IELTS Topic: Urban Planning

The current IELTS topic of Urban Planning in IELTS Speaking and Writing Task 2. This topic has appeared in the IELTS test recently. For this reason, it is a good topic to prepare for. Many people find this topic challenging because they don’t have many ideas about it. Below you will find:

  • What urban planning means
  • Speaking Part 3 Questions
  • Speaking Model Answers
  • Writing Task 2 Essay Questions
  • Useful Vocabulary and Ideas

This topic might also be called Urban Design.

What is Urban Planning / Urban Design

Before we look at questions and model answers, lets first understand what urban planning is.

  • Urban planning is about planning where houses and buildings are located in a city.
  • It is about ensuring there will be enough housing for the residents both now and in the future.
  • It is about planning the infrastructure of roads, bridges, overpasses etc to ensure a good flow of traffic.
  • It is also about the design of buildings and their function.
  • It’s about protecting some buildings and knocking others down.
  • It’s about how space is used in a city.
  • It helps ensure that a city can meet the needs of its citizens.
  • Before someone builds a house, it means they would require building permission which ensures their plans are acceptable.

IELTS Speaking Part 3: Urban Planning

Speaking Part Questions for Urban Planning with Model Answers. As you can see from the title of this section, this is most likely to appear in Speaking Part 3. If you had a topic in part 2 about your city, an interesting place in your country, or a crowded place, it is very possible to get this topic in part 3. Below are some questions:

  1. Is urban planning useful? (Why do we need urban planning?)
    1. I think it’s essential for any growing city. If there wasn’t any planning, people would be able to build what they want, where they want. There would be chaos, blocked traffic and unsafe buildings. I think that if any city wants to become successful in the modern world, it needs careful planning so that it remains efficient and appealing.
      1. Alternative answer: I think urban planning is really important, but too much control isn’t good. What I mean is, planning is important for big buildings, historical buildings and the infrastructure, but I think people should still be able to build the house they want for themselves without the government saying no.
      2. I’ve been to cities with good urban planning. They are really a joy to be in. There are wonderful city gardens, cycle paths, well-spaced buildings, trees and roads wide enough for the traffic, good facilities all easily accessible and much more. I think urban planning is essential if a city is to attract visitors, residents and businesses.
  2. Do you think it is interesting living in a crowded area?
    1. Personally, I’m not very keen on crowds. I mean, crowds are ok for concerts or festivals because they are exciting. But I wouldn’t want to live that way on a daily basis. I prefer cities that are more tranquil.
      1. For me, I think all modern cities with the best job opportunities are crowded. You can’t get away from that. It shows how popular the city is. Also, the more crowded it is, the more facilities and entertainments there probably are. I’d love to live in a bustling city. Such cities, feel really alive and fun.
  3. Are cities better to live in than the countryside?
    1. I suppose it depends on who you are talking to. I mean, people who have a family might prefer to live in the countryside where it’s more peaceful and also cheaper. But young people who are trying to get ahead with their careers might prefer a city because there are so many more opportunities and the salaries would be higher.
  4. Is it important for a city to have facilities for amusements?
    1. I think all cities should be designed to have amusements. I can’t imagine so many people living in a city that had nothing to offer for their free time. I mean, cities are the best places to go for nightclubs, cinemas, restaurants and concerts. Also, people come to the city to earn money and most of them probably would want to enjoy their income in their leisure time.
  5. Does urban planning make a city more boring? (Does urban planning take the character out of a city?
    1. I think it depends on the government and the aims of their urban planning. That is to say, some governments are only interested in cheap, unattractive, functional buildings which have no character and no charm. This would definitely make a city pretty boring to visit and live in. But other governments understand that a city should be appealing, with impressive buildings, historical buildings and beautiful parks. So, if urban planning is done correctly, it can make a city more attractive, not only to the residents there, but also to foreigner travellers. After all, tourism is good for the economy.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Essay Question: Urban Planning

Below are examples of essay questions that have appeared in the IELTS test about buildings and city planning.

Some people think that cities should be designed to be beautiful rather than functional. Do you agree?

Some people think urban centres need more green spaces, while others believe more housing is needed. What do you think?

As cities have increased in size and building work has expanded in a haphazard way, there should be more careful planning. Do you agree or disagree?

Some people think it is better to pull down old buildings and replace them with modern ones. However, others believe old buildings still have value. Discuss bot sides and give your opinion.

Some cities locate shops, housing, schools and entertainment in different areas of the city. What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?

Useful Vocabulary for Buildings and Urban Planning Topic

  • requalify existing city buildings
  • create new urbanisations
  • improve the quality of life of the inhabitants / residents
  • ensure a logical and efficient city layout
  • plan commercial centres
  • ensure building safety
  • plan infrastructure, such as roads, airports, railways, public transport system, cycle paths etc
  • planning for the increase in traffic on roads to avoid congestion
  • make educational and health care facilities easy to access
  • without planning, future city growth might become unsustainable
  • protect heritage sites and places of historic significance
  • create national pride through buildings and layout of key buildings
  • plan parks and other green spaces for health benefits
  • ensure that housing and buildings do not encroach on natural resources, places of beauty and other protected areas
  • prohibit development that might threated wildlife and natural habitats
  • to ensure the capacity for future urban growth
  • relocating business outside urban areas
  • decentralising services, such as schools, shops and companies
  • helping with carbon emissions by developing cycle paths and efficient public transport
  • to ensures a good urban landscape
  • waste management and sanitation must be well planned for hygiene reasons
  • it makes a city more liveable / more accessible / more interesting / more appealing
  • people will feel more prosperous in a well planned city
  • it attracts investment for business
  • ensures that the city is well connected with other cities and other countries

