Model answers to Negative / Positive Development IELTS essay questions in 2021!

Your IELTS task 2 can require you to answer a "negative/positive development" question.

You will need to discuss whether something is a positive or negative trend and provide reasons to support your answer.

You may also be interested in this tutorial explaining the different IELTS Task 2 essay structures.

In this tutorial we will:

  • answer a recent IELTS essay question seen in the exam
  • look at how to generate ideas for task 2
  • show you how to plan and organize your ideas to build coherent paragraphs that score high for task response AND cohesion and coherence.

Plan – the prewriting stage

Analyze the question – make sure you totally understand what you are supposed to answer. Understand the essay types, whether it is argumentative or descriptive and then decide the approach to it.

Do you want to give an objective one sided opinion?

Or do you want to give a balanced view of opinions?

Plan the structure of the essay - a good IELTS writing essay will ideally have three parts : Introduction, Body Paragraph, Conclusion. The body paragraphs will have at least two arguments. The main drawback of any IELTS writing task is a lack of proper structure. A model essay will always have a defined form.

Jot down some keywords that you will include in the answer.

Nowadays many students are participating in international exchange trips. Is this a positive or a negative development?

Determine your position

The “or” in the IELTS writing question leads some people to think that you MUST choose one side or the other, but it is completely fine to in fact to 100% agree, 100% disagree or partially agree, as long as you are on the topic.


Brainstorm for ideas – aim for at least one well-developed idea for each paragraph.

Paragraph 1 central idea

The first paragraph should introduce the topic and your stand on the topic. Keep it clear and concise.

International exchanges are not just travel but educational for students.

Paragraph 2 is the main body of the essay. It highlights the central idea. Argue for or against the statement or give a balanced view. Discuss the reasons that support your standpoints.

International exchanges provide opportunities students might otherwise not have.

Brainstorm for support for your ideas. Support can be an example, further explanation, a definition, or any statement explaining why or how your main idea is true. A support or an additional comment increases the credibility of your argument.

Support: Students learn a variety of necessary skills while navigating daily life in a new country. 



Start by rephrasing the prompt. Make sure that you are writing all the sides of the topic that the prompt addresses. 

State your position. If you partially agree you can use a “while” statement: While it is true students can learn a good deal about another culture on these trips, I believe that on the whole this is a negative trend as they are little more than extended vacations.

You can also start with an observation, for example, "In recent years, it has been observed that students from many countries are interested in international exchange trips". Your introduction should be 3 or 4 sentences. Do not discuss the details in the introduction – save these for your body paragraphs.

Example introduction:

In our increasingly global world, great attention is being paid to students' ability to interact with other cultures and be interculturally aware. This has brought about a trend in international exchange programs for students where students from one country spend a period in another country studying. I believe that these exchange programs are wonderful growth opportunities for students and should be encouraged fully.


The body paragraphs consist of the main part of the essay where the development of arguments take place.


Start with a topic sentence that introduces the central idea of the paragraph.

The opportunity to study in a foreign country is undoubtedly a rich educational experience.  

Introduce your first main idea.

Despite being away from home, they allow students to continue their course of study. 

Follow this with support.

This lets them enjoy a foreign culture while not falling behind on their coursework.

Develop this with further support or an additional main idea and support.

Students gain more than merely academic education, however. They develop intercultural competences honed through daily interactions with people from a different culture.

Create a summary statement that is essentially a rephrasing of your topic sentence. Begin this with Therefore, thus, or Consequently.

Thus, international exchanges can be mind-expanding experiences for students. 

The body paragraphs must have a detailed discussion on the topic, for instance - negative development or positive development of the trend of international exchange trip.


Task achievement

Essays that score well on task response answer the question directly and develop the topic fully. A Band 9 answer leaves no further questions for the reader. It is a clear answer with optimum usage of vocabulary.

Support is critical to a good Task Achievement score. The better supported your ideas are, the better your TA score will be. A good way to check if you have supported well is to ask the question why and/or how after each idea.

If there is an answer to why/how, then you should try to incorporate that into your answer. Sometimes you may need more than one sentence to build a relevant comment.

