English Writing Exercises for B1 – A for and against essay


More university students should stay in education after their first degree in order to get another qualification.  Do you agree?

1. Read the task and the model essay. Does the writer agree or disagree with the statement in the task?

Agrees    Disagrees

[1) ]

Nowadays, the number of students who do a second degree is increasing. In order to decide if this is a good thing, we must examine the advantages and disadvantages of taking a postgraduate course.

[2) ]

It is certainly true that there is fierce competition for employment, and candidates need something extra in order to get a good job. We should also remember that people with a second qualification can expect to earn more when they start work. Moreover, postgraduate courses offer the chance to focus on a topic which you find particularly interesting. What could be better than spending an extra two or three years studying something you find fascinating?

[3) ]

However, there are disadvantages too. Firstly, it is an expensive option. You often need to pay for your place at university and also support yourself financially during the course. What is more, many young people are understandably impatient to leave education by the time they finish their first degree.

[4) ]

On balance, I believe it is a good idea to continue your studies beyond a first degree, if possible. Although it may be expensive, an extra qualification allows you to find a better job and earn more money.

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2. Study the model essay and answer the questions.

In which paragraph (1-4) does the writer ___

1) describe the arguments for?

  How many does she / he describe?

2) describe the arguments against?

  How many does she / he describe?

3) give his / her opinion?

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1) 2, 3   2) 3, 2   3) 4

Writing Strategy

Rhetorical questions can make an opinion essay more persuasive, provided you only include one or two. You do not have to answer the questions, but always make sure that the expected answer is clear, e.g.

Some people work long hours for very low pay. How can this is be right? (Expected answer: It can’t be right.)

3. Read the Writing Strategy. Find and underline a rhetorical question in the model essay. Choose the expected answer.

a everything

b most things

c nothing

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What could be better than spending an extra two or three years studying something you find fascinating?, c

Writing Guide

More students should do their degree at a university abroad rather than in their own country. Do you agree?

4. Read the task above. Then plan your essay following the paragraph plan below. Use the questions to help you.

Paragraph 1: Rephrase the statement in the task.




Paragraph 2: What are the arguments for doing a degree abroad? Think of two or three.




Paragraph 3: What are the arguments against doing a degree abroad? Think of two or three.




Paragraph 4: Give your opinion




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your own answers

5. Write your essay using your plan from exercise 4.

Extra exercises


Use signposting phrases (Firstly, ___ , Furthermore, ___ , etc.) to introduce opinions for the statement and against it, and to introduce your opinion in the conclusion (On balance, ___ ).

1. Read the Strategy. Then complete the text with the words below.

addition      also      another      furthermore      other      overall

One issue with social media is that it can distract people from work or study. In 1) _____, it can create unhappiness and anxiety when people compare their lives to other people’s. 2) _____. problem is that some people use it to spread unkind ideas about others.

On the 3) _____. hand, thanks to social media, people can build friendships quickly and easily by sharing photos, links, ideas and opinions. Social media 4) _____. allows people to ask for help and advice. 5) _____, it can educate people about things like health.

6) _____, I think social media has more positive than negative effects on everyday life.

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1) addition   2) Another   3) other   4) also

5) Furthermore   5) overall

2. Read the task below and write a for and against essay.

Teenage students should spend more time at school studying I.C.T. (Information and Communication Technology). Discuss.