How to write a “To what extent” IELTS essay…

In response to student requests, I have started to make video lessons and tutorials for the various writing tasks to be found in the IELTS. In the video below you will see how exactly I would approach a “To what extent” question.

Which is this one…

You should spend about 40 mins on this task.

With all the troubles in the world today, money spent on space exploration is a complete waste. The money could be better spent on other things.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

You should write at least 250 words and give reasons and examples from your own knowledge and experience.

To make it easier to follow, I reproduce the structure, and the two sample essays I use in the video below. I won’t say anything more here, the video is pretty self-explanatory and should be easy to follow. If you have any requests for any tutorials you would like me to make, then send me a message at, and I will see what I can do.

This is the structure I like to use…

For this type of essay, I suggest using a typical four paragraph structure. Although the structure sentence by sentence may vary according to how the question is worded, this is the general structure we might use. Of course, it is possible to combine several of these elements in a single sentence, the exact wording is up to you, as long as you remember the keywords from the criteria, logical progression/sequencing, and develop/extend/support of your ideas.

Essay structure.

Paragraph 1: introduction

Sentence 1: paraphrase question/restate topic.

Sentence 2: Thesis/opinion statement.

Sentence 3: outline statement/main idea 1 (for paragraph 2), and main idea 2 (for paragraph 3).

Body paragraph 1.

Sentence 1: topic sentence (main idea 1).

Sentence 2: explain/expand on main idea 1.

Sentence 3: example (the more specific the better).

Sentence 4: option 1(concession sentence)/option 2 (reinforce/reiterate example/main idea).

Body paragraph 2.

Sentence 1: topic sentence (main idea 2).

Sentence 2: explain/expand on main idea 2.

Sentence 3: example (the more specific the better).

Sentence 4: option 1(concession sentence)/option 2 (reinforce/reiterate example/main idea).


Sentence 1: summary (restate question/topic + main idea 1 and 2).

Sentence 2: suggestion/recommendation (depends on how the question is worded/if you can think of anything).

And this is the first sample essay in the video…it has several things that need correcting but I talk mainly about structure in the video

The space exploration may be considered an incredible modern way to invest money, not a completely useless expansive project.

Fundamentally, I utterly disagree with the statement which people commonly used to agree with.

The clear explanation is that the spreading popular thoughts are concerned about short-term troubles, without taking a wider look at the global scenario.

In fact, people usually complain about the high cost of energy’s supplies, the arised incidence of human disease (directly related to pollution) and the terrifying environmental impact of toxic and radioactive waste.

Although the gravity of these issues could help to support the thesis regarding the waste of economical funds, according to the lack of a strictly specific focus on them, massive advantages could ensue in the long-term, thanks to the amazing features of new discoveries throughout the universe.

New chemical elements, which would be brought to the Earth, will become a fantastic sustainable source of energy, in order to enhance its productivity or span thouroughly its demand, in substitution of fossile fuels which are, as a renowned warning evaluation claimed, in a shortage.

Consequently, not only the cost of the supply will drop, but also, because of the reduced environmental impact, the pullution will show a drastic fall, aiming to a far more comfortable living condition and less disease.

Furthermore, the applications will be limitless, assuming that such elements could be involved in the disposal process of either toxic or radioactive waste.

The point is widening our sights could bring the world to become a better place, managing and resolving critical issues which are apparently loosely connected to the space exploration.

And this is the other example I use…

It could be argued that spending money on the exploration of outer space is wasteful given the many problems on earth which need to be solved. I totally agree with this view and will argue, firstly, that space exploration has produced no tangible benefits so far, and secondly, that the earth needs to solve its myriad of problems first before reaching out to other worlds.

Outer-space exploration has so far have produced very little results. Sending men to the moon and rockets to the outer planets has not had any significant impact on world peace or conflict resolution to name one major problem. For example, the American NASA expenditure on space exploration for last year was some 4 trillion dollars, yet still the world is embroiled in conflict, terrorism, and various wars around the world. So despite the massive expense, not counting other nations expenditure also which is equally significant, we do not have a stable planet.

Additionally, it could be said that before reaching out to other potential worlds, we need to resolve our earthly problems first. If we consider how disease, hunger, and poverty blight the lives of billions of people right now, how can we possibly justify spending such immense amounts of money on an uncertain outcome. For example, to consider disease, the American Cancer research foundation has estimated that 100 million dollars would be needed to fund its study into a cure for cancer over the next ten year period. This research could potentially save millions of lives, yet medical research programmes are significantly underfunded and have to rely on public charity to continue. Diverting a fraction of the total space budget could fund this programme and have very real effects right now for many peoples lives instead of some far flung future life on another planet.

In conclusion, I strongly believe that the space exploration budget should be drastically cut or ended altogether as it has shown no tangible benefit to solving the worlds problems and could be better spent. I would suggest that if the worlds population wants to waste money on such adventures, they should fund it themselves via public donations, and leave their tax money to be spent on more urgent matters.