15 Tips to Help You Write a Stellar Essay
Essay-writing can be easier than you might think if you have a grasp of the basics and a willingness to engage with the subject matter. Here are 15 top tips for writing a stellar essay.
This is one of the most important tips you’ll ever receive. Research thoroughly, even if it means you have too many notes. It’s better to have to leave stuff out than not have enough to write about.
Make an Outline
Without a properly structured outline (with an intro, a four- to five-point body and a conclusion), your essay may be hard to write and to follow.
While you might just be writing your essay for a teacher or professor that is paid to read it, it still pays to grab their attention. A “hook” like a quote or surprising statistic in your intro can make your reader want to read on.
Lay Out Your Thesis
The intro isn’t all about flair and grabbing attention. It’s also about laying out your thesis. Make your main argument clear in the first few sentences, setting up a question to answer or statement to prove.
Avoid Passive Voice
If you want your writing to be persuasive, passive voice should be avoided. (That sentence was full of it, by the way. For example, “You should avoid passive voice” is a more convincing way to say “passive voice should be avoided.”)
Avoid First-Person Voice
If you’re writing an academic essay, you should almost certainly avoid first-person voice. In other words, avoid saying “I” or “my.” Also restrict your use of the second-person voice (e.g., don’t use “you” unless it’s necessary).
Start With Your Strongest Point
In general, it’s a good idea to start with your strongest argument in your first body paragraph. This sets the scene nicely. However, this might not be appropriate if you are structuring your essay points chronologically.
Relate All Points Back to Your Thesis
Make it clear to your reader how each point you make relates back to your thesis (i.e., the question or statement in your introduction, and probably your title too). This helps them to follow your argument.
Contextualize Without Losing Focus
Add contextualizing information for a richer presentation of your topic. For example, it’s fine (or even desirable) to discuss the historical background for certain events. Just don’t get bogged down by irrelevant details.
Use Transition Phrases
Transition phrases, such as “furthermore,” “by contrast” and “on the other hand,” can also help your reader to follow your argument. But don’t overuse them at the cost of clarity. Read your essay aloud to gauge how it flows.
Conclude With a Return to Your Thesis
A conclusion can do many things, but it’s useful to think of it as an answer to the question or statement in your intro. It’s sensible to summarize your key points, but always relate back to your thesis.
Make Your Conclusion Seem Obvious
Restating your thesis in your conclusion (after having made all of your points and arguments in the body) can be persuasive. Aim to make your conclusion feel irrefutable (at least if it’s a persuasive essay).
If your spelling is sloppy, it’s natural for your reader to assume your approach to writing the essay was too. This could harm the strength of an otherwise persuasive essay.
Grammar is also important, for the same reason. It’s usually easy to pick up on dodgy grammar if you read your essay aloud. If you’re not a native English speaker, however, you might want to ask someone who is to check your essay.
To avoid harming your persuasiveness and authority, it’s fundamentally important to use the right words. Overly obscure language can detract from the clarity of your argument, but if you feel you have to use it, then you better know what it means.
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IELTS Writing Task 2: How to write a good introduction
Introductions are an important part of a Writing Task 2 essay. They let your examiner know what to expect from your essay. That’s why we have put together a quick list of tips you can use to write an effective introduction for Writing Task 2.
On this page
Tip 1: stop to read and analyse the question, tip 2: begin with a general statement and then focus in on the details of the question, tip 3: use your own words, tip 4: state your position, tip 5: explain how you plan to develop your essay, review your introduction, sample question, sample introduction.
An introduction is important to the essay because it creates an initial impression in terms of the quality of your writing. A clear, well-organised and relevant introduction will most certainly create a positive first impression on the examiner. So, what makes up an effective introduction? Let’s take a look.
In Writing Task 2, you need to address all the parts of the question or task in a relevant way. Because your introduction is the first step towards achieving this goal, you need to introduce your answer to all the different parts of the question. This is why it is important to take some time to read and analyse the task before you start writing, so you know exactly what you are being asked to write about.
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Writing Task 2 questions usually begin with a general statement before focusing in on more specific points or questions about the topic. Using a similar model in your own introduction is a great way to start your essay, but make sure that your general statement is clearly related to your topic and is not too broad.
While it is perfectly acceptable for you to use the task as a guide for your introduction, make sure you do not copy material from the task.
Copying the task word-for-word shows the examiner that you have a limited range of language, which can affect your band score. Instead, change the order of the information, use synonyms, and explain more complex ideas in your own words.
