A DISCURSIVE essay asks you to investigate a topic from various angles and present these.

Discursive essays do not require the writer to take a strong stand either for or against a subject, only that the topic be DISCUSSED from various angles, either defined by the instructions in the task or the author of the essay.

A successful discursive essay should include:

• an introductory paragraph, in which you state the subject and the ANGLES from which it is going to be examined

• a main body, in which you discuss the chosen ASPECTS of your subject, each in a separate paragraph

• a conclusion, in which you restate the subject from the PERSPECTIVES discussed in the body.

Discursive essays can be recognized by their use of question words, prompting you to examine a subject from different angles, for example:

Which … do you consider to be the …?

What factors contribute to …?

Where can children …?

OPINION essays display the writer’s personal OPINION on a topic, clearly stated and supported. 

The writer’s opinion should be included in the introduction and summarized/restated in the conclusion. In these essays the examiner is not going to assess your opinion, only your ability to express it.

A typical ‘opinion’ essay should include:

• an introduction, in which you state the topic and your clear OPINION about it

• a body, in which each paragraph discusses a separate viewpoint, all forwarding the SAME opinion

• a conclusion, which RESTATES your opinion as expressed in the introduction

Opinion essay tasks tend to be worded using some of these instructions:

Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Give your own opinion about …

Decide if the following essay tasks requires a DISCURSIVE or an OPINION essay.


“Some say that motivation is always inherent, while others believe that it partly depends on one’s external circumstances. Discuss what might contribute to a person becoming or staying motivated”.

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