Today, we are going to look at an IELTS writing question that is all about educational qualifications and explore some ways to craft a great essay based upon it.

Analysing the Question

Here is our question for today:

Some people believe that educational qualifications will always bring success in life. Other people say that educational qualifications do not necessarily bring success.

Discuss both views and give your opinion.

As you can see, it is a “discuss both views” type of question and for that we need to do three things:

  1. Discuss the first view
  2. Discuss the second view
  3. Give our opinion

If we omit any of those three things, we will get a very poor score for Task Response.

So what are the two views here?

  1. Educational qualifications will always bring success in life.
  2. Educational qualifications won’t always bring success in life.

The important part to note is the word “always,” which provides us with a very specific meaning. It means that this isn’t just about qualifications being important but rather about them guaranteeing success. If you failed to realise that, you would seriously struggle to get a good score.

Planning your Answer

Once you have analysed the question and you feel that you completely understand it, you need to do a few things:

  1. Brainstorm some ideas.
  2. Pick the best ones.
  3. Figure out how to discuss those ideas.
  4. Put them into a coherent structure.

When you are brainstorming ideas, it doesn’t matter if they are amazing or not. You can whittle them down to the best ones later.

It is a good idea to decide early which side of the argument you agree with and then make sure that those ideas are more convincing. However, you can write a balanced answer if you want.

Remember that if you really disagree with one view or think that it is weak, you still have to discuss it but you don’t have to give the notion much credence. In fact, you can use that part of the essay to offer counterarguments. This could be considered a form of concession paragraph.

For example, here is how I might structure an essay:

IntroductionExplain the topic and state my position
Body paragraph 1Give the view I disagree with, explain it a little, and then say why it’s not a reasonable position.
Body paragraph 2Talk about the other side and give convincing arguments about why that is right.
ConclusionSummarise my essay

Remember that there is no such thing as a single perfect structure that you must follow. There are different ways to write great essays and you should write however you feel best conveys the information needed. Still, always include an introduction and conclusion and aim for between 4 and 5 paragraphs.

You can learn all about how to plan and structure an essay in this book:

how to write the perfect ielts essay
Find out more.

Sample Band 9 Answer: Educational Qualifications Essay

It used to be common to hear people claim that educational qualifications practically guarantee success, but nowadays more people realise that nothing is guaranteed and that qualifications, whilst useful, are limited in their capacity to bring accomplishments. This essay will look at both viewpoints and then argue in favour of the latter.

To begin with, it is understandable that some people, and particularly those who grew up in a different era, might feel that qualifications almost guarantee that a person will be successful. After all, it can hardly be denied that education is important and that it allows people far greater opportunities. Specifically, when people complete various courses and obtain different certificates and diplomas, they have a far better chance of finding a good job. However, whilst this is certainly true, none of that actually guarantees success.

These days, it is very common for young people in certain countries to complete their secondary education and then go on to the tertiary level. As a result, they often earn some kind of degree. However, whilst this does provide them with opportunities in the job market, it does not mean that they will necessarily thrive. From the offset, they will have a lot of competition, and then they will find themselves working in an environment that their education may not have fully prepared them for. Highly qualified people may be fired or forced to quit and often find themselves unemployed for long periods. Meanwhile, some people with few or even no qualifications are capable of working hard, making smart choices, and achieving great things.

In conclusion, educational qualifications are important but they certainly do not always lead to success. That is determined mostly by other factors.

Notes on my Answer

As you can see, I have followed the structure that I laid out above for writing my qualifications essay. I presented the opposing view first, explaining it as clearly as possible. Here, I used careful language to show that this is not my opinion because I did not want to mislead my reader. I said:

it is understandable that some people, and particularly those who grew up in a different era, might feel that qualifications almost guarantee that a person will be successful

After giving a fair discussion of this side of the argument, I used the last sentence in paragraph two to counter that viewpoint and naturally transition into my next paragraph, which argues against it.

In terms of vocabulary and grammar, I have tried to be as accurate as possible, which is the most important thing. For a good score in Lexical Resource, you should not seek out so-called advanced vocabulary, but rather always strive to find the right word for a situation. For specific vocabulary related to educational qualifications, you can read this article by the Department of Employment in Queensland, Australia. It contains some good, specific phrases that you could use.

In this case, our topic was education (with perhaps work as a secondary topic). Here are some useful words and phrases:

  • practically guaranteed success
  • their capacity to bring success
  • complete various courses
  • obtain different certificates and diplomas
  • finding a good job
  • tertiary level
  • earn some kind of degree
  • opportunities in the job market
  • Highly qualified people
  • find themselves unemployed

I paid close attention to collocation so that all my words went together naturally and reasonably. I have also tried to avoid repetition, though certain words inevitably appear a few times because of their importance.