It is also important not to use a memorised introduction where you insert words related to the question topic. Examiners read thousands of responses so can recognise memorised scripts.
In Writing Task 2, you will need to develop a position while exploring the different parts of the task. It is then important that you clearly state your position in your introduction.
Even though this strategy can be considered as optional, briefly explaining how you plan to develop the topic can help you better organise your writing. It is also a good way to let the examiner know what you’ll be covering in the essay.
Don’t forget to re-read your introduction once you’ve finished writing your essay. It is common for test takers to begin their essays thinking about a specific argument, or a specific way to organise their writing but change their minds as they develop the topic. So, after completing your Writing Task 2, make sure that your final draft still matches your introduction.
Now that we have gone over some important strategies for writing a good introduction for Writing Task 2, it’s time to look at a sample introduction. Start by reading and analysing the prompt, as mentioned in tip 1. Then, carefully read the sample introduction and notice the different strategies used, which have been highlighted for you.
The threat of nuclear weapons maintains world peace. Nuclear power provides cheap and clean energy.
The benefits of nuclear technology far outweigh the disadvantages.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.
Write at least 250 words.
Nuclear technology has been around for many years.
Whether this technology is used for weapons of mass destruction or as a source of energy, many are of the belief that the use of nuclear energy has more advantages than disadvantages.
In my opinion, nuclear technology can indeed be a very efficient energy source. However, nuclear weapons possess such enormous destructive power that any benefits that this technology may offer to humankind are not enough to counter its potential devastating effects.
This essay will address why the drawbacks of nuclear technology outweigh the benefits and will include relevant examples to support this position.
Just as an effective introduction will let the examiner know what they can expect from your essay, a good conclusion will remind them of the main points presented and will summarise what you want your examiner to remember from your writing. Check our blog for our post on strategies for writing a good conclusion!
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IELTS Writing Task 2: How To Write an Effective Introduction
Ielts writing task 2 introduction.
Did you know that a strong introduction can make the difference between a Band 6 and a Band 8 in IELTS Writing Task 2?
In the video above, I’ll show you how to write a Band 8 introduction and avoid the 7 biggest mistakes most people make when they introduce their essays.
This post will help you write better introductions in your Task 2 IELTS essays and show the specific sentences I advise all of my students to use when writing IELTS Writing Task 2 introductions.
The introduction is the first part of the essay the examiner will read, and it will give them a good first impression of what to expect in the rest of the essay.
Just like in person, first impressions last.
I often tell my students that a bad introduction in IELTS writing part 2 is the same as going in to the speaking exam and being rude to the examiner- no matter how good you are in the rest of it, the examiner won’t be happy, and unhappy examiners are more likely to give you a lower mark.
Despite this warning, many good students go on to produce introductions with a few common problems in them.
- Talking too generally about the topic.
Most of these essays start off with ‘Nowadays……’ or ‘In modern life….’ followed by general information about the topic. In my opinion, this is the worst start you can possibly make. Remember that you are supposed to answer the question, not write generally about the topic.
- Not giving your opinion
This is the most important sentence in the essay. Not including this will lose you marks in several different ways.
- Not supporting your opinion with main ideas
If you don’t do this, the examiner doesn’t really know what you think about the question. This will also lose you marks. I’ll show you how to write an outline sentence below.
- Trying to write a ‘hook’ or be entertaining
Remember, this is an IELTS exam, not a university essay. There are no extra points for being interesting; in fact, being boring will probably help you. This will help you avoid ‘flowery’ language.
- Using an informal style
Know your audience. You are expected to write in an academic style.
Good and Bad Examples
Question: There is a good deal of evidence that increasing car use is contributing to global warming and having other undesirable effects on people’s health and well-being.
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
Rising global temperatures and human health and fitness issues are often viewed as being caused by the expanding use of automobiles. This essay agrees that the increasing use of motor vehicles contributes to rising global temperatures because of the production of greenhouse gases by vehicles and certain health issues are caused by the release of toxic chemicals by internal combustion engines.
Nowadays, cars are a very popular way of getting around. Day by day many more people drive cars around but others feel that they cause global warming. Global warming is one of the most serious issues in modern life. They also affect people’s health and well-being which is also a serious issue.
As you can see, the bad example generally talks about the topic, copies words and phrases from the question, and doesn’t include a thesis statement or outline statement.
