How To Write A Positive Or Negative 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 positive/negative 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 Positive/Negative 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 on the positive and negative points and possible examples you can use. 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. 

TIP >> The structure may differ depending on the question. Most questions will simply ask 'is this a positive or negative development?' but other questions may ask further questions. You will have to adjust the structure, to make sure you are answering all parts of the question. This means adding an extra paragraph to answer another question, or to give your opinion.


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 outline for 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

  • Outline the specific topics that will be discussed in the main body paragraphs.

Paragraph 2 - Main Body Paragraph 1

In this paragraph, you should write about the positive view that supports your opinion on the issue from the question. You should give specific information and only write about one main idea in each main body paragraph. 

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

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 to support your view

This is how the paragraph should look >>

  • Introduce the topic (topic sentence - positive)

  • Explain/give detail

  • Example

Paragraph 3 - Main Body Paragraph 2

In this paragraph, you should write about the negative view (depending on the question) or another positive view that supports your opinion on the issue from the question.

If the questions says positive or negative development - write in support of the view you are leaning towards.

You should give specific information and only write about one main idea in each main body paragraph. 

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

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 to support your view

This is how the paragraph should look >>

  • Introduce the topic (topic sentence - negative)

  • 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 which side is better in your opinion. You should not enter any new information or ideas in this paragraph. 

  • Summary of the main points

  • Which side is better in your opinion


SAMPLE Positive/Negative ESSAY >>

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

In the modern workplace, many workers are being given the option to undertake their job from home, thus leading to the managing of one's own time. In my opinion, I believe that this is a positive development. Firstly, this essay will discuss, how being able to work away from the confinement of an office can bring positive elements into a worker's life. Secondly, it will discuss the positive impact this may have on a person when no longer involved in the day to day activities happening in the office environment.

Firstly, having the option to work from home, can have a positive impact on an employee's schedule. This is especially so if the person has children or other dependants because working long hours is not always possible depending on your lifestyle. Therefore it allows the employee to manage their own schedule while ensuring that they maintain a work-life balance, working from wherever they are in the world. Having flexible working hours means that collecting children from school, spending time travelling and being able to attend non-work related appointments becomes much easier. For example, Google allows senior engineers to work remotely, using flexible hours for those who travel a lot or have the need to work with little interruptions.

Similarly, employees can develop better mental health when they are removed from the everyday office environment. When working away from the office, the individual may feel like they can work at their own pace, take breaks when needed and deal with less stress. Working for long hours each day in an office environment with co-workers and management can seriously impact a person's mental health, leading to frustration, depression and burnout. For instance, according to an article published in The New York Times in 2016, a survey of people who work online, from home in the state of New York showed that 94% of people said they had developed overall better health.

In conclusion, in my view, there are more positive elements than negative, as there are clear benefits to individuals who have the opportunity to work from home, including having a flexible schedule. However, those working away from the office environment should also manage their work/life balance, so they take care of their mental health.

(Word Count = 355 / Band Score 9)


  • Task Achievement - The answer provides the view that there are more positive sides than negative, supported by relevant examples.

  • 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 (firstly, similarly).

  • 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 read the question and plan your answer around what it is asking you to do. 


WRITING TASK 2 BAND SCORE 9 CRITERIA >>


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