Writing – Advantage vs Disadvantage Essays for IELTS

October 30, 2019 by Angela Rutherford

You bought your lottery ticket yesterday, and you smile as you open the writing section of the IELTS exam and find the prompt:  

Many people today spend money buying lottery tickets with the hopes of winning millions of dollars. Do the advantages of winning such large sums of money outweigh the disadvantages?

Your first thoughts are probably – Only a fool would say this is a bad thing as you launch into an essay about how wonderful it would be to win.

Then you get your results and see that your score for writing is much less than you expected. Why? You had good points and lots of reasoning – you even had real-life examples of how lotteries had made people’s lives better. What happened?


You forgot to write something about the other side of the story. If you see the phrase “outweigh” or “are there more advantages than disadvantages”, you should consider both the pros and the cons as you reason through your opinion on the matter. So, when tackling questions like this, begin by making a quick list of the advantages and disadvantages, for example:

Advantages of winning a lottery Disadvantages of winning a lottery

Financial freedom:

Pay debts 
Quit job
Buy whatever you want


Financial stress:

Hounded by people who want to sell you something

Overspending and bankruptcy

Pressure from friends and family to give $$ to them

Life changes:

Breakdown in relationships because people are jealous

Unable to make new friends you can trust

A target for crime/kidnapping

It’s my experience working with people preparing for the exam, that when they take the time to list ideas before they write, they always have better insights and deeper reasoning which increases their chances of scoring above 7.Once you have flushed out both sides, it’s apparent that winning a lottery isn’t all that it’s cut out to be. In fact, a well-reasoned answer would probably conclude that the advantages would outweigh the disadvantages only if the money is managed well by the winner. 


chalkboard orange advantages disadvantagesThe next step is to figure out how to organize all these different positions into one essay. I suggest that you use thematic paragraphs to keep similar ideas together. Here is a sample essay for you to see this organization in action. In this example, the body is grouped into advantages, disadvantages and personal opinion: 

Although many people believe that winning a lottery would make their lives better, is suddenly becoming a millionaire as wonderful as everyone thinks? Many people have reported that they suffered great losses in their lives from winning big, and I believe that the advantages only outweigh the disadvantages if the winner can handle the life changes that come with being instantly rich.

Many people fantasize about how their dreams will come true when they win the lottery. Being free to buy whatever you want whenever you want sounds wonderful. You can fly around the world and leave your money problems behind. The stress of getting up for work or managing debts is gone, and life is easier. The money will solve all worries. However, studies have shown that the reality is quite different.

Winners have reported that problems arising from instant wealth made their lives miserable. Many have been overwhelmed by friends, relatives and strangers that started to hound them for money. Old relationships ended, and new ones were impossible or hard to make because they did not know who to trust any more. In addition, mismanagement of the money often leads to overspending, and it is not unusual for winners to go bankrupt, ending up with less than they had before. Even more concerning is the fact that the newly rich become targets for criminals, and, with the threat of theft or kidnapping, life becomes extremely stressful as they are always looking over their shoulders.

It seems to me that, unless the money and the situation is managed correctly, there is a chance that winning a lottery could become a nightmare instead of a dream. With the help of special financial advisors and security experts, the stress of dealing with the money and feeling unsafe would be alleviated so winners could enjoy themselves. Also, consulting with those who have successfully maintained family bonds and friendships after such a life-changing event would help stop people from becoming isolated and lonely.

So, after considering the advantages and disadvantages of winning money, it seems that it would depend on the person and how they handle the situation to decide whether the prize results in more pain than gain. I believe, with good advice, lottery winners do have the potential to turn dreams into reality.

Angela Rutherford is an experienced English teacher and exam preparation coach who lives and works in Toronto, Canada. After a career teaching in Ontario public and international private schools, she established her own tutoring business and enjoys working exclusively with IELTS candidates who want to do their best on the exam.

Blog posts via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to posts from ieltscanadatest.com as they happen!