IELTS Writing Task 2: should you mention both sides?

I often receive questions like this from students:

For 'agree or disagree' questions, my teacher told me that I should mention both sides of the argument, even if I have a strong opinion. Is this true? And how do I do it?

Here's my answer:

  • It is not true that you must always mention both sides.
  • The way you answer will depend on the particular question and on the ideas that you have.

Let's look at some examples:

1) Look at the strong opinion essay that I shared here. My argument is that we do have too many choices, and I think it would be strange to contradict myself by writing about the opposite view. Why would I want to mention the view that we don't have too many choices?

2) Now look at this essay. You'll see that I express a strong opinion in paragraph two, and then I refute (argue against) some opposite views in paragraph three. In other words, I do mention the other side of the argument, but in a negative way.

3) Finally, if you study this essay, you'll see that I am able to write about both sides of the topic in a balanced way, even though I disagree with the argument given in the question.

When somebody tells you that you must always answer in a certain way, you should be cautious. If you're confused, just forget all of the advice, and focus instead on what the question is asking you to do.

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