IELTS Writing Task 2 Useful Links

Click here for: IELTS Writing Task 2 Model Essays, Tips and Lessons

Click here for: IELTS Writing Task 1: Model Answers, Tips and Lessons


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Vocabulary for Government Topic

Below is a list of vocabulary relating to the topic of “Government”. This word list will help refresh your memory and also expand your range to learn new words. Although the topic of politics doesn’t appear in IELTS, questions relating to general government policies do appear frequently in both IELTS Writing and IELTS Speaking.

On this page, you will find:

  1. Word Forms
  2. Synonyms and Types of Government
  3. Useful Government Vocabulary
  4. IELTS Speaking Questions & Model Answers
  5. IELTS Writing Task 2 Essay Questions

1. Word Forms:

  • government (n)
  • to govern (vb)
  • governmental (adj)

Common Errors 

There are two common errors when using the word “government”.

  1. “n” – don’t forget the spelling – goverNment.
  2. article “the” – when we refer to the government, we usually use the article “the”.
    1. For example:
    2. Wrong = Many people think government should improve the infrastructure in rural areas.
    3. Correct = Many people think the government should improve the infrastructure in rural areas.

2. Synonyms & Types of Government

Below is a useful word list for synonyms. However, please note that is fine to repeat the word “government” in your essay even for high band score candidates.

  • the political system
  • the administration
  • the central government
  • the local government
  • the authorities
  • the people in authority
  • the leadership
  • those in power

Note, as with all synonyms, they cannot all be used in the same context in the same way. They do differ.

Types of Government and Governing

Below are words relating to types of government and the way countries are run.

  • republic = a country with no monarch and has an elected leader, usually a president
  • democracy = the government is elected by the people, each person has a single vote
  • autonomy = a self-governing country or region
  • dictatorship = a country ruled by one person who has not been elected and uses force to keep control
  • totalitarian state = a country with only one political power and people are forced to do what the government tells them
  • regime = an authoritarian government
  • capitalist = a free-market country
  • communist = a political and economic system with a classless society where business, factories, farms etc are publicly owned
  • monarchy = a country has a king or queen – in traditional monarchies, the monarch has absolute power but in a a constitutional monarchy (such as the UK), there is a democratic government, and the monarch is largely symbolic and politically neutral
  • anarchy = a situation where there is no government
  • constitutional government = a government which is limited in its power by a constitution
  • coalition government = with no direct winner after elections, a government can be formed in which two or more parties cooperate

3. Useful Government Vocabulary

Within a Government

  • politicians = people who hold an office within politics
  • branches of government- legislative, executive and judicial
  • executive branch = this is the part of the government which carries out the law
  • legislative branch = this part of the government makes the laws and raises money to run the government
  • judicial branch = this part of the government decides laws and settles disputes
  • state government = a local government within a particular region or area of a country
  • enforcement agencies = bodies within a government which can enforce the law, for example, the police
  • political party = a group of people with similar political aims that hopes to have a member elected to government
  • diplomats = people who represent their country in communication with other countries

 Useful Government Vocabulary

  • to pass a law / to enable a law / to bring in a new law = to have a law accepted
  • to abide by a law = to follow a law without breaking it
  • to elect = to choose
  • to have political influence / political power = the extent of a group’s or person’s ability to change the way political decisions are made
  • a citizen = a person living within a country
  • election = the process of voting for someone to come into power or into a role
  • laws = rules for governing a country
  • liberty = freedom
  • maintain order = providing organisation and safety for the people of a country
  • rights = freedoms which are protected and should be guaranteed
  • taxes = money paid by citizens to run and maintain a country
  • raise / lower taxes – to increase or decrease the money paid by citizens to the government
  • budget = money that is allocated to spend in a particular area
  • to increase the budget on X = to give more money to X
  • defence spending = the money that the government spends on the defence of its country
    • note that the word “defence” can also be spelled as “defense” in American English
  • policies = action proposed by an organisation
  • charismatic = a characteristic that attracts and appeals to other people – many successful politicians are charismatic
  • long term / short term goals
  •  to be proactive = doing something rather than just waiting for something to happen

Citizen’s Actions

  • campaign for something
  • demonstrations
  • to be involved in protests
  • organise a petition
  • speak at public meetings
  • put up posters
  • organise a public meeting
  • write to politicians

4. Government Topic Questions for IELTS Speaking 

IELTS Speaking doesn’t have one single topic called “the Government”. But most topics in IELTS Speaking, do contain questions that relate to how official organisations, such as the government, can improve aspects of life. Below are some examples of questions with model answers. Most of these questions are more likely to appear in Speaking part 3 which deals with broader issues.

