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How to Identify & Answer Cause and Effect Question Types in IELTS Writing Task 2

Ron Ross September 5th, 2019

In this article, we'll discuss Cause & Effect question types and look at how to identify them and what essay structure you should use to answer them. After learning about this question type, you'll get a chance to look at some practice questions and a complete sample essay.

How to Identify IELTS Writing Cause and Effect Question Types

In IELTS writing task 2, there are 6 different question types, so it's important you know how to answer each IELTS writing question type to prepare you for anything IELTS can throw at you.

So how do I know if it's a Cause & Effect?

It's not hard! Whenever you see a question that gives you a problem or situation, and asks you to describe its causes and effects, you know you're dealing with a Cause and Effect question type. Let's look at an example of this.

Many children who are home-schooled are not prepared for university at the same rate of children in government funded schools. What do you think are the causes of this? What effects will this have on society?

As you can see, the question is asking for the causes and effects, so it's fairly simple to identify.

Vocabulary for IELTS Writing Advantage & Disadvantage Question Types

Before we look at how to structure your essay for a Cause and Effect question, let's learn the words that we can use in this type of essay to show "cause" and "effect". The videos below teach you how to use the words that show "cause" and "effect" with proper prepositions and common collocations.

 

 

Now let's look at how to structure your essay for a Cause and Effect question.

IELTS Writing Task 2 Essay Structure - Cause and Effect

Below are three types of outlines that are frequently used for Cause and Effect essays:

Outline A Outline B Outline C
  1. Introduction
  2. Causes (1&2)
  3. Effects (1&2)
  4. Conclusion
  1. Introduction
  2. Causes 1
  3. Cause 2
  4. Effects (1&2)
  5. Conclusion
  1. Introduction
  2. Causes (1&2)
  3. Effect 1
  4. Effect 2
  5. Conclusion

In general, Outline A is used most often and is “fool-proof”. In terms of scoring, all three of these examples would be considered as a cohesive and logical process to use. Also, it is extremely important that each cause has its own effect. In other words, if you mention two causes, be sure to mention two corresponding effects.

Let’s take a closer look at how each paragraph should be written in Outline A.

Introduction – In general, you will need two sentences for this paragraph. Since this is the first paragraph of your essay, you should paraphrase the question that was given to you. In other words, rewrite the question in your own words using synonyms. This will help you in a few ways. First, it will guarantee that your essay is on target and following the theme given to you in the question. Secondly, it will give you a chance to show the examiners that you have a wide range of vocabulary and can call upon synonyms when necessary. The second sentence will introduce the specific topics that you plan to discuss in your main body paragraphs. Therefore, your introduction paragraph should look like:
  1. Rewritten Question
  2. Introduction of Specific Topics
Causes 1 & 2 – This paragraph should be about 4-5 sentences long. In this paragraph, you will describe the specific causes with explanations, details, or examples. The paragraph should look like this:
  1. Topic Sentence – This will introduce the cause(s)
  2. Explanation/Detail of Cause 1
  3. Example of Cause 1
  4. Explanation/Detail of Cause 2
  5. Example of Cause 2
(If you are following Outline B, this would be two separate paragraphs with two different topic sentences).
Effects 1 & 2 - This paragraph should be about 4-5 sentences long. In this paragraph, you will describe the specific effects with explanations, details, or examples. The paragraph should look like this:
  1. Topic Sentence – This will introduce the effect(s)
  2. Explanation/Detail of Effect 1
  3. Example of Effect 1
  4. Explanation/Detail of Effect 2
  5. Example of Effect 2
(If you are following Outline C, this would be two separate paragraphs with two different topic sentences).
Conclusion – This paragraph will wrap everything up, and it is not the time to add any new information into your essay. This paragraph should be around 3-4 sentences, and include the following information:
  1. Summary of the Main Points (2 sentences)
  2. Something Important about this Topic (1-2 sentences)

In short, here is what the final Paragraph would look like for Outline A:

