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.


Transport – IELTS Listening Exercise


Hi everyone.


The recording below is a reading of an article published by the Brookings Institution on traffic congestion. Listen to the recording and answer questions 1-6.


1. In the United States, the majority of people seeking to travel during rush hour use:

A. Private vehicles

B. Trains

C. Buses


2. America’s basic traffic problem is that:

A. The road system is outdated

. The road system in overly complex

C. The road system cannot cope with peak hour loads


3. One of the problems with charging road tolls is that:

A. They do not reduce congestion

B. They are too expensive to collect

C. They favour wealthy drivers


4. Building more roads is not an effective solution because:

A. People would simply buy more cars

C. It would be too expensive

There is no room for more roads in our cities.


5. In the United States in 2000, what percentage of all commuters travelled by public transport?

A. 10.3%

B. 8.4%

c. 4.7%


6. The only way to manage excess demand for roads during peak hour is to:

A. Provide better public transport

B. Build more roads

C. Have people wait in line




Good Luck!


Transport – IELTS Writing Exercise


Hi everyone.

This week’s writing exercise is an IELTS Task 2 question that appeared in 2016.

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.

As a starting point, remember that for this type of question there is no need to give your opinion in the introduction (otherwise you end up repeating yourself).  In addition, once you have paraphrased the two sides of the argument, make sure that your body paragraphs do no repeat what you have already paraphrased.



As always, feedback and comments are welcome.

Good Luck!


Transport – IELTS Reading Exercise


Hi everyone.

This week’s reading exercise is an essay on the causes of traffic problems and some possible solutions, taken from the website. This is too long to be an IELTS-format essay, but contains many of the same elements.

Read the following essay and answer the following:

Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer?  Answer Yes, No, or Not Given.

  1. Poor practices of employers are one of the main reasons why traffic congestion occurs.
  2. As the number of cars increases, so does the level of pollution
  3. Cities have an unlimited capacity to expand into green belt spaces
  4. Congestion almost always occurs when people are travelling to and from work.
  5. People are forced away from public transport by inconvenient timetables.
  6. Governments should invest in affordable public transport and better infrastructure.

Cities like New York, London, and Paris have all had to deal with thousands of cars running through their streets each day. Traffic congestion is a big problem for everyone within the city. The main reasons why traffic congestion occurs are more cars, poor road management, and poor practices on behalf of employers.

One of the main reasons why there’s more congestion is due to more cars on the road. The adult population is increasing and therefore more people want their own personal transport to get around with. As the number of cars increase the chance of congestion also increases. It’s why in smaller towns and villages congestion is almost unheard of.

This is coupled with a lack of proper infrastructure. Councils and national governments fail to act on the looming threat of heavy congestion until it happens. The city doesn’t expand along with an increasingly car reliant population. A single street with a lane on each side before might not suffice in ten years after the population has increased. Authorities often fail to convert this into a dual carriageway.

Alternate routes are also a problem. Cities have limited capacity to expand due to poor funding and planning restrictions preventing building on green belt spaces. Cities are forced to work with the routes they already have. If they can’t increase the number of lanes it leads to congestion.

Employers can also play a part in dealing with congestion. Congestion almost always happens when people are travelling to and from work. Traffic congestion has eased in recent years as a result of growing unemployment and the introduction of more flexible work hours.

By adhering to the traditional 9-5 routines, there’s a greater chance of congestion. Everyone has to travel to and from work at the same time each day.

A lack of public transport, or poor public transport options, will also cause problems. If there isn’t enough buses, trams, or local trains people are forced to take their cars to work. The ratio of passengers to vehicles decreases, whereas if they were able to take the bus people would feel less of a need to drive their cars.

In many places, commuters are forced away from public transport by the private companies which run them. Increasing fare prices, especially on the trains, make driving a car with its associated high fuel costs cheaper than public transport. By pushing people back to their cars again they only exasperate the congestion problem.

In conclusion, congestion is mainly caused by a desire for people to drive their cars coupled with a failure by local government to act. If they invested in more affordable public transport options and a better infrastructure the incidence of congestion would decrease in major cities.


As always, feedback and comments are welcome.

Good Luck!


Transport – IELTS Vocabulary


Hi everyone.

Our theme for this week’s IELTS exercises will be transport.

To assist with tomorrow’s reading passage, as well as with the writing, listening and speaking exercises later in the week, you might like to familiarize yourself with the following vocabulary:




Dual carriageway


Green belt


To exasperate



Good Luck!




Hi everyone.

Our theme for this week’s IELTS exercises will be transport.  Essay questions related to traffic problems some up frequently in IELTS exams, and so we will structure the exercises around one such question.

On Monday I will post a vocabulary  that may help you with the exercises.

Tuesday’s reading exercise will be an essay on traffic problems in major cities.  You will be asked to give answers in the true/false/not given format.

Wednesday’s writing exercise will be based on the IELTS Writing Task 2 format.  You will be asked to discuss a traffic-related issue in the “discuss both sides and give your opinion” format.

Thursday’s listening exercise will be a recording of me reading another article related to transport.  You will be asked to complete sentences.

Friday’s speaking exercise will require you to speak for two minutes on a topic related to transport in your own country.

If you have registered with The IELTS Guy, you will receive suggested answers by email over the weekend.

If you have subscribed to The IELTS Guy, you will receive personalized feedback on your responses.

As always, feedback and comments are welcome.

Good Luck!