Sample IELTS Writing Paper – Task 2 (Example #1 – a discursive essay)

Have a look at the task, then check out our advice on how to answer the question and finally our sample answer. This is an example of a discursive essay.


Nowadays many students choose to study for part or all of their university courses in foreign countries. While studying abroad brings many benefits to students, it also has a number of disadvantages.

Discuss and give your own opinion.

You should write at least 250 words and take at least 40 minutes.

Advice on how to complete this task

Watch the video to get advice on answering this question:

This kind of question expects a response which will look at both the advantages and the disadvantages of the statement and give your opinion. It is a balanced, discursive essay.

A good structure for your essay would be:

  • Paragraph one – introduce the topic and give a preview of the coming arguments, but no personal opinion yet.
  • Paragraph two – give the positive reasons for study abroad (expand on the ideas you mentioned briefly in paragraph one) and examples to support your idea
  • Paragraph three – give the negative arguments of study abroad (expand on the points you mentioned in paragraph one) and examples to support what you say.
  • Last paragraph – here is the best place to give your own personal opinion and reasoning why you think this is the case.

Sample answer

With the advent of globalisation, increase in travel opportunities and rise in participation of students in tertiary education, it has become more prevalent for students to study part, or all of their degrees at universities in foreign countries. Study abroad can bring advantages such as increase in student independence, widening of cultural experience and formation of a more holistic person. There are however, disadvantages in terms of high expenditure, loneliness and culture shock.

When a student moves to a foreign country, they are often young and may have been fairly dependent on their parents and family for support in food and board, finances and emotional support. Being suddenly resident in a foreign country normally necessitates activities such as shopping, housework and time management. This can be excellent in cultivating independence because the student must learn these skills quickly to survive. In addition, the student will be communicating in the new language and absorbing the new culture as they go about their daily lives. They will have to perhaps adapt their behaviour to fit the behaviour of the culture into which they are assimilating and will often have to re-evaluate their world views. This process can help form more rounded person who has tolerance of the manner in which different cultures do things differently.

Potential disadvantages may arise during this time abroad, such as loneliness. The student feels remote from family and friends and may also experience culture shock in the first few months when settling into the new country can be isolating. The added burden of the cost of living can drive some students to depression.

The positive experience gained by the time studying abroad, however, is considered to outweigh the negatives. Providing the student takes the initiative to ask for help in times of emotional or financial problems, the whole experience of life abroad for study should be immensely rewarding.

(311 words)

Answer Analysis

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