Supporting and opposing the topic in Task 2

Supporting and opposing the topic in Task 2

With many IELTS Task 2 writing topics, you are asked to give your opinion on a subject. A common mistake that IELTS candidates make in this situation is to focus purely on one side of the argument without thinking about the opposite point of view.

So what’s the best approach?

We recommend the ‘2 points / 1 point’ approach with essays that require you to present an opinion. That means that you should consider the essay as having three body paragraphs – the first 2 body paragraphs supporting one side, and the third body paragraph supporting an opposing point of view.

To illustrate, imagine this Task 2 title: Private vehicles should not be allowed in city areas. Do you agree or disagree?

This is one possible response – note that the first two body paragraphs disagree while the third body paragraph agrees.

Supporting and opposing the topic in Task 2


 Why present the opposing point of view at all?

Remember that the IELTS test is assessing your ability to write in a formal manner, and focusing 100% on only one side does not present a well considered or balanced essay. By showing a conflicting point of view, you get to show the examiner that your English has sufficient flexibility and vocabulary to write a well rounded task.

The third body paragraph – the concession

This is possibly the most important paragraphs as you need to show that you have the flexibility to consider the opposing point of view, but at the same time you don’t want your argument to be unclear by disagreeing and then agreeing. That is why it is called the ‘concession’ paragraph – you are admitting that there may be another point of view, but that this point of view has weaknesses.

In the example above, the concession paragraph states that preventing private vehicles from entering city areas would help reduce problems for pedestrians, but then identifies the weakness of this argument by stating that this does not necessarily require a complete ban on vehicles.

Some useful language for the concession paragraph

Part of getting a good result result for cohesion and coherence (one of the four elements your work is assessed by) is to make sure the reader can clearly follow the flow of your writing.

That means for the concession paragraph, you need to clearly indicate that you are now presenting an alternative point of view.

Here is some useful language for presenting a concession:

  • ‘However, it could also be argued that….’
  • ‘On the other hand, there is a school of thought that argues that…’
  • ‘Admittedly, there is a case to be made for…’
  • ‘Granted, it must be taken into account that…’
  • ‘Yet there is an alternate point of view that suggests…’
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