Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

“Do you think the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?” is a common IELTS essay question in writing task 2 which many students struggle with. Below is an sample essay question to practice this type of essay and also some tips to help you.

To learn in detail how to answer “do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?” using the right technique, see my Advanced IELTS Writing Task 2 Lessons.

Essay Question Sample

In recent years, more and more people are choosing to read e-books rather than paper books.

Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

Tips for Outweigh Questions

To answer this question you must:

  • brainstorm ideas supporting both sides first
  • this question is asking for your opinion
  • answer the question – do you think the advantages or the disadvantages are most important? Which one?
  • put your answer to the question in the thesis statement in your introduction
    • you can use the word “outweigh” in your introduction if you want
    • or you can simply explain if there are more advantages or disadvantages in your opinion
    • avoid formulaic statements for your thesis statement – this means don’t use a memorised phrase
  • have one body paragraph which gives details about the opposite side to your opinion
  • have either one or two body paragraphs which give details of the side you chose to support
  • re-state your opinion in the conclusion using different language

Be Careful

  • The “outweigh” essay question is not exactly the same as the Advantages and Disadvantages essay question.
  • This type of question is very different from the “positive or negative” essay question.

Post your essay in the comments box below for other students to comment on or, if I have time, I might post a comment myself to help you improve.

Recommended for Writing Task 2

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Comments

  1. Heyy lizz i want to ask u , you said previously that we shoud write in the body paragrapgh (1 para) explaining the oppsite side : actually am a little bit confused because it’s really like the advantages and disadvantages essay , can u tell me the diffrence between them so i can be aware while am writing.

    • The advantages and disadvantages does not require an opinion – you present both sides equally. The outweigh essay requires an opinion – which one is more important – you explain your view why A if more important than B

  2. Hello Liz,
    It seems that ”do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages” essay is exactly similar to the Advantage-Disadvantage essay seeking an opinion. Plz, guide me if I am wrong.

    Thanks in advance 🙂

  3. Thank you for this free wonderful opportunity Liz.

  4. Hi Liz; here’s my essay to the above question about e-books

    There is an increasing number of people who prefer reading e-books over traditional paper copies. In my opinion, although there are some drawbacks to e-books, I believe that the advantages are far more significant than these disadvantages.

    Some people consider e-books to lack the traditional essence of an actual paper book. Owning a book is different to having a digital copy as some say that it gives the book more value. For instance, a book can be kept for life and borrowed to friends whereas an e-book could be accidentally deleted in seconds. Others argue against e-books as it is thought that reading on a bright screen for long periods of time can have damaging effects on the eyes, however paper books do not cause problems in the same way.

    In contrast e-books are believed to be far better than paper books according to some. They are easily accessible on many devices such as laptops, tablets and mobile phones which the majority of people own nowadays. In addition to this reference points within a particular book are found much more easily compared to flicking through pages of a paper copy which can be time-consuming and difficult. Furthermore, e-books saves people’s time by the lack of need to go to a library or book shop and can be accessed from home.

    It is a lot cheaper to buy an e-book than a traditional book, especially compared to the hardback versions which can be very expensive. Money is saved once more as there are no travel costs to gain access to an e-book, but there is a paper book as mentioned before. As well as this, most e-books offer the first chapter for free to give the buyer a chance to see if the book is worth their money. On the other hand when buying traditional copies this option is not available and the reader must judge the book by it’s cover. Admittedly, there is a blurb on the back of paper books but this is not enough to see whether a book is worth the buy. Not to mention that the blurb is also available on all e-books too.

    In conclusion, I think that in regards to e-books there are more significant and numerous advantages compared to the fewer disadvantages. E-books are more efficient for today’s busy lifestlyle and moreover encourages reading in this modern setting, which I believe to be very important.

  5. People now have the freedom to work and live anywhere in the world due to the development of communication technology and transportation.
    Do the advantages of this development outweigh the disadvantages?

    The advancements in communication and modes of transport have resulted to more job opportunites abroad,which claimed by many to have more positive effects.However, others say that residing and working in other locations have only resulted in more negative effects.I believe that there are more benefits than drawbacks, if people start to accept work and live abroad.
    On the one hand, one major drawback of having a job in another country, is being away from the family members. To illustrate this, in the Philippines, the father of the family is sometimes forced to work overseas in order to provide better for his growing family.Eventhough, there are modernized applications like Skype, which let him see his relatives in the Philippines more often, still there is no physical contact between them. As a result, once the father goes home to his family, his children are sometimes less affectionate and behave awkwardly when he is around.
    On the other hand, one advantage why it is better to apply for an occupation abroad is for the reason that companies in other countries offer higher salaries. Let us take the nurses’ job as an example, in the Philippines, nurses working in non-government hospitals have a mere 200 USD wage per month, as compared to a 1200 USD monthly salary in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, more nurses take this opportunity to be employed in another country, to supply better for their family’s everyday needs.
    Another compelling reason why people move to abroad for work is because it gives them the opportunity to experience another culture. For instance, when people from Asia go to the West or Middle East for work, then this enriches their lives as they get to learn another languages, customs, and traditions. Thus, raising their cultural awareness and becoming less judgemental.
    In conclusion, although living and working abroad have some drawbacks, I believe that its advantages outweigh its disadvantages for the reasons that jobs overseas pay higher and enrich people’s lives.

