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Discussion essays Considering both sides of the argument

Discussion essays are a common form of academic writing. This page gives information on what a discussion essay is and how to structure this type of essay. Some vocabulary for discussion essays is also given, and there is an example discussion essay on the topic of studying overseas.

What are discussion essays?

Many essay titles require you to examine both sides of a situation and to conclude by saying which side you favour. These are known as discussion or for and against essays. In this sense, the academic meaning of the word discuss is similar to its everyday meaning, of two people talking about a topic from different sides. For a discussion essay, a balanced view is normally essential. This makes discussion essays distinct from persuasion essays , for which only one side of the argument is given. When writing a discussion essay, it is important to ensure that facts and opinions are clearly separated. Often you will examine what other people have already said on the same subject and include this information using paraphrasing and summarising skills, as well as correct citations .

The following are examples of discussion essay topics.

Although the structure of a discussion essay may vary according to length and subject, there are several components which most discussion essays have in common. In addition to general statements and thesis statement which all good essay introductions contain, the position of the writer will often be stated, along with relevant definitions . The main body will examine arguments for (in one or more paragraphs) and arguments against (also in one or more paragraphs). The conclusion will contain a summary of the main points, and will often conclude with recommendations , based on what you think are the most important ideas in the essay. The conclusion may also contain your opinion on the topic, also based on the preceding evidence.

An overview of this structure is given in the diagram below.

Discussion vocabulary

When summarising the stages in a discussion or in presenting your arguments, it can be useful to mark the order of the items or degrees of importance. The following words and phrases can be used.

The following can be used when introducing your opinion.

It is important in English writing, including academic writing, to use synonyms rather than repeating the same word. The following are useful synonyms for 'advantage' and 'disadvantage'.

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Below is an example discussion essay. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay.

Title: An increasing number of students are going overseas for tertiary education. To what extent does this overseas study benefit the students?

Most people spend around fifteen years of their life in education, from primary school to university study. In the past, students only had the opportunity to study in their own country. Nowadays, however, it is increasingly easy to study overseas, especially at tertiary level. Tertiary education, also called post-secondary education, is the period of study spent at university. As the final aspect of schooling before a person begins their working life, it is arguably the most important stage of their education. While there are some undoubted benefits of this trend, such as the language environment and improved employment prospects , there is also a significant disadvantage, namely the high cost . The first and most important advantage of overseas study is the language learning environment. Students studying overseas will not only have to cope with the local language for their study, but will also have to use it outside the classroom for their everyday life. These factors should make it relatively easy for such students to advance their language abilities. Another important benefit is employability. Increasing globalisation means that there are more multinational companies setting up offices in all major countries. These companies will need employees who have a variety of skills, including the fluency in more than one language. Students who have studied abroad should find it much easier to obtain a job in this kind of company. There are, however, some disadvantages to overseas study which must be considered, the most notable of which is the expense. In addition to the cost of travel, which in itself is not inconsiderable, overseas students are required to pay tuition fees which are usually much higher than those of local students. Added to this is the cost of living, which is often much higher than in the students' own country. Although scholarships may be available for overseas students, there are usually very few of these, most of which will only cover a fraction of the cost. Overseas study therefore constitutes a considerable expense. In summary, studying abroad has some clear advantages, including the language environment and increased chances of employment , in addition to the main drawback, the heavy financial burden . I believe that this experience is worthwhile for those students whose families can readily afford the expense. Students without such strong financial support should consider carefully whether the high cost outweighs the benefits to be gained.

Academic Writing Genres


Like the website? Try the books. Enter your email to receive a free sample from Academic Writing Genres .

Below is a checklist for discussion essays. Use it to check your own writing, or get a peer (another student) to help you.

Bailey, S. (2000). Academic Writing. Abingdon: RoutledgeFalmer

Cox, K. and D. Hill (2004). EAP now! Frenchs Forest: Pearson Education Australia

Jordan, R.R. (1999). Academic Writing Course. Cambridge: CUP

Roberts R., J. Gokanda, & A. Preshous (2004). IELTS Foundation. Oxford: Macmillian

Next section

Find out how to write persuasion essays in the next section.

Previous section

Go back to the previous section about different essay types .


Author: Sheldon Smith    ‖    Last modified: 16 January 2022.

Sheldon Smith is the founder and editor of He has been teaching English for Academic Purposes since 2004. Find out more about him in the about section and connect with him on Twitter , Facebook and LinkedIn .

Compare & contrast essays examine the similarities of two or more objects, and the differences.

Cause & effect essays consider the reasons (or causes) for something, then discuss the results (or effects).

Discussion essays require you to examine both sides of a situation and to conclude by saying which side you favour.

Problem-solution essays are a sub-type of SPSE essays (Situation, Problem, Solution, Evaluation).

Transition signals are useful in achieving good cohesion and coherence in your writing.

Reporting verbs are used to link your in-text citations to the information cited.

How to Write a Discussion Essay

Last Updated: February 23, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 417,915 times.

Jake Adams

Planning Your Essay

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Writing the Introduction

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Composing the Body of Your Essay

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Concluding Your Essay

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To write a discussion essay, start by taking a side on the issue you're writing about, like "Immigration is good for the country." Then, outline the main points that made you decide to take that position and do research to find evidence that backs them up. Look for credible sources that can help you make your argument, and don't forget to cite them. Then, when you're writing your essay, devote 1 paragraph to each main point and include your evidence. For help writing the introduction and conclusion to your essay, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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1. Choose Your Topic

2. outline your essay, outline your points, 3. draft your introduction, 4. good discussion in the body of your essay, 5. conclude your essay, how to write a discussion essay.

A discussion essay presents and discusses issues surrounding a particular topic--usually one that is debatable and open to argument. A good argumentative essay must include a thorough discussion of both sides of the issue, including main points to support your argument and its counterargument. It should also provide a well-rounded understanding of the issues before the writer presents their personal own opinions and conclusions.

What is an IELTS Discussion Essay?

