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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay from the real exam/test related to planning for the future.

It’s an interesting question and I had fun writing this sample answer – check it out below!

Be sure to check out my online courses and corrections as well!

Dave

Listen to the audio first for some extra listening practice:

IELTS Writing Task 2 Sample Answer Essay: Planning for the Future (Real Past IELTS Exam/Test)

Some feel that it is a waste of time to plan for the future and it is more important to focus on the present.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Real Past IELTS Exam

There is growing sentiment today that making plans for the future can take one out of the present moment. Although it is important to have some general future goals, individuals ought to prioritise right now.

The clear advantage of having goals is that they dictate and align your actions. A good counter-example to support this comes from aimless individuals without any fixed aspirations. It is not uncommon for recent university graduates to feel lost and drift from job to job. This can be a rewarding experience but if it continues too long then one will likely remain in low-paying positions and fall behind one’s peers. A clear goal can motivate a decision on long-term vocation and force one to put in the hard work required to excel.

Despite the general advantages of having some long-term goals listed above, obsessing over the future can impair connection with the present. There are many famous literary examples of this that reveal underlying tensions between capitalist striving and individual contentment, such as in the famous novel Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. The titular character Babbitt has spent most of his life looking to the future and accomplishing middle class goals. He grows dissatisfied with this life because he no longer feels a vibrant connection to the present moment and his true feelings. His suspension of his deepest desires to meet extrinsic goals set by society alienates him from the present. This is commonly referred to as a mid-life crisis and is very common among driven individuals who reach a pinnacle of success.

In conclusion, emphasis on future goals is one source of modern unhappiness. Individuals must carefully select their goals to distinguish between the life they want and the life they are expected to want.

Analysis

1. There is growing sentiment today that making plans for the future can take one out of the present moment. 2. Although it is important to have some general future goals, individuals ought to prioritise right now.

  1. Paraphrase the overall topic for the essay.
  2. Give a clear opinion.

1. The clear advantage of having goals is that they dictate and align your actions. 2. A good counter-example to support this comes from aimless individuals without any fixed aspirations. 3. It is not uncommon for recent university graduates to feel lost and drift from job to job. 4. This can be a rewarding experience but if it continues too long then one will likely remain in low-paying positions and fall behind one’s peers. 5. A clear goal can motivate a decision on long-term vocation and force one to put in the hard work required to excel.

  1. Write a clear topic sentence with a main idea at the end.
  2. Here I use a counter-example to support my argument.
  3. Develop the example.
  4. Keep developing it.
  5. Bring it back to your overall argument for the paragraph.

1. Despite the general advantages of having some long-term goals listed above, obsessing over the future can impair connection with the present. 2. There are many famous literary examples of this that reveal underlying tensions between capitalist striving and individual contentment, such as in the famous novel Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. 3. The titular character Babbitt has spent most of his life looking to the future and accomplishing middle class goals. 4. He grows dissatisfied with this life because he no longer feels a vibrant connection to the present moment and his true feelings. 5. His suspension of his deepest desires to meet extrinsic goals set by society alienates him from the present. 6. This is commonly referred to as a mid-life crisis and is very common among driven individuals who reach a pinnacle of success.

  1. Write another clear topic sentence with another main idea at the end.
  2. Use another example to develop your main idea. Here I use an example from a novel.
  3. Explain your example fully.
  4. Keep developing it for the entire paragraph.
  5. Continue developing it…
  6. Conclude with a link back to your overall argument.

1. In conclusion, emphasis on future goals is one source of modern unhappiness. 2. Individuals must carefully select their goals to distinguish between the life they want and the life they are expected to want.

  1. Repeat your opinion.
  2. Add in a final detail/thought.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean?

There is growing sentiment today that making plans for the future can take one out of the present moment. Although it is important to have some general future goals, individuals ought to prioritise right now.

The clear advantage of having goals is that they dictate and align your actions. A good counter-example to support this comes from aimless individuals without any fixed aspirations. It is not uncommon for recent university graduates to feel lost and drift from job to job. This can be a rewarding experience but if it continues too long then one will likely remain in low-paying positions and fall behind one’s peers. A clear goal can motivate a decision on long-term vocation and force one to put in the hard work required to excel.

Despite the general advantages of having some long-term goals listed above, obsessing over the future can impair connection with the present. There are many famous literary examples of this that reveal underlying tensions between capitalist striving and individual contentment, such as in the famous novel Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis. The titular character Babbitt has spent most of his life looking to the future and accomplishing middle class goals. He grows dissatisfied with this life because he no longer feels a vibrant connection to the present moment and his true feelings. His suspension of his deepest desires to meet extrinsic goals set by society alienates him from the present. This is commonly referred to as a mid-life crisis and is very common among driven individuals who reach a pinnacle of success.

In conclusion, emphasis on future goals is one source of modern unhappiness. Individuals must carefully select their goals to distinguish between the life they want and the life they are expected to want.