If your introductions look something like this, don’t worry. Most of my students write introductions a lot like this when they first start in my class and the structure below always helps them fix any problems and write very effective introductions.
Structure of a Good Introduction
If you use this structure, you will not only score higher marks but also save time in the exam. If you practice enough, introductions will become easy, and you will do them in just a few minutes. This will leave you lots of time to focus on the main body paragraphs, where you can pick up lots of marks.
An IELTS writing task 2 opinion essay should have three elements, and these should be:
- Paraphrase question
- Give opinion
- Support opinion with 2 ideas
That’s it. Simple!
Do you need me to correct your essays and give you feedback on them? Check out our essay correction service or email me at [email protected].
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Writing an IELTS Essay Introduction
In the writing for task 2, you must write an IELTS essay introduction , but you only have 40 minutes.
In this time you need to analyze the question, brainstorm ideas to write about, formulate an essay plan, and then write your response. Even for a native writer of English, this is a lot to do in 40 minutes!
So you need to use your time carefully . You need a good IELTS essay introduction, but one thing you do not want to do is spend too long writing it so that you end up rushing your paragraphs. Your paragraphs are the most important thing as they contain all your supporting arguments and demonstrate how good you are at organizing your ideas.
The Two Elements of an IELTS Essay Introduction
You therefore need a method to write your IELTS essay introduction fairly quickly. When you write an introduction, you should make sure you do two things:
- Write a sentence (or two) introducing the topic and giving some background facts about it
- Tell the reader what you are going to be writing about (thesis statement)
How you do this will vary depending on the question, but here is an example:
Blood sports have become a hot topic for debate in recent years. As society develops it is increasingly seen as an uncivilized activity and cruel to the helpless animals that are killed. Blood sports should be banned.
To what extent to you agree or disagree?
Sample IELTS essay introduction:
Despite the fact that killing animals for sport is popular in modern society, it remains a contentious issue. I believe that blood sports are cruel and uncivilized and so should be banned as soon as possible.
This does the following things:
- First sentence: consists of the topic plus some background facts on the topic which have been taken from the rubric.
- Second sentence: gives the writers opinion and tells us that in the essay the writer will be arguing the reasons why it is cruel.
The topic does not have to be in the first sentence, but it should be made clear somewhere in the introduction. You must always have a thesis.
Another important point - don't copy from the question! You must paraphrase (put it in your own words). To do this you can use synonyms and move the order of the sentence around.
Using some of the same words is acceptable, but don't copy whole phrases .
You can see how the question above has been paraphrased. All the information is from the question, but it has been written in a different way and has not been copied.
You can also check out a short video on this lesson:
Further IELTS Introduction Examples
Science and technology have helped the world make many advances. The Arts, such as painting, theatre and dance, to name just three examples, however, are also valuable.
What things do the Arts provide to the world that Science and Technology do not?
Societies have developed rapidly over time due to the many advances in science and technology. However, the arts are also very important and provide our world with many things that science and technology cannot.
According to a recent study, the more time people use the Internet, the less time they spend with real human beings. Some people say that instead of seeing the Internet as a way of opening up new communication possibilities world wide, we should be concerned about the effect this is having on social interaction.
How far do you agree with this opinion?
A recent study has shown that as people use the Internet more, they are spending less time with human beings. I believe that although this has increased the communication around the world in positive ways, it has also led to negative effects on the day-to-day social interaction of human beings.
Unemployment has become an increasing problem in the recent past.
What factors contribute to an increase in unemployment and what steps can be taken to solve the problem?
Over recent years, the level of unemployment has been increasing at an alarming rate in many countries around the world. This essay will discuss the reasons for this increase and consider what practical solutions are available.
Some people think children in secondary school should study international news as part of the curriculum. Others think that this would be a waste of time as there are already too many subjects for children to concentrate on.
Discuss both views and give your own opinion.
While some people are of the opinion that it would be useful to include international news as a subject in the school curriculum, others believe that this is a waste of students time because they are already overloaded with subjects to study. This essay will examine both sides of the issue.
More Task 2 IELTS Lessons:
IELTS Music Essay: Understanding a Complex Question
An IELTS essay about music is used to show you how to answer a more complex IELTS essay question that does not have a clear 'task' given to you.
Using Substitution in IELTS to Improve Writing Coherency
You can use substitution in your IELTS essays in order to improve coherency and coherence.
IELTS Advantage Disadvantage Essay Tips and Strategies
An advantage disadvantage essay is one type of essay that you may get in the test. This lesson shows how to write a pros cons essay.
