There is a wide range of topics used in the IELTS writing test and many of them overlap. Today, we are going to look at a question that falls between the topics of animals and ethics and science. It will require you to write an animal testing essay.
In this article, I will analyse the question for you, give you some pointers on useful language, and then show you my own sample band 9 answer.
The Task: Animal Testing
Here is a question that appeared in the IELTS exam several years ago:
Some people claim that it is acceptable to use animals in medical research for the benefit of human beings, while other people argue that it is wrong.
Discuss both views and give your opinion.
(Note that questions can be re-used or re-written, so it is possible that you might see this recycled in the future.)
This is a “discuss both views” question, so your task is ultimately to do three things:
- Explain why some people think animal testing is acceptable
- Explain why some people think animal testing is unacceptable
- Give your opinion
Even if you feel really strongly that it is wrong, for example, you still need to explain the opposing view. You don’t need to give a balanced answer, but you do need to acknowledge both sides of the debate. This is important for Task Response.
Planning your Answer
I almost always write a four-paragraph essay for my sample band 9 answers but today I’m going to write five. It could easily have been four paragraphs but I wanted to separate my anti-animal testing arguments into two separate paragraphs for better organisation. (You can read about 4- vs 5-paragraph essay structures here.)
My essay is going to look like this:
|Introduction||Introduce the topic and give my opinion.|
|Body paragraph 1||Say why animal testing might be supported by some people.|
|Body paragraph 2||First reason against animal testing: It is ineffective.|
|Body paragraph 3||Second reason against animal testing: It is unethical.|
|Conclusion||Summarise the main ideas and restate my opinion.|
Body paragraph 1 will act as a sort of concession paragraph, so it will be imperative that I make it clear that this is not my opinion but rather what some other people think. If I fail to do this, then the reader might be confused.
The ideas in body paragraphs 2 and 3 will be separated but could also have been condensed into two paragraphs. However, I felt that for this topic it was a little more effective to split them. It also made my argument slightly more persuasive.
For the conclusion, I will be careful not to repeat myself too much and instead just summarise and reaffirm my stance.
Language for an Animal Testing Essay
The topic of animal testing is obviously controversial and so people will have different ideas. What you say will be largely based upon your own opinions. However, keep in mind that it covers those three topics I mentioned:
You don’t really need to know a lot about each, but it definitely would have some benefit if you knew a little about these areas and had some good vocabulary to use. I wrote about the IELTS topic of animals here, and there is plenty of good vocabulary that you can borrow. You can also search “animals” in the search bar at the top of the page.
I also recommend that you read and listen on issues that are related to IELTS topics like this. I particularly recommend the SYSK podcast episode on animal testing, which I think it is informative and accessible. You may learn some good language and get some inspiration for what you could write in your own animal testing essay. Other sources include this argument against animal testing by PETA and this one in favour of it by Stanford.
Language for Contentious Issues
In my essay, I will use the following phrases, which could be modified and applied to other contentious issues. I will put the specific language in brackets, so that you could swap it out when discussing other topics:
- [animal testing] has been fiercely debated due to the ethical problems inherent in this area of [science]
- The people who believe that [animal testing] is necessary tend to say…
- this is wrong for several reasons
- [animal testing] is not as helpful in [developing medicines] as people think
- There are many other reasons why [experimenting with animals] is wrong
- it is grossly unethical to [subject these creatures to painful and demeaning experiences]
- 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
You can try using and modifying these phrases in your own practice essays. If you want an expert to correct them for you, try my IELTS writing correction service.
Language about Animal Testing
The following phrases will also appear in my essay and can be used for talking about animal testing:
- this area of science
- animal testing should be banned
- testing medicines before using them on human beings
- figure out the cures to many serious illnesses
- Medicines that work on animals do not always work on humans
- if scientists give a mouse diabetes and then try various drugs to cure the problem
- subject these creatures to painful and demeaning experiences
- They are sentient beings
- subjected to cruel and often unnecessary experiments
- harmful both to humans and animals
It is also important to avoid repetition and that means finding ways to say “animal testing” without repeating the say words over and over. You could say:
- testing on animals
- experimenting on animals
- subjecting animals to medical experiments
- using animals in experiments
Again, it would be helpful to read articles and listen to podcasts on this topic in order to improve your vocabulary.
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 look at both sides of the debate, before concluding that animal testing should be banned.
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.
Firstly, 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.
There are many other reasons why experimenting with animals is wrong. Perhaps most importantly, it is grossly unethical to subject these creatures to painful and demeaning experiences for the benefit of humanity. Animals do not exist for the benefit of people. They are sentient beings that deserve better than to be caged and subjected to cruel and often unnecessary experiments.
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. At best, these experiments are useless and at worst they are unethical and harmful both to humans and animals.
You can see that I have carefully crafted an argument that is strong. You may not agree with it, but it is hard to deny my points, which makes it effective in terms of Task Response. The structure is also solid and the ideas were well connected, making it very good in terms of Coherence and Cohesion. Note the inclusion of realistic and interesting ideas as well as concrete examples. My explanation of testing on mice was particularly effective here. It is better than giving some vague or unexplained idea.