A Simple Formula for Organizing Agree/Disagree Essays

June 4, 2018 by Angela Rutherford Angela Rutherford

When you get to the essay writing component of the IELTS exam, the clock is ticking and the pressure is on. You have about 40 minutes to determine the key question to address, think of your response, come up with relevant examples and then write the essay.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew how you were going to organize your ideas before you went into the exam? In this blog, I’m going to show you a formula that can be modified to fit most IELTS tasks and will save you valuable time. Most importantly it will ensure that the message in your essay is easy to follow (one of the key criteria for higher level scores).

There really isn’t any mystery about it. Here, I’m going to show you a simple structure for an IELTS agree/disagree essay that will enable examiners to make their way through your writing with ease – as if they have a roadmap to follow.


Some people believe that unpaid community service should be a compulsory part of high school programs (for example working for a charity, improving the neighbourhood or teaching sports to younger children).

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

First, take a look at the response to this essay task:

Today it is a popular belief that students attending high school should volunteer in the community as part of their schooling. I strongly agree with this notion. Volunteer work can provide young people with the experiences they need for paying jobs and it can also help them see themselves as valuable contributors to society.

When completing compulsory work activities with charitable organizations or community organizations, students gain skills that they can add to their resumes and use in future jobs. Working out in the real world quickly teaches young people the importance of time management, clear communication and teamwork. Employers like McDonald’s restaurants, who provide many young people with their first paying jobs, look for volunteer work on resumes as evidence of having developed some relevant work skills. So, although students are not paid for their time, they are building valuable abilities for future employment.

Perhaps even more importantly, when students volunteer, they are more likely to realize that their actions have a positive impact on the world around them. Often the problems of our world can seem overwhelming but if students are given the opportunity to help others, even in a small way, they will see that they can make a difference. In schools that have been running these programs, there has been an incredible boost in student morale and the community has benefitted from the talent and time that young people have contributed to the many programs that need support. It’s true that studying for academics is time-consuming and students already have a lot to do in a day but if we teach them how to step up and help others, we create a better future for us all.

In conclusion, it is a great idea to have unpaid community service as part of a high school program because it will help the next generation prepare for employment and it will build a caring community that is willing and able to make our world a better place. It’s my hope to see this in every school.

Now, let’s look at the underlying structure sentence by sentence.

AGREE/DISAGREE ESSAY - 4 PARAGRAPH FORMULA

Paragraph One - Introduction

Sentence 1: States the premise that the essay will address (you can simply rephrase the words in the task).

Today it is a popular belief that students attending high school should volunteer in the community as part of their schooling.

Sentence 2: States your opinion in the matter.

I strongly agree with this notion.

Sentence 3: Briefly outlines what you are going to write in the next two paragraphs to support your opinion.

Volunteer work can provide young people with the experiences they need for paying jobs and it can also help them see themselves as valuable contributors to society.

 Paragraph Two - Body

Sentence 1 (topic sentence): Tells the reader what this paragraph is about by introducing your first point.

When completing compulsory work activities with charitable organizations or community organizations, students gain skills that they can add to their resumes and use in future jobs.

Sentence 2: Assumes that the reader doesn’t know anything about this topic and explains your point clearly.

Working out in the real world quickly teaches young people the importance of time management, clear communication and teamwork.

Sentence 3: Gives a real life or made up example that illustrates and supports this point.

Employers like McDonald’s restaurants, who provide many young people with their first paying jobs, look for volunteer work on resumes as evidence of having developed some relevant work skills.

Sentence 4: Concedes to a relevant opposing position but redirects to yours.

So, although students are not paid for their time, they are building valuable abilities for future employment.

Paragraph Three - Body – Repeat the above

Sentence 1 (topic sentence): Tells the reader what this paragraph is about by introducing second point.

Perhaps even more importantly, when students volunteer, they are more likely to realize that their actions have a positive impact on the world around them.

Sentence 2: Assumes that the reader doesn’t know anything about this topic and explains your point clearly.

Often the problems of our world can seem overwhelming but if students are given the opportunity to help others, even in a small way, they will see that they can make a difference.

Sentence 3: Gives a real life or made up example that illustrates and supports this point.

In schools that have been running these programs, there has been an incredible boost in student morale and the community has benefitted from the talent and time that young people have contributed to the many programs that need support.

Sentence 4: Concedes to a relevant opposing position but redirects to yours.

It’s true that studying for academics is time-consuming and students already have a lot to do in a day but if we teach them how to step up and help others, we create a better future for us all.

Paragraph Four – Conclusion

Sentence 1: Rephrase your opinion and sum up your two supporting points.

In conclusion, it is a great idea to have unpaid community service as part of a high school program because it will help the next generation prepare for employment and it will build a caring community that is willing and able to make our world a better place.

Sentence 2: Make a prediction or a recommendation based on what you have said.

It’s my hope to see this in every school.

What I hope you see from this example is that when you pay attention to how you organize your essay, it’s easier to read. I also want you to realize that it isn’t difficult to accomplish this clarity when you have a reliable structure in mind.

Check back for future blogs that will show you how to modify this formula for other kinds of IELTS essay tasks.

In the meantime, here is a blank template for you to use when you write your next agree/disagree essay.

AGREE/DISAGREE 4 PARAGRAPH FORMULA

Paragraph One -Introduction

Sentence 1:

___________________________________________________________________________

State the premise that the essay will address (you can simply rephrase the words in the task).

Sentence 2:

___________________________________________________________________________

State your opinion in the matter.

Sentence 3:

___________________________________________________________________________

Briefly outline what you are going to write in the next two paragraphs to support your opinion.

Paragraph Two and Three – the Body of Support

Sentence 1 (topic sentence):

___________________________________________________________________________

Tell the reader what this paragraph is about by introducing your first point.

Sentence 2:

___________________________________________________________________________

Assume that the reader doesn’t know anything about this topic and explain your point clearly.

Sentence 3:

___________________________________________________________________________

Give a real life or made up example that illustrates and supports this point.

Sentence 4:

___________________________________________________________________________

Concede to a relevant opposing position but redirect to yours.

Paragraph Three – Repeat the above

Sentence 1 (topic sentence)

___________________________________________________________________________

Tell the reader what this paragraph is about by introducing second point.

Sentence 2:

___________________________________________________________________________

Assume that the reader doesn’t know anything about this topic and explain your point clearly.

Sentence 3:

___________________________________________________________________________

Give a real life or made up example that illustrates and supports this point.

Sentence 4:

___________________________________________________________________________

Concede to a relevant opposing position but redirect to yours.

Paragraph Four – Conclusion

Sentence 1:

___________________________________________________________________________

Rephrase your opinion and sum up your two supporting points.

Sentence 2:

___________________________________________________________________________

Make a prediction or a recommendation based on what you have said.



Angela Rutherford

Angela is a professional IELTS tutor who has been teaching English for a fairly long time. Well, let’s just admit to half of her life-time! With a Bachelor of Arts in English, a Bachelor of Education, and a certificate to teach English as a Second Language, Angela has found herself in a variety of classrooms. To name a few, she’s taught in adult language schools in Ottawa, at an International high school in Hamilton and on a retreat with Spaniards in the Andalusian mountains. She currently lives and works near Toronto and is excited to share information that will help IELTS candidates prepare to do their best on the IELTS exam.

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