In the IELTS writing exam, you could be asked about the topic of history. Today, I am going to show you two sample band 9 answers to questions about the importance of history at school.
Question 1: Is it important to teach history?
Here’s our first question for today:
Some people say history is one of the most important school subjects. Other people think that, in today’s world, subjects like science and technology are more important than history.
Discuss both of these views and give your own opinion.
This is a “discuss both views” question, meaning that we have to describe both sides of the issue:
- History is more important than science
- Science is more important than history
Importantly, you must also give your own opinion. Please note that this must be included in the introduction, explained in the body paragraphs, and then re-affirmed in the conclusion.
To answer this, we could use a fairly simple structure:
|Introduction||Explain the premise |
Give your opinion
|Body paragraph one||Discuss the importance of history|
|Body paragraph two||Discuss the importance of science|
|Conclusion||Summarise and re-affirm position|
Sample Band 9 Answer
For as long as there have been schools, people have debated what should be taught in them. Nowadays, with economic troubles creating additional pressure for people, there is a call for school curriculums to include more practical subjects and less of the arts and humanities. This essay will look at both sides of the argument and conclude that subjects like history should continue to be taught.
In the modern era, people often clamour for changes to school curriculums and the range of subjects is continuously changing according to social demands. People now ask that their children are taught practical subjects that can help them in their lives, and this is a very reasonable request. In the twenty-first century, science and technology are booming fields and so these areas are important for young people to study in order that they may one day contribute and get a good job.
However, to include these subjects at the expense of traditional ones like history is misguided. History is important for a number of reasons. Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of studying history is that it teaches critical thinking that many people simply do not learn elsewhere in life. It is clear that people who have studied history are able to discern what is and isn’t true far more easily than others. By critically assessing historical sources, they may seem to be learning an arcane skill, but in fact they are learning something that is important in life. Particularly in an era of social media and “fake news,” being able to pick apart truth and lies is increasingly important.
In conclusion, history may seem less important than more practical subjects, but the underlying skills taught in this subject are very useful for people in the modern world.
Notes on the Answer
I have discussed both sides of the issue and made my opinion clear throughout the whole essay, from the outline sentence to the conclusion.
Paragraph two explains why people want science and technology to be given more focus in schools. I don’t want to dismiss this opinion, so I will discuss it respectfully.
However, in paragraph three I will explain why an interest in more practical and modern subjects should not stop us from pursuing history. I have given an interesting argument here, which is that history helps people to develop critical thinking skills. This is the core of my argument and so I have tried to present that idea clearly and then explain it convincingly. I have mentioned the issue of “fake news” to illuminate it further and tie it to the present.
You can learn some history vocabulary here or find out how to describe a historical period here.
Question 2: What kind of history should we teach?
Now we have looked at whether or not history is important, let’s look at what type of history is most important to teach. This is another IELTS writing question.
It is more important for schoolchildren to learn about local history than world history.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?
This is an agree or disagree question, so you need to interpret the statement and then choose your position. Essentially, there are three possibilities:
- Local history is more important
- World history is more important
- We should balance the two
You do not need to give a balanced answer, but I’m going to do that because personally I believe both types of history are of relatively equal importance. Again, your choice will affect how you compose your essay. For example, if you think that one type of history is much more important, you’ll probably devote two body paragraphs to explaining that. If you say that they are balanced, you will most likely give one body paragraph to each side of the issue.
Sample Band 9 Answer
When children go through the education system, they usually study history. Teachers have to decide what sort of history they study, and there is some debate surrounding this issue. On one side of the debate is local history, and the other is world history. This essay will argue that a balanced approach is necessary.
Local history usually refers to the history of the student’s country or region. It is important for students to study this because it is their own cultural heritage and gives them knowledge and pride about the place they come from. The positive benefits of such an education are that the students will be more likely to grow up to become productive members of society and care for the environment of their region.
However, in this increasingly connected world, caring for your own region is not enough to make a well-rounded person. Moreover, being too focused on your country can lead to nationalistic viewpoints, which can develop into racism or xenophobia. Students should therefore learn about world history. This is important in fostering a global consciousness, which can lead to the student having a better attitude towards the whole planet, and all its people, reducing the chances of developing prejudices. After all, we are all one species, and so the history of the world is still our own history.
In conclusion, when studying history at school, children should be taught about local and world history. This is because knowing both aspects can create more caring and well-rounded individuals.
Notes on the Answer
Again, I have made my opinion clear throughout and divided my essay intelligently to make my position consistent. I have given one paragraph to local history and the other to world history. I have made reasonable arguments without saying too much.
My language here is appropriate but it does not really contain much that is specific to the topic of history. I felt here that the topic was more in the realm of education. Anyway, the language used is appropriate for the ideas discussed. For example, words like “xenophobia” are useful here.
Dear David, could I ask you some questions?
1. I really love your model answers (very easy to understand, great language to learn and not difficult to learn from them). Could you share some tips or some advice to make the most of these model answers for IELTS Writing preparation?
2. In sample answer 1, I have some problems related to grammar.
– As I know, I usually “… ask that S + V(bare-infinitive)” as a subjunctive mood, so I think “their children are taught” should be “their children (should) be taught”. But I’m not sure about it, can you explain further to me?
– I’m always advised to avoid any contractions in IELTS Writing, but in your sample, I see there is sometime contractions. Maybe it has definite purpose, doesn’t it?
3. When preparing for IELTS Writing, I am usually taught to use ‘PEEL’ structure for each body paragraph in Task 2 essays (P – point / E – example/explanation / L – Link back to the question). Do you think it’s a good advice?
1. I would advise you to read sample answers with an open mind. Think about the ideas, the structures, and the language. Don’t view them as a perfect model to follow but take useful ideas from them instead. You might find this useful: https://youtu.be/p2GFwO5pSNg
2. You are right that it should be “ask that their children be taught…” However, nowadays people tend to use “are” here. It actually seems a little old-fashioned to say “be.” Still, you are correct in that it is probably the more grammatically correct version.
3. Yes, you should avoid contractions. I don’t think I use any in my sample answers. There may be a few exceptions though.
4. It’s ok but don’t cling too rigidly to it. I think there are many ways to make a great paragraph structure. I usually tell people to make their main point and then explain it. However, explaining can take many forms and may or may not include an example. As for linking back to the question, it could work but sometimes it is implied.