I. Introduction
         A. Rewritten Question (1 sentence)
         B. Introduction of Specific Topics (1 sentence)
II. Causes 1 & 2
         A. Topic Sentence (1 sentence)
         B. Explanation/Detail of Cause 1 (1 sentence)
                      C. Example of Cause 1 (1 sentence)
         D. Explanation/Detail of Cause 2 (1 sentence)
                       E. Example of Cause 2 (1 sentence)
III. Effects 1&2
         A. Topic Sentence (1 sentence)
         B. Explanation/Detail of Effect 1 (1 sentence)
                      C. Example of Effect 1 (1 sentence)
         D. Explanation/Detail of Effect 2 (1 sentence)
                      E. Example of Effect 2 (1 sentence)
IV. Conclusion
         A. Summary of the Main Points (2 sentences)
         B. Something Important About This Topic (1-2 sentences)

Now we’ve learned the paragraph outline, let’s look at an example using Outline A.

IELTS Writing Cause and Effect Sample Question and Model Essay

Question: Even though governments have worked hard to bring about improvements in the healthcare system, the overall standard of physical health in developed countries is decreasing. What are the potential reasons for this, and what are some of the long-term effects?
Model Essay
Topic sentences are in bold.
Explanations and details are in red.
Examples are in blue.  

Introduction:

Health problems including heart disease, obesity, and diabetes are becoming more widespread in developed countries. There are several reasons contributing to this problem, as well as potentially drastic long-term effects. (30 words)

Paragraph 1:

Lifestyle choices are important and major causes of poor health in developed countries. These days, it is perhaps easier and cheaper to follow an unhealthy diet. For example, the recent boom in fast food restaurants and chains has enticed people to eat at these establishments rather than cooking healthy meals at home. Stress is another factor that has contributed to poor health. The fast-paced corporate culture and competitive work atmosphere make for a difficult work-life balance, resulting in little to no time for eating healthy or taking care of oneself. (90 words)

Paragraph 2:

These lifestyle choices will have drastic long-term effects. If generations continue to partake in these unhealthy habits, they will continue on for generations to come. For instance, parents who have diabetes or are prone to obesity have a higher chance of passing these conditions on to their children, and so on. Consequently, these health problems could result in a higher cost of living. Due to increased demand for services, it is only natural that the health care industry would charge higher prices to its clients, resulting in higher costs. (89 words)

Conclusion:  

Poor lifestyle choices, ranging from unhealthy diets and higher stress, have certainly contributed to the decrease in health standards. If not properly taken care of, these problems could cause harmful long-term effects to future generations in terms of disease and a higher cost of living. (45 words)

Total Word Count: 254 words

IELTS Writing Cause & Effect Task Questions

This section presents a list of common IELTS Writing Cause & Effect task questions. If you want to prepare for the IELTS Writing Test, these questions are a must study.

Question 1: The percentage of overweight children in western society has increased by almost 20% in the last ten years. Discuss the causes and effects of this disturbing trend.
[Practice and View Model Answer]
Question 2: Many criminals commit further crimes as soon as they are released from prison. What do you think are the causes of this? What effect will this have on society?
[Practice and View Model Answer]
Question 3: Many offenders commit more crimes after serving the first punishment.  Why is this happening, and what measures can be taken to tackle this problem?
[Practice and View Model Answer]
Question 4: One of the most pressing problems facing the world today is overpopulation. What policies do you think governments should adopt to address the causes and effects of this problem?
[Practice and View Model Answer]
Question 5: In many parts of the world today there is a profitable market for products which lighten or whiten people’s skin. Outline the reasons for using such products and discuss what effect they have in terms of health on society?
[Practice and View Model Answer]
Question 6: It is observed that in many countries not enough students are choosing to study science at university. What are the causes? And what will be the effects on society?
[Practice and View Model Answer]
Question 7: Nowadays many people have access to computers on a wide basis and a large number of children play computer games. What are the positive and negative impacts of playing computer games and what can be done to minimize the bad effects?
[Practice and View Model Answer]
Question 8: Global warming is one of the most serious issues that the world is facing today. What are the causes of global warming and what measures can governments and individuals take to tackle the issue?
[Practice and View Model Answer]
Question 9: Stress is now a major problem in many countries around the world. What are some of the factors in modern society that cause stress, and how can we reduce it?
[Practice and View Model Answer]
Question 10: Levels of youth crime are increasing rapidly in most cities around the world.  What are the reasons for this, and suggest some solutions?
[Practice and View Model Answer]



 
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