Requirements for IELTS Band 7 in Writing
Getting to an IELTS Band 7 is a struggle for many candidates. This lesson explains exactly what you have to do to reach this band score.
How to Write an IELTS Essay: The key steps
Learn key steps on how to write an IELTS Essay. This guides you on how to write a great essay plus other lessons to improve your writing skills.
How to use brainstorming and planning to generate essay ideas.
Brainstorming and planning is a key step in developing your IELTS essay. This lesson has tips on how to coming up with ideas and organising them.
Tips on How to Score IELTS Band 8 in Writing and Speaking
To score IELTS Band 8 you need to understand exactly what is in the IELTS Band Descriptors for an 8 for writing and speaking first.
Paragraph Writing for IELTS: Building strong arguments
This paragraph writing lesson provides tips on constructing the best paragraphs for your IELTS essay.
Can you use Personal Pronouns in Essays for IELTS?
Learn how to use personal pronouns in essays for IELTS correctly. Can you use "I", "we" and "you"?
Transitional Phrases for Essays
Learn transitional phrases for essays to get a band 7 or higher in your IELTS writing for coherence and cohesion.
How to Identify the Task in an IELTS Essay
Learn how to identify the task in an IELTS task 2 essay question. This is one of the most important steps in responding to an essay question.
IELTS Task Response - 25% of your essay grade
The IELTS Task Response criteria in the scoring makes up 25% of your band score for your essay.
IELTS Problem Solution Essay Strategies and Tips
In IELTS problem solution essays you have to discuss a particular issue and present ideas to solve that problem.
The 3 Types of IELTS Opinion Essays in IELTS
IELTS opinion essays in IELTS can be placed into three types. This lesson explains the different types and how to analyse these essay questions.
How to Identify the Topic of an IELTS Essay Question
In IELTS you must identify the topic of your essay as this is a key to making sure your essay is on topic.
Using Pronouns to Improve IELTS Essay Coherency
Find out how to use pronouns to improve your coherency for IELTS task 2 essays.
Writing an IELTS Essay Conclusion
The IELTS essay conclusion is the final part of your IELTS essay. This lesson guides you on how to write a conclusion quickly but effectively.
Thesis Statement Tips for IELTS Essays
Your thesis statement in an IELTS essay should be written quickly and concisely. Use these tips to do that.
Generating ideas for IELTS essays for writing task 2
Generating ideas for IELTS essays for writing task 2 can be difficult but complex ideas are not expected.
Improving Writing Coherence for IELTS essays
25% of the writing grade is on how you organise your essay so this lesson shows you how to improve your writing coherence.
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How to Write an Introduction for IELTS Writing Task 2
Posted by David S. Wills | Jul 8, 2021 | IELTS Tips , Writing | 0
The following is an excerpt from my 2019 book, How to Write the Perfect Essay for IELTS . It is all about how to write an introduction to an essay and I felt it was important enough that I would include it here for everyone to read. If you want to see the rest of the book, you can find it on sale here .
Writing an Introduction
An essay’s introduction is incredibly important because it is the first thing that an examiner will read. In this short paragraph, you will attempt to address the topic and give a basic overview of your essay. If this is clear and relatively error-free, the examiner will be impressed and they may view the rest of your essay more favourably. Note that this is not a conscious decision and an examiner will always try to be fair. However, human nature is such that first impressions are important.
In our examples and rules above, I have explained the basics of writing an introduction. However, you might be wondering a few things:
- Do I always have to follow the same rules for writing an introduction?
- Will every essay require the same sort of introduction?
- Do I need to outline my essay in the introduction?
- Does each part of the introduction really require just one sentence?
- Is there an ideal number of words to write in an introduction?
The answer to all these is: NO. There are many possible ways to write a good introduction, and different teachers will tell you different things. What I have done so far is give you some helpful advice about writing essays. My advice is intended to give all IELTS students the best chance of scoring band 7.0 or higher by offering simple, practice advice, but there are different ways of writing a great essay.
Essentially, what you do need to do is:
- Introduce the topic.
- Assert a position and/or explain the purpose of your essay.
To do this, I think that the best way to write an introduction is to paraphrase the question and then write a thesis statement. Let’s look at these in detail.
Introducing the Topic
You should write one or two sentences at the very beginning of your essay that explain the topic. If you begin with a very general topic, you might need to write two sentences as the second one will focus on the key issue. Some teachers will tell you that you need to paraphrase the question, but while this can be helpful, it is not the best approach .
