IELTS Writing: Positive or Negative?

IELTS Writing Task 2: Positive or Negative Question with Sample Answer

IELTS Writing Task 2: Question

Positive or negative questions are becoming more common in IELTS Writing Task 2, Try this question about the rising elderly population. A sample answer is provided below.

In many developed countries, life expectancy is rising while birthrates are falling. As a result, the elderly will make up a much larger proportion of the population in future.

Is this a positive or negative development?

IELTS Writing Task 2: Model Answer

How long do you expect to live? Until the age of 80? 100? If you had asked your parents the same question, they would surely have felt that a life expectancy of 70 was around average. Your grandparents, meanwhile, might have felt fortunate to live for 60 years. It is clear that people are living longer than ever before, but is this a positive or negative development?

On the one hand, increased life expectancy brings many opportunities later in life to try things that you could not do in your youth. Going on a world cruise, taking up a new hobby, even going back to university to get a degree: all of these opportunities are available to retired people nowadays. What is more, while many parents find raising children to be a stressful experience, spending time with grandchildren brings far more pleasure. Therefore, a more elderly population generally means a happier population with more time to enjoy life.

On the other hand, since elderly people often rely on the government or their children to support them, there are real concerns about the financial consequences of an aging society. Countries such as Japan are already being forced to raise both taxes and the age of retirement in order to offset the problem. Without a doubt, many other countries will need to take similar actions in the coming decades.

Overall, I would say that the benefits to individuals of living longer far outweigh the cost to society of supporting an elderly population. Of course, various countries need to take steps to ensure that the process is carefully managed.

(266 words, IELTS 8.5)

Why Does This Task 2 Answer Get an IELTS Band 8 score?

Task response: The sample answer is at least 250 words in length and describes both a positive and negative development. In some places the tone is informal and not entirely suited to an academic essay.

Coherence and cohesion: The sample answer is logically paragraphed, with each body paragraph detailing a positive or negative trend. The paragraphs and sentences are logically connected by phrases such as ‘On the one/other hand’.

Lexical resource: The sample answer includes many examples of good collocation such as ‘stressful experience’ and ‘financial consequences’. There is little repetition of vocabulary and no spelling errors.

Grammatical range and accuracy: The sample answer includes a range of simple and complex sentences. An incomplete sentence ‘Until the age of 80?’ is used, which might be penalised in an academic essay.

Teacher’s Note

IELTS TeacherThis IELTS Writing Task 2 sample answer is a great example of how to use an ‘unconventional opening’ to set your response apart from those of other candidates. Instead of the usual form of introduction, this sample answer takes a more direct conversational approach. This creates an immediate impression and the examiner may see it as evidence of strong writing skills. However, you need to show that you can also write in a more formal academic style, so don’t use a conversational tone throughout the whole essay.

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