The International English Language Testing System is an international standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers.

Example of an IELTS Discussion essay

Some believe language provides cohesion to a country, while others believe diverse languages bring diversity and vibrancy. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

As with most persuasive essay formats, the essay's quality relies primarily on the writer's ability to provide solid research and evidence to present different views of the topic.

Practicing your writing skills as you write a discussion essay is a great way to grow as a writer. Let’s dive into the essay structure and components of a successful discussion essay.

Choose your discussion essay topic. When choosing this topic, make sure it is one that you're interested in personally since this will be easier for you to write. You'll need to discuss both sides of the argument surrounding the discussion essay topic, so ensure that you have access to good research that provides pertinent information. Writing only one side of the argument will result in an undeveloped discussion essay, which probably won’t receive a good score.

Outline your discussion essay. This outline should include a rough draft of your thesis statement, main argument, opposing argument, other main points and a rough draft of your conclusion. Your goal at this point is to get your thoughts on the discussion essay topic organized and in writing.

You can write a detailed outline for your discussion essay, using traditional outline format--letters and numbers to separate key points--or you can simply jot down a list of the main discussion points you plan to cover in order to answer the essay question or address the essay topic.

Next, write your introduction. According to the Open University, your goal in the introduction of your discussion essay is to introduce the issues relating to the topic and to provide your reader with important background information. Your introduction is essentially setting the scene for your reader so they are prepared to digest the argument you’ll be presenting. Providing your reader with a simple overview of how your discussion essay is organized will ensure that she understands your flow of thought throughout the body of the essay.

Most importantly, at the end of your introductory paragraph you must include a well developed thesis statement. One of the most common mistakes made when writing introduction paragraphs is leaving out the thesis statement, which is one sentence that firmly asserts what side of the argument you will be arguing throughout the work. Be specific in your points and make sure it is a strong closing to this first paragraph, as it will set the tone for the rest of your essay.

Write the body paragraphs of your discussion essay using any research sources that you have collected. Typically, you should present each issue individually and impartially, discussing first one side of the argument and then the other side of each argument that relates to your topic. Ensuring that each paragraph is roughly the same size as the other will make the presentation of facts seem balanced to the reader as well. Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that smoothly transitions from the previous paragraph while simultaneously introducing the new topic covered in the upcoming one.

Progress through your body arguments in order, starting with your weakest argument or issue and progressing to the strongest. This structure allows your reader to follow your flow of thought easily without getting distracted. When deciding how to use sources, try to use the same number of quotes and sources for each argument. If you use three quotes to support your main argument, strive to use three quotes to present the opposing view as well.

Write your discussion essay conclusion. Your goal with your conclusion is to summarize the overall information from the body of the discussion essay, leading the reader to mentally review the pros and cons of the topic argument. Although you don't technically have to be in favor of one side of the discussion yourself, if you are, be sure to present your own conclusions in this paragraph rather than earlier in the essay.

Once you have finished your conclusion, part of wrapping up your essay is going back through it and checking for grammatical errors. Check to make sure you have not copied any quotes directly from other sources, as this would result in a plagiarism charge, especially if your professor screens your essay through a writing service that checks for plagiarized work. Always write using your own words. Using your own words not only saves you from plagiarism issues, but also helps with essay coherence since the rest of the work has been written in your tone of voice.

On the final page of your discussion essay you will also include all of the citations for sources you quoted or summarized information from. Whether citing in MLA or APA format, double check the style and order of your citations for accuracy before turning it in.

Regan Hennessy has been writing professionally for 11 years. A copywriter and certified teacher, Hennessy specializes in the areas of parenting, health, education, agriculture and personal finance. She has produced content for various websites and graduated from Lycoming College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.

how to write discussion essay

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how to write discussion essay

How to Write a Discussion Essay – Complete Writing Guide

How to write Discussion Essay

A discussion essay is where you take a position on an issue. To compose it, start by agreeing with a particular position, investigating your point, and illustrate your exposition prior to launching into the introduction and your thesis statement . Create a strong argument in the body of your article, and utilize your decision to make it all together without introducing new data.

What is a Discussion Essay?

A discussion essay is a paper that requires you to analyze the two sides of a circumstance and to close by saying which side you favor. These are known as discussions for or against essays. In this sense, the scholastic significance of the word discuss is like its ordinary importance of two individuals discussing a theme from various sides. For a discussion article, a decent view is ordinarily fundamental. This makes discussion papers different from persuasive articles , for which just one side of the contention is given. When composing a discussion article, ensure that realities and suppositions are obviously isolated. Frequently you will look at what others have just said on a similar subject and incorporate this data utilizing rewording and summing up aptitudes, as well as correct citations.

Examples of Discussion Essay Topics

Here are the discussion essay topics

Discussion Essay Structure

Your article ought to have the best structure. Here are the things that a decent article structure needs

Discussion Essay Structure

In spite of the fact that the structure of a discussion essay may fluctuate as indicated by length and subject, there are a few segments which most discussion articles share for all intents and purpose. In addition to general explanations and thesis statements which all great paper introductions contain, the situation of the author will frequently be expressed, alongside applicable definitions. The fundamental body will inspect contentions for (in at least one section) and contentions against (additionally in at least one passage). The determination will contain a rundown of the central matters, and will regularly close with suggestions; in view of what you believe are the main thoughts in the exposition. The end may likewise contain your assessment on the subject, additionally dependent on the former proof.

Here is a summary of various components of a discussion essay structure.


The purpose of the introduction is to arouse the interest of the reader.

The introduction should determine what you will talk about in the discussion essay. You will clarify the question in your own words and afterward characterize your essential contention. This is likewise called composing a thesis statement . End it by determining what you will do and how. When done, change the section and start with the body.

The main body is the place where all the arguments and their support of the discussion essay will be found. You have to do nothing but explain the points written in the introduction in a detailed manner. The brilliant guideline to follow is one Idea, one Paragraph.