  • Q) What is the role of a government?
  • A) A government is responsible to decide how a country is run and for managing how it is run. It rules and governs a body of people to make sure that those people abide by laws.
  • Q) Do you think the government should be responsible for public health?
  • A) While the government should be proactive in opening more exercises facilities for the public and to raise awareness of public health, I think it is ultimately the role of the individual to improve their own health.
  • Q) Do you think the government should pay to support the Arts?
  • A) Yes, in a way. I think the government should definitely provide some support for the Arts as a way to promote our cultural heritage. For example, local people can learn about their own culture from watching the dramatic arts and also from paintings and sculptures. This is also a huge draw for visiting tourists who wish to experience local culture. However, I do think that artists also need to be responsible for ensuring their own income and not just rely on the government.
  • Q) What do you think the government could do to protect natural beauty spots in your country?
  • A) Well, I suppose one of the key things that those in power could do is to establish stricter laws to ensure people treat places of natural beauty with respect. For example, littering is a huge problem in my country and this needs to be taken more seriously. Another thing is for the government to spend more money on conservation as well as raising awareness among the local population of the importance of these places.

5. IELTS Writing Task 2 Essay Questions Samples

  1. Many people think people should pay for their education, while others think the government should fund all education. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.
  2. Some people believe the government should be responsible for the homeless and that society is not responsible. Do you agree?
  3. Do you think artists should have the right to express any opinion through their work or do you think the government should censor their work?
  4. Do you think the government should focus on supporting science or the Arts?
  5. Do you think the government should be solely responsible for public safety or do you think individuals should also be held responsible for their own safety?
  6. Some people believe that the government should spend more money on protecting wildlife. Do you agree or disagree?
  7. Some people think that the government is wasting essential funds on space research and that these funds would be better allocated to health care. To what extend do you agree?

Tip: Don’t suggest in your essay that the government could introduce a particular law if there is already one in place. If you know a law is already in place, then you can suggest that the law serves harsher punishments and give examples of that. Try to keep your essay real. Think your ideas through and be sincere in your essay for a high score.



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New IELTS Essay Topics for 2023

Below are new IELTS essay topics in 2023 for Writing Task 2. I’ve also included useful ideas for each topic so that you can prepare for your test more quickly.

The majority of essay questions you will get in IELTS writing task 2 will be recycled topics from previous years. This is because there are so many common topics to choose from. However, occasionally new topics are introduced which reflect our changing world and new current issues in society. I haven’t put the precise wording for the essay questions as IELTS often rephrase their essay questions using different wording.

To prepare fully for your test, you must also prepare ALL common essay questions. Please click here: 100 IELTS Essay Questions

In addition, please note that all the topics below can also appear in the speaking test as well (part 3).

2023 New IELTS Essay Topics with Useful Ideas 

These essay questions could appear in both the IELTS Academic and GT writing task 2 test. Please remember, these are topics with ideas so that you can use them and adapt them to the question in the test because questions will usually be paraphrased and tasks will vary from test to test.

  1. Essay Topic: Poor concentration due to social media
    • Short attention spans can affect us by not focusing on detail and poor performance at school or work
    • Pop up ads are intrusive and interrupt our focus
    • Temptation to chat on social media cuts into people’s concentration
    • Social media encourages a shorter attention spam with short punchy media, such as on TikTok and Instagram
    • Social media is all about excitement and pleasure viewing. Due to this we are training ourself to switch off from anything that isn’t offering pleasure and this impacts our ability to focus on work tasks.
      • Note: I’ll post a page with useful language for the topic of concentration in a few weeks as this topic is very common in the speaking test. 

2. Essay Topic: Children learn how to grow vegetables or farming

    • Growing vegetables and caring for livestock is part of essential life skills for a healthy future
    • As a species we should never forget our basic life skills for future survival
    • Homegrown vegetables have more nutrition which children should learn about
    • Vegetables can be grown on balconies as well as patios
    • It allows children to reconnect to nature which is important in a world where they are so focused on gadgets
    • This might encourage children to also take an interest in cooking, which is another essential life skill

3. Essay Topic: Taking risks in personal and professional life

    • + New challenges to keep people on their toes
      • “to keep people on their toes” – idiom – keep people alert and prepared for potential problems (an idiom suitable for WT2)
    • + Risks help us grow and learn new skills
    • + Life is always changing and full of risks so people should embrace this aspect of life rather than try to avoid it
    • – Risk can lead to negative consequences for individuals and families
    • – It is better to be safe than sorry
    • – Avoiding risk is the responsible thing to do
      • (note: this topic is very similar to the topic about “people who like change vs people who do not like change in their life” – that topic has been used for years by IELTS

4. Essay Topic: Streaming Films Online vs cinema

    • Streaming online is cheaper and more accessible
    • Streaming online is more enjoyable at home
    • Streaming online offers a wider choice of options
    • Cinema has better sound systems and bigger screens
    • Cinema allows you to share emotional responses with an audience
    • Cinema is a special experience for groups and couples

5. Essay Topic: Children & active or passive leisure activities

    • Active activities: sport, photography, hiking, camping
    • These activities help children get fresh air, build physical health, learn new skills and engage in socialising with others face to face.
    • Passive activities: reading, watching TV, social media
    • These activities help children gain insight, can be educational or inspirational, help children develop creativity and technological skills.

