IELTS Cause and Effect Essay

These essays often create confusion for IELTS test takers. Why? Because very often test takers confuse these with problem and solution essays, and this costs them band scores in Task Achievement.

In these essays, you need to write about the causes of these problems and the effects they have, NOT the problems and their solutions.

Sample Cause and Effect Essay topic

Today more people are overweight than ever before.

What are the primary causes of this?

What are the main effects of this epidemic?

The planning stage

Before you begin your IELTS writing task 2, make sure you understand the essay topic. Clearly, it is about obesity, but if you write an essay with suggestions on what measures could be taken to help people achieve a healthy weight, this will give you a lower band score.

Look at the first question:

What are the primary causes of this?

Here, you must come up with ideas for why people are more overweight nowadays. What do you think are the causes of these problems? Why is it so difficult to maintain a healthy weight nowadays? What changes in our society have made people heavier than they were 30, 40 or 50 years ago? Two ideas are enough.

Example:

  • less time to exercise and prepare healthy food
  • abundance of fast food and unhealthy food

Look at the second question:

What are the main effects of this epidemic?

What problems does obesity cause? Who is affected and how? Again, come up with 2 ideas.

Example:

  • higher mortality rates and illness
  • strain on the economy

Remember that for each idea, you need support. Support can be evidence, like statistics that prove your idea, or further explanation about why or how your idea is true.

  • less time to exercise and prepare food/ sedentary lifestyle-> Harvard University study shows that people are working on average 10 hours more per week than they were 40 years ago
  • abundance of fast food and unhealthy food -> provides a low-cost, easy solution to meal preparation but poor quality and high in fat
  • higher mortality rates and illness-> Being an unhealthy weight is associated with higher levels of strokes, heart disease and diabetes, which can lead to death
  • strain on the economy -> illness leads to lost productivity in the workplace and higher health care costs

The writing stage

With brainstorming completed, you can begin writing the introduction to your IELTS cause and effect essay. 2-4 sentences are enough.

  • Introduce the topic
  • Mention that there are several causes of obesity
  • Say that the problem creates serious effects on individuals and society

Do you have to say what the causes and effects are in the introduction? Not necessarily. If you can briefly mention them by name, then you can, but if doing so requires a lengthy explanation, bypass this and go straight to writing your body paragraphs.

Do not spend too much time on your introduction. The introduction of an IELTS essay needs to be concise and contain the required information but a better band score will be achieved by spending time developing your body, not the introduction.

Band 9 sample introduction

In countries around the world, the rates of obesity are skyrocketing nowadays. This is a situation that has multiple causes, creating effects that can be felt not only by the individual but by society as a whole. This essay will address the causes and effects of increased obesity, using statistics from Harvard University to provide evidence and support.

Body paragraph one - causes
Tips for structure

In addition to solid ideas and support, a well-written paragraph also needs a clear topic sentence to introduce the central idea. You may also end with a statement of conclusion, which essentially is a rephrasing of your topic sentence.

Band 9 sample body paragraph one

A variety of factors have contributed to the rise in rates of obesity, all of which can be attributed to changes in our way of life. One such change is our increasingly sedentary lifestyle, brought on in part by more work. For example, a recent study by Harvard University shows that around the world, people are working on average 10 hours more per week than they were 40 years ago. As a result, people are sitting more and have even less time to focus on their health and fitness than they did in the past. Our increased work hours have created another problem related to our diet. With fewer hours at home, more and more people are turning to fast food and other unhealthy alternatives for their meals, which have become widely available and inexpensive, instead of cooking healthy food. The result of these issues is a society with epidemic levels of obesity.

Body paragraph 2 - effects

Tips for structure

Many students struggle with how to create a solid link between the two body paragraphs. In an IELTS cause and effect essay, the topic sentence simply needs to introduce that the problem has a variety of effects. There can be a reference to the cause, if appropriate.

Band 9 sample body paragraph two

This rise in obesity has far-reaching effects, both on an individual and a societal level. For the individual, being overweight has been linked with higher mortality rates and illness. More specifically, people suffering from an unhealthy weight are known to have higher incidences of strokes, heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, obese people on average have a lower life expectancy than their normal weight counterparts. For society, with more citizens reaching obesity levels, a strain on our economy is created. Increased illness means that employees are taking more sick leave, resulting in a loss of productivity. Furthermore, additional healthcare is needed to treat obesity-related illness, adding costs that affect the patient, the employer and the healthcare system. Therefore, it is clear that obesity is a health crisis that reduces quality of life and poses problems for the economy, and in turn, society.

Writing the conclusion

Again, aim for brevity. It is possible to create a solid conclusion to your IELTS essay in two to three sentences.

A well-written conclusion needs to rephrase the topic again, mentioning that obesity is a problem with a number of factors and effects that are felt throughout society.

The last sentence should leave a thought-provoking statement for the examiner. This could be a prediction for the future or a statement highlighting the seriousness of the problem.

Band 9 sample conclusion

In conclusion, our sedentary lifestyle, extended work hours and consumption of unhealthy food has led countries around the world to high levels of obesity. The result of this trend affects all levels of society. It is imperative that measures are taken to solve this epidemic before it is too late.

Grammar - tenses

Band 9 essays need to show a wide range of grammar. One way to do this is to use a variety of tenses appropriately and accurately. In each of the paragraphs no fewer than 3 tenses were used.

Examples:

A variety of factors have contributed to the rise in rates of obesity, all of which can be attributed to changes in our way of life.

For example, a recent study by Harvard University shows that around the world, people are working on average 10 hours more per week than they were 40 years ago.

Lexical Resources

Some topic-specific vocabulary will earn you higher marks in the lexical resources criterion.

Examples:

  • sedentary lifestyle
  • epidemic levels
  • on a societal level
  • mortality rates
  • higher incidences of strokes
  • loss of productivity
  • health crisis
  • poses problems

Conclusion

Cause and effect essays are some of the easier tasks to write because you do not need to have a position and support it. They require a little knowledge of the topic, but remember, IELTS is a language test, not a knowledge test, so feel free to draw from personal experience.

Practice writing these types of essays but more importantly, get feedback for your writing. The team at IELTSPODCAST.COM is available to correct your essays and give you expert guidance quickly and affordably.