Here is an IELTS Task 2 Topic taken from the internet:
“In many countries traditional foods are being replaced by international fast foods. This is having a negative effect on both families and societies. To what extent do you agree or disagree?”
In deciding how to approach this question, forget about ‘advantages-disadvantages; agree-disagree’ type essays you may have learned how to write, or any other ‘essay type’ you have been told about.
The danger in trying to classify an IELTS exam question into one of the types you may have learned how to write in the past is that you will miss an important part of the question.
For example, in this question you are asked your opinion about the issue of fast foods replacing traditional schools in relation to the effects it has on both families and societies. This is critical. A response that ignored the issues of the effect of fast food supplanting (replacing) traditional foods that did not talk about the effect on BOTH families AND society would fail to answer the question.
To illustrate this, if you argued that fast food was not a nutritious food and contained excessive amounts of fats and sugar and was therefore not a healthy food, but DID NOT go on to talk about the effect that this has on families (child and adult obesity, diabetes, heart disease, increased days off work/school due to illness, family fracturing due to early death of family members as a result of disease etc. for example) and society (increased health care costs, lost work hours due to worker sickness, damage to economy, increased early death and family disruption due to deaths resulting from poor eating habits etc. for example) then you would not have addressed the question that was asked.
In other words, the question does not simply ask about whether or not you think fast food is good or bad, it asks about whether you think it is bad in relation to the damage it does to families and society as a whole.
One way to structure the essay would be to have one paragraph on the effects on families and the second paragraph describing the effects on society when international fast foods (hamburgers, pizza etc.) replace traditional foods.
It is very easy for candidates to miss the full question in Task 2 and only partially answer what was asked. In fact, this is so easy to do, one well known IELTS website made the same mistake when they posted a sample answer to a recent Task 2 question. When the so called ‘experts’ can make this mistake, it serves as a warning to everyone to be very careful when deciding what you have been asked to do in the task question.