6. Essay Topic: Men’s and women’s sports shown on TV and social media

    • Traditionally most sports were male based so audiences are historically more attracted to male sports
    • Women’s sports are just as exciting as male sports
    • Women’s sports don’t often get the same amount of sponsoring from companies which impacts their sport
    • Women’s football already has large followings on social media

7. Essay Topic: Truth in people’s communication is most important

    • + Truth helps people develop honest, meaningful relationships
    • + Truth develops open communication instead of repressed relationships
    • + Without truth, there is only deceit which is toxic to relationships and erodes trust
    • + Truth leads to trust
    • – Social media encourages people to present a version of truth rather than the whole truth in order to impress others and create a particular impression – this can lead to misconception and lead others in the wrong direction
    • – Sometimes the truth can be hurtful and needs to be approached step by step rather than directly
    • – Some people are not ready to hear the whole truth
    • – Truth may be something that needs time to emerge in cases such as abuse or where someone may be at risk
    • – Truth sometimes has to be edited for children

8. Essay Topic: Sense of Community

    • + People used to know their neighbours well and have a sense of community
    • + Community meant that people took care of each other and looked out for one another
    • +/- Doctors and teachers used to live in the community and become leaders of the community but now they often live in other areas and play little part in the community as a whole
    • – Social media does not encourage relationships with neighbours but rather between people at a distance
    • – Online shopping means fewer people socialise whilst shopping locally
      • Note: a similar essay topic is one such as “adults should be required to do obligatory community service for a period of time”. That essay leans towards the benefits of community service vs time and obligation.

9. Essay topic: Graffiti on city walls

    • + Freedom of expression
    • + Some graffiti can be a work of art
    • + It creates a colourful environment in a drab urban setting (drab = dreary, dull, lifeless)
    • + Graffiti can stimulate creativity in others
    • + Graffiti can be cultural which benefits society
    • – It is often unregulated art
    • – Graffiti could contain indecent or violent images or words
    • – It could incite racism, hatred or political unrest

10. Vaping and Children (Predicted Topic)

    • Vaping was originally introduced to help smokers quit, but now vaping is becoming popular amongst people who never previously smoked.
    • Vaping can be addictive and their use has grown dramatically in the last five years, particularly in high school children
    • E-cigarettes are less harmful than normal cigarettes, but they do still contain harmful ingredients such as nicotine, flavourings and other chemicals
    • Vaping could lead to increase in asthma
    • Could lead to people choosing to take up smoking normal cigarettes later on
      • While this is only a predicted topic, it is something you can easily introduce into essays or into your speaking test as it is a current world issue

11. Organised Tours to Remote Places (Tourism)

    • + Travellers get to see places that are largely untouched by the modern world
    • + Remote places are steeped in culture and interest
    • + Remote places can benefit from a boost in their economy
    • – The culture in such places will be altered by so many tourists
    • – Such tourism can have a negative impact on the local eco system
    • With tourism comes the threat of pollution

12. Museums should focus on local works of art

    • + Focusing on local art exhibits means local artists are supported and encouraged
    • + Part of the task of a museum is conserving local history and culture so this should be their primary goal
    • + This is a way of promoting local culture and history to tourists which could benefit the economy of the country
    • – Many museums have international collections of art that people travel from around the world to see
    • – The history of some countries is interconnected with other countries and other cultures – history is not always confined within a boarder
    • – We now live in a global world and museums should reflect that

13. Values from family and parents play a greater role in future success than skills and knowledge from schools

  • + from parents we can learn discipline and the meaning of hard work which are vital for future success
  • + from family we can learn the value of determination and never giving up
  • – schools provide the building blocks of knowledge upon which our future hangs, such as reading, writing, comprehension, maths etc
  • – without education, most people would be reduced to menial work and success would be much harder to attain
  • – some careers require specific education and training without which success would be impossible

Useful Links:

Click Below:

100 Essay Questions

Writing Task 2 Model Essays and Tips

Writing Task 1: Model Answers and Tips

Note: IELTS do not use topics based on religion or politics because IELTS is non-political and non-religious . IELTS tests tend to aim for topics that reflect the world we live in by focusing on social issues and everyday issues that are more familiar and less emotional for people to write or speak about. So, please pay attention to which resources you use online when you prepare for your test and make sure you aren’t wasting your time preparing for topics that definitely won’t appear.

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UK US Spelling Main Differences

There are key differences between UK and US spelling. In IELTS, you should not mix your spelling. You should choose either British English or American English spelling. This is not the case with accents in the speaking test. In the speaking test, mixed accents are fine.

British and American Spelling Differences

Below are the key differences in spelling between American English and British English writing. However, please note this is not a complete list.I have listed some of the main words that are commonly used in English and IELTS. The list below are organised as UK spelling first and US spelling second.

1) – ise / -ize

In British English spelling, some words end with -ise whereas they end with -ize in American English spelling.

  • realise / realize
  • sympathise / sympathize
  • organise / organize
  • specialise / specialize
  • authorise / authorize
  • criticise / criticize
  • recognise / recognize
  • characterise / characterize
  • standardise / standardize

Also note words ending -yse and -yze, such as analyse / analyze and paralyse / paralyze are spelled differently.

Please note there are exceptions. Nowadays, the following words are spelled the same in both UK and US spelling: surprise, exercise, prize, seize, advise, advertise. There may be other words, but these are the most common. 

3) -re / -er

  • centre / center
  • theatre / theater
  • litre / liter
  • metre / meter (this also applies to other measurements – km, cm, mm)
  • fibre / fiber

4) ller / ler

Note that British English words ending ller have a double “l” compared to the US spelling which is only one “l”.

  • traveller / traveler
  • levelled / leveled
  • cancelled / canceled
  • fuelled / fueled
  • jewellery / jewelry (jewelery)

This same rule applies to other forms of words such as travelled, travelling.

