How to respond to IELTS Task 2 ‘double questions’

I am often asked by IELTS students what they should do in the event their IELTS Task 2 essay directions pose multiple questions. Take the following example:

In ancient Rome, aesthetical beauty was considered one of the main points with which humans judged each other as people. Do you agree or disagree with this point of view? What traits do you feel best judge a person’s quality?

These sorts of IELTS questions always seem complicated at first, but they really are not. When first analyzing an essay question, it is important to decide on an effective structure with which we can respond. As I recommend to my classroom students: write in argumentative essay style unless explicitly told to do otherwise by your Task 2 question. The reason for this is that: (1) argument essay structure is much more straightforward than discussion essay structure and therefore (2) lessens the chance of grammatical, wording or structural mistakes that can arise from trying to discuss, compare and contrast 2 subjects or opinions.

So our challenge then becomes: how can we respond to the above essay question (or questions in this case) using an argumentative structure? As you have seen in my video regarding argument essay structure, at the heart of our essay is a strong thesis upheld by 2 effective pieces of evidence. What we need to do is fit our response into these sections. So, the first question, do you agree or disagree with this statement, would be responded to in our thesis:

It is disagreed that beauty acts as a reasonable marker by which people can assess each other.

The second part of the question, what traits do you feel best judge a person, could be responded to in the outline section of our essay:

Instead, the qualities of patience and selflessness are felt to be better gauges of a person’s worth and this argument will be proven in this essay.

Great! Now I just want to point out something I feel is important. Please notice than in our thesis we make no mention of ‘ancient Rome’. Why? Because ancient Rome is not really in the scope of the essay question. The essay question asks: do you agree or disagree with this point of view, which refers only to the opinion expressed and not the background from which this opinion comes.

Let’s take a final look at our thesis and outline sentence combination:

It is disagreed that beauty acts as a reasonable marker by which people can assess each other. Instead, the qualities of patience and selflessness are felt to be better gauges of a person’s worth and this argument will be proven in this essay.

About Ryan

I have been developing online IELTS training resources for over 10 years. For more information about me and how I can help your preparation for the IELTS, please email me: ryan@ieltsielts.com
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