How to write examples in IELTS essay body paragraphs.
Updated: January 2023
In IELTS writing task 2 it is very important to be able to extend your ideas and support your main idea in the body paragraphs. This can be done with supporting points and specific examples. This is necessary to get a good band score in task response and helps with the overall cohesion of the essay.
By using examples the examiner can see how you are developing your main idea in the main body paragraphs. However, the examples given must be specific to the task question and your main idea, and they should also be clear, easy to follow, concise, and realistic looking, but never include statistics.
They do not have to be real but they must look plausible. This is different from an essay you would write at University where you need true factual information and citations. IELTS essays are not the same as University essays.
1. What does the marking criteria say?
In the IELTS marking criteria, there is no mention of giving examples but in task response it says:
Band 8 task response: ‘presents a well-developed response to the question with relevant, extended, and supported ideas.’
Band 7 task response: ‘presents, extends and supports main ideas, but there may be a tendency to overgeneralise and/or supporting ideas may lack focus.’
Band 6 Task response: ‘presents relevant main ideas but some may be inadequately developed/unclear.’
So, if your main idea is not explained and supported then you will end up with a lower band score in task response.
2. Where is the best place to put the example?
When giving examples it is best to put them after your main idea or topic sentence. They can be used in the middle of supporting sentences or they can be used to start a new sentence. There is no rule for where exactly to give examples in essays. Logically they should come just after a supporting sentence. In many of my model answers, they are near the end of the main body paragraph.
3. What kind of example should it be?
Personal examples should be avoided if possible as they look informal. You can quote a newspaper report, a government report, a survey, a poll, a magazine article, a research project but be careful as this can sometimes make the example look like a cliche. You can make examples up but they must look realistic and should not have percentages or data as the examiner has no way to check this.
4. Useful language when referring to research
If possible try giving an example that does not use fake research or a government survey as this can look memorised and cliched. However, if you cannot think of a good example you could reference a research project or a study that seems plausible. In that case, it is a good idea to use this kind of language below.
5. What should be in the example?
In the example, you can use a business name, a university name, a newspaper name, a place (country, city) and a phrase that shows a trend. Do not use statistics and numbers in examples. See two examples below I took from an essay.
1. For instance, a recent report in Business weekly magazine indicated that the number of shoppers making purchases online has risen considerably due to low costs and free delivery.
2. For instance, a recent report in Business weekly magazine indicated that the number of shoppers making purchases online has risen by 61% due to low costs and free delivery.
The first one is much better as it uses language rather than a statistic. In the example I used a magazine name (business weekly) This example is not true but it looks believable.
Here are other examples, which one is better?
6. Can you give an example of a “bad example” and a good one?
Take a look at two example body paragraphs below…which one is better?
7. What should I do if I have no idea of an example?
In this case, you can make up an example. Invent a government poll, a newspaper report, a university study, or just explain your main idea clearly. There is no rule in the IELTS marking criteria about how to give examples, only that you can explain and support your ideas. Remember the marking criteria state:
presents a well-developed response to the question with relevant, extended, and supported ideas’
Take a look at this paragraph below:
Stick to one main idea in each paragraph and explain it without going off-topic, the main idea must be relevant and specific to the task question. Keep it simple and concise too and avoid statistics or data that the examiner cannot verify.