How to Write a Thesis Statement

This post will show you how to write a good thesis statement and how we need to vary them according to which kind of question we are asked in the IELTS writing test.

Thesis statement ielts

This post will look at:

    • what a thesis statement is;
    • how to identify the different question types;
    • how to write a thesis statement for each question.

What is a thesis statement?

Thesis- An idea put forward for consideration, especially one to be discussed or analysed.

A thesis statement is the most important sentence in your IELTS writing task 2 answer.  It is contained in the introduction and each introduction should have one; along with a paraphrase of the question and an outline statement.

A thesis statement is your main idea and I often describe it to students as how you feel about the whole issue in one sentence. It tells the examiner that you have understood the question and will lead to a clearer; more coherent essay.

Let’s look at an example of a thesis statement:

Question: There is a good deal of evidence that increasing car use is contributing to global warming and having other undesirable effects on people’s health and well-being.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Thesis statement: This essay agrees that increasing use of motor vehicles is contributing to rising global temperatures and certain health issues.

As you can see, this sentence makes it absolutely clear to the examiner how you feel about the question. The rest of your essay should support this statement.

How do I know what to write?

The first thing we need to do is to identify which type of question it is and look at the action words.  For example, in the question below the action words are ‘do you agree or disagree?’

Question: There is a good deal of evidence that increasing car use is contributing to global warming and having other undesirable effects on people’s health and well-being.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

We therefore need to tell the examiner clearly whether we agree or disagree and this will influence our thesis statement.

Let’s look at other examples:

  1. Computers are being used more and more in education.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

  1. Computers are being used more and more in education. Some people say that this is a positive trend, while others argue that it is leading to negative consequences.

Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

  1. Students are becoming more and more reliant on computers.

What are some of the problems associated with reliance on computers, and what are some of the possible solutions?

In each of the three questions above the main keywords are more or less the same- education and computers. However, if we look at the action words we can see that we are required to answer the three questions in very different ways and this will affect our thesis statement.

The action words are:

  1. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.
  2. Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.
  3. What are some of the problems and what are some of the possible solutions?

It is therefore important to take some time to analyse the question and establish what the question is actually asking us to do.

How do I write a thesis statement for each question?

Once we have established what the question wants us to do, we can now think about our thesis statement. Below we will look at how to write a thesis statement for four different kinds of question:

  • Opinion Question (Do you agree or Disagree)
  • Discussion Question (Discuss both points of view)
  • Advantages and Disadvantage
  • Problem and Solution.

You should remember that although IELTS writing part 2 questions normally follow a standard format as above, they sometimes change and you should be prepared for that.

Opinion Question

Some aspects of celebrity culture have a bad influence on young people.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

We have three choices with this kind of question:

  1. I agree
  2. I disagree
  3. I both agree and disagree

I tell my students to only choose options one or two. Choosing option three will often lead to a confused and/or very long essay. If you have just one opinion and you stick to this, it will lead to a clear and well argued essay.

You therefore have two choices.

  1. I agree that some aspects of celebrity culture have a bad influence on young people.
  2. I disagree that some aspects of celebrity culture have a bad influence on young people.

All of your thesis statements for this kind of question should start with:

This essay agrees that…..

or

This essay disagrees that…..

We should try to avoid using personal pronouns like ‘I’ and we therefore use ‘This essay….’ instead.

Also remember that we should not copy the question as this is not allowed in the IELTS writing test and instead we should paraphrase.

For example, ‘This essay agrees that the some famous people’s lifestyles have a detrimental effect on the youth of today.’

Second Example Opinion Question

Increasing the price of petrol is the best way to solve growing traffic and pollution problems.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Thesis Statement: This essay disagrees that the best way to resolve increasing pollution and congestion problems is to raise the cost of fuel.

Discussion Question

Computers are being used more and more in education. Some people say that this is a positive trend, while others argue that it is leading to negative consequences.

Discuss both sides of this argument and then give your own opinion.

For this kind of question we need to clearly state both sides of the argument and state our own opinion.

We do this by simply paraphrasing the question; thus stating both sides, and then giving our own opinion. Our own opinion will be just one side of the argument.

Even if you favour both sides of the argument, just state one. Again, this leads to a clearer answer.

Thesis statement: Some argue that schools and universities increasing use of computers is a beneficial trend, while others are opposed to this view. This essay agrees that growing use of technology by educators is a positive development.

As you can see, this student has clearly stated both sides of the argument and stated which side of the argument she prefers.

Second Example Discussion Question

Some people think that parents should teach children how to be good members of society. Others, however, believe that school is the best place to learn this.

Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.

Thesis statement: Some argue that teachers should teach youngsters how to be upstanding members of the community, whereas others feel this is the role of the mother and father. This essay agrees that this duty should be filled primarily by parents.

Advantage and Disadvantages Question

Computers are being used more and more in education.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

In this kind of question we need to clearly state what we think the main advantage is and what the main disadvantage is.

Thesis Statement: The principal advantage is the amount of information instantly available to students and the main disadvantage is the lack of discipline and motivation provided by computers.

Second Advantage and Disadvantages Question

Some experts believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school rather than secondary school.

Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

Thesis statement: The principal advantage is that exposing children to languages as early as possible leads to higher levels of proficiency later in life and this outweighs the main disadvantage of young children being overwhelmed by too many subjects.

Problem and Solution Question

Students are becoming more and more reliant on computers.

What are some of the problems associated with reliance on computers, and what are some of the possible solutions? 

Our thesis statement will need to state one main problem and one main solution. Some teachers will advise you to state more than problem and solution. There is nothing wrong with this, but I like my students to choose two good ideas and develop these fully.

Thesis statement: The principal problem is students allowing machines to do all the work for them without thinking for themselves and a possible solution is to have stricter supervision from teachers and parents.

Cause and Solution Question

In some countries the average weight of people is increasing and their levels of health and fitness are decreasing.

What do you think are the causes of these problems and what measures could be taken to solve them?

Thesis statement: The principal cause of this problem is peoples’ sedentary lifestyles and a possible solution is to educate society about the dangers of not keeping fit.

Next Steps

This is just a broad overview of thesis statements and it should be read in conjunction with my article on how to write an effective introduction in order to be fully understood.

It should be reiterated that although these are the four common question that normally come up in the IELTS writing test, they sometimes do vary and you should be ready to change your thesis statements and introductions accordingly.

Here is Lisa Simpson with a summary.

what is a thesis statement ielts

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19 Comments

  1. Darshan says

    Hello Sir!
    Could you tell me that In what types of question or demand I should not write an opinion in the essay?

  2. Ravil says

    Chrisopher, I checked a couple of other popular IELTS resources and they suggest to answer opinion questions with “I agree” or “I fully disagree”, as “It is agreed” can be evaluated as a not complete answer on the task. I want to be 100% sure about this one, because it can really lower the score.

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