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This is an IELTS writing task 2 sample answer essay on the topic of success from the real IELTS general training exam.

Please consider supporting me on Patreon.com/howtodoielts to receive my exclusive IELTS Ebooks – you can even sign up for private live lessons with me (or check out my online lessons here)!

Dave

IELTS Essay: Success

Some people say that individuals who make a lot of money are the most successful. Others think that those who contribute to society like scientists and teachers are more successful.

Discuss both sides and give your own opinion.

Many would argue that those who contribute significantly to society, such as artists, teachers and scientists, are more successful than the affluent. In my opinion, although earnings can be a sign of success, one’s worldly impact should be held in higher esteem.

On the one hand, wealth allows an individual to enjoy their life to the fullest. It is common in popular culture to elevate values related to altruism, however, most honest individuals would admit that success can be equated with what one can afford. The wealthy can afford the possessions and lifestyle they desire and also have the free time and peace of mind to completely enjoy their leisure. In past centuries, such people were admired as shameless examples of personal enjoyment. Therefore, this financial freedom can be viewed as the strictest and more direct definition of success.

However, money itself does not always engender a feeling of satisfaction in the same way as more active pursuits in life. Many wealthy individuals feel that they have contributed little to society and this diminishes their enjoyment of their gains. Such dissatisfaction is less present in individuals who, as long as they are not living in destitute poverty, pursue meaningful outlets for their energies. For example, renowned scientists throughout history are often not extremely wealthy, yet they are considered great successes due to their contributions and the personal joy they derive from the full exercise of their abilities. This fact can be extended to all other professions that involve determination, creativity, and the growth of one’s influence.

In conclusion, despite the material benefits of wealth, it is clear that one’s ability to shape the world is a surer symbol of success. Every individual and society must locate a balance between these two ideals.

Analysis

1. Many would argue that those who contribute significantly to society, such as artists, teachers and scientists, are more successful than the affluent. 2. In my opinion, although earnings can be a sign of success, one’s worldly impact should be held in higher esteem.

  1. Paraphrase the overall essay topic.
  2. Write a clear opinion. Read more about introductions here.

1. On the one hand, wealth allows an individual to enjoy their life to the fullest. 2. It is common in popular culture to elevate values related to altruism, however, most honest individuals would admit that success can be equated with what one can afford. 3. The wealthy can afford the possessions and lifestyle they desire and also have the free time and peace of mind to completely enjoy their leisure. 4. In past centuries, such people were admired as shameless examples of personal enjoyment. 5. Therefore, this financial freedom can be viewed as the strictest and more direct definition of success.

  1. Write a topic sentence with a clear main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your main idea.
  3. Develop it with specific or hypothetical examples.
  4. Keep developing it fully.
  5. Extend with some short sentences as well.

1. However, money itself does not always engender a feeling of satisfaction in the same way as more active pursuits in life. 2. Many wealthy individuals feel that they have contributed little to society and this diminishes their enjoyment of their gains. 3. Such dissatisfaction is less present in individuals who, as long as they are not living in destitute poverty, pursue meaningful outlets for their energies. 4. For example, renowned scientists throughout history are often not extremely wealthy, yet they are considered great successes due to their contributions and the personal joy they derive from the full exercise of their abilities. 5. This fact can be extended to all other professions that involve determination, creativity, and the growth of one’s influence.

  1. Write a new topic sentence with a new main idea at the end.
  2. Explain your new main idea.
  3. Include specific details and examples.
  4. Continue developing it…
  5. as fully as possible!

1. In conclusion, despite the material benefits of wealth, it is clear that one’s ability to shape the world is a surer symbol of success. 2. Every individual and society must locate a balance between these two ideals.

  1. Summarise your main ideas.
  2. Include a final thought. Read more about conclusions here.

Vocabulary

What do the words in bold below mean? Make some notes on paper to aid memory and then check below.

Many would argue that those who contribute significantly to society, such as artists, teachers and scientists, are more successful than the affluent. In my opinion, although earnings can be a sign of success, one’s worldly impact should be held in higher esteem.

