IELTS Writing Task 2: rules for introductions
Many people decide on a
career path early in their lives and keep to it. This, they argue, leads to a
more satisfying working life.
To what extent do you agree with this view?
What other things can people do in order to have a satisfying working life?
In today's lesson I just want to look at how to write an introduction for this type of question. My simple rules for task 2 introductions are:
1. Write 2 sentences: introduce the topic, then give a general answer.
2. Mention everything that the question mentions.
3. Don't save any surprises for the conclusion; give your opinion in the introduction if the question asks for it.
Here's an example introduction:
It is true that some people know from an early age what career they want to pursue, and they are happy to spend the rest of their lives in the same profession. While I accept that this may suit many people, I believe that others enjoy changing careers or seeking job satisfaction in different ways.
IELTS Writing Task 2: introduction technique
Task 2 introductions should be short and direct. You only need to write two sentences as follows:
1. Introduce the topic.
2. Respond to the question, making your position clear.
Take this question for example:
More houses are needed in many countries to cope with increasing populations. Would it be better to build houses in existing towns and cities, or to develop new towns in rural areas?
This my 2-sentence introduction:
It is true that the populations of many countries are growing, and that new housing is therefore needed. In my opinion, it would be better to increase the provision of housing by creating new towns, rather than by further developing existing towns and cities.
IELTS Writing Task 2: the confidence to be 'simple'
For many of my students I've taught, a breakthrough came when they found the confidence to write in a more 'simple' way.
When you stop worrying about whether you need to include passives, conditionals or 'difficult academic words' in your essays, you are free to focus on answering the question and explaining your ideas coherently. It takes confidence to change your approach and to believe that the 'simple' way will work.
Note: Remember that 'simple' is not the same thing as 'easy'!
IELTS Writing Task 2: longer introductions?
People sometimes ask me whether writing a longer introduction could be the way to improve their task 2 scores. My answer is no! A longer introduction is more likely to harm your score, not help it. The more time you spend on your introduction, the less time you have to write good main body paragraphs. The main body is the key to a high score!
So, how can we improve our main body paragraphs? I think there are 3 easy steps you can take:
1. Spend more time planning the main paragraphs.
2. Spend less time on the introduction and conclusion.
3. Prepare ideas for common topics before you take the exam.
IELTS Writing Task 2: the keys to a high score
Memorising phrases for any essay, original or difficult words, complex grammatical structures, a long introduction with background and thesis statement: these are NOT the keys to a high score!
If you want to get the highest score possible with your current level of English:
· Focus on answering the question well. This means that you need good ideas (which is why planning is important). Explain your ideas in detail in the main body paragraphs.
· Work on topic vocabulary rather than 'any essay vocabulary'.
· Forget about 'complex structures' and 'difficult words'. When you try too hard to make your writing look difficult, it usually just seems strange or wrong.
· Keep your essay structure simple: a short introduction and conclusion, and two well-developed main body paragraphs
IELTS Writing Task 2: question types
1. Opinion (point of view)
2. Discussion + opinion
3. Problem + reason+ solution
4. 2-part question
Important points to remember:
1. An 'opinion' question asks for your view, not the views of other people, and you don't have to give both sides of the argument. Just express your opinion clearly in the introduction, then explain it in the rest of the essay.
2.A 'discussion' question requires you to write about both sides of the argument, and you should write a similar amount for each view. If the question also asks for your opinion, you don't need an extra paragraph. Just make it clear in the introduction and conclusion which of the two views you agree with.
3.Type 3 is easy. Simply write a paragraph explaining the problem(s) and a paragraph explaining the solution(s).
4.For type 4, just answer the two questions. Write one paragraph about each.
How to Write an IELTS Essay
There are then model answers on the following pages for different types of essay and different questions, with some brief guidance on each.
It is important to analyse model answers for IELTS essays because there are different essay types, and these will require different ways to answer them.
However, as you will see from the guidance on this page, they can all follow the same basic structure.
These are some of the types of IELTS essay we will look at:
Agree / disagree
Discuss two opinions
- 2-Part questions
The golden rule is to ALWAYS read the question very carefully to see exactly what you are being asked to do.
How do I Write an IELTS Essay?
In order to answer this, lets first look at a sample question:
In the last 20 years there have been significant developments in the field of information technology (IT), for example the World Wide Web and communication by email. However, future developments in IT are likely to have more negative effects than positive.
To what extent do you agree with this view?
An IELTS essay is structured like any other essay; you just need to make it shorter. There are three key elements:
- Body Paragraphs
We will look at each of these in turn, using the essay question above as an example.