5) -l / -ll

Now we see the opposite rule to the one above. With UK spelling, some words have one “l”, while in US spelling they have two.

  • fulfil / fulfill
  • appal / appall 
  • skilful / skillfull
  • unskilful / unskillful
  • enrol / enroll
  • instil / instill

However, the rule above is limited. Most words are actually spelled the same in both UK and US English: successful, refill, harmful, resourceful, meaningful, thoughtful. 

6) -our / -or

  • colour / color
  • behaviour / behavior
  • favourite / favorite
  • honour / honor
  • flavour / flavor
  • neighbour / neighbor
  • humour / humor
  • labour / labor

Note the word “hour” is spelled the same.

7) -ogue / -og

  • dialogue / dialog
  • catalogue / catalog
  • travelogue / travelog

I hope you found this page useful 🙂 All the best, Liz


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IELTS Essay Questions for 2022

Below is a list of predicted IELTS Writing Task 2 essay topics for this year, 2022. As usual, these topics are based on common topics, current world issues and trending topics. Both GT and Academic candidates should prepare from the list below.

On this page, you will find:

  • List of types of essay questions
  • Essay Topics for 2022
  • Useful Links for lessons & tips

IELTS Essay Types in 2022

There are five types of essay questions in IELTS Writing Task 2. You will not know which type of essay you will be given. So, you must prepare for all types. When you read the 2022 Essay Topics list below, be ready for that topic to be phrased in different ways for different essay types. Be prepared to be flexible!!

  1. Opinion Essay – agree/disagree/ partial agreement
  2. Discussion Essay – discuss both sides
  3. Advantage / Disadvantage – includes outweigh essay
  4. Cause / Problem / Solution Essays
  5. Direct Question Essays – Positive . Negative Development / one question / two question / three question essays

Click here to learn how to spot which type of essay you have: IELTS Essay Types

IELTS Essay Topics for 2022

I’ve organised the predicted IELTS essay questions below and highlighted the topics I feel are more likely to appear. All topics in IELTS essays are current world issues and known society concerns. Our world today is mainly focused on health, work, technology, internet and other aspects of life.


  1. is art important
  2. what can children learn from art, drama etc
  3. is literature important to teach in schools
  4. should the government fund artists
  5. what people gain from live events
  6. should art be censored
  7. does art transcend the language barrier

Books & Reading

  1. e-books – pros and cons
  2. are libraries a thing of the past
  3. children reading story books in their free time
  4. adults reading children’s stories

Business & Money

  1. family run businesses – pros and cons
  2. should we save or spend
  3. should companies be responsible for their employees’ health
  4. why some people do not save
  5. should money management be taught in schools
  6. is dress code or uniforms important in a company
  7. why do some people get into debt
  8. spending money on unnecessary items / luxury goods
  9. supporting small local businesses
  10. buying local or foreign products
  11. relocating companies to the countryside away from city centers – pros and cons
  12. factors in business success
  13. is the layout of an office important

Character & People

  1. is leadership innate
  2. factors behind success
  3. are people more impatient than before
  4. are older people as respected as they should be
  5. people who follow fashion trends
  6. keeping up with the Joneses
  7. individuality or conformity in schools 
  8. why do some people struggle with change
  9. are people less respectful of the elderly nowadays
  10. are people becoming less formal

Crime & Punishment

  1. fixed punishment for a crime or should circumstances play a role in deciding punishment
  2. prisons – pros and cons
  3. stopping ex-convicts from re-offending
  4. how to reduce crime in society
  5. do some films encourage criminal behaviour
  6. should teenage offenders get the same punishment as adult offenders
  7. why people watch crime shows on TV
  8. online crimes
  9. is safety a personal or government responsibility


  1. are museums and art galleries important
  2. can children gain from visiting museums and galleries
  3. should the government support artists
  4. should schools prioritise science over the Arts
  5. importance of traditional clothes and music
  6. how tourism is changing local cultures
  7. how can the government / schools preserve traditional culture
  8. globalisation – will cultures be lost
  9. how has the internet affect culture around the world
  10. are public celebrations important for culture
  11. people spending a lot of money on weddings and celebrations
  12. do foreign films change local culture


  1. discipline in schools
  2. pros and cons of learning online
  3. is science and technology important to teach
  4. are university degrees more important than experience
  5. how can people learn soft skills, such as communication, personal skills etc
  6. homework for children – an aid to learning or too much pressure
  7. who influences children most – teachers or parents
  8. teaching good values – teachers or parents
  9. are children from poor backgrounds disadvantaged in education
  10. is history important to learn
  11. studying abroad
  12. children of different abilities should be taught separately
  13. home schooling pros and cons
  14. education in cities compared to rural areas
  15. how to make learning interesting for children
  16. all education should be free

Environment, Nature & Wildlife

  1. protecting trees/ endangered species – causes / problems / solutions
  2. how to educate people about environmental problems
  3. noise pollution / air pollution / water pollution – causes / solutions
  4. how to tackle littering
  5. importance of tackling climate change – causes, problems, solutions
  6. importance of spending time in nature
  7. are wild animals important
  8. testing consumer products on animals
  9. children having pets
  10. who should protect the environment: individuals or governments


