Writing an essay is a 5 step process. It is not just a matter of taking a blank piece of paper and writing an essay. You may have tried to do it that way – you look at the blank page and you try to write but you don’t know where to start…

This can be so frustrating that you may decide to give up and watch a movie instead. This is usually what happens when a task is to big and hasn’t been broken down into smaller steps.

But, it doesn’t have to be that way!

As we have established in the beginning, the essay writing process consists of FIVE steps. And you don’t start writing the essay until step 4!

This video gives an outline of the five steps. 

When you have finished watching it, take a look at the topics below and see if you could do STEP ONE with all of them: analyze the question to understand what your task is.

1. Should criminals be punished with lengthy jail terms or re-educated and rehabilitated using community service programs for instance, before being reintroduced to society?

2. In your opinion should government intervene in the rights of the individual with regard to family planning?

3. News editors decide what to broadcast on TV and what to print in newspapers. What factors do you think influence their decisions? Have we become used to bad news? Would it be better if more good news was reported?

4. The mass media, including TV, radio and newspapers, have great influence in shaping people’s ideas. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement? Give reasons for your answer.

5. 1To what extent will migration from the developing world to the developed world become a social and political issue in the 21st century?

6. Will the Internet bring people of the world closer together?

7. Telecommuting’ refers to workers doing their jobs from home for part of each week and communicating with their office using computer technology. Telecommuting is growing in many countries and is expected to be common for most office workers in the coming decades. How do you think society will be affected by the growth of telecommuting?

8. In some countries the average worker is obliged to retire at the age of 50, while in others people can work until they are 65 or 70. Until what age do you think people should be encouraged to remain in paid employment? Give reasons for your answer.

9. To what extent should economic planning be influenced by the need of environmental conservation?

10. Some people think that paying taxes is enough to contribute to society. Others argue that being a citizen involves more responsibilities. Discuss.

11. Some people believe in the traditional idea that the woman’s place is in the home, while others say that idea is outdated and that women should play an increasingly important role in the workplace of the future. What is your opinion?

12. A government has various duties to its citizens, but limited resources. Should defence spending take up a significant proportion of the national budget? Discuss.

13. In some countries people pay different rates of tax depending on their salary, in other countries everyone pays the same rate. Which do you believe is the best system?
14. One of the major problems facing the world today is the growing number of refugees. The developed nations in the world should tackle this problem by taking in more refugees. To what extent do you agree with this opinion?

15. Crime is nearly always related to the environment in which it occurs. For this reason, international laws and international law courts are unrealistic and will not succeed in reducing crime levels in different countries. Discuss.

16. The rising levels of congestion and air pollution found in most of the world cities can be attributed directly to the rapidly increasing number of private cars in use. In order to reverse this decline in the quality of life in cities, attempts must be made to encourage people to use their cars less and public transport more. Discuss possible ways to encourage the use of public transport.

17. The threat of nuclear weapons maintains world peace. Nuclear power provides cheap and clean energy. The benefits of nuclear technology far outweigh the disadvantages. Do you agree or disagree? Give reasons for your answer.

18. 2It is generally believed that some people are born with certain talents, for instance for sport or music, and others are not. However, it is sometimes claimed that any child can be taught to become a good sports person or musician. Discuss both these these views and give your own opinion.

19. Subjects such as Art, Sport and Music are being dropped from the school curriculum for subjects such as Information Technology. Many people children suffer as a result of these changes. To what extent would you support or reject the idea of moving these subjects from school curriculum? (IELTS Practice tests with answers)

20. Differences between countries become less evident each year. Nowadays, all over the world people share the same fashions, advertising, brands, eating habits and TV channels. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?

21. Advances in science and technology have made great changes to lives of ordinary people, but artists such as musicians, painters and writers are still highly valued. What can the arts tell us about life that science and technology cannot?

22. One of the functions of art is to challenge the establishment. There should therefore be no restrictions in the form of censorship on artists. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

23. It is more important for the government to invest in projects that benefit the whole community such as welfare programmes and infrastructure improvements than for it to subsidise activities and institutions for the arts such as museums and art galleries as these will only benefit a minority. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

24. Should museums and art galleries be free of charge for the general public, or should a charge, even a voluntary charge, be levied for admittance? Discuss this issue, and give your opinion.

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