Last month, Cambridge released the 18th edition of its excellent IELTS practice test series. Each book contains 4 complete exams and these are the most accurate and helpful practice materials you can use for IELTS preparation.
Today, I want to give you my sample band 9 answers to the task 2 questions from this book.
Test 1: The Purpose of Science
Here is our first question:
The most important aim of science should be to improve people’s lives.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
This is an interesting question. It is quite straightforward but the topic of science might make some people nervous.
It is often said that the primary purpose of science should be to improve people’s lives. This essay will largely agree with that assertion.
Science has advanced for many reasons throughout human history but it seems as though much of its relentless drive forwards has been powered by the quest to improve people’s lives. Take medicine as the best example. Although people complain about greed and profiteering by the pharmaceutical industry, there is no doubt that most medical advances have been made in order to reduce human suffering, improve people’s quality of life, and even extend lives so that people can live relatively comfortably into old age. From insulin to eyeglasses, medical science has sought to eliminate health problems and improve people’s lives and this should continue into the future.
Beyond that, there are of course many other ways that science has helped people. It is easy to take it for granted, but the development of technology has mostly been for this purpose as well. Some rightly complain about governments spying and businesses profiting, but devices like laptops and tablets have certainly helped people. They allow average people to start businesses and they allow disabled people to do amazing things that they would otherwise have struggled to achieve. Not all technology is beneficial and not all of it is created for such altruistic purposes, but much of it is and its development should be fostered with such lofty aims. For example, scientists should keep this in mind as they push forward with the creation of AI.
In conclusion, there are many reasons why science advances but mostly it is for the benefit of human beings and that should remain its aim. People should continue to make developments with the intention of improving people’s lives.
Notes on the Answer
I have written a simple but effective introduction. As I always tell people, you should get to the point quickly, make your position clear, and avoid convoluted words and ideas.
I have essentially agreed with the idea in the statement but I have also acknowledged other ideas. You do not need to give a balanced answer but it is fine to do so if that’s your opinion.
As always, I have used language that is appropriate for the task. There are no strange words plucked from the dictionary. Instead, I have used whatever word or phrase is needed for that idea. After all, accuracy is the most important thing.
Test 2: University Students and Course Choice
Here is the second task 2 question from this book:
Some university students want to learn about other subjects in addition to their main subjects. Others believe it is more important to give all their time and attention to studying for a qualification.
Discuss both these views and give your own opinion.
I often complain about the spread of fake questions on the internet. You can usually spot these because they are written in bad English or are illogical. However, sometimes the real questions can also be bad! This is an example of that. It’s written a bit carelessly.
It is normal for university students to specialise in one particular subject, but some of them think that they should be able to take a wide range of subjects in addition to their chosen one. This essay will look at both viewpoints, then suggest that, although there are some benefits to be gained from additional subjects, students should probably focus on their majors.
Students could certainly benefit from taking other subjects in addition to their specialist one because having a wide range of knowledge is very important, particularly at that stage in life. Even if a student wants to study something like dentistry, it could still be beneficial to do some additional classes to help them become a more well-rounded person, such as an occasional lesson in philosophy, literature, or history.
However, students go to university to prepare for their working life by learning really important things from a very particular field, and additional subjects might be an unwelcome distraction. If that dental student was forced to take philosophy classes, the extra pressure and effort might cause them to fail a dentistry exam, and possibly even drop out of their course. It seems that any benefits that come from taking extra classes would be mitigated by the potential problems caused, and so it is really not worth implementing this sort of system unless the additional classes were quite closely related to the primary subject, in which case there may be some extra benefits that would balance out the negatives.
In conclusion, it is not a good idea to give students a wide range of classes in addition to their chosen subject, but they may benefit from having some extra lessons to provide them with a slightly wider range of knowledge.
Notes on the Sample Answer
I have given another effective introduction before writing a concession paragraph. It was in paragraph three that I put forth most of my answer. I have stuck with a hypothetical example of a dental student wanting to do philosophy lessons and by continuing that from one body paragraph to the next I have brought more cohesion to my overall essay.
It is important with this sort of approach to have a clear and concise conclusion, which I have added at the end of my essay. It should leave the reader in no doubt regarding your opinion.
Test 3: Declining Countryside Populations
Here is our third question:
In many countries around the world, rural people are moving to cities, so the population in the countryside is decreasing.
Do you think this is a positive or a negative development?
We have so far had science and education as our topics. This time, we are looking at urban-countryside issues. This is another fairly common idea in IELTS.
