Preparation for IELTS: types of essays and their structure

IELTS Essay Types and Structure

IELTS Essay Types and Structure


  • Writing
  • Grammar

Writing an essay is thought to be the most complicated part of the IELTS test because the task requires one to produce a well-argumented piece of writing with a clear structure. Therefore, being aware of the essay types which your students need to write can be beneficial. In such a way, you help your students to have a better understanding of the task and the essay structure.

Today, we are going to discuss the main types of IELTS essay and its typical structure.

Types of the essay

Generally, it is possible to single out five main types of IELTS essays: 

  • Advantages and disadvantages essay
  • Discussion essay
  • Opinion essay
  • Causes and solution essay
  • Mixed essay. 

Advantages and disadvantage essay

In this type of the essay, the test taker is provided with a statement and should analyse its positive and negative aspects. 

These days more and more people are going to other countries for significant periods of time, either to find a job or to study. 


What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing this?

In this task, the main topic is going abroad either to work or study, and the task is to elaborate on the pros and cons of this decision. The test taker is not expected to provide his/her own opinion about what outweighs. 

However, if the task is Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?, then stating your position is obligatory in order to get a high score.

Discussion essay (two views and opinion)

In a discussion essay, the task represents a statement and two views (sides) on it which are often opposite to each other. The test taker should discuss both views and give his/her own opinion.

Many people believe that public facilities (e.g. zoos, museums, parks) should be free. Other people think that you should pay to use these facilities.


Discuss both views and give your opinion.

The topic regards public facilities in the city, and two views state whether access for the general public should be free or paid. 

The candidate should also state his/ her own position and basically, share one of the views.

Opinion essay

Here, the task includes an opinion or a view, and the test taker should express her/her own opinion by agreeing or disagreeing. The candidate can completely or partially agree / disagree.

The use of cell phones while driving should be strictly forbidden.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

The view stated in the task can often be controversial or include some extreme opinions.

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Problem and solution essay (cause and solution essay)

In this essay, the task centres around a problem and requires the test take either to explain why it is a problem or to provide what causes it and suggest some solutions. 

Every year millions of people around the world suffer from poor health as a result of air pollution.


What do you think are the causes of this? What solutions can you suggest?

As a rule, the candidate is not expected to express the opinion, as s/he agrees that it is a problem which should be solved.

Mixed essay

The task contains a statement, a problem or a view and two questions which the test taker needs to answer. One of them often requires the candidate to give his/her own opinion. As there are usually two (sometimes three) questions, another name of this essay may be Specific question essay or Two-part essay.

To some people studying the past has little value in the modern world. 


Why do you think it is important to do so? What will be the effect if children are not taught history?

These questions are usually distinct ones and may belong to other types of essays.

E.g., opinion essay + cause and solution essay:

  • 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?

causes and solution essay + advantages and disadvantages essay:

  • More and more city workers are deciding to live in the country and travel to work every day. 
  • Why might this be the case?
  • What could be the disadvantages of this trend?

Structure of IELTS essay

IELTS essay structure does not differ dramatically from other essays and overall, includes:

  • Introduction
  • Main body
  • Conclusion.

The Introductory paragraph starts with the paraphrased task or rephrased views, given in the task. It is followed by the essay focus, i.e., what is going to be discussed, and the candidate’s opinion briefly if the task requires to express the opinion.

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There are normally two (sometimes three) paragraphs in the Main body which address the parts of the task: pros and cons; two views; two questions; causes and solutions. The Opinion essay will stand aside in this respect because the test taker should suggest the arguments to support his/her opinion. 

A main body paragraph generally starts with a topic sentence which summarises the main idea. It is then followed by an argument, supporting details and relevant examples. 

The Concluding paragraph contains the summary of the arguments from the main body and restated opinion if the task required to express it. It should be noted that there should be no new arguments or supporting details in the conclusion.

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Article authors & editors
  • Olena Bochkarova

    Olena Bochkarova


    DELTA, CELTA certified teacher of General & Business English, IELTS Prep, International Speaking Examiner



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