WRITING TASK 2: DISCUSSING A TOPIC WITHOUT TAKING A STANCE

In IELTS, the second writing is an argumentative writing that requires you to write 250 words discussing certain topic. We already had some discussions regarding IELTS Writing Task 2 in the previous posts. However, the previous writings focused on questions that require you to take a stance whether you agree/disagree with the topic, decide whether something is beneficial or harmful (in other words, advantageous or disadvantageous), or whether you discuss a topic concerning the positive and the negative impacts. This is quite doable since you just have to look for a way to explain your argument by providing evidences, reason, and examples. Of course, balanced argument is also needed, but you know that balanced argument is actually used to give an emphasis on your own argument. The conclusion is, it is always easier to take stance.
Even though, you may also be asked to discuss a topic without taking stance, like when you have these questions:

a. Discuss both points and give your opinion

b. Discuss both sides and give your opinion

c. Discuss both views and give your opinion

This kind of questions will require you to have a discussion instead and you may ask yourself: Is the writing layout going to be different?

Sometimes, you also have a direct questions like:

d. There are more and more people who become self-employed in order to gain more freedom and to be able to work from home. Why do you think this happens?

Or an essay that requires you to formulate a solution like:

e. There are more and more people who suffer from serious illness caused by unhealthy lifestyle. What can be done to tackle this problem?

Because the essay topic and the question are a little bit different, we need to do some modification in the writing layout. In some cases, the modification is not significant, but has to be done, nevertheless. In some other cases, we need to do a great deal of changes to the existing layout. Now, let’s use this topic as an example.

One of many ways to solve congestion on roads is to increase tax on private vehicles. How could this alleviate congestion?
What other measures can you suggest to deal with congestion in cities?

If you take a careful look at the topic, you can draw a conclusion that there is no significant layout modification needed. The layout will be generally explained like this:

a. Overview, similar as before
b. Stating basis of argument
c. Giving balanced argument
d. Explaining your own argument, and
e. Giving conclusion and solution

Now, let’s talk about the layout in detail

Overview

In this part, you have to give a very general explanation regarding the topic. The explanation should cover explanations related to the 5WH, although not all of them are necessary used. Take a look at this brainstorming for the overview:

a. What is congestion and where and when it usually happens?
b. Why does it happen?

From this brainstorming, we can write several sentences as follows:

One of the biggest concerns in urban areas is problem related to congestion. It always happens every day especially during the peak hour when people are going to work and when they are coming back from work. It usually happens in the major road although some alternative roads can also be quite crowded, especially during holiday. The significant growth of vehicles and people moving to urban center have made it worse. The authority has done several efforts to tackle the problems ranging from formulating regulation related to traffic, taxation, and improving the public transport to decrease the number of private vehicles.

Stating Basis of Argument

In this part, you should show your stance. Since the topic does not require you to do so, you can present both arguments as something equal. Both increasing tax and doing other relevant improvement are necessary. That is the basic idea.

People are now required to pay higher tax for private vehicles. This is done to control the number of personally owned vehicle and motivate the citizens to take a walk or to use the public transportation. I personally think that there are still some methods that need to be done to thoroughly overcome the issue.

Giving Balanced Argument

In this part, you need to explain the first opinion regarding methods for reducing congestion. You can use the argument suggested by the topic [increasing tax, so you will explains methods other than tax later] or explain methods other than tax first [and then explain the tax method later]. Take a look at an example below:

One of the best solutions to reduce congestion is by increasing tax. This is done to discourage the people to have personal vehicles. There are so many families having more than one car nowadays, resulting in daily traffic jam as the roads can no longer support the increasing number of vehicles. The government can also limit the ownership of private vehicles by charging higher tax on the ownership of second and third private vehicles so that each family will only have one family car for everyone. Besides controlling the use of private transport, increasing the tax can also help the government build better facilities for the people. The money collected from tax payers can be allocated for extending roads, building bridges, and other facilities that support people’s mobility. This will also be a good means of reducing traffic, since there is a balance between the growing number of people using private vehicles and the facilities that support it.

Making a Contrasting Statement

This statement is used to connect the balanced argument (tax method) and your own argument (other improvement) by contrasting them using linking words such as however, despite, in spite of, regardless, etc. Take a look at an example below:

Despite the fact that increase in the tax is an effective way to overcome congestion, other methods still have to be done to tackle problems related to congestion.

