Today, we are going to look at a sample band 9 answer for an IELTS task 2 question about fast food. Specifically, it is about whether or not we should tax fast food.

Analysing the Question

When you are given an IELTS question, you should take some time to analyse it before planning your answer. That’s because you need to fully understand what you are going to write about. This is essential for a high score in terms of Task Response.

Here’s a question about taxing fast food:

In some countries, an increasing number of people are suffering from health problems as a result of eating too much fast food. It is therefore necessary for governments to impose a higher tax on this kind of food.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion?

This is an agree or disagree question and specifically you are asked whether you agree or disagree with the idea of taxing fast food.

Note: Do not be put off by the fact that there are two sentences before the task. This confuses people but actually it’s only the second one about which you have to form an opinion.

Here’s a related question:

Many manufactured food and drink products contain high levels of sugar which causes many health problems. Sugary products should be made more expensive to encourage people to consume less sugar.

Do you agree or disagree?

This is one reason why you have to read these carefully. These questions are incredibly similar but slightly different. The first one talks about fast food and the second is about sugary food. These are of course similar and there is much overlap between them, but your answer would differ slightly from one question to the next.

Bonus: In order to develop good ideas and learn some new vocabulary, you can read articles about taxing fast food. Here’s one from Economics Observatory. Here’s another from The Grocer.

Vocabulary and Grammar

In a question like this, you would need to have a good vocabulary related to food and health, and also be able to talk about taxation.

In terms of food, you would need to know terms like:

  • Fast food
  • Convenience stores
  • Fatty
  • High sugar content
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity

You should also understand how to talk about weight, which is a big problem among IELTS candidates. For example, we say that a person “is overweight” or “is obese.” We do not say that they “outweigh” or “overweigh” people or that they “have obesity.”

(I will provide some more vocabulary after my sample answer below.)

As for taxation, you should recognise that “tax” can be a verb and a noun.

TaxVerbThe government should tax foods with high levels of sugar and fat.
TaxNounThe government should impose a tax on foods with high levels of sugar and fat.

 Notice the structure in the second one: “impose a tax.” We can also say “place a tax upon (something).”

Sample Band 9 Answer

My answer is in response to the question above about taxing fast food, not sugary food.

There is no doubt that fast food is bad for our health and that people typically eat too much of it. However, there is quite a lot of debate over whether governments should step in and reduce the amount of fast food that people are eating. This essay will argue that they should certainly try to convince people to eat less fast food by taxing it.

Some people might say that it’s up to an individual to eat less fast food, and that governments have no right to govern our diets. However, humans have evolved throughout millennia of scarcity to crave substances that were once quite rare and nutritious, like sugar and fat, but which are now so commonplace that they are in fact bad for us. Many people simply lack the ability to resist that temptation, and they gorge on sugary snacks every day, rotting their teeth and developing obesity and diabetes. They should be able to have the willpower to say no, but it is quite clear that they do not.

On the other hand, governments have a vested interest in maintaining a healthy population, and even if they try to avoid exerting too much control over the lives of their people, the obesity epidemic is fast becoming a health crisis. The only responsible thing to do is to make some effort to cut fast food consumption in the wider population before these health problems spiral to an even worse extent. Governments around the world have already taxed particularly unhealthy items with substantial degrees of success. This should continue as it appears to lower sugar and fat consumption significantly.

In conclusion, there are arguments both for and against government intervention, but it is probably best that governments intervene because it seems people simply cannot resist the allure of fast food.

Notes on the Answer

Here’s some useful vocabulary from this essay:

  • governments should step in
  • governments have no right to govern our diets
  • humans have evolved throughout millennia of scarcity to crave substances that were once quite rare and nutritious
  • commonplace
  • resist that temptation
  • gorge on sugary snacks
  • rotting their teeth
  • developing obesity and diabetes
  • a vested interest
  • exerting too much control
  • the obesity epidemic is fast becoming a health crisis
  • cut fast food consumption
  • government intervention
  • resist the allure of fast food

You can see, then, that I have used quite vivid language to portray the current situation clearly. It is evocative and effective. I have used language specific to food, health, and government, which are the main topics. This would help me get an excellent score for Lexical Resource.

My ideas are also realistic and well-explained. I have connected them logically and organised them sensibly, which would get me a great score for Coherence and Cohesion. Altogether, this is an example of a highly effective essay.