  1. what is the generation gap and how can it be tackled
  2. can children benefit from a close relationship with their grandparents
  3. should women with children go to work
  4. are family roles changing within the family
  5. who should support elderly family members: family or government
  6. is it important for family members to spend time together
  7. why do some couples choose not to have children
  8. parents should give children the freedom to make their own mistakes


  1. is our food culture changing
  2. is it important to keep traditional meals
  3. why do people eat junk food if it is unhealthy
  4. should families eat together
  5. is animal welfare important to know about when buying meat in supermarkets
  6. what information would stop you buying a certain product
  7. what is a balanced diet
  8. why are some people vegetarian 


  1. should all health care be free – pros and cons
  2. is public health a personal responsibility or the responsibility of the government
  3. sugar as a cause of health problems
  4. problems with junk food
  5. importance of mental health
  6. tackling obesity in society / in children
  7. health problems connected to using screens
  8. how to encourage children to do more exercise
  9. why people take up meditation, yoga or taichi
  10. walking, cycling to work pros and cons
  11. funding prevention or treatments

Language & Communication

  1. are text messages / emails / video calls a good form of communication
  2. pros and cons of one global language
  3. how has the internet changed the way we communicate and socialise
  4. should children learn a foreign language at an early age
  5. is handwriting a thing of the past
  6. will snail mail one day disappear
  7. difficulties learning a foreign language


  1. are holidays important
  2. why is leisure time important
  3. are hobbies important
  4. spending time in nature
  5. children spending time playing together
  6. do people value leisure time more nowadays
  7. why do people watch so much TV in their free time
  8. Is watching TV a good leisure activity
  9. what leisure activities are best for children
  10. should children do homework or have fun in their leisure time

Media & The Internet

  1. social media and our image of beauty
  2. shopping online pros and cons
  3. how the internet has changed the way we work
  4. importance of accuracy in historical films
  5. does the internet make people feel more connected
  6. online streaming for films – pros and cons
  7. problems sharing personal information online
  8. reality TV stars
  9. what makes a film successful – stars, special effects or story
  10. meeting new people online
  11. how advertising influences people – billboards, internet pop ups, brand placement in films, social media
  12. celebrities as role models for children
  13. are newspapers a thing of the past now that news can be found online
  14. unreliable news or information online


  1. technology makes people lazy
  2. pros and cons of smart phones
  3. technology in the work place results in job losses
  4. technology and solving pollution / environmental problems
  5. technology, science and health
  6. government spending on space exploration or health care social services
  7. how has technology changed our lives / the way we work
  8. how has technology helped mankind


  1. pros and cons of a traffic free zone in city centers
  2. way to reduce pollution from cars
  3. should driving tests be obligatory every 5 years
  4. how to reduce traffic congestion in city centers
  5. pros and cons of plane travel
  6. how to ensure road safety
  7. should we all use electric cars
  8. people over 80 should not be allowed to drive


  1. experiencing foreign countries on TV rather than travelling there
  2. conforming to the culture of the country you are visiting
  3. pros and cons of tourism on the domestic economy
  4. adventure holidays
  5. tourism and environmental factors (including wildlife)
  6. pros and cons of taking holidays on your own country
  7. tourism and its impact on the country


  1. what children learn from team sports and individual sports
  2. should sports teach competition or cooperation
  3. should schools increase physical education lessons
  4. benefits of exercise, walking, cycling
  5. should sports stars be paid so much
  6. companies sponsor sports events and teams for advertising – pros and cons
  7. sports professionals earning high salaries compared to doctors or nurses
  8. why people do adventure sports
  9. importance of international sports competitions

World Issues & Social Issues

  1. how can homelessness be tackled
  2. should world issues be solved nationally or internationally
  3. closing the gap between rich and poor countries
  4. rich countries should support poor countries at any cost
  5. overpopulation – problems / solutions
  6. people are living longer – pros and cons
  7. should charities help people locally or nationally
  8. are charities important
  9. more people are raising money for charities – why, is this a good thing
  10. living in the countryside or city – pros and cons
  11. food wastage / increase in world food demand
  12. (affordable) housing shortage – solutions
  13. migration of workers from rural to urban areas
  14. taking care of the elderly – family or government responsibility
  15. lack of good education in under-developed countries


  1. pros and cons of working from home
  2. work-life balance
  3. pros and cons of being self-employed / working for a company
  4. bosses contacting people on their days off
  5. importance of holidays from work
  6. both parents working – how it impacts children
  7. is team working skills
  8. job satisfaction or salary
  9. working online pros and cons
  10. work-life balance
  11. pros and cons of technology / machines at work
  • Was this list useful to you?
  • Did you get one of these topics in your test?


Click below to access some useful lessons and tips for your IELTS essay

How to write an introduction

List of keywords for essay writing

How to use the last 5 mins in your writing test

How long should your essay be

All Free Writing Task 2 Lessons and Tips

How to write an IELTS Essay

Learn how to write a high band score IELTS essay step by step. You will find 15 key steps for a high score IELTS essay. These steps are for both GT and Academic Writing Task 2. After the steps listed below, you will find useful links that will help you learn more and develop the right skills necessary to be successful in IELTS.

Step by Step: How to tackle your IELTS essay

None of these steps below can be missed if you are aiming for a good score in your IELTS Writing Task 2 essay. Be strategic and focused in how you approach your IELTS essay. Failure to tackle the points below will result in a lower score. They are particularly important for candidates aiming for band 7 and above. For those candidates, you must fulfill the requirements of the higher band scores by following and mastering the steps below.