  6. Dear Liz, i have got serious misunderstanding about structure of opinion essays. For example topic : More and more students choose to go to another country for their higher education . do you think the benefits outweigh the problems associated with it.
    So, at first i have to write introduction, then positive side and of cource negative one. After it comes to opinion right? what i have to write in opinion if i agree that advantages outnumber it’s disadvantages. So, please can you explain me the structure fully and more clearly about oinion part of this essay. Thanks in advance

  7. Previous was wrong
    Introduction^
    Cutting-edge technologies have altered human’s activities entirely including reading book habit.Hence, it is common nowadays to see people reading books by means of electronical devices accordingly reading less by using tangible books. Nevertheless, I believe that popularising of e-books will have relatively more benefits than traditional paper books for several broad reasons.
    I’m not quite certain about thesis. What do you think Liz?

    • Amir Ansari says:

      Dear NICK,
      You have put your idea/argument in the Intro para. Your opinion should go to the Body paras. Here, in intro para, you should not add or omit what is given by the IELTS test. You are required to paraphrase the statement first and then answer the question by reflecting on your opinions.

  8. Hi Liz,
    Just finished my official IELTS writing in the Philippines hours ago with a task 2 question:

    People now buy more consumer goods because of cheaper price tags.

    Do you think the advantages outweigh the Disadvantages?

    My point of attack was I wrote the introduction with my opinion that it does outweigh the drawbacks

    For body 1, I stated it enabled families to provide the needs of its members in terms of food and medicine + placed 1 disadvantage which was Quality which i pointed out as negligible.

    For body 2 I wrote diversity of products to choose from. Brings in good competition for the manufacturers, further decreasing the prices, resulting to more work opportunities. + stated a negative which was biases by the masses for products leading to downfall of smaller companies.

    Then i concluded with a brief summary of advantageous points as well as the negatives then reaffirmed that indeed the advantages are more important than the drawbacks

    Was my attack acceptable? i just read from this article that i shouldve written both sides in two separate body paragraphs.

    • *people now live more and more in societies with plenty of cheap consumer goods

      Do you think the advantage overweigh the disadvantages

    • ze bad guy says:

      whats your score for u approach?

      • Unfortunately i got a 6.5 for it. After reflecting i found out I need to have 2 body for adv and 1 for disad for it to answer the question more

        • icetela says:

          exactly. Having your advantages in 1 paragraph and disadvantages in another paragraph make your the essay more orderly, thus, you will have a better score in your cohesion and coherence. 🙂

  9. MOHAMMED SALIM SALIM UDDIN says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I would like to request you please could you post one more video for how to write body paragraph for writing task 2 ? is it not possible please tell me how i got your more video?

    thank you. salim

  10. Hi liz.Am from KSA and I want to purchase your advanced writing lessons but I dont have a paypal account ,is it possible to purchase them using visa card?!

  11. TARANJEET SINGH says:

    People now use more and more internet to do tasks (eg. Shopping, paying bills, buy movie tickets) rather then in person.
    Do the advantages outweigh disadvantages?

    = i have written all the advantages y people prefer internet and includes 4 examples and some disadvantages in 2nd body paragraph.. Let me know the correct answer please. M very upset…. (correct if any mistake is in the topic line)

  12. Lislei Douroucas says:

    Hi, Liz. I’ll be waiting for your response when you come back. My doubt concerns eletronic media language. The word ‘app’ is very common in everyday conversation about technology. Should I use the word ‘application’ or ‘computer software’ if I ever need to use the word ‘app’, or can I use the abbreviated form (app) in my essay?
    For example, in the sentence “Nowadays people are resorting to apps on their smart phones as a means of increasing access to daily services (…)” do you think the abbreviation rather than the word ‘applications’ would be inappropriate?
    Thanks in advance. 🙂

  13. Hi Liz mam you are doing very good job.
    Actually I have a problem in reading module please could you help me

  14. Hi Liz. What are the advantages and disadvantages? and Do the advantages outweigh disadvantages? these 2 questions are same right? responses to these 2 questions are almost same paragraphical order?

