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The Biggest Mistake You Could Be Making in IELTS Essay Discuss Both Sides.

There is a lot of discussion in IELTS forums about IELTS discuss both sides organisation. However, what many people fail to consider is what information each paragraph should actually contain. So, today, I want to address the most common error that students can make in a Discuss Both Sides essay – discussing the topic instead of the views.


We are going to have a look at a fake question and look at the potential mistake you could be making.

Some people think football is the best sport for children to play. Others think that boxing is better. Discuss both sides and give your own view.


In this question, there are two clear topicsboxing and football. Let’s imagine then that a student writes an essay based on the following ideas. What do you think? Would an essay that follows this plan address the question?


Body Paragraph 1Boxing is dangerous / can cause people to be violent


Body Paragraph 2Football is a good way to make kids move / a team sport so learn cooperation


The answer is a big no! Why? Well, let’s think about it. Yes, the student has discussed the two topics (boxing and football), but that is not what the question asked them to do! Remember, we were asked to discuss both views. Look at the question again. What are the two views?


View One = Football is the best sport

View Two = Boxing is the best sport


Do you see the problem? Look at the student’s plan again. Yes, they have two arguments that discuss boxing, but they are both reasons why boxing is BAD! However, the second view states that “Others think that boxing is better“! Would these people really argue that boxing is “dangerous and leads to violence”?!!! Of course they wouldn’t! They think that it is the BEST sport, not the worst! If the student wrote an essay using this plan, they would get no higher than a 5.0 for Task Response as their essay would not address the question.


Body Paragraph 1Boxing is dangerous / can’t practice on your own (= FOOTBALL IS BEST)

Body Paragraph 2 – Football is a good way to make kids move / a team sport so learn cooperation (= FOOTBALL IS BEST)


In this type of question, it is vitally important that you present arguments in favour of each view. Think about this when you read the question. Don’t focus on the topic (usually one word) but the views (usually one sentence).


Remember you must discuss both views not both topics!

For this essay, the second view states that boxing is the best sport for children to learn, so you must give some arguments for this view in one body paragraph. If the student agrees that football is the best (because most students usually do!) then they would put these arguments in the first body paragraph of their essay.


Body Paragraph 1Boxing is a good way for children to channel aggressive energy / it can improve coordination (= BOXING IS BEST)

Body Paragraph 2 – Football is a good way to make kids move / Football is a team sport so children learn cooperation (= FOOTBALL IS BEST)


Do you see the difference? Now we have arguments in support of each VIEW. This is crucial if you want to score a 6.0 or higher for Task Response. Interestingly, the writer could have used some of their original ideas about boxing BUT IN THE PARAGRAPH SUPPORTING FOOTBALL. In fact, it might be good to make a comparison between the two sports here and mentioning that football is less dangerous than boxing would strengthen the argument that football is better.


Body Paragraph 1 – Boxing is a good way for children to channel aggressive energy / it can improve coordination (= BOXING IS BEST)

Body Paragraph 2 – Football is a good way to make kids move / Football is a team sport so children learn cooperation / Football is safer than boxing, which is very dangerous (= FOOTBALL IS BEST)

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