Recent IELTS Essay Questions 2017

The questions below are from a variety of sources, and are recent IELTS essay questions from 2017 as reported either by recent test takers directly in the comments section on this page, or from an assortment of other sources across the web.

Of course, I cannot guarantee if they are exactly the same as in a recent IELTS test, nevertheless, it is useful to review them as you may be able to use the same ideas from the model answers in a different essay.

The same questions will never come up in the test again, but the same topics and style of questions absolutely will so these essays are also a great source of vocabulary to learn specifically for IELTS topic areas

If you have recently taken the IELTS test please send me any questions that you can remember using the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Finally, the more you practice the luckier you will be on test day, so make sure you try and write answers to some of these questions and read the model essays for ideas too.

If you are not sure how to structure and essay then the 'Cheat Sheet' will help you with this, simply sign up at the side of the page. Good luck!

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Opinion Essays


Mobile phones enable us to take work or personal calls anywhere, anytime.

Do you think this has a positive effect on individuals and society?


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In recent years mobile phones and other similar devices have allowed anyone to easily contact another person regardless of location or time. I believe that this ability has vastly improved society and life for individual people in a variety of ways. This essay shall explore some of those reasons.

Firstly, one of the main benefits to society of this advance in technology is the fact that even people in developing countries or isolated places can gain expert advice or request help whenever they need it. For example, in the massive earthquake that shook Nepal in 2015 people who lived in isolated villages in the Khumbu region were able to contact authorities and tell them exactly where the most vulnerable people who needed help were located. Furthermore, families were able to reunite themselves with each other following the earthquake which helped to reduce the suffering of some people.

Allied to this, it can be said that individuals in long distance relationships benefit tremendously from this instant form of communication. No longer do people have to suffer when they are apart from their loved ones. As well as being able to speak to other people via the phone, individuals can also talk to each other face to face using one of the many ‘apps’ designed for this very purpose. If this were not advantageous enough, members of the public can also sit and order food from wherever they happen to be and have the food of their choice delivered directly to them. For example, Foodpanda now do over 220,000 food orders direct to homes and offices in Thailalnd alone in just one month.

In conclusion, the mobile phone has bought with it an overwhelming number of positives such as the ability to gain expert advice quickly and easily as well as stay in touch with family and friends. I therefore remain of the opinion that the mobile phone offers a far greater number of positives that far outweigh any potential negatives.


329 words


It is necessary for parents to take parent training classes to help them bring up their children.

Do you agree or disagree?



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Parents ought to be forced to attend a course teaching them how to raise their children. I disagree with this point of view for a variety of reasons. This essay shall explore some of those reasons.

First of all, there would be a huge cost to governments of running these courses. This money could be much better spent improving school facilities or by training teachers. This may then mean that a country's youngsters receive a better education and it would be a more efficient use of the money. Furthermore, it would be difficult for the government to enforce all parents to take their children to such classes as many parents lead busy working lives too. Surely, this policy would be unpopular with parents and any government that attempted to enforce this would risk losing power at the next election.

In addition to the above, the vast majority of parents are already very good at bringing their children up in an appropriate manner. Such parents may well resent having to attend such classes, especially if they feel they should be at home spending quality time with their offspring rather than being lectured at by people who have no personal knowledge of them or their child. In fact, as every child is different and therefore needs dealing with in different ways some would say that there is very little point in attending parenting classes that are not tailored specifically to your child as they will be of little relevance.

Overall, the running costs of such courses may prove prohibitively high and the majority of mothers and fathers are excellent parents already. It is for these two reasons that I remaining firmly opposed to the introduction of such classes.

word count 287


Some people say that international sports events aid world peace. 

Do you agree or disagree?


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It is often said that international sports events improve relationships and co-operation between countries. Personally, I am of the strong opinion that this certainly is the case much of the time. This essay shall explore the reasons behind this stand point and offer examples where appropriate.

One of the main reasons international relationships are strengthened through sporting competition is due to the increase in knowledge gained about other countries cultures and traditions. When an individual has more understanding of another person’s perspective then they can begin to develop empathy with the way they behave. For instance, certain religious denominations require their women to wear a burqa, which can cover the entire face of the wearer. With no prior knowledge of this, this tradition can seem mysterious and provide a barrier to effective communication. However, when it becomes known that this is not the reason they are wearing it and that it is worn for very personal religious reasons, any perceived divisiveness may be reduced.

A further reason that major sports events can be seen as pro peace is that it enables different cultures to display characteristics of sportsmanship and fair play towards nationalities that traditionally they have experienced conflict with in the past. For instance, England and Germany were at war against each other in the Second World War. Despite this, their national football teams generally display the qualities of respect and sportsmanship when competing against each other. This sets a positive peace promoting example for younger generations to follow.

To summarise, large scale sporting competitions enhance knowledge and provide positive role models for the world to follow. These are the main reasons that I remain of the opinion that such events do in fact support world peace.


Some universities offer online courses to students.

Do you think this is a positive or negative development?


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There is growing trend for universities to provide access to online courses of students instead of or as well as traditional classroom lessons. I believe this is a positive development and this essay shall outline reasons supporting this particular point of view.

