How to approach the “Discuss both views and give your opinion” IELTS question


Hi everyone.

In recent weeks I have received a lot of questions from subscribers on the “discuss both views and give your opinion” question format.  The following is an illustration of how I suggest you go about planning and writing such essays, using a transport-related question that recently appeared as an IELTS Writing Task 2 problem:

Some people believe government should spend money on building train and subway lines to reduce traffic congestion. Others think that building more and wider roads is the better way to reduce traffic congestion. Discuss both views and give your opinion.

Ok, so for this type of question I will not give my opinion in the introduction.  Instead, I will make the concluding paragraph my opinion, and seek to link it back to the introduction.

My introduction needs an opening sentence, and a paraphrase of the question.

For many residents of major cities around the world, spending long hours mired in traffic jams is an inescapable reality of life.  Investment in rail infrastructure in order to ease congestion presents as one possibility, as does laying new roads and widening existing ones.  In this essay I will examine each of these views, and state my own position.

Now my first body paragraph will discuss the first argument.  Again, my own opinion will not be given, and I will maintain a neutral tone.  I will also make sure that I do not repeat what I have already covered in the introduction, and I will include an example.

For some, trains provide an environmentally friendly and convenient alternative to the cars that clog our highways during peak hours.  While the initial infrastructure investment requirements are considerable, it is argued that governments will recoup this cost over time.  Singapore stands as a notable example of a country that has successfully used rail networks as part of a multi-pronged strategy to reduce traffic delays.

Now my next body paragraph, using the same approach for the other argument.

On the other hand, the logic of building more and better roads to reduce traffic snarls has garnered some support.  If roads cannot cope with the volume of traffic then, according to this view, what is needed is greater investment in road infrastructure.  The eight-lane freeways of Los Angeles and the autobahns of Germany are striking illustrations of the application of this approach.

And so to the conclusion where I will give my own view.  I need to find a link back to my comment in the introduction about people stuck in traffic jams.

I believe that there can be no single solution to the problem of traffic congestion .  In countries like the United States where the convenience of car ownership is highly prized, constructing new rail links would not bring about significant change in road traffic volumes, and so building new roads is a more effective solution.  However, cities such as Jakarta in Indonesia have few train lines  and leave commuters with little choice other than to drive. In such cases investment in rail infrastructure would likely bring substantial benefit.  Ultimately, matching the right solution to the specific traffic issues faced by each city is essential if we are to free frustrated commuters from the grip of traffic jams.

Please also note that I have not cited any fake research!

As always, feedback and comments are welcome.


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