Critical reading is a big part of understanding argument. Although some of the material you read will be very persuasive, do not fall under the spell of the printed word as authority. Very few of your instructors think of the texts they assign as the last word on the subject. Remember that the author of every text has an agenda, something that he or she wants you to believe. This is OK—everything is written from someone’s perspective—but it’s a good thing to be aware of. For more information on objectivity and bias and on reading sources carefully, read our handouts on evaluating print sources and reading to write .
Since the turn of the new century, a theory has emerged concerning the end of the world, or at least the end of life as we know it. This new theory centers around the year 2012, a date that many claim has mysterious origins in ancient manuscripts from many different cultures. The most noted characteristic of this date is that it appears to mark the end of the Mayan calendar. But there is no evidence to suggest that the Maya saw any great relevance to this date. In fact, none of the claims surrounding a 2012 doomsday event hold up to scientific inquiry. The year 2012 will pass without a major, life-altering catastrophe .
This IELTS Writing Task 2 question asks you to discuss an argument. It’s easy to confuse this with an opinion essay, since opinion and argument have similar meanings. However, in an argument essay like this one, you must write about both sides of the argument before giving an opinion, which can be difficult in just 40 minutes. Since time management can be problem when writing an argument essay, plan to write two body paragraphs only, each dealing with a different point of view. Finally, when you give your own opinion in the conclusion, try to make it follow from the strongest side of the argument, not the weakest!