Keep in mind; you are not composing a secondary school exposition. Try not to be so astounded. Think more than what you see. Look from an alternate point of view and figure what others might think by taking a look at what you are being approached to depict. Discussion papers additionally need critical thinking. You can’t simply overlook this.

How to form your arguments

Suppose that you have been asked to discuss the recent flood in Queensland . A novice will discuss the following:


The garages have been closed down however houses look OK

The roads are overflowed

A few trees are blown to the streets

To avoid such, you have to think critically for a discussion essay.

You will get pointers like –

In spite of the fact that the houses are alright, were there individuals caught?

Are the houses damaged to fall at any second?

Do individuals need rescuing?

Is there new water in the taps?

Is power still working after trees have fallen?

What to Write?

The conversation should be about the occasions. Clarify in detail what occurred, what you experienced, and what are the realities spinning around the said occasion. Taking the above model further, you can utilize historical information in your discussion essay.

Compose the thoughts in a sensible way. By coherent, I imply that each thought should be communicated with the end goal that it is associated with the following one. The reader ought not to feel like an uneven ride where the author is tossing one contention after another. Remember to specify the main points. Underscore on them. Disclose them to the readers. The discussion essay depends on investigation and questioning. The more you read, the more you search and the more you justify, the better will be your conversation. Composing a 1000 word long substance isn’t simple, particularly when it is a scholastic one. Hence, make it a habit to set up a psyche map or a conceptualizing note. Composing a discussion essay will resemble a piece of cake with this. Sit alone with the point and record all that you know.

Investigate all the measurements that are conceivable, everything about is connected and you can consider them. Subsequent to conceptualizing once, you ought to recognize the defects and search for loopholes. If you don’t discover deficiencies in the discussion essay, the educator will.

Read more: How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay

Whenever you have composed the paper, the time has come to wrap it up. Like every single beneficial thing, the discussion essay will likewise end. The decision is only a redundancy of what has just been discussed in the paper above. You won’t present another contention here and just express the general and clear derivations. Continuously make sure to give the paper an excellent end. Try not to leave the readers hanging and give a response to the title or discussion essay question eventually.

Tips for Writing a Discussion Essay

Basic conversation expositions call upon understudies to utilize their minds and examine certain assessments, proclamations, and contentions. Elegantly composed college discussion essays feature an essayist’s keenness and insightful capacities and have an enduring effect on their readers.

Here are the discussion essay tips that will astutely manage you through your creative cycle.

Tips for Writing a Discussion Essay

Comprehend your objectives first

Discussion articles on any theme require that understudies present their contentions and conversations on an opinion, an assertion, or a generally acknowledged standard. The most common question discussion essay formats are:

Two-part questions

For an opinion based inquiries, you need to comprehend the setting of the given assertion with a receptive outlook. Cautiously go through the question and discover the importance and rationale of the given assertion. Attempt to comprehend the perspective of the speaker through their words.

The essay topic question may give you a preferences and burdens explanation. Assess both from your viewpoint without partiality. There may be inquiries that pose you to concur or differ with a given assertion. Pick one specific way and afterward clarify why you believe it’s the most legitimate one. Two-part question types need you to address the two inquiries individually.

Create a mental blueprint for the whole essay

Having a fundamental blueprint of your composing prepared in your psyche is consistently a good thought. Conceptualize to think of ideas that you will utilize while composing.

For instance, in the introduction, quickly notice the setting of given statements and afterward uphold or repudiate it. Rework the inquiry in your words to make it more significant.

You should plan on the most proficient method to decipher the offered thoughts. Brainstorm the different approaches to introduce a discussion about the opposing views in the body of the essay.

The conclusion of a discussion paper should end with emphasis. Express your assessment and suggestions here. Compose it well to have a lasting impression on your instructor.

Be cohesive while presenting your arguments

The perspectives and suppositions you express are a vital piece of the grading criteria. Educators evaluate your mindfulness about a subject and your critical thinking capacities by means of your assessment.

Continuously be cohesive while introducing your contentions and try not to offer any shallow expressions. If you choose to introduce a supporting contention, at that point stick to it. Convey your viewpoint with emphasis to place everything into point of view.

Regardless of whether the inquiry poses to you about your judgment or advises you to consider something, express your focuses firmly and back them to expand the heaviness of your composition.

Break down sentiments with no inclination

To describe this specific point precisely, here’s a model:

“Finishing college training is viewed as fundamental for obtaining work. Then again, a few people think learning soft skills and getting in-hand experience is more significant. Examine the two sentiments and express your own.”

For the above-given inquiry, the primary passage will contain how college training improves one’s information base but how it likewise neglects to bestow the essential expert abilities.

The second paragraph will evaluate how soft skills and early job experiences prepare one against the realities of the professional world. You also must mention how one’s knowledge remains lacking in avoiding higher studies.

The point here is that you should take a look at each assessment from a few viewpoints. Come at the situation from others’ perspective and attempt to comprehend the circumstance of the individual offering the expression. Continuously be fair in your approach and make sure to back up your contentions with thinking.

Follow the structure that suits your inquiry

Familiarise yourself with discussion paper tests, and you will see that their structures change as indicated by the subject. A regular discussion essay format comprises an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Given underneath is an overall arrangement of a conversation paper structure:

In the introduction of a discussion paper, the given issue is paraphrased and the offered thoughts, explanations, and contentions are described. The thesis statement and the outline sentence are added at the end.

For the body, start by expressing the given perspectives alongside appropriate models. For each new assessment, examine it in another paragraph. If it’s an upsides and downsides question, one area ought to depict favorable circumstances while the other one the inconveniences. The same goes for the inquiry and answer issues and two-section questions.

Sum up taking everything in the conclusion. Quickly clarify why you upheld or invalidated any assessment, and furthermore mention your standpoint. Wrap up everything by offering some helpful proposals.

Follow the correct paper structure since a major piece of your evaluations rely on a well laid out discussion essay presentation.