Virtual learning environments provided by some universities allow students from all over the world to study at the university of their choice without the expense of leaving home and being there in person. Imagine the cost of moving from Shanghai to Cambridge in the UK, there are not only the university fees but also the high cost of rent and day to day living costs associated with life in an expensive developed country to be considered. Over 200,000 students from China do this each year spending a small fortune when the reality is they could learn the same material without moving away from their family support network.

Furthermore, many jobs of the future will be based online and so it makes sense that prior learning is therefore also done online. What is the point of developing excellent note taking ability during lectures when you will never utilize that skill again in future life. If you learn online however, you may well enhance your typing skills and general knowledge of computer software, this is likely to make you far more employable than the ability to sit and take notes during a lecture.

In summary, being able to study remotely provides many cost savings and also enhances skills relevant to the work place. These are the main reasons why I strongly believe online learning is a positive movement.


Recently the freedom to work and live anywhere has become the main trend due to the development of communication technology and transportation.

Do the advantages of these developments outweigh the disadvantages? Discuss.


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In recent times vast improvements in our ability to communicate and travel around the globe quickly and easily have improved the lives of many. However, some people argue there is a downside to this progress. This essay shall discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks of these issues.


One of the main advantages of improvements in communication is our ability to work remotely away from a fixed office. This means there is no reason to waste time and money commuting to an office which can significantly improve the lifestyle of employees. In fact, according to the Financial Times newspaper, in the last two years alone the number of people working directly from home has grown by a staggering 18%. Furthermore, those who do still have to commute to a central office can do so daily from a distance that would previously have been impossible. For example, people can commute to London directly on a commuter train in just an hour and a half and cover the 150 mile distance with ease.


On the contrary, the increased availability of low cost flights around the world has added to global carbon dioxide levels significantly. This negatively impacts the air quality we breathe and progresses global warming further. For instance, cities such as Beijing are becoming unlivable due to the negative effects of air pollution.


In summary, improved technology has bought about a reduced need to commute and better transportation has made it much more efficient for people who do have to. Overall, I believe the substantial advantages outweigh any disadvantages.

258 words


Nowadays for many people the Internet is replacing regular books.

What do you think will happen in the future and what is your opinion about this trend?


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Due to the soaring popularity of online media and e-books, traditional physical books are becoming a thing of the past. I firmly believe that the gradual removal of books from society is a huge negative. This essay will explore some of the future consequences of this emerging pattern.


As the popularity of online media and e-books continues to grow people will inevitably read hard copy books less and less. Younger generations will lose the ability to read long in depth texts and miss out on the subtleties of plot development. This may well also mean that their level of vocabulary may not develop as well as previous generations bearing in mind online articles written for social media tend to be written to be simple and attention grabbing and not really stimulate any deep insights as classic novels may do. For example, the works of Tolstoy are never going to be appreciated in short thirty second bursts and indeed ought to be pondered over at length.


In addition to this traditional libraries are also likely to become a thing of the past due to lack of usage. Traditionally, these have been places where anyone can go and educate themselves through the knowledge hidden in the books for free. If this opportunity becomes a thing of the past then where will people who cannot afford an online device go to gain knowledge for their career and life? For instance, the now famous writer Bill Stephenson prior to becoming an author lived in poverty and could not afford to extend his education in the traditional manner. Instead he was able to educate himself for free through books and eventually earna good living for himself.


In conclusion, physical books provide unique opportunities for education and vocabulary development. I strongly believe their loss would lower the productiveness of society as a whole and produce a more ignorant nation as a result.


316 words

Discussion Essays


Consumer goods have become the most important part of peoples live's.

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this?


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People’s lives these days seem to be more concerned with what products they own rather than anything else. This benefits society in many ways but also provides drawbacks too. This essay shall discuss both sides of this emerging trend.


One of the primary advantages of materialism is that it boosts the economy of many countries. As demand has risen for physical goods jobs have been created to try and create products which satisfy these demands. For instance the Apple factories in China employ hundreds of thousands of workers who would otherwise struggle to find employment. Furthermore, the lives of peoples today are infinitely better due to the development of physical goods. For example, people can play games, order food, perform financial transactions and many more things all using a tiny smart phone which would not have been possible in the past.


The advent of consumerism has bought with it certain downsides though. It seems that traditional values are being eroded as people strive to purchase more and more things. For example, according to a recent survey by the University of Manchester, on average people spend 45% less time with their grandparents than they did just ten years ago, yet they still find time to spend on average over three hours per day on Facebook. Finally, this desire to have more and more things has increased debt levels in society to dangerous levels. Repayments, interest rates and penalties can put stress on an individual and even cause health problems too.


In conclusion, consumerism brings with it a boost for economies around the world but is also challenging the core values of society too. Only hindsight will reveal whether or not the desire for more and more physical goods is a positive thing for the global community or not.


297 words

Discussion and Opinion Essays


Some people think that hard working and determination are the key factors for being successful in the life, other people feel that other factors are important.

Discuss both sides and give your own opinion?