    • The first one (Advantages and Disadvantages asking to say about both) body paragraph 1 Advantage and body paragraph 2 Disadvantage . But the second one you need to say your opinion, that is the difference.

    • In the first question (what are the advantages and disadvantages)? you should discuss the advantage in the first body paragraph and the disadvantage in the second body paragraph. possibly in equilibrium. However, in the second question (do the advantage outweigh)? you must have a positional statement in your introduction for which you will devote two body paragraphs discussing it and utilize only one body paragraph for the opposite idea. This means your response is not in equilibrium, (say 80% and 20% or 70% and 30%). the position you choose in your introduction carries the higher percentage.

  15. gurpreet singh says:

    Dear Liz, you are great teacher

  16. Rising a number of electronic book causes the decrease in paper books. However, some people think it is positive to go ahead, where as others contradict it. This essay will discuss its both sides.
    On one hand ,there are several benefits of electronic books. First, the group of people using this book can access to wide range of information, which means they can read unlimited informations that are available in e- books. Second, people do not have to carry bundles of paper book everytime beacause e-books are portable and less heavy that can be carried in pocket or in a small bag. Therefore, people can use them in public places, for example, while travelling in trains, buses , or even in aeroplanes and also in parks, supermarkets as well as at work and universities. Third, as e-books are small so, it do not require spacial space at home, where as paper books need more area and it creates more waste.

    On the other hand, this has some drawbacks too. One problem is it make people more lazy. This is because of the minimal hand movement required in e-book , where only a button click is needed to get all information. Another issue is the uncertanity of electronic machine, which means it can stop working any time. Inaddition, long period of using e -book may create some health problems such as vision problem and headache. And finally, every consumer can not afford to buy it because these books are expensive in market.

    In conclusion, although e-books can cause some problems and are expensive, overall it is positive because it do not create pollution and does not require special space and also it is necessary to step forward in this technololical era.

  17. Hi Liz,
    we are so grateful that you help so many students around the world especially those who can’t afford to pay for school fees like me.
    would you please explain a bit more about the tip you gave us above, “” have one body paragraph which gives details about the opposite side to your opinion”
    -Do i still need to follow that even if i chose one sided opinion?
    -Please correct if i am wrong : One sided opinion = introduction + 1st Body P which supports one side A + 2nd body P which supports the same side A (+ 3rd body P which supports the same side A) + conclusion? So i don’t talk or support the other side B.
    Please help, I am confused.

    Thank you.

  18. Hi Liz..
    I am taking coaching for GT Ielts but confused on one matter..My teacher suggested that if you give only one side view with strong and comprehensible ideas then the chances of getting high marks is more..and if you will write partial view means some for agree and disagree both..then there will be less marks..
    Can you please suggest that how it should be??I am targeting for 8 bands in writing section so this clarity is essential to me.
    Thanks a lot.

    • You don’t get more marks because you have chosen a different position. You get marked on your ability to present a position and support your position. It is easier to support a one sided approach and it is more difficult to present a balanced view. For that reason, teachers recommend students to aim for the one sided approach to avoid such mistakes. I also think that students who have not received professional training in the balanced view should not attempt it.
      All the best
      Liz

      • Thanks for your reply Liz..actually according to my teacher, I am good at writing on both aspects but she opines that I should write with single view approach..
        That’s why I got confused..
        If question is- to what extent do you agree or disagree..then if I am having vivid points on both aspects then is it good to write on both or only one view?
        Thanks!!

  19. Hello, please take a look at my essay, it is not 250words, i just want to know if i have written correctly. i think i got off-topic and don’t knnow exactly how i can improve my writting. Thank you in advance.

    Recently, increasing number of people prefer reading e-books instead of paper books. In my opinion, drawbacks of this trend overweigh its advantages.

    E-books are convinient, because of their size and memory. people can dawnload many of their favorite books in one technology and carry it with themselves. Another good side of electroic books is their screenlights which make us able to read even at dark. I always use my e-book during exams, because i do not want to put 4-5 books in my bag.

    In contrast, as all electronic devices e-books are bad for eyes. To illustrate 60% of e-book users suffer from eye-related problems and complain that they see everything in blur. However, higher percentage of population tend to buy e=books, thatswhy demand for paper books countiniously decline by directly leading to increased unemployment rate. Book-publishing companies go to bankrupcy or merge with others, because of low sales and high competition. For example, in late twentieth century the number of books published exceeds current figures.

    In coclusion, disadvantages of e-books are more serios and long-lasting than advantages.