Step 1: Make sure you identify the type of essay you have been given. This essay is what I call a “Direct Questions” essay. There are two specific questions that you must answer. The first question is about cause. You must state the cause of this trend. The second question requires you to evaluate. This means you must present your opinion as to whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing. Click here to learn about the Types of IELTS Essays.

Step 2: Before you plan your essay, think about the structure. You have two questions and they are of equal weight. This means you will have two body paragraphs. Both body paragraphs will have equal length. Click here to learn about how many paragraphs in your essay.

Step 3: Identify the issues in the essay question. The essay question above is very simple. It is about computer games. However, some IELTS essay questions are more complex so you must take time to identify the issue or issues. 

Step 4: Brainstorm main ideas. When you brainstorm main ideas. it does not mean you will use all your ideas in your essay. First, brainstorm ideas and after that select the best ideas. To prepare ideas, see this list of common essay topics.

Step 5: Develop supporting points. This is the step that most people miss. Most people plan their main ideas and then start writing. Your main ideas are certainly important, but the supporting points are equally as important. And this is the area where most people easily go off topic. So, using your planning time to prepare your supporting points. Don’t start writing until you are clear about the whole content of your body paragraphs.

Step 6: Think about linking for body paragraphs and supporting points. Linking is another area that is often forgotten during the test. Linking and paragraphing is crucial. They are also both very very easy for you to score high points in. So, never overlook these two points. Plan your paragraphs and make sure you are using a good range of appropriate linking words. Here is a list of keywords.

Step 7: Don’t waste time on your introduction. It is a functional paragraph which usually contains just two sentences. The bulk of the marks are in the body paragraphs.

Step 8: Read the essay question again before you start each body paragraph. This will help you make sure you are using the right language to present your ideas. People think having good ideas is enough. It is NOT enough. You must think about how you will present them. So, read the essay question again and get your bearings.

Step 9: Use a range of grammar features. This is not just about tense. There are a whole range of features that you can use to show your grammatical prowess. 

    1. noun phrases
    2. gerund noun phrases
    3. noun clauses
    4. language of probability
    5. relative clauses
    6. conditional statements
    7. Referencing
    8. quantifiers and intensifiers
    9. comparatives & superlatives
    10. passive voice

To learn more about grammar in Writing Task 2 and to avoid errors, consider my Grammar E-book whcih will help you boost your grammar score and improve your English. Click here to see a Preview of my Grammar E-book. My Grammar E-book is available in my online store: Liz’s Online Store

Step 10: Avoid errors in grammar: articles, pronouns, uncountable nouns, word order, tenses, complex sentences. The more errors you have, the lower your score. Knowing the strength of your grammar will help you avoid errors. Aim for accuracy – do not aim to impress. 

Step 11: Vocabulary only counts for 25% of your marks. Too many candidates focus too heavily on this area. Use vocabulary appropriate for the topic. Don’t over use idiomatic language. Idioms are mostly informal, not formal, so go with phrasal verbs instead which are also idiomatic. Don’t use less common vocabulary if you might use it incorrectly. Errors will lower your score. Aim for accuracy. Spelling counts. There are some useful vocabulary lists on this page: IELTS Vocabulary.

Step 12: Paraphrasing is a language skill that you need to demonstrate. This doesn’t mean changing all words all the time. It means being selective about which words you change and which words you will leave and repeat. It is fine to repeat some words. Over paraphrasing is one reason why many people get a low score in vocabulary.

Step 13: Don’t aim for a long essay or a short essay. If it is too short, it means you haven’t developed your main ideas enough. If it is too long, it gives you room for more errors which will lower your score. Aim for between 270-290 words on the whole. Click here for a video lesson about essay length.

Step 14: Edit your essay. Leave 2 mins to edit your essay. Pay attention to not repeating linking words, checking spelling and spotting vocabulary errors. You might have other areas specific to your language skills that you want to check. Know your weaknesses.

Step 15: Look at the clock. Timing is everything. You must be very strict with timing so that you have enough time to finish your essay. You can start with task 2 if you want, but if you do, make sure you leave 20 mins for task 1. Use no less than 5 mins preparing your essay. Use no less than 2 mins to check your essay at the end. This leaves around 33 mins for you to write your whole essay. Practise this at home under exam conditions until you are able to do this.

Step 16: If you find my free lessons are not enough for you or if you want more in-depth training for essay writing, please get my Advanced Writing Task 2 lessons which are available in my online store. Click here: Liz’s Online Store

Other Useful Links

Hope you find this page useful. From Liz 🙂 


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IELTS Essays: Five Types of IELTS Essays

There are 5 types of IELTS essays which can appear in IELTS writing task 2. These types of essays are for both GT and Academic writing task 2. Below you will find sample essay questions for each type of essay and links to model answers.  Please note that IELTS teachers sometimes divide essays into different categories based on how they teach.

1) IELTS Opinion Essay

This type of essay is where you are presented with someone else’s opinion and you are asked if you agree or disagree with it. The opinion is often flawed or extreme in its views. Some teachers call this the Argumentative Essay. The instructions can be written in a number of ways. Below are a few examples:

  • To what extent do you agree?
  • Do you agree?
  • Do you agree or disagree?
  • What is your opinion?