Answers

growing sentiment increasing opinion about

take one out of remove from

present moment right now

general future goals some plans for the future

prioritise make more important

dictate force

align keep in order

counter-example example showing the opposite case

aimless individuals people without goals

fixed aspirations clear goals

not uncommon common

recent university graduates people who just got out of university/college

drift from job to job no fixed career

rewarding experience fulfilling

low-paying positions bad jobs

fall behind one’s peers lost ground to

long-term vocation career

excel be the best at

general advantages benefits overall

obsessing fixated on

impair connection hurt the relationship between

literary examples from books

underlying tensions problems beneath the surface

capitalist striving trying to make money

individual contentment how fulfilled you are

Babbitt the main character and name of the novel

Sinclair Lewis a write from the 1920s in the United States

titular character character the book is named after

looking to the future anticipating

accomplishing middle class goals making money, having a family, etc.

dissatisfied unhappy with

vibrant connection strong relationship

suspension stopped, cut

deepest desires what you most want

extrinsic goals set by society what others think you should desire

alienates distanced from, resentful of

commonly referred to usually called

mid-life crisis time in life where you feel lost

driven individuals ambitious people

reach a pinnacle of success become the best

emphasis focus on

modern unhappiness discontent today

carefully select choose wisely

distinguish separate

the life they are expected to want what people think they should desire

Pronunciation

Listen and repeat:

ˈgrəʊɪŋ ˈsɛntɪmənt 
teɪk wʌn aʊt ɒv 
ˈprɛznt ˈməʊmənt
ˈʤɛnərəl ˈfjuːʧə gəʊlz
praɪˈɒrɪˌtaɪz 
ˈdɪkteɪt 
əˈlaɪn 
ˈkaʊntər-ɪgˈzɑːmpl 
ˈeɪmlɪs ˌɪndɪˈvɪdjʊəlz 
fɪkst ˌæspəˈreɪʃ(ə)nz
nɒt ʌnˈkɒmən 
ˈriːsnt ˌjuːnɪˈvɜːsɪti ˈgrædjʊəts 
drɪft frɒm ʤɒb tuː ʤɒb
rɪˈwɔːdɪŋ ɪksˈpɪərɪəns 
ləʊ-ˈpeɪɪŋ pəˈzɪʃənz 
fɔːl bɪˈhaɪnd wʌnz pɪəz
ˈlɒŋtɜːm vəʊˈkeɪʃən 
ɪkˈsɛl
ˈʤɛnərəl ədˈvɑːntɪʤɪz 
əbˈsɛsɪŋ 
ɪmˈpeə kəˈnɛkʃən 
ˈlɪtərəri ɪgˈzɑːmplz 
ˌʌndəˈlaɪɪŋ ˈtɛnʃənz 
ˈkæpɪtəlɪst ˈstraɪvɪŋ 
ˌɪndɪˈvɪdjʊəl kənˈtɛntmənt
ˈbæbɪt 
sɪn deə ˈlu(ː)ɪs
ˈtɪtjʊlə ˈkærɪktə 
ˈlʊkɪŋ tuː ðə ˈfjuːʧə 
əˈkɒmplɪʃɪŋ ˈmɪdl klɑːs gəʊlz
ˌdɪsˈsætɪsfaɪd 
ˈvaɪbrənt kəˈnɛkʃən 
səsˈpɛnʃən 
ˈdiːpɪst dɪˈzaɪəz 
ɛksˈtrɪnsɪk gəʊlz sɛt baɪ səˈsaɪəti 
ˈeɪliəneɪts 
ˈkɒmənli rɪˈfɜːd tuː 
mɪd-laɪf ˈkraɪsɪs 
ˈdrɪvn ˌɪndɪˈvɪdjʊəlz 
riːʧ ə ˈpɪnəkl ɒv səkˈsɛs
ˈɛmfəsɪs 
ˈmɒdən ʌnˈhæpɪnəs
ˈkeəfli sɪˈlɛkt 
dɪsˈtɪŋgwɪʃ 
ðə laɪf ðeɪ ɑːr ɪksˈpɛktɪd tuː wɒnt

Vocabulary Practice

Remember and fill in the blanks:

There is g__________________t today that making plans for the future can t____________________f the p_____________________t. Although it is important to have some g__________________s, individuals ought to p______________e right now.

The clear advantage of having goals is that they d________e and a______n your actions. A good c__________________e to support this comes from a_______________________s without any f__________________s. It is n______________________n for r_______________________s to feel lost and d___________________________b. This can be a r________________________e but if it continues too long then one will likely remain in l______________________s and f________________________s. A clear goal can motivate a decision on l__________________________n and force one to put in the hard work required to e_______l.

Despite the g______________________s of having some long-term goals listed above, o______________g over the future can i_____________________n with the present. There are many famous l______________________s of this that reveal u______________________s between c_____________________g and i____________________________t, such as in the famous novel B___________t by S________________s. The t__________________r Babbitt has spent most of his life l________________________e and a______________________________________s. He grows d______________d with this life because he no longer feels a v_______________________n to the present moment and his true feelings. His s_______________n of his d_______________s to meet e___________________________y a______________s him from the present. This is c_____________________o as a m__________________s and is very common among d___________________s who r___________________________s.

In conclusion, e____________s on future goals is one source of m______________________s. Individuals must c_______________t their goals to d___________________h between the life they want and t_______________________________t.

Listen and check:

Listening Practice

Learn more about connecting with the present moment below:

Reading Practice

Here’s an interesting New York Times article on the same topic:

Speaking Practice

Answer the following questions from the real exam about making plans:

Making Plans

How do people usually make plans?

Should you get advice when making plans?

Who is the best advisor for big plans?

What plans do governments have to make?

How important is the public in helping governments to make plans?

Real IELTS Exam

Writing Practice

Write about the related topic below then check with my sample answer:

Some think that ambition is a good quality.

Is it important to be ambitious?

Is it a positive or negative characteristic?

Recent IELTS Exam/Test

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