Students gain more than merely academic education, however. They develop intercultural competences honed through daily interactions with people from a different culture. (HOW?) Each of these interactions, whether with professors, classmates, shopkeepers, or taxi drivers, must consider different societal norms, beliefs and customs. Learning to successfully navigate these scenarios in a foreign setting teaches young people how to problem solve, respect differences and arms them with skills they can transfer to people from different backgrounds.

Coherence and cohesion

Any high scoring IELTS writing task is filled with a logical flow and precision. Arrange your paragraphs logically. While some some might want to write their strongest points in the first argument, other people might leave it for the last.

When writing task 2, it is best to leave your strongest arguments for last. If you are discussing both sides of an issue, save the side you support more till just before your conclusion.

On the other hand, if you are discussing one side only, leave your stronger point, better arguments for last as well. This gives them weight and lets them stay in the mind of the reader better. 

If you discuss only one side, for instance, the negative effects of foreign exchange trip for students, ensure that you write enough arguments to establish why it is a negative trend. Your focus should be on the negative development essay in that case. Do not give many points highlighting the positive trend and create a confusing impact.

Hence, do not overlap the arguments. Remember, maintaining clarity is key to for an IELTS writing test.

Lexical resource

An IELTS writing task will test you on your use of English words. A model essay will have a wide range of vocabulary. Try to avoid repeating the same vocabulary. For example, instead of 'student' use 'undergraduate' or 'learner' occasionally. In this essay, even 'young person' is appropriate. Instead of exchange trip, use study abroad, education abroad or international exchange. In other words, use synonyms to portray your knowledge of words but avoid using jargons.

While topic vocabulary and key words are appreciated, points are scored for the surrounding language you use, like uncommon lexical items.  




Interculturally aware

Another way to demonstrate a good range of vocabulary to is to use 'linking devices'. Linking devices help to connect or contrast different ideas in a paragraph. Use words like

For instance



In addition to

Linking devices help in structuring the answer, especially if it is a one body paragraph. It gives more compactness and enhances readability.

When you study online, try picking up relevant words and maintain a vocabulary list. Different websites (for example, the British Council website) will have different stock of words.

Grammatical range and accuracy

The writing test requires you to showcase your knowledge of grammar. For example:


Participles can take on various functions in English. Below are some examples.

Students learn a variety of skills while navigating daily life in a new country. 

Despite being away from home, they allow students to continue their course of study. 

Thus, international exchanges can be mind-expanding experiences for students.  

Learning to successfully navigate these scenarios in a foreign setting teaches young people how to problem solve, respect differences and arms them with skills they can transfer to people from different backgrounds.

Familiarize yourself with the different ways these can be used.

Phrasal verbs are a great way to play with grammar and vocabulary and demonstrate your hold over the language. Phrasal verb is the combination of two or more words to form a single meaning - for example: a verb and an adverb or preposition.

Examples of phrasal verbs in a sentence would be as follows:

Students want to check out different options on the college website and test them before finally choosing one

Without proper research, students sometimes end up choosing unnecessary courses and waste their time

Sometimes students around the world chip in to help an underprivileged learner.

Not just students, but more people from different sections of the society need to come forward in the fight to right to education for all.


While the introduction builds the momentum of the essay question, the conclusion needs to be powerful to create an impact. Unlike the body paragraph, it is necessary to keep make the concluding paragraph extremely brief – two sentences should be enough.

Start by restating your position. Leave your reader with a general, thought-provoking statement.


Education abroad in the form of student exchanges provides endless opportunities for students to learn not only academics and culture but also about themselves and the world they interact with. In our ever-increasing global world, such knowledge is invaluable.  

The conclusion paragraph is also a great space to include some good variations of words. You can use phrases like "In my opinion" or "People prefer" or "Recent comments and observations about the topic is evidence of..." You can build your own opinion and state it or write an universal comment. While many students prefer to write their own opinion, on the other hand, it might sound like you are starting another new argument. So be careful when you state your opinion, keep it simple and reinstate the point that that your were trying to make instead of writing a new point altogether.

The essay question carries a high percentage of marks so it is crucial for the test candidates to score well. Write daily! Practice daily! Do not be nervous! Remember - Perseverance is the key to success! Good luck with IELTS writing task 2!

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