A few months ago, this question was given in the IELTS writing task 2 exam:

Some people think it is more beneficial to play sports that are played in teams, e.g. football. However, others think it is more beneficial individual sports, e.g. tennis and swimming. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Today, I will give you my sample answer for this recent IELTS writing task 2 question, and make a few suggestions on how you can answer this sort of question.

Analyze the Question

Step one is always analyzing the question. You might simply identify the general topic and begin writing… but that’s a mistake. Make sure to read carefully for micro-keywords and any words that tell you what to do.

The above question is really quite simple. You simply have to discuss the benefits of team and individual sports, and then decide which one you think is more beneficial.

Planning your Answer

Next, you should make a few notes on structure. You should mention the key points you want to discuss and decide on the topic for each paragraph, so that you don’t stray off-topic. Here’s a recent video I made on structuring an IELTS task 2 essay:

Brainstorming Ideas

Remember that not all ideas are equal. Here’s an example:

Team sports:

  • are fun
  • develop interpersonal skills
  • encourage communicative abilities

Individual sports:

  • are boring
  • encourage self-reliance
  • help with concentration and focus

Are any of the above ideas worse than the others? Yes. “fun” and “boring” are subjective terms. You should aim to have more objectivity in your essay, as this is consistent with a more formal approach.

Band 9 Sample Answer

Here’s what I would write for this question:

While some sports are typically played in teams, others are usually done by individuals. There are, of course, benefits to both team sports and individual ones, and this essay will explore both, before coming to the conclusion that team sports are slightly more beneficial.

When most people think of sports, they probably first imagine some kind of team sport, like football, basketball, or rugby. These are by far the most popular and so we often watch them on TV or play them with our friends. But they are not merely fun to play and to watch; in fact, they also help us to develop important life skills. Especially for children, playing team sports is an invaluable way to develop interpersonal skills. Working together with teammates helps them to relate to others better, as they will be able to communicate well and delegate responsibilities. These are skills that will serve them well in their professional and private lives as teenagers and then adults.

While players of individual sports will not gain these benefits, they will nonetheless get some important perks from their chosen sport. In sports like golf and long-distance running, people learn valuable lessons. They will learn determination and self-reliance, as well as improving their ability to concentrate over long, often lonely, periods of time. Although the ability to work as a team is considered one of the most valuable talents in business these days, independence and self-motivation will always be useful life-skills to possess.

In conclusion, all sports offer different benefits; however, sports that are played in teams are probably more useful than those done by individuals because the benefits which they provide us are slightly more valued in the wider world.


You can see above that my structure is very simple, and I have chosen just to expand on each type of sport in a limited way. I have given several examples of connected benefits and then explained why these are important. I have also mentioned different sports, avoiding the BIG mistake of repeating too much from the question. Remember: IELTS examiners hate seeing candidates repeating unnecessarily. The question refers to the examples football, tennis, and swimming. Many candidates would repeat these over and over. Don’t do that!

I have also been careful to vary my language without it sounding too strained. I have changed the term “play sports” from the question into various forms. Here’s another IELTS lesson on the topic of sportspeople.