Keep a reliable tone all through

Remember your readers while composing. A formal and expert tone of composing is fundamental for these papers. Utilize specialized terms and complicated words if need be, as your school educators will comprehend what you are stating.

When emphasizing your points, ensure you don’t exaggerate or disregard others’ assessments. Talk about everything from a nonpartisan viewpoint and never utilize any conversational words.

Read more to improve your writing skills

Peruse discussion paper models regularly to gain proficiency with the composing styles, words utilized, and some other indispensable factors. Go through reviews dependent on various conversation article thoughts to study the composing best practices.

However, if the submission deadline is breathing down your neck, you can always avail of a reputed academic writing service that will write your essay with as much care as you would have.

Developing a Discussion Essay

Select a suitable topic for the exposition. The point should be one that intrigues you. You are required to talk about all the sides of the issues that encompass the exposition. Extraordinary exploration with proper proof will help an incredible arrangement by giving appropriate data to the paper.

The layout of the conversation exposition should be made utilizing a pen and paper. The essential objective now includes getting the contemplations on the topic organized in writing. An itemized layout could be composed for the conversation exposition utilizing the formal customary blueprint and numbers, which isolates the primary concerns. Another way, of thinking of the diagram, includes writing down the primary concerns of conversation which you need to cover in the body.

Focus to compose the exposition in an accompanying manner. The goals in the acquaintance of the task are to have all issues identified with the point presented. The presentation additionally offers the reader with fundamental foundation data. You are required to clarify the significant terms or words that are utilized in the article. Furnishing the reader with the fundamental review of the organization of the conversation guarantees that the progression of thought is perceived in the entire article body.

The body of the paper can be composed with the assistance of the research sources gathered. Each issue should be introduced unbiasedly and exclusively. You should begin by talking about a solitary side then the opposite side of the contention, which is identified with the given theme. The contentions in the body should be reformist starting with frail contentions or issues and advancing to the more grounded contention. A very organized conversation exposition encourages the reader to follow the progression of thought in a simple manner with no interruption.

The last part of the conversation paper is the article’s conclusion. The part of end includes summing up the data from the body of the exposition. The end makes the reader survey the merits and demerits of the contention point. Much of the time, you are not expected to pick any side of the contention. On the off chance that you chose to choose a specific side of the contention, you would have to show your conclusion on the argument.

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How To Plan & Write IELTS Discussion Essays

Students can find it difficult to identify IELTS discussion essays and often confuse them with either opinion essays or advantage and disadvantage essays.

This is one of the issues I’ll be covering in this lesson. I’m also going to show you how to plan and write discussion essays step-by-step.

Here’s what we’ll be covering:

Want to watch and listen to this lesson?

Click on this video.

Click the links to see lessons on each of these Task 2 essay writing topics. 

Once you understand the process, practice on past questions. Take your time at first and gradually speed up until you can plan and write an essay of at least 250 words in the 40 minutes allowed in the exam.

The Question

The first part of the question for an IELTS discussion essay will be a statement containing two opposing views.

You will then be asked to discuss both sides of the argument and give your own opinion. Here is some typical wording that might be used:

Here's a question from a past test paper.

Some people think that zoos are cruel and should be closed down. Others, however, believe that zoos can be useful in protecting wild animals.

Discuss both views and give your opinion.

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

I’ll be using this question to guide you through the process of planning and writing an IELTS discussion essay.

The key to identifying this type of question is the fact that you are required to discuss BOTH views. This is different to opinion questions where you must decide between two opposing views and make an argument to support your own opinion.

Opinion essays , also known as ‘agree or disagree’ essays, a generally worded in one of these ways:

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

The other essay type that students mistake for discussion essays is advantages and disadvantages essays . With these, the statement will contain just one view and the question will typically be written as shown in this sample question.

School children are using computers in school more than ever.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this and give your own opinion.

The consequence of incorrectly identifying the question type is that you will use the wrong structure for your essay. This is a major reason why people make the mistakes we’ll now look at.

3 Common Mistakes

These three errors are common in IELTS discussion essays.

The most common mistake that students make is not giving their opinion. The question will clearly state that you must choose one side of the argument to agree with. If you fail to do this, you will get a low score for task achievement.

It doesn’t matter which side of the argument you take or even, that you actually agree with it.

However, you must give equal attention to both sides. A common error is to provide a stronger argument for the view you favour. This leads to an unbalanced essay and a low score for task achievement. 

Essay Structure

Now let’s look at a simple structure you can use to write IELTS discussion essays. It’s not the only possible structure but it’s the one I recommend because it’s easy to learn and will enable you to quickly plan and write a high-level essay.

1)  Introduction

  2)  Main body paragraph 1

 3 )  Main body paragraph 2

  4)  Conclusion

This structure will give us a well-balanced essay with 4 paragraphs.

We now need some ideas to add into the structure and we’ll have everything we need for our essay.

How To Plan IELTS Discussion Essays

# 1  analyse the question.

This is an essential step in the planning process and will ensure that you answer the question fully. It’s quick and easy to do. You just need to identify 3 different types of words:

1. Topic words

2.  Other keywords

3.  Instruction words

We’ve already considered the instruction words (the actual question) so we’ll focus on the first two.

Topics words are the ones that identify the general subject of the question.

Some people think that zoos  are cruel and should be closed down. Others, however, believe that  zoos  can be useful in protecting wild animals.

So, this question is about ‘ zoos ’.

Many people do this first step of the process and then write about the topic in general. This is a serious mistake and leads to low marks for task achievement.

What we need to do now that we know the general topic, is to understand exactly what aspect of zoos we're being asked to write about.

The other keywords in the question tell you the specific topic you must write about. They define the opinions stated in the statement.

Some people think tha t zoos are cruel and should be closed down . Others, however, believe that zoos c an be useful in protecting wild animals .

By highlighting these words, it’s easy to see that you are being asked to write about the opposing views that zoos are cruel and should be closed down and that zoos can be useful in protecting wild animals. Your essay must only include ideas relevant to these ideas.

