I recently encountered an IELTS writing task 2 question that was quite interesting. On the surface, it seemed as though it was an advantages and disadvantages question; however, it was in fact a two-part question.

In this brief article, I’m going to show you the question, discuss it a little, and then give you my sample answer. If you just want the sample answer, you can skip to the bottom of the page. 😉

Self-Employment Question

Here is the question that was talking about:

Nowadays many people choose to be self-employed, rather than to work for a company or organization.

Why might this be the case?

What could be the disadvantages of being self-employed?

Looking at the structure, you can see that there is a sentence that introduces the topic, then two separate questions. This is how we know it is really a two-part question. For this sort of question, you need to answer both parts, so I would recommend a 4 paragraph essay structure.

Of course, you do need to be careful about the second question. It asks you to talk about some disadvantages. This does not mean that you need to list advantages and disadvantages! It’s not that sort of question.

How to Answer the Question

I find that two-part questions are honestly quite easy to structure. You should write something like this:

  1. Introduction – outline the topic and say what your essay will do.
  2. Body paragraph 1 – answer the 1st question
  3. Body paragraph 2 – answer the 2nd question
  4. Conclusion – summarize what you have said so far


Of course, you need to understand the question fully before you begin. First of all, you need to understand the key issue, which is:

self-employment vs regular employment

That’s right. You need to think about these two issues, with most of your thought exploring the former (self-employment). Part one of the question asks you:

Why might this be the case?

That means, why do people now choose to be self-employed?

Here are some ideas:

  • there are more opportunities
  • technology makes it easier
  • regular workplaces are oppressive
  • there are fewer jobs
  • you can work from anywhere

There are lots more ideas, but those are a few good ones.

working from home - ielts sample answer

You also need to view the opposite side of the issue for the second question:

What could be the disadvantages of being self-employed?

Here, you might mention one or two of the following:

  • lack of benefits/healthcare
  • loneliness
  • unstable income
  • harder to get time off
  • no pension

Again, there are many more things you could talk about.

Sample Answer

Below, I will post my sample answer to this question:

It is quite common nowadays for people to be self-employed, rather than working for a company or organization. This essay will look into the reasons for that change, and then discuss some of the disadvantages of being self-employed.

In the information era, it is quite possible for people to work at home on their computer. The internet has opened up all sorts of possibilities in terms of making money, and so people may work as freelancers or start their own company. It has never been easier to do this because in the past working for yourself required renting an office or shop, whereas now you can simply set up a website or social media profile. People typically prefer this because it allows them a great deal of freedom. A person who prefers nights and loathes waking up early might choose to conduct their business at night, whereas someone who likes to travel might work from a laptop while visiting different places.

Of course, there are some disadvantages to being unemployed. This sort of employment lacks the security of a traditional job. In most countries, workers are protected by laws that guarantee them certain rights. However, with no employer and no workplace, these laws do not apply. Similarly, traditional jobs provide pension plans and health insurance, but when you work for yourself you have to provide these yourself, and they are not cheap. In fact, most self-employed people simply forego these things and take the risk as a part of their comparatively free life.

In conclusion, being self-employed allows people a far greater degree of freedom in their life, but there are several significant drawbacks that mean this sort of work is not suitable for everyone.

Notes on Sample Answer

This answer would get a band 9 because it achieves the maximum criteria in each of the four areas covered by the marking rubric:

  • task achievement
  • coherence and cohesion
  • lexical resource
  • grammatical range and accuracy

Basically, I have answered all parts of the question fully and with enough detail and support. I have also structured my ideas logically and linked my paragraphs and sentences appropriately. My vocabulary is great, with no words misused or misspelled. As for grammar, I have used a range of sentences and made no errors. That last part is key! Some people think that you need to have lots of difficult structures, but it doesn’t matter about that if you make too many mistakes. In the end, it is a lack of errors that will get you a high band score.