A guide to writing good paragraphs in IELTS.
Body paragraphs are obviously very important and this is where you will gain most of your points in the marking. In this lesson, I want to look at what is needed to write a good body paragraph. Each essay type has its own structure but they have similar paragraphing.
One particular essay type ‘ Discuss both views and give your own opinion’ can also use 3 main body paragraphs to discuss the views and one to give your opinion. In an IELTS essay, there should be no more than 5 paragraphs in total. That means an introduction, no more than 3 main body paragraphs and a conclusion. Download the free eBook below for some ideas on structures.
What kind of structure should be used?
It is important not to get too obsessed by structures as there are many ways to structure an IELTS essay, however, make sure you use clear paragraphs. Skip a line between them and here should be no more than 5 paragraphs in an IELTS essay.
The main body paragraphs follow similar structures for most essays. Each main body paragraph should have the structure as below here:
State your opinion (if the question asks for an opinion)
Key point: The ideas you put forward and the opinion you give in the body paragraphs must reflect what you wrote in your thesis statement from the introduction. Don’t just repeat the thesis statement, expand on it and explain giving specific examples.
How are IELTS essays marked?
The essay is marked according to 4 criteria, Lexical resource (vocabulary), Grammatical range and accuracy, Coherence and Cohesion and Task Response. Let’s take a look at the criteria below for Task Response.
Overall, to get a good score the main body paragraphs must have a topic sentence with just one central theme for each paragraph, don’t list different ideas or go off-topic you only need one central idea per paragraph then support it, give a specific example and state why you agree or disagree (if the task asks for your opinion)
Important point about giving examples
IELTS essays are different from academic essays that you may have to write in University. In an academic essay in University, you have to give citations, references and accurate data and it may be a few pages long. In an IELTS essay, you are not expected to do this and you do not have time either.
The IELTS examiner is not marking your general knowledge or citations, they are testing your English ability, so your examples do not have to be real but must look plausible.
When giving an example you should be specific, you can quote statistics, but you don’t have to.
Which paragraph do you think is better?
Here are example body paragraphs from a problem solution essay, the task question is below:
‘All over the world, societies are facing a growing problem with obesity. This problem affects both children and adults. What are the reasons for this rise in obesity, How could it be tackled?’
Note: this is a problem-solution essay, not all essays will follow this structure.
One of the reasons people are becoming obese these days is that they eat junk food like hamburgers and chips. The solution is for the government to raise tax on fast food. I think that this is necessary to stop obesity. Also, people eat big portions and do not do much exercise.
One of the reasons that people are becoming overweight these days is that they are eating more junk food, ready meals and convenience food rather than cooking healthy meals at home. This is because many people tend to lead a busy life and after a long day at work it is easier to just buy ready meals in the supermarket or get a takeaway. For instance, In the UK, sales of these types of foods have risen sharply since 1990, one reason is that busy people see cooking at home as time-consuming. To tackle this issue the government should take steps to increase the tax on high fat, high sugar or unhealthy foods. Therefore consumers would think twice about the foods they consume, which could lead to them losing weight.
Let’s try another one
This is a discussion essay where you have to give an opinion.
‘Some people believe that school children should not be given homework by their teachers, whereas others argue that homework plays an important role in the education of children. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.’
On the one hand, some people hold the view that too many home assignments is not beneficial and becomes a burden to school children. This is because pupils spend their whole day studying at school then they have the added responsibility of attending after school activities as well as homework tasks. To illustrate this, in Japan the majority of youngsters are under pressure to complete lots of homework. If they fail to finish their home assignments they will not get good exam results and will be unable to get into a good high school. I think that pupils ought to be given home assignments but should not be put under this kind of pressure.
If teachers give out too many homework assignments it becomes a burden to the school children. Young children spend their whole day studying at school which makes them feel tired after returning home. Also, they have pressure to pass exams and get into a good university after they finish school. Many students have to do well and think of a good career, and also they might have the responsibility of sports clubs after school. Lots of children prefer to come home and play in the park but they are stressed. They also lose interest in their hobbies or friends. As far as I’m concerned they should relax when they come home.
What do you think is the best paragraph above for a high band essay?
Explaining and giving examples
When giving an example or explaining something we need to use some of the following sentences below:
You can try now
Here is a task question, write 2 main body paragraphs with a topic sentence, supporting sentence, specific example and your opinion (no need for an introduction or conclusion, just practice main body paragraphs only)
‘Some people think that the best way to reduce crime is to give longer prison sentences. Others, however, believe there are better alternative ways of reducing crime. Discuss both views and give your opinion.’
Write your answer in the comments section below.
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