Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today you’ll learn how to contradict for higher writing scores on your next IELTS Exam.

A 3 Keys’ student recently posted in our closed Facebook group:

Hi. In Writing Task 2, when the question is something like, “A university degree is essential for people who want to have a successful career. To what extent do you agree or disagree?” Should I write an argument or an opinion essay? I’m confused. It doesn’t give the 2 sides to analyze, and it seems to ask for my opinion.

Basically, every opinion has another side.

It doesn’t matter if IELTS spells out both sides for you. Even if the task question only provides one opinion, there still exists another.

In fact, even if you write an opinion essay, you’ll still have to write a concession, mentioning the other side, for balance and a higher Task Response score.

Writing an argument essay is always a better bet, because you’ll cover the whole question, and it’s really difficult to write a high-scoring opinion essay for most candidates in 40 minutes.

So, in this question, first decide your opinion, then brainstorm specific ideas and support.


A degree is necessary:

  • Usually, you can’t even get an interview if you don’t have a Bachelor’s degree for traditional career paths.
    • 90% of jobs posted in the business sector require a Bachelor’s degree, if not a Master’s degree as well. (This is fake research, but it’s logical and believable.)


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Your goal in each body paragraph is to give new, more specific information in each sentence.

When trying to think of support, think of real people, real places, and real times.

A degree is not necessary:

  • Many successful people never finished college.

This second side has more specific, real examples, that it would be the stronger paragraph.

So, you should choose this side to be your opinion in paragraph 3. This would help you stand out, because most students would choose the more obvious opinion.

In fact, it doesn’t matter what your real opinion is on the task question. Whichever side is easier to think of strong support for, that should be your opinion.

What is your opinion on today’s question?

Share your ideas and examples in the comments section below!



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