How To Write A Cause And Effect Essay

In writing task 2 you will be asked to write a discursive essay (250 words minimum). You will be given a question asking you to give your opinion, discuss a problem or issue. You could also be asked to provide solutions, evaluate a problem, compare and contrast different ideas or challenge an idea. In this post, we will be focussing on how to write a cause/effect essay.

One of the first things you should do is read the marking criteria to see what the examiners expect. This is really important, as you need to know what they are looking for in the band 7+ boxes. 

You should be able to give the examiners exactly what they want, in order to get a 7+ band score. 


WRITING TASK 2 Cause/Effect STRUCTURE

The structure that I advise my students to use, will be sure to get you a band score 7+. You need to practice using this structure, with as many questions as you can, before sitting your IELTS test. This writing task 2 structure has been proven to be successful for my students and when perfected, can easily help you to achieve a high band score

TIP >> Before you start writing, plan your ideas so that you can organise the information clearly. You must decide what you think is the main cause and what the specific effects are. Take 5 minutes and plan out your ideas and examples.

TIP >> It is very important that spend a full 40 minutes on this task as the score you get for writing task 2 is two-thirds of your total writing score. You also need to write a minimum of 250 words and use your own ideas

TIP >> Remember to write in a formal tone, this is an academic essay, therefore your writing should be formal. 

This is one possible way to structure your essay;

IT IS A 4-PARAGRAPH STRUCTURE >>

Paragraph 1 - The Introduction

This is the introduction to the essay and where you should start off by paraphrasing the question. 

Do you understand what I mean, when I say 'paraphrase' the question?

This means that you rewrite the question in your own words using synonyms. You can't just copy the question again or use the same words in the question. Paraphrase and show off your vocabulary knowledge by using synonyms. When practising your essay writing, use an online thesaurus to help you. This is a great tool and can help you to learn many new words.

Then your next sentence should introduce the essay, this will tell the examiner exactly what you will discuss in the main body paragraphs. For example, Firstly this essay will discuss......... Secondly this essay will discuss.......

There are two sentences you need in the introduction >>

  • Paraphrase the question
  • Introduce the specific topics that will be discussed in the main body paragraphs.

Paragraph 2 - Main Body Paragraph 1

In this paragraph, you should describe a specific cause.

Start the paragraph by introducing the cause. This is where you need to have a topic sentence. The next sentence(s) should explain the cause, going into detail. The third sentence should give an example that supports.

The example you give could be something from your own experience or made up - it is ok to make up something as the examiners will not fact check your information. They want to see your ability to use English at a certain level. You could make up an example from a report, journal, newspaper or University study. 

This is how the paragraph should look >>

  • Introduce the cause (topic sentence)
  • Explain/give detail
  • Example

Paragraph 3 - Main Body Paragraph 2

In this paragraph, you should write about the effect.

Start the paragraph by introducing the effect. This is where you need to have a topic sentence. The next sentence(s) should explain the effect, going into detail. The third sentence should give an example.

The example you give could be something from your own experience or made up - it is ok to make up something as the examiners will not fact check your information. They want to see your ability to use English at a certain level. You could make up an example from a report, journal, newspaper or University study. 

This is how the paragraph should look >>

  • Introduce the effect (topic sentence)
  • Explain/give detail
  • Example

Paragraph 4 - The Conclusion

In the fourth paragraph, you write the conclusion giving a summary of your main points and say what you think is most important about this topic and give a recommendation. You should not enter any new information or ideas in this paragraph. 

  • Summary of the main points
  • What you think is most important about this topic / give a recommendation

Another possible way to structure your cause/effect essay is this;

  • Introduction
  • Cause 1 - Describe a specific cause
  • Cause 2 - Describe another specific cause
  • Effects - Describe the effects from both causes
  • Conclusion

SAMPLE Cause/Effect ESSAY >>

**All questions have been reported by students who have taken the IELTS exam.**

In many countries all over the world today, there are many people who are extremely overweight. This essay will firstly discuss the main reasons that this is happening and secondly look at the effects this is having on individuals and society.

Firstly, obesity is caused by many factors in modern society, including the easy availability of unhealthy food. When a bad diet is matched with a sedentary lifestyle, weight gain is inevitable, since eating large portions of food that is mainly processed, high in salt, sugar and filled with chemicals, the body gains weight fast. For example, a documentary by Channel 4 in 2016 showed that the most obese populations were situated in underdeveloped nations, like Venezuela, where people admitted to finding it difficult to eat a balanced and healthy diet and had no nutritional education.

Secondly, the effect that immense weight gain can have on a person, is that they will likely develop health issues, like diabetes or heart disease.  As the body becomes larger, the metabolism slows down, so that the body is more likely to get a chronic illness. This is impacting on health services around the world, as hospitals are seeing an increased demand to care for obese patients. For instance, The NHS in the UK has admitted to spending around 16 billion per year on obese related diseases like diabetes. UK newspaper The Telegraph reported in 2016 that more money is spent on treating obesity in the UK than on staffing the police force and fire service.  

In conclusion, obesity is being caused by easily available calorie-rich processed food and little exercise. The effects of this are impacting individuals health as well as the cost of national healthcare services. In order for obesity to be lessened, individuals should be educated about nutrition, furthermore, the governments should implement higher taxes on all junk food and sugar.

(Word Count - 310 / Band Score 9)


  • Task Achievement - The answer provides a paraphrased question, to begin with, followed by a relevant cause and effects. Both the cause and effects are fully supported (relevant examples are given) in the main body paragraphs in the essay, with fully extended and well-supported ideas. the style of the writing is appropriate for an academic essay.
  • Coherence and Cohesion - The answer has been divided into clear logical paragraphs and each main body paragraph only has one main idea. There are cohesive links between the main body paragraphs and between most sentences. Examples are highlighted with discourse markers like - for example, and for instance. The conclusion gives a clear recommendation, which is linked to the information in the main body paragraphs.
  • Lexical Resource - There is evidence of a wide range of vocabulary, with no errors in the text.
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy - The answer has no grammatical errors. The sentences have a wide range of structures. 

TIP >> Remember to give both a cause and effect. Use each of the main body paragraphs to support your ideas, giving examples that are relevant. In the conclusion, summarise your main points and say what is important about the topic/give a recommendation. 


WRITING TASK 2 BAND SCORE 9 CRITERIA >>


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