Writing examples in IELTS essays.

ielts examples in writingHow to write examples in IELTS essay body paragraphs.

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 most importantly, 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 clearly 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.

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 it says: ‘presents relevant main ideas but some may be inadequately developed/unclear.’

It is clear that if your main idea is not supported or developed 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.

For instance here is a paragraph from an essay based on this task question:

Students today can easily access information online, so libraries are no longer necessary. Do you agree or disagree?

Even though it is true that students find it much easier to get specific academic information connected to their studies on the internet, I believe that libraries are still essential in schools and universities as well as public library facilities. One reason for this is that some types of specialised information cannot be found on the internet. For instance, most well-known academic authors do not immediately publish their recent work online, instead, they publish books explaining their analyses and results. Therefore these books are usually found in university or school libraries before they appear on the world wide web.

The example is introduced with ‘For instance’. The example supports my main opinion here, although it is not entirely true it looks realistic.


3. What kind of example should it be?

Personal examples are ok but be careful that the essay doesn’t look too informal. You can quote a newspaper report, a government report, a survey, a poll, a magazine article, a research project etc…you can make examples up but they must look realistic and should not have percentages or specific years as the examiner has no way to check this.

The prevention of health problems and illness is more important than treatment and medicine. Government funding should reflect this. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

In many nations there is a desperate need for government investment in healthcare, especially for research into new types of medicine to combat serious conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. If governments around the world had funding for cures and drugs at the top of their agenda, then I believe that many more terrible illnesses could be cured with cutting-edge medicine within the next decade. For example, research has shown that in the USA there have been huge advances in the treatment of Parkinson’s with new types of medicine, which was the result of many years of investment by successive administrations.

In the example above I have not quoted any years or statistics, it looks believable and not fake.. most importantly it connects directly to my man idea.


4. Useful language when referring to research

When you reference a research project or a study it is a good idea to use this kind of language below.

  • A study carried out showed that…

  • Research conducted recently indicated that…

  • There is evidence to suggest that….

  • According to a recent poll…

  • According to a recent research project it emerged that…

  • An extensive survey conducted by the government proved that…

Example sentences:

For instance, there is evidence to suggest that eating fast foods and a high sugar intake causes obesity.

For example, according to a recent poll by the Guardian newspaper, an increasing number of people are working from home now.

To illustrate this, research conducted recently stated that more and more companies are looking at reducing the workforce in favour of AI and robots.


5. What should be in the example?

In the example, you can use a business name, a university name, research, a newspaper name, a place (country, city) and a phrase that shows a trend. Avoid using 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?

1.  To illustrate this, a UK government report in April 2017 showed that over 59% of criminals reoffended within 2 years of being released from prison.

2. To illustrate this, a UK government report in April 2017 showed that a large proportion of criminals reoffended within 2 years of being released from prison.

3. To illustrate this, a recent UK government report showed that a large proportion of criminals reoffended soon after being released from prison.

In the third example above I have not used any numbers, years or statistics. I have used language instead. The first two examples should be avoided as the examiner cannot check this data and it looks fake to the examiner. Using statistics and data in examples is only for when you are writing a university essay / thesis.


6. Can you give an example of “bad example” and a good one?

Take a look at two example body paragraphs below…which one is better?

An increasing number of people are buying what they need online. 
What are the advantages and disadvantages of this?

1. One main advantage of purchasing online is that it is much cheaper than buying from a high street shop. This means that buying items such as books, clothes and household goods is much more cost effective if consumers get them on the internet because of the wide range of shopping sites. For instance, transport is expensive as gasoline prices are increasing. Most people do not have cars in my town so we have to take a train 10 kilometres to the nearest department store, so it is better to buy online.

2. One main advantage of purchasing online is that it is much cheaper than buying from a high street shop. This means that buying items such as books, clothes and household goods is much more cost effective if consumers get them on the internet because of the wide range of shopping sites. To illustrate this, a recent report in Business weekly magazine indicated that the number of shoppers making purchases on Amazon has risen considerably due to low costs and free delivery.

It is clear that the 2nd paragraph above is better. The first paragraph example is too general and even seems informal. The 2nd paragraph example is much clearer, more specific and concise, while supporting my main idea.


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 states:

  • presents a well-developed response to the question with relevant, extended and supported ideas’

Take a look at this paragraph below:

Some people think that violent sports such as martial arts or boxing should be banned from international competitions. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

I agree that worldwide martial arts or combat events should be banned is that many competitors in these kinds of sports retire with long-lasting health issues. Boxing, in particular, has many instances of great boxers who became brain damaged and had to stop boxing at a relatively young age. For example, Mohamed Ali, who was an Olympic and world champion, developed brain damage from years of high profile international fights and developed serious health problems such as Parkinson’s disease. There are many other cases similar to this in world combat sports events.

The example does not include any newspaper report or university study or government poll etc… there are no statistics, no business name, no dates but it still clearly supports my main opinion that combat sports should be banned.


To Summarise.

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 statisics or data that the examiner cannot verify.


Any Questions? Leave a comment below…

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