In most parts of the world, rural populations are decreasing as people move to urban areas. This essay will explain why that could be perceived as either positive or negative, depending on one’s perspective.
The positive perspective says that urban areas offer better standards of living and allow for better management of populations. When people are concentrated in a single area, that means they can be provided access to food, healthcare, education, and other essential parts of life. Governments can more effectively provide for them and people can find more opportunities whilst participating easily in their nation’s economy. Meanwhile, the countryside can be returned to nature or used for responsible agriculture. With people taking up less space, the environment could be allowed to thrive once again.
On the other hand, when people live in the countryside, they have more space and access to a better environment. People living in such areas tend to have better lives because of the clean air, outdoor activities, and proximity to nature. Living in the countryside means people can have gardens and bigger homes, whilst they are father away from pollution, traffic, and noise. The atmosphere tends to be more peaceful and people seem happier in such places, while cities can be unpleasant, oppressive places that stifle human nature and cause mental and physical health problems.
In conclusion, there are good arguments for both sides of this debate. Personally, I think that they are more or less balanced. It really depends on whether you believe that humans should pursue personal freedom and health or put the Earth first and live in more easily governable societies.
Notes on the Answer
Here, I have made it clear in the introduction that I will not firmly agree or disagree with the idea in the statement. Instead, I will give a balanced answer.
My essay structure is clear and simple. I have devoted one body paragraph to one side of the debate and one to the other. This allows me to effectively deal with both perspectives.
As always, I have tried to use language appropriately. I have not attempted to dazzle the examiner with random words but instead used ones that fit the topic. Most importantly, they are all used correctly. This is how you score highly for Lexical Resource.
Test 4: Increasingly Aged Populations
Here is the final question:
In many countries, people are now living longer than ever before. Some people say an ageing population creates problems for governments. Other people think there are benefits if society has more elderly people.
To what extent do the advantages of having an ageing population outweigh the disadvantages?
Here, we have an advantages and disadvantages question. The statement is quite long but the issue itself is relatively straightforward. Interestingly, I have seen this question many times before in different words, including the same question but rephrased to concern young people instead of old ones.
In the twenty-first century, many countries are for the first time experiencing a phenomenon known as a demographic time bomb. This means that they have an ageing population and are facing a potential economic crisis as a result. This essay will explore the situation, arguing that there are both major benefits and drawbacks, but that perhaps the benefits are more substantial.
First of all, it is important to note that this is predominantly viewed as a negative trend. Countries are understandably worried about the situation because, once their demographic composition reaches a certain point, they will have vast numbers of retired people and hardly any young people to work. Without enough workers, the economy will struggle, and of course there will also be a shortage of tax revenue and a vast uptick in the amount spent on healthcare due to the cost of supporting an elderly population. For these reasons and more, many countries are determined to avoid the demographic time bomb at all costs.
However, whilst this does sound bad, it is worth noting that there are a few positives. For one thing, the world is grossly overpopulated and in places such as Asia the population has reached quite unsustainable levels, with the result being the complete devastation of the environment. After a few decades of demographic change, the population should start to decline, which will allow people to live in less crowded places and to return some towns and cities to nature. In addition, when countries cannot find enough workers, they are forced to allow more immigrants. This can help societies to become more multicultural, and again looking at Asia, these notoriously homogenous societies can finally begin to accept outsiders. One example is Japan, which has already reached this point and is transforming into a more open and tolerant society by welcoming immigrants to solve this problem.
In conclusion, there are both positives and negatives to the issue of ageing populations. Whilst it will cause economic hardship, it may lead to a brighter future in terms of a less crowded and more multicultural world, which arguably makes this an overall positive trend.
Notes on the Answer
This question is about age and so I have tried to use language to reflect that. This is tricky for many people and mistakes with “elderly” and “generation” are common among IELTS candidates. You can learn to talk about age issues here. I have also incorporated specific language related to populations, such as “demographic” and “homogenous.”
Overall, I have gone for a slightly balanced answer again. That was not deliberate. I just personally did not have a strong opinion either way. However, it is fine to be somewhat balanced as long as you explain yourself clearly and correctly.
Note that I have used examples effectively here, just as I did in previous essays. Using examples can really help make your argument stronger, as long as it’s done intelligently. This can boost your score for Task Response.
The Cambridge IELTS book series is incredibly valuable for IELTS candidates. I strongly recommend that you buy a copy when preparing for your next test as it is far more realistic than the exams you find online. You can get a copy on Amazon if it is available in your area.