On the one hand, wealth allows an individual to enjoy their life to the fullest. It is common in popular culture to elevate values related to altruism, however, most honest individuals would admit that success can be equated with what one can afford. The wealthy can afford the possessions and lifestyle they desire and also have the free time and peace of mind to completely enjoy their leisure. In past centuries, such people were admired as shameless examples of personal enjoyment. Therefore, this financial freedom can be viewed as the strictest and more direct definition of success.

However, money itself does not always engender a feeling of satisfaction in the same way as more active pursuits in life. Many wealthy individuals feel that they have contributed little to society and this diminishes their enjoyment of their gains. Such dissatisfaction is less present in individuals who, as long as they are not living in destitute poverty, pursue meaningful outlets for their energies. For example, renowned scientists throughout history are often not extremely wealthy, yet they are considered great successes due to their contributions and the personal joy they derive from the full exercise of their abilities. This fact can be extended to all other professions that involve determination, creativity, and the growth of one’s influence.

In conclusion, despite the material benefits of wealth, it is clear that one’s ability to shape the world is a surer symbol of success. Every individual and society must locate a balance between these two ideals.

Answers

For extra practice, write an antonym (opposite word) on a piece of paper to help you remember the new vocabulary:

argue claim

contribute significantly give a lot to

affluent rich

although however

earnings money made

sign of success symbol of achievement

worldly impact effect on everyone

held in higher esteem considered more important

on the one hand firstly

wealth money

enjoy their life to the fullest have a good life

common pervasive

elevate values raised importance

related to concerning

altruism doing things for others

however regardless

honest truthful

admit confide, say

equated made equal

afford be able to pay for

possessions things you have

lifestyle standard of living

desire want

free time spare time

peace of mind not worried

completely totally

leisure free time

in past centuries hundreds of years ago

admired looked upon fondly

shameless examples not feeling bad about themselves role models

personal enjoyment loving for themselves

therefore thus

financial freedom ability to buy things

strictest most severe

direct definition clear description

engender create

satisfaction feeling good about

active pursuits not passive jobs

contributed added to

diminishes gets smaller

gains increases

dissatisfaction not satisfied with

less present not there as much

as long as so far as

destitute poverty very, very poor

pursue meaningful outlets do something important in life

energies attempts, abilities

renowned famous

throughout history for a long time from the past to now

considered regarded as

contributions giving something back

personal joy sense of achievement

derive get

full exercise complete use

extended lengthened

professions jobs

determination grit

creativity imagination

growth getting bigger

despite regardless of

material benefits money, things

shape influence

surer symbol better sign

locate find

balance keep equal

ideals principles

Pronunciation

Practice saying the vocabulary below and use this tip about Google voice search:

