This type of essay question asks test-takers to objectively analyse two sides to an issue. This essay type is different from advantages vs. disadvantages, in that it does not require test takers to choose a position, although it is acceptable to do so.

In this type of essay it is very tempting to list advantages and disadvantages, but this leads to poor IELTS essays because there is very little development. IELTS paragraphs are usually best when test-takers use one main idea per paragraph, but for this type of essay we must be careful. The question asks for a discussion of advantages (plural) and disadvantages (plural) so an examiner can mark down if there is only one of each mentioned. To get around this, two different techniques have been used at the beginning of each main paragraph in the essay below. Can you find them?

Remember, all the model essays shown on this website follow structures that can be learned and practised by taking the writing courses available. There is no better way to study IELTS writing.


You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

Some people think that the best way to run a business is within the family.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a family run business?

Give reasons for your answers and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or

Write at least 250 words

Model essay

Throughout history, most businesses were run by families and many still remain today despite the rise of corporations. This has led to a debate about the advantages and disadvantages of this business type. This essay will discuss how commitment and loyalty are the main advantages, but complex family relationships can cause major problems.

The primary benefits of family-run businesses are that employees are familiar and likely to be more committed and loyal. This is especially true when the business experiences hardship, as family members will feel responsible for each other. In fact, a number of economists have pointed out that family-operated firms are more likely to survive recessions than similarly-sized corporations. This is largely because corporate employees have little incentive to stay with a struggling firm and will try to find employment elsewhere. In contrast, family members are likely to actively try to help, including by working additional hours or investing their own money. This is clearly a huge advantage for family businesses. 

However, despite these advantages, family-run businesses can also experience major problems when relationships break down. If there are problems within a family, these are often reflected in the business as well. According to legal experts, it is common for family disputes to become court cases that dispute ownership of the business itself. The result is often the dissolution of the business or extremely expensive court settlements. In contrast, corporations are able to deal with emotional disagreements by replacing difficult staff quickly and efficiently.

Family-run businesses often benefit from the relationships that family members have, especially when support is needed during difficult financial times. However, when family relationships deteriorate, the business is more likely to experience problems because the business is more personal. It is clear, however, that family businesses will continue to last long into the future.
305 words

This essay was graded by a current IELTS examiner. Read the notes and grade given below:


Textbook example.

Both ideas, in support and against, are supported with extended examples that are accurate.

There’s an ability to use a range of vocabulary, with complete flexibility and accuracy.

Grammatical structures are used accurately with full range used flexibly throughout.

The entire response is well organised displaying good use of linking and sequencing devices throughout which attract no attention and paragraphing is used skilfully. The last paragraph has one instance where there’s some under-use of a sequencing device.

The examiner awarded an 8 for Coherence & Cohesion because the conclusion did not start with a sequencing device, such as ‘In conclusion‘. In normal academic writing, it is not necessary to write this conjunctive adverb (and in fact many writers consider it amateurish). However, this band score shows that in IELTS it is important to show basic sequence skills or you may be marked down.

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