# 2  Decide on your opinion

As already mentioned, it doesn’t matter if you genuinely agree with the view you take in your essay or not. IELTS discussion essays are about your ability to write a well-structured essay in the English language and you will not be assessed on any opinion you might hold.

So, choose one view and make sure that your opinion is clear throughout the essay.

For this model essay, I’m going to agree with the statement that zoos are cruel and should be closed down.

# 3  Generate ideas

The next task is to generate some ideas to write about.

There are several different ways to think up ideas. I cover them fully on the  IELTS Essay Planning  page.

We’re going to use the ‘friends technique’. This is my preferred method as it allows you to take a step back from the stress of the exam situation and think more calmly.

Here’s how it works. Imagine you are chatting with a friend and they ask you the question in a casual conversation. What answers would you give them off the top of your head? Plan your essay around these ideas.

Doing this will help you to come up with simple answers in everyday language rather than straining your brain to think of amazing ideas using high level-language, which isn’t necessary.

You might want to try this yourself before reading on for my ideas.

Here are my ideas:

Cruel  – closed down:

Useful – protect wild animals:

I’ve got more ideas here than I need so I’m going to pick two to develop in the essay – one for each of the main body paragraphs.

Idea 1  –  Cramped cages & unnatural environments, animals distressed.

Idea 2  –  Breeding programmes for endangered species, some species saved from extinction.

We’re almost ready to start writing our IELTS discussion essay but first, we have one other small task to do.

# 4  Vocabulary

In an IELTS essay, it’s important to be able to say the same things in different ways, either by paraphrasing and/or using synonyms. During the planning stage, quickly jot down a few synonyms of key words you could use to save you having to stop and think of the right language while you’re writing.

For example:

zoos  – animals in captivity, collections of wild animals, menagerie, wildlife park

cruel  – to cause suffering, inhumane

protect  – safeguard, preserve

animals  – creatures, species

With that done, we can focus on the first paragraph of the essay – the introduction.

How To Write an Introduction

Good introductions to IELTS discussion essays have a simple 3 part structure:

1)  Paraphrase the question

2)  State two supporting reasons (outline statement)

3)  Give your opinion (thesis statement)

Start your introduction by paraphrasing the question.

Question:   Some people think that zoos are cruel and should be closed down. Others, however, believe that zoos can be useful in protecting wild animals.

There are various phrases you can use to do this. Here are three examples. They all say the same thing using different language.

Choose one and add the details in the question statement in a paraphrased form. I recommend putting the view you don’t agree with first.

Paraphrased question:  

Some people argue that zoos help to preserve wild creatures, while others say that they are inhumane and should be abolished.

Note my use of synonyms. You don’t have to replace every key word but do so where possible whilst ensuring that your language sounds natural. There aren’t any suitable synonyms of ‘zoo’ that I can think of, so I've repeated this word from the statement.

2)  Thesis and outline statements

Now we need to add an  outline statement  where you outline the two main points that you’ll cover in the rest of the essay (ideas 1 and 2 above) and a  thesis statement  where you state your opinion.

Outline & thesis statements:

While the development of breeding programmes contributes to the preservation of endangered species, I believe that the poor conditions that many animals held in captivity are kept in make the existence of zoos unacceptable. 

So, let’s bring the three elements of our introduction together.


how to write discussion essay

This introduction achieves three important functions:

The two ideas in your introduction will become your two main body paragraphs.

Main body paragraph 1  – Breeding programmes for endangered species, some species saved from extinction.

Main body paragraph 2  – Cramped cages & unnatural environments, animals distressed.

How To Write Main Body Paragraphs

Main body paragraphs in IELTS discussion essays should contain 3 things:

It is easier to begin by discussing the opinion you don’t agree with and then present the reasons for the opposing view that you support. So, we’ll start with idea 1.

Main Body Paragraph 1

The  topic sentence  summarises the main idea of the paragraph. That’s all it needs to do so it doesn’t have to be complicated.

It plays an important role in ensuring that your ideas flow logically from one to another. It does this by acting as a signpost for what is to come next, that is, what the paragraph will be about.

If you maintain a clear development of ideas throughout your essay, you will get high marks for task achievement and cohesion and coherence.

We’ll now take the idea for our first main body paragraph and create our topic sentence.

Topic sentence:  

On the one hand, there are many projects in existence in zoological parks around the world where species facing extinction have been successfully bred in captivity and their numbers increased substantially.

Next, we must write an  explanation sentence that expands on the idea. This explains to the examiner what we mean or why this is the case.

Explanation sentence: 

This is important for ensuring the survival of animals under threat from poaching and the destruction of their natural environments.

Finally, we add an  example  to support our main point. If you can’t think of a real example, it’s fine to make one up, as long as it’s believable. The examiner isn’t going to check your facts.

Example sentence:

A good example of this is the golden lion tamarin from Brazil which nearly died out because of logging and mining activities which are destroying its habitat. Today, a third of wild golden lion tamarins were raised in captivity.

That’s the 3 parts of our first main body paragraph complete. Here’s the finished paragraph.

how to write discussion essay

We now follow the same process for our second main body paragraph.

Main Body Paragraph 2

Main idea 2  – Cramped cages & unnatural environments, animals distressed.

First, we write the  topic sentence  to summarise the main idea. I started main body paragraph 1 with the phrase ‘On the one hand...’, so main body paragraph 2 will naturally begin, ‘On the other hand... .

These are great cohesive devices to use when making a direct contrast between two opposing views and they link the ideas together well. They can be used in most IELTS discussion essays and will help to earn you a good score for cohesion and coherence.

Topic sentence:

On the other hand, a significant percentage of zoos house their animals in cramped cages with very little space to move around or behave naturally.

Now for the  explanation sentence  where we expand on this idea.

Explanation sentence:

This can lead to them becoming distressed and depressed as well as suffering physically through lack of exercise.

Finally, an  example  to support this point.

