Discussion essays, also called argument 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 argument 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 praphrasing 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.
|Structural component||Purpose||Stage of essay|
|General statements||To introduce the reader to the subject of the essay.||Introduction|
|Position||To give the opinion of the writer (not always possible).|
|Definition(s) (optional)||To explain any important technical words to the reader.|
|Thesis||To tell the reader what parts of the topic will be included in the essay.|
|Arguments for||To explain to the reader the evidence for the positive side of the issue, with support. The most important ideas usually come first. This may be covered in one or more paragraphs.||Main body|
|Arguments against||To explain to the reader the evidence for the negative side of the issue, with support. The most important ideas usually come first. This may be covered in one or more paragraphs.|
|Summary||To give the reader a brief reminder of the main ideas, while restating the issue. Sometimes also says which ideas the writer believes have the strongest evidence.||Conclusion|
|Opinion & Recommendation||To give your opinion, and tell the reader what the writer believes is the best action to take, considering the evidence in the essay.|
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'.
Below is a compare and contrast essay. This essay uses the point-by-point structure. Click on the different areas (in the shaded boxes to the right) to highlight the different structural aspects in this essay, i.e. similarities, differences, and structure words. This will highlight not simply the paragraphs, but also the thesis statement and summary, as these repeat the comparisons and contrasts contained in the main body.
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.
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
Find out how to write persuasion essays in the next section.
Go back to the previous section about different essay types.
Learn expressions to use in your discussion essay for IELTS writing task 2 with this video lesson. It is important to use a variety of language to express both sides in your essay. Being able to have flexible language for giving other people’s opinions is a good way to increase your vocabulary band score.
Hello in this lesson I’m going to look at some expressions that you can use for a discussion essay for IELTS writing task 2. Now when you have a discussion essay you have to support two different sides and this is not about your opinion this is about what other people think, other people’s opinion and you have to support what they think. so here are some very useful expressions to help you show other people’s thoughts and opinions.
Now there’s quite a lot of expressions you can use. I will run through each one but I will tell you now there are two expressions here that you shouldn’t use. can you see which ones? well I’ll tell you at the end of the lesson let’s have a look the first one. “Many people believe that ” this is a very common expression to use for IELTS It is not high band score but its clear and its academic so don’t worry, please use it. The next one “it is commonly believed that” this is a very nice expression because you can see here “is believed” that is the passive and it’s very good to give the examiner some passive tense in your essay. It will improve your band score and you can see this word here “commonly” that means many people so it has the same meaning as this sentence and this word we can change, we could say “it is frequently believed that” or we could say “it is often believed that”. So we could put a different adverb of frequency here. The next one “some people think that” again it’s very simple but it is academic and its clear. “It is often thought that” here we’ve got another passive, so very nice to use. But “on the side of” or “the other side of the coin is” this is the other opinion, the other side. “It is considered by many that” this is a very nice expression is very academic. It’s very good to use for IELTS and again you have a passive here and you can change this word if you want and you could say “it is considered by some that”. The next one here “many argue that” is very nice very clear. You don’t need to say “many people”, you could say “many argue that “. Another one, “it is argued by some that”, again here we’ve got the passive and you can change this word, “it is argued by many that”. “On the one hand” and”On the other hand”, so that’s the one side of the argument, on the other hand that’s the other side of the argument. The last one “some people support the opinion that” again this is very nice, very academic.
So can you see the 2 expressions that you shouldn’t use? Well, it is these 2 here this one is not very academic, we use it more for speaking, and this one many students love to use this because it is an idiom however it is very informal and we don’t usually use that for an academic essay for IELTS so please don’t use that one in your discussion essay. But all the others are great and when you’re writing your discussion essay it’s very important that you give the simple tense and then sometimes a passive as well and you can keep changing that through your essay to show flexibility. Well that’s all for this lesson I’ll see you again in another IELTS lesson
Discussion Essay Model Answer