How to Write a Discussion Essay

A discussion essay presents and discusses issues surrounding a particular topic--usually one that is debatable and open to argument. A good argumentative essay must include a thorough discussion of both sides of the issue, including main points to support your argument and its counterargument. It should also provide a well-rounded understanding of the issues before the writer presents their personal own opinions and conclusions.

What is an IELTS Discussion Essay?

The International English Language Testing System is an international standardized test of English language proficiency for non-native English language speakers.

Example of an IELTS Discussion essay

Some believe language provides cohesion to a country, while others believe diverse languages bring diversity and vibrancy. Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

As with most persuasive essay formats, the essay's quality relies primarily on the writer's ability to provide solid research and evidence to present different views of the topic.

Practicing your writing skills as you write a discussion essay is a great way to grow as a writer. Let’s dive into the essay structure and components of a successful discussion essay.

1. Choose Your Topic

Choose your discussion essay topic. When choosing this topic, make sure it is one that you're interested in personally since this will be easier for you to write. You'll need to discuss both sides of the argument surrounding the discussion essay topic, so ensure that you have access to good research that provides pertinent information. Writing only one side of the argument will result in an undeveloped discussion essay, which probably won’t receive a good score.

2. Outline Your Essay, Outline Your Points

Outline your discussion essay. This outline should include a rough draft of your thesis statement, main argument, opposing argument, other main points and a rough draft of your conclusion. Your goal at this point is to get your thoughts on the discussion essay topic organized and in writing.

You can write a detailed outline for your discussion essay, using traditional outline format--letters and numbers to separate key points--or you can simply jot down a list of the main discussion points you plan to cover in order to answer the essay question or address the essay topic.

3. Draft Your Introduction

Next, write your introduction. According to the Open University, your goal in the introduction of your discussion essay is to introduce the issues relating to the topic and to provide your reader with important background information. Your introduction is essentially setting the scene for your reader so they are prepared to digest the argument you’ll be presenting. Providing your reader with a simple overview of how your discussion essay is organized will ensure that she understands your flow of thought throughout the body of the essay.

Most importantly, at the end of your introductory paragraph you must include a well developed thesis statement. One of the most common mistakes made when writing introduction paragraphs is leaving out the thesis statement, which is one sentence that firmly asserts what side of the argument you will be arguing throughout the work. Be specific in your points and make sure it is a strong closing to this first paragraph, as it will set the tone for the rest of your essay.

4. Good Discussion in the Body of Your Essay

Write the body paragraphs of your discussion essay using any research sources that you have collected. Typically, you should present each issue individually and impartially, discussing first one side of the argument and then the other side of each argument that relates to your topic. Ensuring that each paragraph is roughly the same size as the other will make the presentation of facts seem balanced to the reader as well. Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that smoothly transitions from the previous paragraph while simultaneously introducing the new topic covered in the upcoming one.

Progress through your body arguments in order, starting with your weakest argument or issue and progressing to the strongest. This structure allows your reader to follow your flow of thought easily without getting distracted. When deciding how to use sources, try to use the same number of quotes and sources for each argument. If you use three quotes to support your main argument, strive to use three quotes to present the opposing view as well.

5. Conclude Your Essay

Write your discussion essay conclusion. Your goal with your conclusion is to summarize the overall information from the body of the discussion essay, leading the reader to mentally review the pros and cons of the topic argument. Although you don't technically have to be in favor of one side of the discussion yourself, if you are, be sure to present your own conclusions in this paragraph rather than earlier in the essay.

Once you have finished your conclusion, part of wrapping up your essay is going back through it and checking for grammatical errors. Check to make sure you have not copied any quotes directly from other sources, as this would result in a plagiarism charge, especially if your professor screens your essay through a writing service that checks for plagiarized work. Always write using your own words. Using your own words not only saves you from plagiarism issues, but also helps with essay coherence since the rest of the work has been written in your tone of voice.

On the final page of your discussion essay you will also include all of the citations for sources you quoted or summarized information from. Whether citing in MLA or APA format, double check the style and order of your citations for accuracy before turning it in.

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