How to answer ‎‘To what extent do you agree or disagree?’ questions.

How should you answer ‪‎IELTS writing task 2 questions that ask ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree?’

A lot of people have asked me about this recently.  Here are two typical questions:

1) ‘When the writing task question says ‘To what extent do you agree or disagree?’ Do I have to discuss both of the views in the question? So, one body paragraph for ‘agree’ and other one for the ‘disagree’? Or can I choose to just either agree or disagree?’

2) ‘In “To what extent do you agree or disagree” type questions, will I lose marks if I write only the points in the body paragraphs that I agree or disagree?’

These questions are basically asking – ‘is it ok to only give only one opinion or do I have to mention both opinions?’

Let’s take a look at an authentic example of this type of writing task. It is very important that the writing tasks you use for practice are authentic and reflect the real IELTS test. I find that it is test questions that are NOT authentic (the ones that advertise themselves as ‘free!” or ‘cheaper than Cambridge!”) that often cause problems and confusion.

Here is an image showing an authentic writing task question that comes from Cambridge Practice Tests Book 9.  I’ve added notes to show how you should approach this type of question. Click on the image to see it larger.  If you have any questions or if this is not clear then please let me know – you can message me easily on my Facebook page.Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 7.02.47 PM


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Apple version on iTunes

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Android version on Google play

If you want to improve your vocabulary for IELTS and improve your chances of scoring Band 7 and above, why not try my new vocabulary teaching app?   Click on image 1 to see it in iTunes and image 2 to see it in the google play store.

5 thoughts on “How to answer ‎‘To what extent do you agree or disagree?’ questions.

  1. Muhamamd

    So! Do I have to support why I agree in one paragraph with advatages and effects of not applying and then write a paragraph for disagreement? Please answer.

    1. Pauline Post author

      Hi Muhamamd, it isn’t that you ‘have to’ to do that, it is that I suggest you do that (It means you look at both sides and gives you more to talk about so your answer is balanced and less repetitive) I will be explaining it in more detail in my free book

  2. Ngan

    Hi Pauline,
    Above you said “consider the effects of NOT HAVING unpaid community service”
    I’m a little confused about this.
    These “effects” are negative effects of not having unpaid community service (ideas for disagreement) or both positive and negative effects of that?

    1. Pauline Post author

      They can be either positive or negative – there is no rule for that – it is only about finding ideas to write about and looking at the question for inspiration. A lot of people tell me that they have no ideas, so this suggestion is a way of thinking to help you get ideas in the short space of time you have in the test. For example, not having unpaid community service would mean the students have more time to study and relax (a positive), but would also mean that community suffers as a result (a negative) It’s just about finding things to write about.


Hello! All feedback and any IELTS questions are welcome.