Explaining Your Own Argument
In this part, you will have to explain your argument focusing on the use of other methods. Firstly, let’s make the brain storming for your own argument:

a. Improve public transport
b. Encouraging online based transportation service
c. Encouraging the citizens to use bicycle to work

After listing those points, you can add several supporting ideas and make a paragraph:

It is argued that increasing tax often results in people’s disappointment for its lack of persuasive nature. Policy related to tax is yet to be effective unless it is supported by other methods. Firstly, the people certainly need to be motivated to use public transport and thus, the quality of mass transport also has to be improved. The quality covers the performance and appearance of the vehicle used for mass transport, cleanliness, safety and price. Using private transport is not only a matter of prestige but also a matter of comfort. Providing good public transport and giving best service for the people are two most effective and persuasive ways to encourage them to move on from private vehicles. Secondly, the people also have online transportation as a second option for commuting. Online transport works based on what’s so called capital sharing, by which those who have vehicles get income by becoming drivers for those who do not. In this case, both the owners of the vehicle and the passengers are mutually benefited. Since online drivers always provide a means of going around, it is expected that the general population will no longer have the need to own a private vehicle. Lastly, the people who usually commute in short distance can be motivated to ride their bicycle. Nowadays, people in urban areas are already fed up with everyday traffic, that riding bike to work finally becomes a lifestyle. This is also because some people have become more aware of their health and finally chooses bike as a choice of keeping their body fit and avoiding stress caused by traffic. This trend should be supported by the government by providing special track for bikers and initiating programs like car free days.

Giving a Conclusion and Solution
In this part, you have to find a middle way between the balanced argument and your own argument. It is neither possible to merely use tax for overcoming problems related to congestion, nor only use other methods without involving the tax. The solution is basically telling how to create the best combination of the two.

In summary, tax is a good way of reducing congestion since it can be used to control the increasing growth of private vehicle ownership. However, it still has to be supported by more persuasive approaches that directly reduce traffic jam such as motivating people to use massive transport and bicycle as well as encouraging people to use online transportation.

After all steps have been done, the writing will look like this:

One of the biggest concerns in urban areas is problem related to congestion. It always happens every day especially during the peak hour when people are going to work and when they are coming back from work. It usually happens in the major road although some alternative roads can also be quite crowded, especially during holiday. The significant growth of vehicles and people moving to urban center have made it worse. The authority has done several efforts to tackle the problems ranging from formulating regulation related to traffic, taxation, and improving the public transport to decrease the number of private vehicles [overview]. People are now required to pay higher tax for private vehicles. This is done to control the number of personally owned vehicle and motivate the citizens to take a walk or to use the public transportation. I personally think that there are still some methods that need to be done to thoroughly overcome the issue [stating your basis of argument].
One of the best solutions to reduce congestion is by increasing tax. This is done to discourage the people to have personal vehicles. There are so many families having more than one car nowadays, resulting in daily traffic jam as the roads can no longer support the increasing number of vehicles. The government can also limit the ownership of private vehicles by charging higher tax on the ownership of second and third private vehicles so that each family will only have one family car for everyone. Besides controlling the use of private transport, increasing the tax can also help the government build better facilities for the people. The money collected from tax payers can be allocated for extending roads, building bridges, and other facilities that support people’s mobility. This will also be a good means of reducing traffic, since there is
a balance between the growing number of people using private vehicles and the facilities that support it [giving a balanced argument]. Despite the fact that increase in the tax is an effective way to overcome congestion, other methods still have to be done to tackle problems related to congestion [making a contrasting sentence].
It is argued that increasing tax often results in people’s disappointment for its lack of persuasive nature. Policy related to tax is yet to be effective unless it is supported by other methods. Firstly, the people certainly need to be motivated to use public transport and thus, the quality of mass transport also has to be improved. The quality covers the performance and appearance of the vehicle used for mass transport, cleanliness, safety and price. Using private transport is not only a matter of prestige but also a matter of comfort. Providing good public transport and giving best service for the people are two most effective and persuasive ways to encourage them to move on from private vehicles. Secondly, the people also have online transportation as a second option for commuting. Online transport works based on what’s so called capital sharing, by which those who have vehicles get income by becoming drivers for those who do not. In this case, both the owners of the vehicle and the passengers are mutually benefited. Since online drivers always provide a means of going around, it is expected that the general population will no longer have the need to own a private vehicle. Lastly, the people who usually commute in short distance can be motivated to ride their bicycle. Nowadays, people in urban areas are already fed up with everyday traffic, that riding bike to work finally becomes a lifestyle. This is also because some people have become more aware of their health and finally chooses bike as a choice of keeping their body fit and avoiding stress caused by traffic. This trend should be supported by the government by providing special track for bikers and initiating programs like car free days [explaining your own argument]. In summary, tax is a good way of reducing congestion since it can be used to control the increasing growth of private vehicle ownership. However, it still has to be supported by more persuasive approaches that directly reduce traffic jam such as motivating people to use massive transport and bicycle as well as encouraging people to use online transportation [conclusion and solution].

That is the simplest layout for a [more descriptive] and [less argumentative] writing task 2 in which you do not have to make a stance. This layout is pretty powerful regardless its simplicity. But it definitely needs to be revised, modified, and improved. So make sure you give your best feedback to improve the layout.

à la prochaine

For material on Writing Task 2, click this link below
Material on Writing Task 1


For previous explanation on Writing Task 2, click this link below
Writing Task 2 Layout (Argumentative)

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