing traffic and pollution problems.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

What other measures do you think might be effective?

(Cambridge IELTS 8 Academic Test 3)


My Plan

Overall Opinion: disagree – more effective solutions

  • raising petrol prices too simplistic
    • workers rely on cars – would be too expensive if petrol prices rose

Other measures

  • improve public transport
    • e.g. light rail, underground (Bangkok Skytrain)
  • congestion charges
    • e.g. London

traffic congestion and pollution

My Essay

Many cities around the world have seen a rapid rise in the number of private vehicles on the road, and this has led to serious problems related to traffic congestion, as well as pollution from exhaust fumes. Some feel that the best way to deal with this problem is by increasing fuel prices, but I disagree and think that there are more effective options.

Raising petrol prices is an overly simplistic solution to a rather complicated situation. It may have worked 30 years ago, but today many people live some distance from their workplace, often so they can live somewhere more cheaply, and have come to rely on their cars to get to work. If they are suddenly forced to spend more money on petrol, these people would find it a lot harder to make ends meet. So what can be done instead?

One obvious solution would be to improve public transport so that workers have more choice over how to get to work. Many cities have invested heavily in light rail and underground systems, meaning many commuters no longer need to drive, and this has helped to alleviate road congestion. For example, Bangkok has recently expanded its Skytrain network, enabling people living in the suburbs to quickly get to work in the centre of the city.

However, this alone is not enough. Perhaps the best solution would be to target the parts of the road network most susceptible to congestion and charge motorists a fee for using those stretches of road. Such a solution is known as a congestion charge and it has been used to good effect in many major cities including London.

To conclude, traffic congestion and the resultant pollution is a growing and complicated problem which needs to be approached in a more sophisticated manner than simply increasing petrol prices. Investing in public transport and congestion charges are perhaps two more effective solutions.

(317 words)

Vocabulary: Less Common and Uncommon Lexical Items

A good way of studying this essay is to look at the language in my essay. Here is a list of some of the complex noun phrases that I used in this essay. These are the kinds of phrases that IELTS Examiners are looking for at Band 7 and above for Lexical Resource. (Note: there are very few “rare” words in this list – they are mostly combinations of very common words – it is the combinations, or collocations, that are uncommon.)

  • a rapid rise in the number of private vehicles on the road
  • serious problems related to traffic congestion
  • pollution from exhaust fumes
  • the best way to deal with this problem
  • more effective options
  • raising petrol prices
  • an overly simplistic solution
  • a rather complicated situation
  • some distance from their workplace
  • one obvious solution
  • light rail and underground systems
  • Skytrain network
  • people living in the suburbs
  • the parts of the road network most susceptible to congestion
  • a congestion charge
  • many major cities
  • the resultant pollution
  • a growing and complicated problem
  • a more sophisticated manner


Now, without looking at the essay again, try to complete the missing words from the essay. Many of the missing words are parts of collocations, so this activity will help you develop an understanding of collocation. Good luck! (The activity is best done on a desktop or laptop computer).

Paragraph 1

Paragraph 2

Paragraph 3

Paragraph 4

Paragraph 5

About the author

Charlie is a former IELTS Examiner with 25 years' teaching experience all over the world. His courses, for both English language learners and teachers, have been taken by over 100,000 students in over 160 countries around the world.

3 thoughts on “Traffic Congestion and Pollution: 2 Part Question”

  1. Thanks for this practice!

  2. When I left a comment, the activities appeared. Thank you on behalf of my students. They are very helpful and beneficial.

  3. I am an English teacher from Istanbul, Turkiye. I teach ESL classes to Turkish and international students in a private university English Prep School. I always search for resources for my students. I recommended the coherence and cohesion activity to all my students and colleagues but in this part, I could not find the mentioned activity. When you scroll over the Paragraphs above, I was expecting to see them.

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