A friend of mine recently visited a wildlife park while on holiday abroad and was very upset to see the lions pacing up and down in a narrow, bare pen and eagles in enclosures so small that they were unable to fly.

That’s the 3 parts of our second main body paragraph complete. Here’s the finished paragraph.

how to write discussion essay

Now we need a conclusion and our IELTS discussion essay is done.

How To Write a Conclusion

Conclusions to IELTS discussion essays should do two things:

This can generally be done in a single sentence.

If you're below the minimum 250 words after you’ve written your conclusion, you can add a prediction or recommendation statement.

Our essay currently has 231 words so we’re on target and don’t need this extra sentence but you can learn more about how to write a prediction or recommendation statement for IELTS discussion essays on the Task 2 Conclusions page.

The conclusion is the easiest sentence in the essay to write but one of the most important.

A good conclusion will:

If you achieve this, you’ll improve your score for both task achievement and cohesion and coherence which together make up 50% of the overall marks. Without a conclusion, you’ll score below band 6 for task achievement.

You can start almost any final paragraph of an IELTS discussion essay with the words:


Now all you need to do is briefly summarise the main ideas into one sentence.

Here’s a top tip . Go back and read the introduction to the essay because this is also a summary of the essay. It outlines what you are going to write about.

To create a great conclusion, you simply have to paraphrase the introduction. Let’s give it a go.


Here is the same information formed into a conclusion:

how to write discussion essay

That’s it. We’ve completed our essay. Here it is with the 4 paragraphs put together.

Finished IELTS discussion essay.

how to write discussion essay

Go through this lesson as many times as you need to in order to fully understand it and put in lots of practice writing IELTS discussion essays from past exam questions. Practice is the only way to improve your skills.

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More help with ielts discussion essays & other task 2 essays.

IELTS Writing Task 2  – T he format, the 5 question types, the 5 step essay writing strategy & sample questions. All the key information you need to know.

The 5 Types of Task 2 Essay   – How to recognise the 5 different types of Task 2 essays. 15 sample questions to study and a simple planning structure for each essay type.

Understanding Task 2 Questions  – How to quickly and easily analyse and understand IELTS Writing Task 2 questions.

How To Plan a Task 2 Essay  – Discover why essay planning is essential & learn a simple 4 step strategy, the 4 part essay structure & 4 methods of generating ideas.

How To Write a Task 2 Introduction  – Find out why a good introduction is essential. Learn how to write one using a simple 3 part strategy & discover 4 common mistakes to avoid.

How To Write Task 2 Main Body Paragraphs  – Learn the simple 3 part structure for writing great main body paragraphs and also, 3 common mistakes to avoid. 

How To Write Task 2 Conclusions  – Learn the easy way to write the perfect conclusion for a Task 2 essay. Also discover 4 common mistakes to avoid.

Task 2 Marking Criteria  – Find out how to meet the marking criteria in Task 2. See examples of good and poor answers & learn some common mistakes to avoid.

The 5 Task 2 Essay Types:

Step-by-step instructions on how to plan & write high-level essays. Model answers & common mistakes to avoid.

   Opinion Essays

   Discussion Essays

  Problem Solution Essays

  Advantages & Disadvantages Essays

  Double Question Essays

Other Related Pages

IELTS Writing Test  – Understand the format & marking criteria, know what skills are assessed & learn the difference between the Academic & General writing tests.

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Mr Smedjeback's English Class

How to write a discussion essay.

The aim of the discussion essay is to inform the reader about a topic and show different perspectives (sides) of it. You are allowed to express your own opinion but the aim is not to persuade others what to believe. Often you are supposed to explain, give examples, discuss and compare. 

1. The introduction is the first part of the essay. The function is:

• to introduce the subject to the reader in an interesting and catchy way

• to give some background information about the subject

• to state the main idea or focus of the essay

2. In the body paragraph make sure you show solid support for the points you make by describing, explaining and illustrating so that the reader will think you are worth “listening to”. Let each paragraph explain or discuss one aspect using specific details and examples to clarify and support your thesis.

3. Since you are discussing the topic in your essay, it is important to bring up aspects of the issue from different sides and angles even if you might find yourself leaning towards a particular view as the essay progresses (continues).

4. At the end, the conclusion rounds off the essay in one of the following ways:

• By briefly summarizing the main ideas of the essay

• By making recommendations about ideas discussed in the essay

• By suggesting a solution to the problem discussed in the essay

• By offering a personal reflection that grows logically out of the body paragraphs

If you study English 7 you are also required to use references/citations in your essay.  Click on this link to see how you refer to sources:

Cohesion (sammanhållning)

It’s important to link the different paragraphs together to form a good cohesion in the essay so that the reader can easily follow your line of thought. When you begin a new paragraph you must therefore link it to the paragraph before. You can for example show that you are going to show more examples of the same thing or if you are going to bring up other aspects/arguments of the topic.

Don’t start the paragraph referring to an article, because then the reader has a harder time understanding why you bring up the article.

Incorrect : “In the article “Trump for re-election” (2019) Peter Brosnan claims …”

Correct : There are also many Republicans who doubt that Trump will be re-elected. “In the article “Trump for re-election” (2019) Peter Brosnan claims …”

Using linking words is a good way to connect the paragraph together, see below.

Linking words Use linking words to get a good fluency in your essay, especially when you link paragraphs together. Here are some of the most useful:

Example: Jenny is very fond of children, she’s hardworking and reliable. However , she’s got very little experience of children.

Example: Since Jo’s a very hardworking and reliable person with a lot of experience of children I think she’d make an excellent au pair.

Checklist for writing a discussion essay

Directions : Use this guide to check your own essay, or exchange papers with a classmate and use the list to check each other’s essays. In the margins of the essay you are checking, make notes about anything that needs to be revised.


Body Paragraphs

Also look at this video on how to write a discussion essay:

And part two …

Read these student examples and assess them as a teacher. What is good about them and what could be improved? How are the two essays different?

