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As you embark on the path of IELTS preparation, the IELTS Writing Task 2 stands as a crucial milestone, shaping your journey towards academic and professional success. This segment, known for testing clarity, coherence, and argumentative prowess, often emerges as a formidable challenge for many test-takers.

In this detailed guide, we navigate through the intricacies of the IELTS Writing Task 2, focusing on effective argument structuring—a skill pivotal in elevating your discussion essay writing and boosting your overall score. Dive into strategic insights and tips, designed to not only acquaint you with the nuances of the Writing Task 2 but also to enhance your proficiency and confidence in crafting compelling, well-structured arguments.

8 Tips on how to structure an argument in your essay

A well-structured argument is the backbone of a successful discussion essay. Let's explore the key strategies to structure it proficiently:

1. The thesis statement

The thesis statement forms the bedrock of your essay in IELTS Writing Task 2, nestled within the opening paragraphs to introduce your central argument. It's the compass that directs the flow of your essay, clearly stating your position on the topic.

For instance, take the discussion question which lays out opposing views: “Some people believe that buying from reputable pet breeders is ethical, while others believe that there is a risk of buying from unscrupulous sellers and causes common issues in pet ownership, like abandonment.”

A robust thesis statement could be, “While there are ethical pet breeders who operate lawfully, I believe that individuals should refrain from purchasing pets from breeders as they may have dubious business practices and contribute to problems of neglect and abandonment by irresponsible pet owners.”

This statement not only lays out your stance in a clear and debatable manner but also sets a coherent path for the rest of your essay. Each paragraph should then serve to reinforce this thesis, presenting arguments and evidence in support of your view. Straying from your thesis statement can cause your essay to lose focus and persuasive power, so it's crucial to maintain a consistent and aligned argument throughout.

2. Developing your arguments

In the IELTS Writing Task 2, developing strong, coherent arguments is essential for an impactful essay. Begin by brainstorming ideas that align with and support your thesis. For instance, in an essay that asks you to discuss the most effective way of ensuring environmental conservation, consider arguments about renewable energy and international treaties, each supported by examples. It's crucial that each argument not only presents factual information but also critically interprets these facts, showing how they reinforce your thesis. This approach ensures that your essay goes beyond merely stating facts, offering a persuasive, cohesive narrative that strengthens your overall argument.

3. Paragraph structure

Mastering paragraph structure is pivotal in crafting a coherent and persuasive essay for the IELTS Writing Task 2. Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that clearly introduces its main idea, setting the tone for the arguments to follow. For example, a sentence like “Renewable energy, particularly solar power, is instrumental in combatting global warming,” establishes a focused topic. The subsequent sentences should elaborate on this idea, incorporating supporting details, examples, or data, and concluding with a sentence that ties the idea back to your overall thesis. This methodical approach ensures each paragraph contributes to the overall argument of your essay, maintaining a logical flow that is easy for the reader to follow and understand.

4. Transitioning between points

Effective transitioning is essential in the IELTS Writing Task 2 to ensure a seamless flow of ideas and maintain the coherence of your essay. Transitional phrases such as “furthermore,” “conversely,” or “as a result” are instrumental in connecting paragraphs and ideas. For instance, after illustrating the benefits of renewable energy, you could transition with, “Conversely, the high initial costs and technological limitations present significant challenges.” Such transitions not only help in guiding the reader through the progression of your argument but also highlight the logical relationships between your points. A well-executed transition not only enhances the readability of your essay but also reinforces its argumentative structure, making your essay more compelling and coherent. Remember, the fluidity with which your ideas connect can greatly impact the persuasiveness and clarity of your argument, both critical factors in achieving a higher score in the IELTS writing section.

5. Using appropriate evidence

In the IELTS Writing Task 2, bolstering your arguments with robust evidence is key to constructing a persuasive essay. However, you will not have access to external resources such as the internet during the test, meaning you won’t be able to include statistics or case studies unless you have them memorised.

Instead, the type of evidence used should be based on your own knowledge and experience, showing your own deeper understanding of how the subject applies to daily life. For example, in an essay related to sustainability, you can bring in the measures you personally take to lead a sustainable life, such as using reusable cutlery. Still, it’s important to not just present evidence, but to link it explicitly to your thesis, explaining how it substantiates your point. This approach demonstrates not only your understanding of the topic but also your ability to engage critically with a topic, a skill highly valued in the Writing Task 2. Properly integrated evidence can transform your essay from a series of assertions to a compelling, evidence-based argument, significantly enhancing its impact and effectiveness.