You should keep your introduction for the IELTS essay short. Remember you only have 40 minutes to write the essay, and some of this time needs to be spent planning. Therefore, you need to be able to write your introduction fairly quickly so you can start writing your body paragraphs.
You should do just two things:
- State the topic of the essay, using some basic facts (that you may be able to take from the question)
- Say what you are going to write about
Here is an example introduction for the above essay question about IT:
The last two decades have seen enormous changes in the way people's lives are affected by IT, with many advances in this field. However, while these technological advances have brought many benefits to the world, it can be argued that future IT developments will produce more negative effects than positive ones.
As you can see, the first sentence makes sure it refers to the topic (IT) and uses facts about IT taken from the question. Note that these are paraphrased - you must not copy from the rubric!
The second part then clearly sets out the what the essay will be about and confirms the writers opinion (some questions may not ask for your opinion, but this one does).
2) Body Paragraphs
For an IELTS essay, you should have 2 or 3 body paragraphs - no more, and no less.
For your body paragraph, each paragraph should contain one controlling idea, and have sentences to support this.
Lets look at the first paragraph for the essay about IT. The essay is about the benefits and drawbacks of IT, so these will need to be discussed in separate paragraphs.
Here is the first body paragraph:
To begin, email has made communication, especially abroad, much simpler and faster, resulting in numerous benefits for commerce and business. Furthermore, the World Wide Web means that information on every conceivable subject is now available to us. For example, people can access news, medical advice, online education courses and much more via the internet. It is evident that these improvements have made life far easier and more convenient for large numbers of people and will continue to do so for decades to come.
The controlling idea in this first paragraph is the 'benefits of IT', and there are two supporting ideas, which are underlined. No drawbacks are discussed as the paragraph would then lose coherence.
Most of the essay will focus on the negative aspects of IT, as the writer says there are more negative effects in the introduction. So the next two paragraphs are about these.
The topic sentence in the next paragraph therefore tells us we are changing the focus to the negative points:
Nevertheless, the effects of this new technology have not all been beneficial.For example, many people feel that the widespread use of email is destroying traditional forms of communication such as letter writing, telephone and face-to-face conversation. This could result in a decline in people's basic ability to socialize and interact with each other on a day-to-day basis.
The final body paragraph gives the last negative effect:
In addition, the large size of the Web has meant that it is nearly impossible to regulate and control. This has led to many concerns regarding children accessing unsuitable websites and viruses. Unfortunately, this kind of problem might even get worse in the future at least until more regulated systems are set up.
The conclusion only needs to be one or two sentences, and you can do the following:
- Re-state what the essay is about (re-write the last sentence of your introduction in different words)
- Give some thoughts about the future
Here is an example:
In conclusion, developments in IT have brought many benefits, yet I believe developments relating to new technology in the future are likely to produce many negative effects that must be addressed if we are to avoid damaging impacts to individuals and society.
سرویس تصحیح WRITING رایتینگ از طریق ایمیل
شما می توانید WRITING های خود را جهت تصحیح و از طریق ایمیل برای اینجانب بفرستید و متن تصحیح شده آنرا به همراه ذكر اشكالات و راهنمایی های بیشتر دریافت نمایید. این سرویس مستلزم هزینه است.
This lesson talks you through one way to write your paragraphs: one possible solution is to choose the listing paragraph method. To help you to learn how to write this type of paragraph, you will find below instructions on how to write them, useful vocal to do this and examples of what works and doesn’t work.
A quick reminder about paragraphs
Before I go any further, I’d like to remind you of some of the keys to writing a good paragraph. These are:
- a paragraph should be organised around one idea
- the main idea should be clear to the reader
- the idea should be well developed in the paragraph
What is a listing paragraph?
Put simply, a listing paragraph is a paragraph containing different ideas that all connect to one main idea. It is perhaps easiest to think of this as the “Firstly” “Secondly” “Thirdly” paragraph. A key to making them work is to make sure that different ideas connect to one central idea. Take a look at this very simple example to see what I mean:
There are at least three different ways to organise a paragraph. The first is to follow a structure where where you make a main point, develop it with an explanation and then illustrate it with an example. The second is to list separate points that connect to the main idea stated in the topic paragraph. The third is the compare and contrast paragraph in which you examine the relationship between two different ideas.
Do you see how the “ideas” contained in the content sentences all link back to the main idea in the topic sentence, highlighted in red?