Student example 1.

People have different perspectives on courageous behavior. Some believe that being brave is inborn, more specifically, such behavior can be unconsciously kept in mind and release automatically whenever it requires. For example, Malala Yousafzai, an eleven years old Pakistani schoolgirl, who could stand against Talibans for women’s rights and right to be educated. She is only a schoolgirl and have not realized whether her fight influential or not.

But another people convince that human being can be courage when their believe in the outcome and know how to reach the outcome. For example, Martin Luther, a priest, taught that salvation received only by faith in Christ, not by good works and donating churches. This statement was completely storming and Catholic Church priests treated him as a demon. However, he believed the consequences of his speech and educated in Bible. Therefore he could convince others. Martin Luther King, Inspired by him, best known as a symbol of nonviolent fight against racial discrimination during the period of racism against black people in America. Even though the period was tuff, he had a risk of end up in a jail or killed by white Americans, he believed that it is a something that he needs to be done and he educated in human rights.

On the other hand, temperamentally, courage can be explained by being comfortable with true self without concerned about expectation of others. Courageous people comfortable with apologize and admit mistakes. They always inspire others.  Philosopher Plato explained that courage requires keep in control desires and pleasure, resist fear and pain. It is not how often you fall down that matters, it is how often you get up.

In conclusion, courage can change future for good. People can born with it or beliefs and knowledge motivate to make courageous actions. Courage is doing the things you cannot possibly do. Everybody can wake up your courage from your inside and can do something good thing if you believing for yourself.

Student example 2 of a discussion essay

The Pros and Cons of Video Surveillance

Technology’s advancements throughout the last few decades have brought us a lot of good things and opportunities, but has it all been for the better? Some would argue that technology’s development have also negatively affected society, making us come closer to a “surveillance society”, where citizens keep getting monitored. Others argue that it’s for the citizen’s protection that this surveillance is up. Has this “surveillance society” with camera surveillance improved our way of living or in fact made it worse? This is a widely discussed subject with both pros and cons regarding the video surveillance.

There are some clear positives that have come with the installation of camera surveillance. In UK, they’ve used camera surveillance in an attempt to try and prevent crime. And Will Byrne writes that according to Assistant Chief Constable Simon Byrne, it’s also an important way of gathering evidence. The cameras will definitely scare off some culprits, but you can’t expect it to have the same effect on all locations. The cameras won’t only help the police in the way of gathering evidence, but surveillance operations will be a lot easier to pull off. Cameras can be deployed on drones which will be cheaper and able to work longer than police helicopters. This can be particulary effective in missing person cases. All of these pros bring together a society that’s safe and comfortable for the citizens and police officers.

However, is it worth it when you consider the cost for such advanced equipment? In just UK, the Home Office spent 500 million dollars on CCTV’s alone between 1994 and 2007. Could this money possibly be spent on something more worthwhile? It’s a lot of money spent on a system that won’t always work the way you want it to. And there’s no guarantee that it’ll actually help to decrease the crime rate. And with other departments of technology developing there needs to be a consideration for possible hacks of camera feeds, which could lead to private information ending up in the wrong hands. Furthermore, with the possibility of cameras getting attached to drones, we could see companies such as news agencies exploit this in a way of stalking celebrities. Where could this development end? Armed drones for police work? It seems to be an uncertain future ahead of us.

So is the “surveillance society” getting out of hand or is it something that benefits our society enough for it to maintain? While it’s a lot of money getting spent on surveillance equipment, it’s at the same time expensive with police officers and long investigations which could be decreased with the help of camera proof in certain cases. Cameras are by no means supposed to replace police officers; instead they are a tool to simplify their jobs. It’s not like all these cameras are tied together in a network in a way of tracking people. They are there for the police to go back and look at footage to solve crimes. So the camera surveillance has definitely helped us in our way of achieving a more safe society. It was with the help of cameras that the police could quickly track down the perpetrators of the Boston bombing in 2013, which is just one of many cases.

We do however need to be wary about the future, and see how the surveillance develops. And there needs to be a proper security system so the public information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. But in today’s society I feel that we have nothing to worry about when it comes to camera surveillance in public, instead I think we should be more worried about what private companies do with our personal information, who we give it to willingly. Plenty of medias who provide free services today make profits by selling personal information.

So in short, the surveillance by the government today is there for our own benefits and is something we should be grateful for. We need to be wary about the future though and see how it develops. Today I feel that the focus should be put on private companies instead of government surveillance, because they’re actually out there trying to make a profit out of our private information.

List of references:

Byrne, Will. (2007) Orwell rolls in his grave: Britain’s endemic surveillance cameras talk back, The Raw Story, 30 May, Available from:

Cornwell, Rupert. (2011) Home on the range, where the spy drones fly, The Independent, 18 Dec, Available from:

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How to Write an Effective Discussion Paper

By: Angelina Grin

How to Write an Effective Discussion Paper

Step 1. How to Get the Discussion Essay Plan

Step 2. how to write the introduction, step 3. how to write the body of your essay, step 4. how to write the conclusion, bonus step. how to finalize your research paper.

No one really likes to argue, maybe that's why so many people feel down when they have to write a discussion essay, also known as an argumentative essay. It's basically just a polite way to argue in a form of words: you get the debatable topic to reflect on, you take a side in this discussion, and then you have to convincingly prove your point throughout your essay. How to do so? Let’s go step by step! 

The Ultimate Guide to Discussion Essay Writing 

To write a discussion paper is a pretty familiar assignment both for school and university students. Yet not so many students really know how to meet their professors' standards and organize the writing process. Use this manual to make it to the A+ in four easy steps. 

Discussion essay outline

You probably know that your writing should start with a decent essay plan. The thing is the structure of your essay usually depends on your topic, so you can’t get any pre-written ready-to-use essay outline. However, the most common argumentative essay outline format is:

Also, there are several steps that can ease your pain and help you come up with the perfect plan for your academic paper.  

