In the IELTS writing exam, you could be asked to write an essay about animals. Most likely, your question would relate to animal rights. This might seem challenging for some people, so I have written this article to help you understand it better.

Animal Rights and IELTS

For IELTS writing, you often have to discuss ethical issues. Thus, for the topic of animals, you would most likely have to write about animal rights. This could include:

  • whether it is ethical to keep animals in a zoo
  • discussing animal experimentation
  • the ethics of eating meat
  • whether humans should keep pets

Because IELTS requires no specialist knowledge, you would probably not have anything more specific than this to discuss. For example, you wouldn’t be asked about the ethics of purebred pet ownership because most people don’t know much about it. You would also not be given anything that is extremely controversial.

Therefore, the most common animal topics will be quite general and relate to animal rights.

Animal Rights Essay – Experimentation

Here is the question that we will examine today:

Some people argue that all experimentation on animals is bad and should be outlawed. However, others believe that important scientific discoveries can be made from animal experiments.

Can experimentation on animals be justified?

Are there any alternatives?

Note that there are many variants upon this topic. I have seen this same idea with “Discuss both views” and “To what extent do you agree/disagree” question types.

This one, of course, is a two-part question. Therefore, don’t waste too much time reading the long part above the questions. Regardless of what that says, your task is to:

  1. Say whether or not experiments on animals can be justified.
  2. Say whether there are alternatives to this practice.

Be aware that your answer to the first question cannot negate having to answer the second. Whether you say that animal testing can or can’t be justified, you still have to say whether there are alternatives.

Language for an Animal Rights Essay

If you need to write an essay on animal rights, you need to know some appropriate language. Again, you do not need to be an expert, but you should have enough of a grasp of English to say something intelligent about the topic.

You may have noticed that I’ve used these expressions in this article:

  • Animal experimentation
  • Experiments on animals
  • Animal testing

These all mean the same thing but it can be useful to employ different ways to do that, so that you don’t just repeat yourself.

Of course, what you say will also depend hugely on your position and your ideas. If you think that animal experimentation is wrong, then you’ll probably incorporate some rather negative language, such as:

  • Unethical
  • Impossible to justify
  • Cruel
  • Horrific
  • Barbaric
  • Unfair
  • Needless

On the other hand, if you support animal testing, you might say something more positive:

  • Valuable
  • Important
  • Necessary
  • Careful

It is also good to know some specific language related to the topic:

  • Medical testing
  • Cages
  • Laboratory
  • Subjected to
  • Inject
  • Cosmetics

You can learn more language by reading articles on this topic. Try searching Google for “animal rights” or “animal testing.” You’ll find lots of articles. Just make sure that it is written by a native speaker or a professional writer. Also, be aware that with a contentious topic there will probably be a lot of passionate language and maybe even some misinformation.

Planning your Answer

First of all, you need to figure out what your position is in regards the question(s). Then, you need to think about how to explain your position in a straightforward way.

Here, we had two questions. Both of them are yes/no questions but of course you need to develop those ideas with explanations. Think of your answer as “Yes because…” or “No because…” This will help you to think of reasons that you can then incorporate into your answers.

Also, be aware that two-part questions are really easy to structure! You can just devote one body paragraph to each question:

IntroductionIntroduce the topic and give overview
Body paragraph #1Answer first question
Body paragraph #2Answer second question
ConclusionSummarise your essay

My position is that animal experimentation cannot be justified, so I will explain that in my first body paragraph. I will start with the main argument in defence of animal testing, then refute it comprehensively.

For the next question, I will state that I don’t really know whether or not there are any alternatives. Thus, my structure will be:

IntroductionIntroduce the topic and give overview
Body paragraph #1Say why people support animal testing
Say why they are wrong
Example: Testing for diabetes on mice
Body paragraph #2Admit that a lack of alternatives is why people test on animals
State that more alternatives are needed
ConclusionSummarise my essay

Sample Band 9 Answer

Over the past few decades, animal testing has been fiercely debated due to the ethical problems inherent in this area of science. This essay will explain why it cannot be justified and that alternatives need to be sought.

The people who believe that animal testing is necessary tend to say that there are serious benefits to humanity, such as testing medicines before using them on human beings. They believe that this will help to figure out the cures to many serious illnesses, which will make the world a better place for humans. However, this is wrong for several reasons. Chief among them is the fact that animal testing is not as helpful in developing medicines as people think. Medicines that work on animals do not always work on humans, and vice versa. As such, these trials are not just unnecessary but also profoundly unhelpful. For example, if scientists give a mouse diabetes and then try various drugs to cure the problem, they may find that there are twelve drugs that do not work on the mouse. However, maybe one of those drugs would have worked on a human. As such, animal testing would have caused more problems than it solved.

Part of the reason for animal testing is that there are not many alternatives. Whilst it is obviously cruel and pointless to subject animals to experiments, most people would agree that it is worse to do this to human beings. However, there needs to be some sort of procedure by which testing can move from theoretical to human trials without the need for the evils of animal testing. What this process would be remains to be seen, but it is essential for any humane society.

In conclusion, people may argue that there are benefits that come from experimenting on animals, but in fact there is no good reason to continue doing this. Scientists need to immediately seek an alternative and end this barbaric and pointless practice. 

Notes on the Answer

This was a good answer because it gave fully developed explanations and used language accurately. Here are some words and phrases from the answer:

  • fiercely debated
  • ethical problems
  • cures
  • vice versa
  • profoundly unhelpful
  • diabetes
  • cruel and pointless
  • procedure
  • theoretical
  • humane society
  • barbaric

Paragraph two was also quite interesting. I felt that the most convincing way to make my point was to show conventional logic and then comprehensively debunk it. To do so, I gave a clear example and demonstrated through a simple explanation of just why animal testing is so useless.