Getting the topic sentence right
One of the keys to making this listing paragraph structure work is to get the topic sentence right. These are not rules, but think about these general guidelines:
- the topic sentence should come first and be simple: you want the reader to see immediately what your paragraph is about
- it should ideally say that you are going to list different reasons etc. If you don’t do this, the reader may not understand your structure and how the points relate to each other
What to avoid and how to fix it
This type of paragraph can often go wrong. One particular problem is that the list ideas do not relate to the main idea in the topic sentence. Look at this example:
There are a number of reasons why animals should not be kept in captivity. This is wrong because zoos are often unsanitary and the animals suffer unnecessary pain and suffering because they easily become sick and die. In many cases zoos do not have effective breeding programmes and they actually contribute to the decline in numbers of certain endangered species. Moreover, in many countries zoos have become less and less popular because of the influence of natural history programmes on television.
Do you see the problem? The final sentence doesn’t relate to/balance the other ideas – it is about something else altogether.
I have two suggestions about how to avoid this problem. The first is to consider adding a concluding sentence to the paragraph that summarises the ideas. That should help you to avoid this kind of irrelevance by showing you how one sentence doesn’t relate to the others. The other idea is not to be afraid of using listing language.
The language of listing paragraphs
Using listing language helps the reader understand the train of your thoughts and see how the ideas connect. it can also help you write more accurately: if you use this language, you are much less likely to go wrong.
Topic sentence language
Here the goal is to show the reader that you are about to make a number of connected points. Here are some ideas to get you going. obviously, you will need to adapt them to your topic.
There are at least three [reasons] why…. (ie use a number – and traditionally three is the magical number)
There are a variety of [reasons] why
There are several causes for this
There are a number of different ways in which
The most basic listing language
If this is a new technique for you, this language is a good place to start. Though I would add that you should aim for some of more advanced language as you progress. It is also sensible to be fairly consistent with the language. The moment you say “Firstly,”, the reader automatically looks for “Secondly,” and may be confused if they do not find it (or something very similar to it)
Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly/Finally (note the comma)
One [reason] is A second reason is A third/final [reason] is
Some more advanced variations
Here are some slightly more advanced ways of linking your ideas. The point is to start with the biggest/best and then add other ideas using phrase with “Another” and “Also”. This way the connection should still be plain.
The most significant [reason] is
The primary [reason] why
Equally significant is
Another connected [reason] is
A linked reason is
It is also the case that
It is also sometimes suggested that
To keep the connection between your ideas clear use the linking language at the beginning of your sentence
See some examples of listing paragraphs – and test yourself
These paragraphs are based on an essay question asking why people are moving from the countryside into cities and whether that is a positive trend. If you want to test yourself, see if you can complete them. Possible ideas include loss of agricultural land/farming culture, better jobs in cities, better lifestyle and amenities in cities, better infrastructure and transport makes it easier
There are three main reasons why people are abandoning the countryside and moving to cities. Firstly,
There are a number of reasons for this migration from the countryside to urban centres. Perhaps the most significant of these is that
Another connected reason is that
It can also be caused by
Close examination shows that there are a variety of causes for this migration. The primary reason why
Perhaps as significant as this is the fact that
It is also sometimes suggested that
Footnote on IELTS
Can you use this structure in IELTS essays. Most definitely. In fact, you would be foolish not to practise this form of paragraph, it works very well in exam circumstances when you may not be able to think of fully developed ideas but have lots of “little” ideas
IELTS ESSAY TIP 4
Here you find 10 of my top IELTS writing tips.
1. Read the question – answer the question
Rule number 1 is to answer the question: read the question carefully and underline all the information you need to include. This works differently in the essay and the report.
In the essay, often you will find background information and the question itself. Make sure you answer the question
2. Don’t start writing too soon – think and plan!
It is important to finish both pieces of writing, but the way to do this is not necessarily starting to write immediately. If you do that, you may get half way through the writing and realise you cannot finish it. Only start writing when you know how you are going to finish.
In the essay this can mean up to 5 minutes and in the task 1 report it can mean up to 3 minutes. The more you think, the better and more quickly you will write.
3. Write enough words
250 means AT LEAST 250. All propositions and articles are included.
4. Don’t write too many words
The more words you write, you more mistakes you are likely to make. The more words you write, the less efficient you become and the quality will fall. The ideal is to aim for between 260 – 280 words in the essay and 160-180 words in the report.
5. Don’t copy whole sections of the question
If you copy whole sections of the question, the examiner will not include those words in your word count: 260 words can become 230 words if you are not careful enough.
