Writing an introduction without paraphrasing

ielts writing paraphrasingDo you have to paraphrase the task question when writing an IELTS essay?

This is a question I was recently asked. The answer is ….well no you don’t have to paraphrase but I would advise it if you want a higher score (Band 7 or 8).

If you are really concerned about your paraphrasing abilities and you just can’t get it right, or if you are aiming for a Band 6 or 6.5, then just write a short 2 or 3 sentence introduction with a thesis statement only.

Why do IELTS teachers tell students to paraphrase the task?

If you look at the marking criteria below there is nothing mentioned about paraphrasing. However, looking at the underlined areas in yellow it shows that if you can use vocabulary and grammar skilfully then that can really help your score in Lexical resource and Grammatical range and accuracy.

Both vocabulary and grammar together account for 50% of your marks, so with good range and accuracy here it will help you. Being able to paraphrase well can showcase your ability with language.

To see more information on paraphrasing go to this link here.

For a lesson on changing sentence structure go to this link here.


paraphrasing in ielts writing

Common paraphrasing issues

The problem with paraphrasing is that students who are at an intermediate level of English take a long time to paraphrase and it tends to be inaccurate. Paraphrasing is an academic skill that takes a lot of time to master and your English level has to be of a high standard. If you paraphrase inaccurately you will lose marks in vocabulary.

Another issue is that some students tend to copy the task question too much so it looks like repetition, you can copy some keywords but not the whole task question. The wrong use of synonyms is also a major problem when paraphrasing, such as the use of the words ‘children’ and ‘people’.

I have seen many essays with the word ‘humans’ as a synonym for ‘people’ but you can only use ‘humans’ when writing about people in the context of the environment, wildlife etc or space exploration such as in this sentence below:

The concept of  human settlements on Mars is becoming more and more realistic’

The sentence above is accurate, however, this sentence below seems strange as the word ‘humans’ is the wrong word choice. Better to just stick with the word ‘people’.

‘In recent decades humans have become obese due to the consumption of fast food and convenience foods’

Some synonyms do not have the same meaning and this is where problems occur. See this link for more information about how best to learn vocabulary.

Task question

Many parents believe that when their children read books for entertainment, they are wasting their time, and that they should read only serious educational books.
What is your opinion about this?

1. Incorrectly paraphrased

Many parents reckon that when their minors read for relaxing they are wasting time, so kids ought to read more serious academic books.

There are a few issues here. First of all the student has used an informal phrase to state an opinion, ‘reckon’ is only used in speaking.  The word ‘minors’ is not an exact paraphrase for ‘children’ in this context as it seems odd. The word ‘relaxing’ here is also not an accurate paraphrase for ‘entertainment’. Also the word ‘kids’ is informal and should not be used to paraphrase the word ‘children’ 

If you are unsure then just keep the same word,  so the word ‘children’ is fine to copy here.

2. Correctly paraphrased with a thesis statement

Many parents argue that reading books for amusement is a waste of their children’s time and that they ought to read more serious academic material. In my view, reading books for entertainment purposes is an excellent way to get younger children into the habit of reading and to help develop their imagination.

Here I have kept the word ‘children’ and this is ok to avoid errors. I used the word ‘amusement’ to paraphrase ‘entertainment’ you could just cut the paraphrase and go with a much shorter version of the introduction as in the example below.

3. Short introduction with a thesis statement only

In my view, reading books for entertainment purposes is not a waste of a child’s time. In fact it is an excellent way to get younger children into the habit of reading while helping to develop their imagination.

This is the introduction with no paraphrasing, it is much easier for many students to write as it only contains a thesis statement. I did make a brief reference to the task question though about children reading books and wasting time. This is still a good introduction and relevant to the task.

Another issue I sometimes see when students try to paraphrase is the use of flowery or convoluted language. You may think that you can impress the examiner with this style, but it works against you and will lower your score.  See this lesson on keeping it simple.

4. Convoluted or flowery language

A great deal of people who have brought their offspring into the world emphasise that reading books for amusement is a folly and a waste of their beloved children’s time. Their argument is that young ones ought to be reading more worldy and inspiring educational material so as to imbue them with inspiration.

This tactic will lower your score as it looks strange and it is completely unnecessary, so my advice is to avoid this style. Write in a clear concise manner and get directly to the point.

Yes, you can write an introduction with just a thesis statement.

If you are stressed out about paraphrasing then just go straight into writing a good thesis statement only, as in my example number 3 above.

Keep your introduction at around 2 or 3 sentences in this case. If the rest of the essay is well written with accurate grammar and vocabulary and your ideas are well extended and relevant, then you could still get a Band 7.

Leave a comment below if you have any questions.

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