ˈɑːgjuː 
kənˈtrɪbju(ː)t sɪgˈnɪfɪkəntli 
ˈæflʊənt
ɔːlˈðəʊ 
ˈɜːnɪŋz 
saɪn ɒv səkˈsɛs
ˈwɜːldli ˈɪmpækt 
hɛld ɪn ˈhaɪər ɪsˈtiːm.
ɒn ðə wʌn hænd
wɛlθ 
ɪnˈʤɔɪ ðeə laɪf tuː ðə ˈfʊlɪst
ˈkɒmən 
ˈɛlɪveɪt ˈvæljuːz
rɪˈleɪtɪd tuː 
ˈæltrʊɪzm
haʊˈɛvə
ˈɒnɪst 
ədˈmɪt 
ɪˈkweɪtɪd 
əˈfɔːd
pəˈzɛʃənz 
ˈlaɪfˌstaɪl 
dɪˈzaɪə 
friː taɪm 
piːs ɒv maɪnd 
kəmˈpliːtli 
ˈlɛʒə
ɪn pɑːst ˈsɛnʧʊriz
ədˈmaɪəd 
ˈʃeɪmlɪs ɪgˈzɑːmplz 
ˈpɜːsnl ɪnˈʤɔɪmənt
ˈðeəfɔː
faɪˈnænʃəl ˈfriːdəm 
ˈstrɪktɪst 
dɪˈrɛkt ˌdɛfɪˈnɪʃən 
ɪnˈʤɛndə 
ˌsætɪsˈfækʃən 
ˈæktɪv pəˈsjuːts 
kənˈtrɪbju(ː)tɪd 
dɪˈmɪnɪʃɪz 
geɪnz
dɪsˌsætɪsˈfækʃən 
lɛs ˈprɛznt 
æz lɒŋ æz 
ˈdɛstɪtjuːt ˈpɒvəti
pəˈsjuː ˈmiːnɪŋfʊl ˈaʊtlɛts 
ˈɛnəʤiz
rɪˈnaʊnd 
θru(ː)ˈaʊt ˈhɪstəri 
kənˈsɪdəd 
ˌkɒntrɪˈbjuːʃənz 
ˈpɜːsnl ʤɔɪ 
dɪˈraɪv 
fʊl ˈɛksəsaɪz 
ɪksˈtɛndɪd 
prəˈfɛʃənz 
dɪˌtɜːmɪˈneɪʃən
ˌkriːeɪˈtɪvɪti
grəʊθ 
dɪsˈpaɪt 
məˈtɪərɪəl ˈbɛnɪfɪts 
ʃeɪp 
ˈʃʊərə ˈsɪmbəl 
ləʊˈkeɪt 
ˈbæləns 
aɪˈdɪəlz

Vocabulary Practice

I recommend getting a pencil and piece of paper because that aids memory. Then write down the missing vocabulary from my sample answer in your notebook:

Many would a_____e that those who c__________________________y to society, such as artists, teachers and scientists, are more successful than the a_________t. In my opinion, a__________h e_________s can be a s_________________s, one’s w_____________t should be h_________________m.

O________________d, w_________h allows an individual to e_______________________________t. It is c________n in popular culture to e______________s r____________o a____________m, h_____________r, most h____________t individuals would a_________t that success can be e____________d with what one can a________d. The wealthy can afford the p________________s and l_____________e they d_______e and also have the f___________e and p_______________d to c______________y enjoy their l___________e. I__________________s, such people were a____________d as s_____________________s of p_____________________t. T____________e, this f________________m can be viewed as the s____________t and more d____________________n of success.

However, money itself does not always e_________r a feeling of s_____________n in the same way as more a__________________s in life. Many wealthy individuals feel that they have c_____________d little to society and this d_______________s their enjoyment of their g_______s. Such d__________________n is l____________t in individuals who, a_____________s they are not living in d_________________y, p___________________________s for their e_____________s. For example, r__________d scientists t_________________y are often not extremely wealthy, yet they are c___________d great successes due to their c_____________s and the p________________y they d_______e from the f______________e of their abilities. This fact can be e_____________d to all other p_____________s that involve d________________n, c______________y, and the g__________h of one’s influence.

In conclusion, d________e the m_________________s of wealth, it is clear that one’s ability to s_______e the world is a s_____________l of success. Every individual and society must l________e a b________e between these two i______s.

Listening Practice

Learn more about this topic by watching videos from The New York Times YouTube channel below and practice with these activities:

Reading Practice

Read more about this topic and use these ideas to practice:

https://www.discovermagazine.com/the-sciences/the-10-greatest-scientists-of-all-time

Speaking Practice

Practice with the following speaking questions from the real IELTS speaking exam

Success

  1. When a person is successful, are they also happy?
  2. What is success?
  3. Do relationships affect success?
  4. Which is more important for success: opportunity or hard work?
  5. What defines success for people in your country?

Writing Practice

Practice with the related IELTS essay topic below:

Some think schools should rewards students who have the best academic results, while others think it’s more important to reward students who achieve other types of success (such as sports, music, and good behaviour).

Discuss both views and give your own opinion.


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