IELTS candidates who are not familiar with essay writing styles should be aware that they will be assessed on how they organise their answers in writing. It is not enough that IELTS essays have paragraphs, but these paragraphs must make sense as well. Each of your paragraphs needs to have a theme or better yet, a topic sentence, to summarise what your paragraph is all about. Some high-scoring essays can get away without having a topic sentence but for candidates who are struggling with writing fluently, it is essential that they include a topic sentence, to be safe.
Let’s take a look at an example IELTS Writing Task 2 answer paragraph discussing the advantages of watching television. The candidate’s ideas have been laid out in this brief plan:
- access to information (e.g. news, emergencies, research & studying)
- source of entertainment (e.g. stress reliever – PlayStation, films. music, game shows, etc.)
- develop skills (e.g. language learning, cooking, etc.)
This is the 2nd paragraph that appears after the introduction:
1] There are, of course, positive aspects of watching TV. 2] Firstly, thanks to this important invention, more people can have access to information. 3] Recently, even in developing countries, the use of television is widespread and has provided people with the latest news. This is especially crucial in places that frequently experience natural disasters, such as flooding in parts of Bangladesh, or forest fires, in certain areas in Indonesia. The public needs to be informed of any evacuation procedures should these events occur. 2] Apart from being a tool for transmitting information, the television is also a useful vehicle for learning and developing skills. 3] For example, students who are learning English can view programmes on television to help them achieve not only knowledge, but also develop their listening skills and expand their vocabulary. Likewise, those who are learning to cook are able to apply the methods they have seen on cookery programmes in their own kitchen. For these reasons, television can be an extremely important device for spreading information and obtaining personal growth through learning.
The structure of this paragraph is colour–coded to show you the function of each sentence. The list below is also the recommended order that you should organise your ideas in:
- Topic sentence (red)
- Supporting idea (blue)
- Explanation/Example (green)
Notice that the candidate has used only TWO supporting ideas for her argument even though she has listed three in her plan. This is a good strategy because she has followed the rule that quality is more important than quantity. She does not want to waste time listing everything that she has in her plan. Besides, she has no time for this anyway! Instead, she has chosen to use only two of her ideas and spend more time in giving her writing more depth and developing her answers through further explanation and/or examples to prove each point. This is what your examiner is looking for in your writing script. At the end of her paragraph, notice also how she nicely rounds off her argument by summarising her points.
Your writing does not have to be complicated. As long as you follow this simple structure, you should be able to impress your assessor/examiner by demonstrating how organised you are with your answer and hopefully, achieve a high band score for not just Task Response (Content), but also Coherence and Cohesion (Organisation) as well!