IELTS Advantages and Disadvantages Lesson

advantages and disadvantages

These kinds of questions normally give you a statement and ask you to comment on the advantages and disadvantages of that statement.

The problem is that there are 3 different types of advantage and disadvantage question and they each require a different approach. If you answer them in a different way then you risk losing lots of easy marks.

This lesson will look at each of the three question types and suggest a standard sentence-by-sentence structure for each of them.  There will also be samples answers for each of the three questions to help you compare and understand the three approaches.

Question 1

In some countries young people are encouraged to work or travel for a year between finishing high school and starting university studies.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages for young people who decided to do this.

Question 2

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

Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

Question 3

Computers are becoming an essential part of school lessons.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

Question 1 simply asks us to discuss the advantages and disadvantages. It does not ask for our opinion or say which side is better or worse, so we should not include this information in our answer.

This requires a simple structure in which the student will look at the advantages in one paragraph and the disadvantages in the other.

Question 2 is different because we have to say if the advantages are stronger than the disadvantages. Notice I didn’t say ‘if there are more advantages than disadvantages’. The question is not asking you to talk about numbers, but comment on the overall weight of the advantages or disadvantages.  For example, there are a huge number of advantages to travelling by private jet, but there is one huge disadvantage (the cost) that stops most people from flying that way and therefore the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.

In this example we will have to decide which side (advantages or disadvantages) is stronger and this will affect our structure. If you choose advantages then you will have to say why these are much stronger than the advantages and why the disadvantages don’t hold much weight. You would also have to make this clear in your thesis statement.

Question 3 is different again because it is more like an opinion essay and a discussion essay at the same time. Your structure will reflect this by having a paragraph for advantages and disadvantages, but also having a clear position on the statement.

Structure for Essay 1

Introduction

Sentence 1- Paraphrase question

Sentence 2- Outline sentence

Supporting Paragraph 1 (Advantages)

Sentence 3- Topic sentence (Advantage 1)

Sentence 4- Explain how this is an advantage

Sentence 5- Example

Supporting Paragraph 2 (Disadvantages)

Sentence 6- Topic sentence (Disadvantage 1)

Sentence 7- Explain how this is an disadvantage

Sentence 8- Example

Conclusion

Sentence 9- Summary of main points

Structure for Essay 2

Introduction

Sentence 1- Paraphrase question

Sentence 2- Thesis statement (state which one outweighs the other)

Sentence 3- Outline sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1 (Stronger Side)

Sentence 4- Topic Sentence

Sentence 5- Explain why it is strong

Sentence 6- Example

Sentence 7- Topic Sentence

Sentence 8- Explain why it is strong

Sentence 9- Example

Main Body Paragraph 2 (Weaker Side)

Sentence 10- Topic Sentence

Sentence 11- Explain why it is not strong

Sentence 12- Example

Conclusion

Sentence 13- Summary of main points and restate position.

Structure for Essay 3

Introduction

Sentence 1- Paraphrase question

Sentence 2- Thesis statement (your opinion)

Sentence 3- Outline sentence

Main Body Paragraph 1 (Advantages)

Sentence 4- Topic Sentence

Sentence 5- Explain

Sentence 6- Example

Main Body Paragraph 2 (Disadvantages)

Sentence 7- Topic Sentence

Sentence 8- Explain

Sentence 9- Example

Main Body Paragraph 3 (Opinion)

Sentence 10- Explain opinion

Sentence 11- Explain or give example

Conclusion

Sentence 12 – Summary of main points

Question 1

In some countries young people are encouraged to work or travel for a year between finishing high school and starting university studies.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages for young people who decided to do this.

Before embarking on college many young people are advised that a year working or travelling may be a good option. This essay will suggest that saving money is the biggest advantage of this and a reduced motivation to study is the primary disadvantage.

Third level education is very expensive and lots of students decide to work for 12 months and save up money before they begin their studies. This allows them to pay for their living costs, tuition fees and accommodation and focus on their studies, rather than struggle financially or have to get a part time job on top of their academic work. The Times recently reported that the average student at a UK university requires over $12,000 per annum just to survive and many drop out because they cannot afford to stay.

Despite these advantages, many students often get used to working or travelling and don’t want to return to a life of study after a year off. This short term view can cause some to bypass university altogether and go straight into a job that is beneath their capabilities or may not offer the same prospects their future career might have done. For instance, a recent survey by the British Government found that 26% of students who take a gap-year never enter tertiary education.

In conclusion, taking a break from studies can be advantageous if it allows people to gather up savings, however, they should also be careful that it does not lead to disillusionment with education altogether.

(252 words)

Question 2 Sample Answer

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

Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

Some authorities think that it is more favorable for pupils to begin studying languages at primary school instead of secondary school. This essay will argue that the advantages of this outweigh the drawbacks. The essay will first demonstrate that the earlier someone learns an additional language the more likely they are to master it and that it brings added cognitive benefits, followed by an analysis of how the primary disadvantage, namely  confusion with their native tongue, is not valid.

The main reason to start kids off with foreign languages early is that this increases the likelihood they will achieve fluency in adulthood. That is to say that they will have far more years to perfect their skills and it will seem perfectly normal to speak bilingually. For example, in countries such as Holland and Norway where English is taught from a very young age, more than 95% of adults speak it at an advanced level. Learning a second language also helps to improve overall cognitive abilities. In other words it benefits the overall development of a child’s brain. A recent survey by Cambridge University found that children who studied a new language before the age of 5 were significantly more likely to score higher in Mathematics and Science.

Those opposed to this say that it causes the child to become confused between their mother tongue and the other language. However, there is actually no evidence to support this view and children from bilingual families do just as well in both languages. My own son was brought up speaking both Vietnamese and English and outperforms most of his classmates in both.

On balance the fact that early foreign language learning leads to higher fluency and improved brain function clearly outweighs the flawed argument that it impairs uptake of native languages.

(299 words)

Question 3 Sample Answer

Computers are becoming an essential part of education.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages and give your own opinion.

Information technology is becoming a ubiquitous part of learning. This essay will show that this is a welcome development and can enhance educational practice. It will first suggest that the instant availability of huge amounts of information is the primary advantage, followed by a discussion of how it can sometimes lead to plagiarism.

The main benefit computers bring to learners is easy access to vast amounts resources. Learners were once limited to the books they had and the knowledge of their teacher, now they can learn about anything they choose at the touch of a button. Google is a prime example, because it allows people to easily search for whatever they are looking for quickly and accurately.

One possible drawback is that using the internet to complete academic work can sometimes lead to pupils copying articles from the internet. As a result, students do not have to think about their tasks and learn very little. The Sunday Times recently reported that 72% of college graduates in the UK admitted to copying and pasting Wikipedia articles at least once.

Overall, it is a very positive development because most students will take advantage of the power of the information superhighway to enhance their studies, rather than using it to cheat. For example, in 2005 Cambridge University found that students who regularly used a computer were 26% more likely to get a first-class degree than those who did not.

In conclusion, the web has provided a gateway to knowledge unlike anything seen before and although it can sometimes lead to a few taking the easy route and plagiarising, it is a very positive step in the evolution of education.

(278 words)

Next Steps

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37 Comments

  1. Sharmila says

    I’m in Japan studying Japanese..I’m very thankful towards you as you are only my online teacherthanking you

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