Decide What’s the Idea

The first thing you need to do is to pick a topic. If it’s already assigned by your teacher, just skip this paragraph. But if you need to determine the topic yourself, make sure it matches the criteria. 

Good Discussion Essay Topic Examples

Choose the Model of Argument

It may be surprising for some students, but argumentative essays come in many forms, as any writings do. Usually, there are three basic structures or types of argument used in modern writings: the Toulmin argument, the Rogerian argument, and the Classical or Aristotelian argument. The choice depends on the situation and the audience, also when it comes to college essays the type of argument is usually noted in your assignment description.

The Aristotelian or Classical Approach to Argumentation

This kind of structure can be claimed as the standard. You start with the introduction and your thoughts on the importance of the issue, address the opposition and refute it point by point, use one thesis statement as your opinion, then write arguments proving that you're right, and finish with a conclusion.

Rogerian Method of Argumentation

Sometimes you can understand both sides of the argument and reflect on them all. In that case, this model of argumentation can help. Just introduce opposite opinions first, list their pros and cons, admit that every point of view has its benefits but note the one that sounds best for you, then analyze all the evidence in favor of your position, and give your recommendations. 

Toulmin Argument Model

If you prefer choosing one side and diving deep into it, you're probably up to this model. It sees any argumentation as the combination of six parts: claim, grounds, warrant, backing, qualifier, rebuttal. So, introduce your main argument — it should be a claim of fact, claim of definition, claim of cause, claim of value, or claim of policy. Find supporting facts and evidence (ground), highlight the link between your argument and the evidence (by warrant), then back it up with some additional facts (backing), admit that there are circumstances when your claim is not true and show your acknowledgment of another valid point of view (qualifier), then address the opposite views (rebuttal). 

An argumentative essay introduction is supposed to show both the context, helping your audience to get to know the issue, and your perspective. This paragraph should be written persuasively so that it can engage your readers and get you some extra credibility. 

Basically, you don't need to have any outstanding writing skills since your introduction should contain three parts: a hook, a background, and a claim. 

It can be an interesting question, a short story, a quotation, a description, a strong statement or declaration, a fact or statistic, even a metaphor or simile that can get people interested in the text that follows. 

Well, that's background information. Additional data is necessary to understand the argument and get the reader to your statement.

It's your thesis statement, your main points clearly and fully described. You can consider it a one-sentence summary of your whole writing. 

The body paragraphs are the discussion section of your essay. It should involve your arguments and counterarguments, as well as evidence in favor or against the points listed. 

Here are some tips that can help you craft a good discussion section and avoid common mistakes in your essay. 

The conclusion is a results section. It needs to make people agree with your claim by summarizing all your arguments, therefore it should synthesize all the information from your essay and provide it in the form of a laconic paragraph. It's your final stance, so keep it logical, short, consistent, and convincing.

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It always works out when you choose a controversial topic. Nice walkthrough.

how to write discussion essay

How To Write A Discussion Essay

how to write discussion essay

In writing task 2 you will be asked to write a discursive essay ( 250 words minimum ). You will be given a question asking you to give your opinion, discuss a problem or issue. You could also be asked to provide solutions, evaluate a problem, compare and contrast different ideas or challenge an idea. In this post, we will be focussing on how to   write a discuss both views and give your opinion essay .

WRITING TASK 2 Discuss Both Views and Give Your Opinion Essay STRUCTURE

The structure that I advise my students to use, will be sure to get you a band score of 7+. You need to practice using this structure, with as many questions as you can, before sitting your IELTS test. This writing task 2 structure has been proven to be successful for my students and when perfected, can easily help you to achieve a high band score. 


Paragraph 1 – The Introduction

The last sentence in the introduction should outline for the examiner exactly what you will discuss in the main body paragraphs. For example, ‘ this essay will discuss both views and state my own position’.

This is how the paragraph should look >>

In this paragraph, you should write about your second view (View B). You should give specific information and only write about one main idea in each main body paragraph. 

Start the paragraph by introducing your opinion. This is where you need to have a topic sentence. The next sentence(s) should explain your opinion, going into detail. The third sentence should give an example that supports your opinion.

The example you give could be something from your own experience or made up – it is ok to make up something as the examiners will not fact check your information. They want to see your ability to use English at a certain level. You could make up an example from a report, journal, newspaper or University study to support your view. 


Sequencing ideas >>, sample discuss both points of view and give your own opinion essay >>.

It is undeniable that modern technology has a huge influence on people’s lives. The use of the internet, for example, has become more common and some claim that it has been able to connect people who are far apart, while others argue that its use can lead to social isolation or confinement. This essay will discuss both views and state my own position.

Secondly, this technological development has its drawbacks, as it has been observed that some individuals tend to spend a lot of their time surfing the internet or on different social networking sites. Communities meet online via private Facebook groups, instead of in a community hall to discuss matters, since this does not allow them to socialise physically with people, they isolate themselves in this virtual world. Both teenagers and adults use much of their time online and this does not allow them to develop their interpersonal skills. For instance, a study from 2015 by The Social Media Explorer saw that over 93% of teenagers aged 16-19 have a social media presence, with more than three social accounts per person.  


If you would like to view more high band score discussion   essay examples please click the button below >

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  6. How to Write a Discussion Essay

    The aim of the discussion essay is to inform the reader about a topic and show different perspectives (sides) of it. You are allowed to express your own

  7. How to Write a Discussion Essay

    How to write a discussion essay. This is a lesson from Korrespondensgymnasiet.

  8. How to structure a discussion essay

    How to structure a discussion essay · Key moments. View all · Key moments · Description · Key moments. View all · Comments 42 · Transcript

  9. How to Write a Good Discussion Paper?

    This kind of structure can be claimed as the standard. You start with the introduction and your thoughts on the importance of the issue, address the opposition

  10. How To Write A Discussion Essay

    Start the paragraph by introducing your opinion. This is where you need to have a topic sentence. The next sentence(s) should explain your