No matter how the instructions are written, you can take any position you want: agree, disagree or partial agreement (balanced view). Below is an example essay question:

Opinion Essay Question: Some people think that only electric cars should be allowed on the road by 2040. Do you agree?

2) IELTS Discussion Essay

This type of essay presents you with a statement and you must present the two sides. This might be two sides of the same issue:

Some people think there should be free health care for all people, but others disagree. Discuss both sides.

Or it might be two separate issues which you need to discuss:

Some people think that urban spaces should be used for parks rather than for housing. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

3) IELTS Advantage Disadvantage Essays

There are two types of questions in this category.

i) Advantage and Disadvantage Essay

This is similar to a discussion essay where you are given a statement must present the positive and negative side of the issue:

Some people think it is good for students to take a gap year before going to university. What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing so?

ii) Outweigh Essay

This is by far the most difficult of the two essay types in this category. It requires you to present an opinion and explain your opinion.

Some people think the world will eventually have only one language. Do you think the advantages of having one global language outweigh the disadvantages?

4) IELTS Solution Essays

There are a number of types of possible questions in this category:

i) Solution Only

Some children have serious weight problems. What are the possible solutions?

ii) Cause Solution

Children in rural areas are being left behind in their academic development. Why is this is the case? What solutions can you suggest?

iii) Problem Solution

More and more people are moving to cities to look for work. What problems does this cause? What are the possible solutions?

5) Direct Questions Essays

Some teachers call these the Two Question Essay. However, these types of essay questions might contain one, two or three questions for you to answer. Below are some examples.

Pollution around the world is becoming a serious problem. Do you think this is a problem that should be solved internationally or on a local level?

In the question above, you are asked one specific question. Your whole essay must tackle this question only.

More and more people are choosing to work from home. Is this a positive or negative development?

This essay question has just one issue and one question. You must explain what type of development you think working from home is.

Some people spend a lot of money on weddings. Why do they do this? Do you think it is good to spend a lot of money on weddings?

Above, you will see you have been presented with two questions to answer: reasons and opinion (evaluating if it is good or not.) 

News editors decide what to print in newspapers and what to broadcast on TV. What factors do you think influence these decisions? Do we become used to bad news? Would it be better if more news was reported?

As you can see there are three questions to answer in this essay question. It is not common to get three questions. If you get three, just tackle them one at a time in a logical order.

Practice Essay Questions for IELTS

You can find over 100 essay questions to practice on this page: 100 IELTS Essay Questions. The questions are divided first into topics and then into essay types. This way you can get lots of practice before your actual test day.


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Can you Tell Lies in IELTS Speaking? Advice & Tips

Is it ok to lie in IELTS speaking? Is it ok to make up a story and tell the examiner? 

Many students ask me if they can tell lies in their IELTS test and if they will get a lower band score if they are found lying in their IELTS speaking test.

Is it possible to lie in IELTS Speaking?


Yes, you can lie. It won’t affect your score.

But it isn’t necessary. It’s better to tell the truth.

Telling the truth has advantages.

Why lying isn’t necessary in IELTS Speaking

  1. There is no reason to lie. Lying will not increase your score.
  2. If you don’t have a clear answer – just say so. You are marked on your ability to communicate in English, not on your knowledge or ideas for IELTS speaking. Below are some examples:
    • Q) What is your favourite museum?  
    • A) I don’t have one. I don’t have much interest in history or culture and I think the last time I went to one is when I was a child.
      • Comments: The above answer is excellent. It answers directly and explains more. I also uses both present simple and past simple grammar tenses.
    • Q) Do you like cooking?
    • A) No, actually I don’t. My mother has always cooked for me. To be honest, I find it incredibly tedious and a waste of my time, and anyway I’d rather use my time more productively.
      • Comments: This is a full answer which offers different grammar tenses and a range of language features.
  3. Lying requires imagination – it is better just to focus on your language rather than trying to be creative at the same time.
  4. When you say the truth, you usually have better intonation which will help your pronunciation score. Matching your meaning with your tone of voice is very important for your pronunciation score.
  5. It’s hard to add extra details when you lie. It requires too much effort to add all the extra details to a lie.
  6. Under exam pressure, it is hard to lie and create an answer at the same time. Sticking with the truth is easier. 

Adapting the Truth

Adapting the truth is easier than a huge creative lie.

If you are asked to talk about a book you recently read, instead you can talk about a book you read one year ago but say it was recent. It is a “white lie” but all details you will give will be truthful – this will make it easier for you to talk about. However, even in this situation, you can still tell the truth – see below:

  • I’d like to talk about a novel I read about a year ago. To be honest, I’ve been so busy during this last year with work that I haven’t had time to read any books. So, I’m going to tell you about one I remember very well from about one year ago. …..
    • Comments: This is a great start to your talk. There are quite a few different grammar tenses used already at the start of the talk. The answer also show that you can communicate clearly and easily in English by giving precise meaning to what you want to say. As long as you stick to the main topic “A book”, you can adapt it as you like. By explaining your choices for the topic, the examiner will be satisfied. It doesn’t affect your score to do this.

ID Check & Facts

Before the recording device is switched on, the examiner will ask you four questions to check your ID. Do NOT lie at this point. The information you provide must match the information given on your ID card.

Useful Links for IELTS Speaking

Click below to open:

Should I speak fast or slow?

Correcting yourself in IELTS Speaking

Tips about the ID check & Greeting

All FREE Speaking Tips, Lessons & Model Answers


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