IELTS WRITING TASK 2 [Agree or disagree]: Friendships Online, In Person

Sep 20, 2023 | IELTS Test

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Write about the following topic:

Friendships that take place online are not as meaningful as those where 

people meet each other face to face.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

The mock essay below addresses the very common Agree/Disagree task type. As you read through, think about how it fully meets the task requirement by giving a clear opinion; presenting a number of relevant ideas; and how it maintains an advanced level of vocabulary with frequent higher-level, less common terms (superficial, characterised, evaluated, overstatement, validity, eventuate etc). If you are not familiar with these words already, it is well worth taking the time to check in your learner’s dictionary to gain a fuller understanding and see example sentences of how they are used. Over-repetition of key terms is avoided (see how we substitute relationship for friendship in places), and there are a number of collocations (body language, world view, visual platform, facial expressions etc) which an examiner would note in awarding a high score. 

Remember how the To what extent…. wording always gives us the option to take a position along the Scale of Agreement other than completely Agree/Disagree at the extremes. In this case, our position could be summarised as Mostly Disagree.  

Note too, that this is not a Discuss both views type task, so we are not required to present the view with which we do not agree. However, doing so demonstrates to the examiner our wider knowledge of the issue and the opportunity to show more terms related to this view.

There is also a variety of grammar forms, with frequent longer, complex sentences, but the final sentence is a shorter, simple structure: True friendships can and do eventuate through this medium..  

Note too the use of passive verb forms (could be viewed, can be…..evaluated in parts of the text.  

The essay is structured here in a five-paragraph format as follows:

Introduction: paraphrasing the topic and question; giving a clear opinion.

1st Body Paragraph: conceding/admitting the Agree side of the issue, with an example.

2nd Body Paragraph: refuting the Agree argument with a personal example. 

3rd Body Paragraph:  extending the Disagree view with reasoning and an example (Skype/Zoom). Note that this section could have formed the latter part of the 2nd body paragraph without any problem, but we chose to focus the reader’s attention a little more on the idea here by separating it.

Conclusion: reinforcing the author’s opinion as stated in the Introduction 

image of two friends using a mobile phone

Mock IELTS Task 2 Answer

Friendships that take place online are not as meaningful as those where 

people meet each other face to face.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

It is often suggested that online friendships lack the degree of meaning possible in face-to-face relationships. While many of the former type could be viewed this way, I disagree with such a broad statement.

Admittedly, many internet relationships, usually via social media, can be judged as superficial. Some people say that those known in this way would be better characterised as acquaintances, with whom one can exchange views and information but who cannot become genuine friends like those we meet in person. They ask whether emotions can be really evaluated without seeing someone’s body language as well as speech intonation. They point out that exchanging a firm handshake or even a hug as with a true friend is of course not possible in this situation. 

However, to say no online contact can become a true friendship is an overstatement. I have a personal experience of this, whereby some years ago I joined an international group of online Scrabble players and began to share more non-game related views with one of the group players who was about the same age and had a very similar world outlook as my own, including a shared sense of humour. I felt I knew this person quite well and considered her a genuine friend before we did eventually meet when I traveled to her country.   

Additionally, with visual platforms like Skype or Zoom, it is now possible to see the other person speaking, and gain a fuller appreciation of them through their facial expressions and body language. Use of these platforms can negate most of the deficiencies said to prevent a real friendship developing. 

In short, while there is a validity in the view expressed, to suggest that it is impossible for an online contact to become a meaningful friendship is overstating the case. True friendships can and do eventuate through this medium. 

(308 words) 

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