  20. Hi Dear Liz,
    If I write
    BP1= advantages of using e-books rather than paper books
    BP2= disadvantages of using e-books instead of paper books

    conclusion= there are more uses in using e books over paper books.

    Please advice me is this the correct way or in BP2 do I have to write,the disadvantages of paper books,i’m confused of that

  21. Hello,
    I have a question …. When I write the inntroduction of any essay I must paraphrase the sentence given at the beginning, but when I write my conclusion I must restate the ideas that I paraphrased it in the itroduction, this means can I restate it using the same words given in the sentence? Because I been in told that words that I used in introduction and in conclusion mustn’t be the same.

    Thx ,,,,

    • Yes your conclusion contains the main ideas paraphrased.
      Liz

    • Amir Ansari says:

      answer the essay Q in the conclusion
      use paraphrasing
      summarize your ideas from the intro and body paras in the conclusion and never share new ideas
      two sentences can be adequate

  22. Hello ms.liz,
    I wonder what type of essay I should practice, because I don’t really know what type they may ask us in ielts writing task 2? Is it discussion text, information text, description…..etc?

    Thx anyway,
    Yassmin

  23. Hi Liz
    I need your advice please
    Is it ok to use this sentence as theise statement “This essay will discuss the benefits and drawbacks of such a measure.” Or is it overused

    Thank u in advance for your help 🙂

    • Don’t use learned phrases. That is a whole sentence which you have learned and copied. The examiner has seen it used many, many times. Don’t use it.
      All the best
      Liz

  24. constantinos says:

    Hi Liz!
    Which is the correct order? To develop the opposite site and then the two body paragraphs with my opinion, the reverse or it doesn’t mind?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Put the advantages in one BP and the disadvantages in the other BP. Make sure you clearly show which outweighs which.
      Liz

      • constantinos says:

        Thank you for your response!

      • Liz,

        I’m interested in Constantinos’ question too. In your post you said put one body for the position you don’t support and one or two paragraphs for the position you support. So I have some questions:

        1) It’s better to put the position you don’t support in your first body paragraph right – end with the stronger position in the subsequent body paragraphs?

        2) You suggested in response to constantinos just one paragraph of each. But you can do it one paragraph for weaker position and two for stronger position right – as you recommended is possible in your post.

        3) It’s ok to mention just one point for the weaker position even though the question says “advantages” or “disadvantages” – i.e. “s” plural. Thank you

        • You put adv in the first BP and disadvantages in the 2nd BP. Keep it simple and clear. However, it is possible to have just one adv and two disadv in separate paragraphs if you wish to support disad. If you can’t think of plural advs then that’s fine.
          Liz

  25. Just few years back, plenty of people are selecting to read e-books instead of than paper books in my opinion, i concur reading papers books rather than reading e books because e-books need to charge a battery and handle with care, but sometimes e-books are most helpful in traveling i could download the number of books in on e-book system i dont have to carry number of books.

    dear mam,
    is this correct in information.

  26. How can i paraphrase “advantages & disadvantages”?
    Can i use this symble & in ielts?

    • Never use language symbols instead of common words. The only accepted symbols are percentage and currency symbols.
      Liz

  27. Nguyễn Thị Nhật Lệ says:

    Dear Liz,
    I’m confused about planning the structure for the advantages disadvantages essay? Can you do me a favour by point out what the possible structure are for advantages and disadvantages?
    Regards,
    Julie
    Great acknowledgement!

    • This is not an “advantage and disadvantage essay”, this is an “adv outweigh disadv” essay. However, got both, you will usually have two body paragraphs – one for each.
      Liz

  28. Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

    It is a one side essay or two side?
    I mean to say

    Intro
    Body 1 for merits
    Body 2 for merits
    Body 3 for demerits
    Conclusion

    75% pros
    25% cons

    OR

    One side essay
    Intro= I think merits are morethan demerits?
    Body 1 adv
    Body 2 adv
    Conclusion

    • It is a direct question which you must answer. Do you think the advantages are more important than the disadvantages? You give your answer in the introduction and explain it in the body.
      Liz

  29. Noha Faisal says:

    Hello miss Liz ,
    Could you please give me an example about “memorized phrase” that we should not use it ??
    Regards,

  30. hi liz, I need ideas about this topic..

    Moreover, Entertainment, Drugs, Pollution and traffic, student behavior,
    women security and criminal activities. Markets and sales, and consumer products..

    I need ideas from you ..madam

    Now-a-days, many consumer products are being sold. Because of power advertising and not because of the needs of people.

    • Hi,

      I hope to put essay ideas and topic ideas up each week. I will certainly put these topics on my list.
      Thanks
      Liz

  31. Dear Liz, many thanks for your useful advices

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