6. Time is your enemy – have a plan and a watch
Timing can be a problem. It is important to keep moving and stick to your timing. Don’t be tempted to spend more than 40 minutes on your essay – you need 20 minutes to answer task 1 properly.
7. Task 1 and task 2 – which do you answer first?
The essay is worth twice the marks of the report. One idea is to do task 2 (the essay) before task 1(the report), just to ensure you finish the essay. You do need to spend at least 20 minutes on part 1 though. Do not try to answer it in 15 minutes.
8. Check your writing
It is important to check your writing for grammatical errors. You need to have a checklist before you enter the exam of what mistakes you typically make.
9. Think about range of vocabulary
You should also check your writing for unnecessary word repetition – you are graded on the variety of your language. You should note that this does not mean you need to use long, complex words, rather it means you should use precise words.
10. Think about the examiner – use paragraphs well
The examiner will not spend very long grading your paper. You need to create an immediate good impression and the best way to do this in my experience is to present a well-structured piece of writing with clearly laid out paragraphs. This way the examiner is going to be on your side. If, however, it looks disorganised, the examiner is not going to be impressed.
1- to agree with someone or something
agree verb [intransitive and transitive] to have the same opinion as someone, or to think that a statement is correct:
• Many people agreed with his views about the war.
• I completely agree with Chomsky when he says that humans are born with a special ability to learn language.
• Most experts agree that dieting needs to be accompanied by regular exercise.
STUDY NOTE: Grammar
Don’t say ‘agree someone's opinion' or ‘agree to someone's opinion'. Say agree with someone's opinion.
share somebody's view/concern/fear etc to have the same opinion, concern, fear etc as someone else:
• I share her concerns about the lack of women in high academic positions.
• A lot of people share his view that tourism will have a negative impact on the island.
• This fear was shared by union leaders, who saw the new law as an attack on their rights.
subscribe to a view/theory etc to agree with an opinion or idea:
• There are a number of scientists who subscribe to the view that there is a God who controls the workings of the universe.
• Some people think that there are cases where torture is justified. I, for one, do not subscribe to this theory.
be of the same opinion if people are of the same opinion, they agree with each other:
• All three specialists were of the same opinion about the cause of her illness.
• Professor Dawkins is of the same opinion as Dr Jones.
verb [intransitive and transitive] a formal word meaning to agree:
• The committee concurred with this view.
• Most modern historians would readily concur that (=agree without any hesitation) this was an event of huge importance.
• As most biblical scholars concur, the letter could not have been written by any contemporary of Jesus.
somebody is right/somebody makes a valid point used when you agree with what someone says:
• Darwin was right when he argued that humans and higher mammals are closely related.
• Cox makes a valid point when he questions our ability to remain objective.
2- to partly agree with someone or something
agree up to a point to partly agree with someone or something:
• Although I agree with him up to a point, I find it hard to believe that this is true in every case.
broadly agree to agree with most parts of something:
• The conference delegates broadly agreed with the proposals.
there is some truth in used when saying that you think that something is partly true or right:
• There is some truth in the argument that there is a link between violence on our streets and violence on our TV screens.
• There is some truth in all of these theories, but none of them can fully explain the causes of unemployment.
agreement noun [uncountable] if there is agreement on something, people agree about it:
• Today there is general agreement that pollution from cars and planes is threatening the future of our planet.
• There is widespread agreement on the need for prison reform. (=most people agree about it)
• Geologists are mostly in agreement about how the islands were formed. (=most of them agree about it)
• The two sides were unable to reach agreement. (=they could not agree with each other)
consensus noun [singular,uncountable] agreement between most of the people in a group about something, especially with the result that they decide on a particular course of action:
• There is now a general consensus among scientists on the causes of global warming.
• There was a growing consensus that the military government had to be replaced.
common ground noun [singular, uncountable] things that people agree about, especially when there are other things that they disagree about:
• There are many areas of common ground between the two philosophers.
• Despite their differing backgrounds, they found common ground in their interest in science.
unanimous adjective if a group of people are unanimous on something, they all have the same opinion about it:
• Medical experts are unanimous on this issue.
• They were unanimous in their opposition to the plan.
• a unanimous decision by the three judges
widely held view/belief etc an opinion, belief etc that many people have:
• There is a widely held view among business experts that selling off a business to a management team is not in the best interests of the company's shareholders.
• There is a widely held belief that advanced western societies are becoming more and more criminalized.
widely/generally accepted if something is widely or generally accepted, it is thought to be true by most people:
• It is now widely accepted that the universe began with the so-called 'big bang'.