The dangers of memorised statements in essays.

Be careful of memorised sentences in your writing.

Updated: Feb 18th 2022

There are some IELTS teachers out there who tell students to write an outline statement after the thesis statement. In my view, this is not a good way to structure the introduction.

Outline statements are only for true academic essays that are many pages long like you would write at university (IELTS essays are short discursive essays)

Another reason why I advise not writing them is that they look like they have been memorised. The examiner is looking out for memorised statements and sentences. You could lose points on this in task response and lexical resource. To put it simply, you have to use your own words. The IELTS examiners are looking at how you can use language naturally and coherently.


Memorised or ‘cliche’ phrases in an introduction:

  • I will argue both points and present my opinion.

  • This essay would like to explore the reasons for this and offer possible solutions.

  • I will illustrate my view in more detail in the following essay.

  • The following essay will outline more reasons why I hold this view.

  • I will give reasons and argue my opinion in the following essay.

  • This essay will endeavour to shed light on these issues.


Memorised phrases to start a conclusion

  • The above points illustrate my opinion.

  • As stated above these are the reasons for my view.

  • In a nutshell, I think…

  • All things considered…

  • The crux of the matter is…

  • All in all, I think…

  • To reiterate my views…

  • Last but not least.

I think you get the idea, just avoid these in an IELTS essay. It is easy for a lower Band score candidate to memorise these phrases and plug them into the essay.  I have seen so many variations of these when I mark writing. It is better to do these 2 things when writing an introduction.

  1. Paraphrase the task question.

  2. Write a thesis statement (include an opinion if asked for)

After analysing the question and finding out what you exactly need to write about you can then plan your ideas and supporting points (take 10 minutes to do this).

Only after planning should you go into paraphrasing the task question in the introduction, then write a thesis statement which includes your opinion if it is an opinion essay.


For a lesson on paraphrasing click here

For a lesson on thesis statements click here


Word count for introductions

An introduction ideally should be under 60 words. Why? because it could just end up looking like a body paragraph and you just do not have time to write a really long introduction. It is the same with conclusions, keep them concise.

The key is to keep introductions and conclusions short and simple, Use the body paragraphs to go into detail and explain your main points with examples.


Here is a recent example I saw with a memorised outline statement:

Task question:
Many manufactured food and drink products contain high levels of sugar, which causes many health problems. Sugary products should be made more expensive to encourage people to consume less sugar. Do you agree or disagree?

Introduction:

Many processed foods and beverages with a high sugar content can cause several health issues. It is argued that sugary food ought to be made more costly to encourage people to reduce their sugar intake. In this essay I will substantiate my views with relevant examples.

The text in red is the kind of thing that examiners will see as memorised. These types of sentences should be avoided.

This introduction below would be better:

Many processed foods and beverages with a high sugar content can cause several health issues. It is argued that sugary food ought to be made more costly to encourage people to reduce their sugar intake. I agree with this because these food products lead to obesity in adults and tooth decay among children.

The sentence in green is the thesis statement and contains two reasons for my opinion (obesity in adults and tooth decay among children)


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