6. Addressing counter arguments

Effectively addressing counter arguments is a critical aspect of constructing a compelling essay in the IELTS Writing Task 2. This approach not only showcases your understanding of the topic from multiple perspectives but also strengthens your argument. When presenting a counter argument, it's crucial to first acknowledge it respectfully and then systematically dismantle its validity using logical reasoning or evidence. For instance, if your thesis statement supports online learning, a counter argument might be the lack of personal interaction. You could counter this by describing your experience with communities on online learning platforms. By addressing opposing views in this manner, you demonstrate critical thinking and the ability to engage in a nuanced debate, both of which are valuable skills in the Writing Task 2 and essential for attaining a high score. Ultimately, the key is to respect the counter argument while clearly illustrating why your position remains stronger and more valid.

7. Conclusion strategies

The conclusion in the IELTS Writing Task 2 serves as the final impression you leave with the reader, reinforcing your thesis and summarising the key points of your argument. It's essential to revisit your thesis statement here, drawing together the threads of your discussion to reinforce your stance effectively. For example, if your essay argues in favour of renewable energy, your conclusion should succinctly recapitulate how your arguments support this stance, highlighting the environmental and economic benefits. Avoid introducing any new information; instead, focus on providing a clear and concise synthesis of the presented ideas. A well-crafted conclusion not only strengthens the coherence of your essay but also emphasises the logical progression of your thoughts, leaving the reader with a definitive understanding of your position. This part of the essay is crucial for consolidating your argument and ensuring that your points resonate with the reader long after they have finished reading.

8. Final editing and review

The final editing and review stage is a vital component of succeeding in the IELTS Writing Task 2. With typically 40 minutes at your disposal, an effective strategy would be to allocate approximately five to 10 minutes for initial planning, 25 to 30 minutes for writing, and the final five to 10 minutes for revising and proofreading. This structured approach allows you to thoroughly examine your essay for structural integrity, coherence, and clarity. Ensure that your arguments align with the prompt and are logically presented with relevant evidence and examples. In your final review, scrutinise for grammatical accuracy, fluidity in transitions, and overall persuasiveness. This dedicated time for revision can be the difference between an average and a high-scoring essay, as it gives you the opportunity to refine your argument and rectify any overlooked errors.

Actionable tips during the test

Effective time management and clarity of thought under exam conditions are pivotal. Here are some strategies to enhance your performance during the test:

  • Time management: Devise a balanced approach for planning, writing, and reviewing. Allocate five minutes for brainstorming and outlining your essay, 30 minutes for actual writing, and use the remaining time for revising and proofreading.

  • Staying focused: Maintain clarity and focus. Engage in brief mindfulness exercises before the test to ensure a calm and concentrated mind. Stay on task and avoid distractions.

  • Idea generation and structuring: Quickly brainstorm and organise your ideas. Use the initial planning time to jot down main arguments and supporting evidence, ensuring a clear and logical structure for your discussion essay.

  • Avoiding pitfalls: Stay vigilant against common errors such as straying off-topic or using overly complex sentence structures. Ensure your writing is direct, relevant to the prompt, and easy to follow.

  • Responding to the prompt: Carefully read and understand the essay prompt. Tailor your arguments and examples to directly answer the question posed, ensuring that every part of your essay contributes to your overall response.

Mastering argument structure for higher scores


Mastering the art of structuring an argument in the IELTS Writing Task 2 is a skill that develops with practice and dedication. At IDP, we understand the nuances of IELTS preparation and are committed to supporting your academic journey. We offer comprehensive resources to help you refine your writing skills, including access to comprehensive IELTS preparation materials online and free IELTS online practice tests or exams. To enhance your learning experience, don’t hesitate to enrol in IELTS preparation courses or classes. Access them at any time by downloading the IELTS by IDP app and increase your chances of achieving a higher score in your IELTS test.

Ready to embark on your IELTS journey? Book your IELTS test with IDP today. Let us help you unlock your potential and achieve the scores you need for your academic and career growth.