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Perseverance and a strong work ethic are thought to be essential ingredients for success in life by many. Others are of the opinion that other criteria have a greater impact on an individual’s success or otherwise. I believe that the former is true in most cases, although there are always exceptions. This essay shall explore both aspects of this issue.


First and foremost, most great accomplishments in life take time and effort to achieve. Nobody has ever become a famous musician without putting in hours and hours of practice, similarly in sports, no one has ever become a professional player without sheer hard work and determination. There is even a 10,000 hour rule that has been quoted by many in the media as being accurate. This suggests that you cannot master anything without putting in at least 10,000 hours of well-structured practice. Mozart was said to have put in this much time before he was even ten years old and his results have been incredibly successful.


On the contrary though, there are certain careers or industries where hard work will never beat having deep family connections. Regardless of how many hours study a student put in to a politics degree, they would not stand a chance of competing with someone who went to the ‘right’ school, or who knew the ‘right’ people. To prove the point, one only has to look at UK politics and see how many current politicians went to a top fee paying school, such as Eaton for example.


In conclusion, will power and effort can lead to success in many fields but some opportunities will always remain easier to encounter for the well connected. Personally, I feel that whilst this is unfair it is close to the truth of how many societies operate.


297 words


Some people think that the best way to reduce crimes is to apply longer prison sentences, other people believe there are better ways of doing so.

Discuss both sides and give your own opinion.


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Handing out lengthier prison terms is thought by many to be the most effective method of lowering crime rates. However, other members of society feel that there are other more efficient methods that could be adopted. I am of the opinion that the latter opinion is correct and this essay shall discuss both of these positions.


It would certainly seem logical that a stronger deterrent, such as harsher jail terms, would reduce levels of crime. Many criminal acts are premeditated which means the perpetrators must have spent time considering not only their actions but the consequences of them too. If they go on to commit the crime then they must have felt that overall the risks were worth it and the consequences of getting caught not too substantial. Surely then, if prison sentences were longer then potential criminals would think twice about committing crimes.


Alternatively, some would argue that focusing on reducing poverty in society would significantly reduce levels of crime. Unfortunately, many crimes are carried out by those who have the least and perhaps feel as though life has treated them unfairly. Recent crime figures released by Washington state police department indicate that over 70% of all crimes were committed by those in the lowest wage brackets of employment. In addition, improved education in schools of the consequences of having a criminal record on future employment possibilities could also be considered.


In summary, harsher prison sentences may have some merits in reducing crime, as too may improving levels of education. Personally though, I strongly believe that spreading the wealth of society more evenly would be the most effective method of reducing crime rates.


274 words


Some people think that genetically modified crops are a positive development. Others, however, argue that they are potentially dangerous.

Discuss both views and give your own opinion.


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Genetically modified crops are a highly controversial topic with groups of society arguing both for and against their continued use. Personally, I believe that overall they are necessary in order to produce enough food for society. This essay shall discuss the merits and drawbacks of their role in food production.


Firstly, a large negative of genetically modified crops is that they allow more potentially harmful chemicals to enter the food chain. This is because genetically modified crops are resistant to certain pesticides so farmers are therefore further encouraged to use these pesticides on their crops thinking that it will improve their crop yield and therefore profits. As a result of this there is a much greater risk of humans suffering as a result of consuming these types of crops.


On the other hand, a major advantage of genetically modified crops is that they are resistant to certain diseases. This resistance means that less crop is lost and therefore the overall efficiency of a farm is greater which leads to higher profits. Furthermore, the taste and texture of foods can be improved by using these types of crops which helps to attract more new customers into the market place and also repeat purchasers.


Overall, there is an element of danger from increased use of chemicals in food production but there is also the major advantage of improved land usage efficiency for farmers. From a personal point of view, I believe that they will continue to be a crucial part of producing enough food for a growing world population although their usage needs to be controlled.


264 words

Situation Essays


What are the benefits of living in big cities, as opposed to rural areas? What are the problems of rural areas and how can they be solved?


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Life in a large city comes with many advantages when compared to life in the countryside. Personally, I prefer the big city life as opposed to rural living. This essay shall outline some of the benefits of life in big cities and also delve into some of the problems of rural living and how those issues may be tackled.


It is a well-known fact that one of the major positives of living in a big city is that a wide range of facilities are close at hand. It is common to be easily able to get to a school, hospital, park, cinema or shopping centre within just a few minutes in the majority of big cities. Furthermore, an even larger benefits is the array of employment opportunities that are generally on offer. For instance, the ‘Metro’ a London based free newspaper always contains a variety of jobs in different industries.


Unfortunately for those dwelling in the countryside, employment opportunities can be few and far between. This problem can be solved by ensuring schools and colleges in those areas ensure their students graduate with sufficient computer skills so that they are able to work online where there is a never ending amount of employment opportunities. A further issue with country life is that public transport is poorly developed. There may be a local bus or train service but these are often very infrequent. This issue can only be solved via increased government funding and may need to be significantly subsidized.


Overall, employment opportunities are the major advantage of life in a metropolitan area compared to life in a rural setting. Personally, I feel governments are responsible for ensuring all members of society have equal access to public services and economic success in life and they should consider some of the solutions outlined above.


302 words

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