Discursive essay IELTS task 2

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Writing a discursive essay can be a part of your task 2 exam, therefore you want to make sure you know how to do it to the best of your abilities. To help you get there we have created a step-by-step plan explaining how to structure your discursive essay in order to get the best marks. Spend some time analysing these examples, and memorise the structure. Once you have it in your head, the rest will come naturally.

Definition of discursive essay?

A discursive essay explores different opinions on a specific topic or idea.

The writer gives reasons and facts to support each argument he talks about. He then may provide his own opinion based on his exploration of these different perspectives.

How to structure a discursive essay?

When writing a discursive essay for your exam, you are limited to 200 – 250 words within a time frame of 40 minutes.

We recommend splitting your discursive essay into four paragraphs. This way you’ll get around ten minutes to prepare and write each paragraph.

Paragraph one: introduction

You should always begin your discursive essay with an introduction.

Structure your introduction like this:
1. A background statement.
2. A more detailed background statement.
3. A summary of the opinions (for and against) this topic.

EXAMPLE

Electric cars will fully replace petrol and diesel-fuelled cars in the future. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

1. A background statement about the topic:
Electric cars are currently being developed by many well-known automotive companies.

2. A more detailed background statement about the topic:
Many people still question whether electric cars are a feasible replacement for petrol and diesel-fueled vehicles.

3. A summary of the opinions (for and against) this topic:
In this essay I will explore the opinions for and against the use of electric cars and their replacement of petrol and diesel-fuelled cars.

Paragraph two: argument/opinion 1 (for the topic)

In paragraph two you can discuss the first argument/opinion (the argument for the topic).

Structure paragraph two like this:
1. Opinion/argument 1 (for the topic)
2. One example to support this opinion/argument
3. A concluding sentence summing up the opinion/argument 1

Try to use connectors like:

  • On one hand
  • Some people believe
  • It is true that

EXAMPLE

1. Opinion/argument 1:
On one hand, electric cars are environmentally friend. They require no non-renewable energy and are clean to run and maintain on the road.

2. One example to support this opinion/argument:
To support this opinion, recent studies show that the use of electric cars helps to minimize pollution in urban and rural areas.

3. A concluding sentence summing up the opinion/argument 1:
Clearly, electric cars are one way to tackle ecological concerns and support a ‘greener’ environment.

Paragraph three: argument/opinion 2 (against the topic)

In paragraph three write about the opinion/argument 2 (usually going against the topic).

Structure your paragraph three like this:
1. Opinion/argument 2 (against the topic)
2. One example to support this opinion/argument
3. A concluding sentence summing up the opinion/argument 2

Use phrases like:

  • On the other hand
  • However
  • Other people believe that

EXAMPLE

1. Opinion/argument 2 (against the topic):
On the other hand, electric cars are inconvenient to maintain and to dispose of.

2. One example to support this opinion/argument:
The driver of an electric vehicle must recharge his car approximately every 100 kilometres.
In addition, the plutonium battery of an electric car is toxic to the environment and must be safely disposed of through expensive means.

3. A concluding sentence summing up the opinion/argument 2:
In brief, scientists are still exploring ways to produce these types of vehicles so that they are easier to manufacture, maintain and use safely.

Paragraph four: concluding paragraph

The last paragraph of your discursive essay should contain a summary of both previous opinions, and be ended with the writer’s opinion.

The last paragraph should be structured like this:

1. Summary of both previous opinions.
Use key phrases like:

  • To sum up
  • To summarize
  • To provide a recap of the two perspectives

2. The writer’s opinion.
Use language like:

  • In my opinion
  • I believe
  • I feel strongly that

3. Suggestion and Conclusion

EXAMPLE

1. Summary of both previous opinions:
To sum up, it’s evident that there are both pros and cons in the development of electric vehicles.

2. The writer’s opinion:
Despite the expense of development and the inconvenience of recharging electric cars, I still believe strongly that it is well worth the investment to continue research and production of these vehicles.

3. Suggestion and Conclusion:
To conclude, we should remain open, supportive to the use of electric cars and to their development in the future.

The full example of a discursive essay written following our structure

Electric cars are currently being developed by many well-known automotive companies. Many people still question whether electric cars are a feasible replacement for petrol and diesel-fuelled vehicles. In this essay, I will explore the opinions for and against the use of electric cars and their replacement of petrol and diesel-fuelled cars.

On one hand, electric cars are environmentally friend. They require no non-renewable energy and are clean to run and maintain on the road. To support this opinion, recent studies show that the use of electric cars helps to minimize pollution in urban and rural areas. Clearly, electric cars are one way to tackle ecological concerns and support a ‘greener’ environment.

On the other hand, electric cars are inconvenient to maintain and to dispose of. The driver of an electric vehicle must recharge his car approximately every 100 kilometres. In addition, the plutonium battery of an electric car is toxic to the environment and must be safely disposed of through expensive means. In brief, scientists are still exploring ways to produce these types of vehicles so that they are easier to manufacture, maintain and use safely.

To sum up, it’s evident that there are both pros and cons in the development of electric vehicles. Despite the expense of development and the inconvenience of recharging electric cars, I still believe strongly that it is well worth the investment to continue research and production of these vehicles. To conclude, we should remain open, supportive to the use of electric cars and to their development in the future.

For an introduction on how to start IELTS writing task 2 click here:

For more practice, take a look at our task 2 sample essays, a band 9 IELTS essay or our essay correction service to help you improve your band score!

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