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How to write an agree/disagree essay for IELTS Writing Task 2


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Date Published

01 February 2023

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Knowing how to write an agree or disagree essay is very important because if you get this type of task question in the test and you don't know how to approach it, you might not get a very high score. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

An agree/disagree question is very similar to the one above. Let’s look at two typical agree/disagree essay questions:

  1. Some people believe that nowadays we have too many choices.
    To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
  2. Living in a country where you have to speak a foreign language can cause serious social problems as well as practical problems.
    To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Can you see how these are similar to my question at the beginning? Both include a statement (= a sentence expressing an opinion) and ask you to what extent (= how much) you agree or disagree with it.

OK, so what are you going to do first? Start writing? Absolutely not.

After you’ve carefully read the task question and understood the topic, the first thing to do is to ask yourself to what extent you agree or disagree with the statement. There are three possible cases:

  1. You agree completely
  2. You disagree completely
  3. You partially agree (which means you also partially disagree)

Next, ask yourself: ‘Why do I think that?’ This is a very useful question because by answering it you will start generating ideas that you will then include in your essay.

How many ideas should you come up with? In all three cases the secret is that less is more, so I recommend having no more than four in total.

Let’s have a look at an example from Cambridge IELTS 11:

  • Governments should spend money on railways rather than roads.
    To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

I’ve read the question and now I’m going to make some notes before I start writing. Here are my notes:

Partially agree - Both needs funding Why?

  1. Safety reasons
  2. Taxpayers expect government investment in both

Two main ideas. Now we have some direction and know where we are going with our essay. Should you now start writing? Not yet. You’ll need to develop these ideas, and the best way to do this is to give explanations, details, reasons and examples. Let’s add these to the notes.

  1. Safety reasons - Both roads and trains are widely used / all ages / need to be kept in good condition / if not, risk of crashes / example: Ponte Morandi collapse 2018 – Italy / lots of casualties / could have been avoided with more funding - maintenance / Trains are crowded at rush hour -> a railroad accident might be a terrible tragedy
  2. Taxpayers expect government investment in both - governments need to provide good services / citizens pay tax for this / example: train commuters pay to have efficient trains / if not – disruptions - late for work / same is true for road users / example: opening a new highway -> less traffic

Notice that I didn’t write full sentences but notes. Keep your full sentences for the essay! If you don’t do this brainstorming exercise before you start writing, the risk is that you’ll write whatever comes to your mind, and your essay will probably be confusing to read.

Top Tip: Think of how you’re going to structure your text. Keep life simple and always aim at four paragraphs: introduction, two body paragraphs and conclusion.


Two sentences are enough here. In the first sentence you should paraphrase the task question. In the second sentence say if you (partially) agree/disagree so you immediately let the reader know what you think.

Two main paragraphs

Why these paragraphs? A paragraph contains ideas about a single subject and using them will make your essay organised, structured and easy to read. When writing an agree/disagree essay there are, again, three possible options:

  1. You completely agree - First paragraph: reasons why you agree. 2nd paragraph: other reasons why you agree.
  2. You completely disagree - First paragraph: reasons why you disagree. 2nd paragraph: other reasons why you disagree.
  3. You partially agree - First paragraph: reasons why you agree. 2nd paragraph: reasons why you disagree.

Remember: it’s much better to have few well-developed ideas than a lot of poorly developed ones, so when you write the paragraphs make sure to give reasons, examples and details. All these must be relevant to the reason you agree/disagree.


Again, keep life simple and write one or two sentences only. You should briefly repeat and summarise your answer to the question. Don’t introduce information that you didn’t mention in your paragraphs before. We need a conclusion to conclude right? So, don’t introduce other reasons or topics at the end of your text.

To sum up:


  • Read the topic of the question and make sure you understand it
  • Ask yourself if you agree or not with the statement in the question
  • Brainstorm ideas before you start righting
  • State your opinion in the introduction
  • Use four paragraphs
  • Logically organise the main paragraphs (for example, one for reasons why you agree and the other for reasons why you disagree)
  • Extend and develop your ideas with reasons, examples and explanations
  • Write a short conclusion.


  • Start writing immediately
  • Include too many different ideas. Less is more!
  • Introduce more information in the conclusion.

Hope this helps you with your writing. Good luck!