This type of essay question asks test-takers to make a judgement about whether the advantages of a situation are greater than the disadvantages. The verb ‘outweigh’ which simply means ‘to be greater or more important than something’. Therefore, if advantages outweigh disadvantages, there are either more advantages or the advantages are more important.

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 use social media to stay in contact with friends, family and news events. 

Do you think the advantages of this technology outweigh the disadvantages?

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

Write at least 250 words

Model essay

In recent years, the growth of the social media has dramatically increased the speed with which many people communicate and receive news. However, it is now clear that the spread of misinformation outweighs the advantages gained by rapid communication.  

The main advantages of social media are the ability to communicate instantly with large numbers of people and receive instant news. Users can now send and receive news and messages all over the world much faster than in previous years. For example, before social media many people had a pen pal in a foreign country, and would have to wait weeks to receive a reply. In contrast, many people now communicate instantly with friends abroad. Similarly, news events that happen around the world are reported live. This is important because it helps to connect people across cultures and keep friends and family connected.

However, it is now clear that the major disadvantages to social media outweigh the benefit of fast communication. The most important drawback is that social media now allows misinformation to spread via illegitimate news sources. At the moment, is it easy for anyone (including dangerous organisations) to post fake news and spread lies across media platforms. According to the EU, foreign governments often create fake news on Facebook and Twitter to influence voters in European elections. This situation has enabled foreign political groups to directly influence election results in democratic countries. Without reliable news sources, it becomes impossible to trust information which ultimately leads to unstable countries. It is clear therefore, that there are huge disadvantages to social media that cannot be ignored.

Although social media increases the speed at which we now relieve news and communicate with our friends and family, the problems caused by misinformation far outweigh any advantages. It is vital, therefore, that governments and social media companies act fast to solve these problems so that information on social media is reliable for all users worldwide.
321 words

More lessons

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.