In Section II of this book, we talked about analysing the question. If you have fully analysed the question, then writing the first sentence of your essay should be pretty easy. You just need to find what the main idea is, and explain it. Let’s look at an example:
Some people say that now we can see films on our phones or tablets there is no need to go to the cinema. Others say that to be fully enjoyed, films need to be seen in a cinema. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.
My introduction to this essay would be:
In recent years, mobile technology has improved to the point that people can now watch movies in HD almost anywhere by using a phone or tablet. This development has caused some people to speculate that cinemas will soon be obsolete. However, this essay will argue against that viewpoint.
In analysing the question, I noted that it contained two contradictory statements:
- It is better to watch movies on a phone or tablet.
- It is better to watch movies in the cinema.
There is a more focused point hidden within the question:
There is no point in going to the cinema anymore.
My first sentence is extremely broad. I have started with a phrase (“in recent years”) that sets this topic within a time context then stated the main idea: the improvement of mobile technology has changed the way we view movies. Rather than make one very long, complicated sentence, I have added a shorter one that expands upon and qualifies my first. The second sentence focuses my essay by introducing item #3 from above. It states that because of these technological developments, there is no reason to go to the cinema. Essentially, my first two sentences say the same thing as the question. However, I have not exactly paraphrased it. I did not attempt to copy the question with new words. Instead, I let the idea of the question develop in my head, and then wrote down the general idea of it. I think that this is the best way to handle writing an introductory sentence.
Here’s a video about how to write a great first sentence:
Asserting a Position and/or Explaining the Purpose of the Essay
What do I mean by “asserting a position”? In Section II of this book, I talked about maintaining a clear position throughout the essay. This is important for scoring highly in Task Achievement . There are different perspectives on what this requires, with some people claiming that you only need to make your position clear in the conclusion. Others, however, say that it should be stated in the introduction. The safest and most sensible option is to state your position in the introduction, support it in the body paragraphs, and then reaffirm it in the conclusion.
Of course, not all questions require a position. Some of them just ask to explain something, like a problem and a solution. In this case, you would not need to give an opinion in the introduction. You should instead write one or two sentences announcing what you will do in the essay. In the guide to structures, I referred to these as “thesis statement” and “essay outline”. You don’t always need to give both, but they are good ways of scoring highly for Coherence and Cohesion because they help clarify the structure of your essay.
In my previous example, I only wrote “…this essay will argue against that viewpoint.” This is a sort of thesis statement. I could have expanded it to say, “The first paragraph will look at reasons why it appears that cinemas will become obsolete, while the second will explore the continued relevance of cinemas in the digital era.” This is an example of an essay outline . However, there is a slight problem with this sort of sentence. While it undoubtedly adds value to an essay, it also adds to the word count, and to the length of time taken to write an essay. It is important to finish your essay within 40 minutes and also to spend time checking for errors. As such, writing an extra sentence or two could cost additional time that could be spent elsewhere. If you struggle with finishing in time, you should probably write a shorter introduction and ensure that you finish the whole essay. Advanced students, who can easily finish in time and wish to improve their score to a band 8.0 or 9.0, would do well to consider incorporating essay outlines for an improved structure.
Another reason why we may choose to include a thesis statement or essay outline is that it improves the register of an essay. In other words, it makes it more formal . Whilst a question may ask for your opinion on an issue, writing “I think…” is less formal than writing “This essay will argue that…” By getting into the habit of writing this sort of sentence, you can reduce the number of personal pronouns and increase the formality of your essay, thereby improving its tone.
Here is an example from a problem and solution essay, which would not require a thesis statement, but would require an essay outline:
Despite the growing number of gyms and fitness centres, more and more people are leading a sedentary lifestyle in the modern society. What problems are associated with this? What solutions can you suggest?
In the twenty-first century, an unprecedented number of people are living sedentary lifestyles due to changes in our work and social habits. [DW1] This is a seriously dangerous phenomenon and greatly threatens our health and happiness. [DW2] This essay will look at the problems and solutions. [DW3]
I could have expanded it slightly:
In the twenty-first century, an unprecedented number of people are living sedentary lifestyles due to changes in our work and social habits. This is a seriously dangerous phenomenon and greatly threatens our health and happiness. This essay will first look at the problems and then explore some solutions.
By adding these small extra details, I am giving a slightly more advanced guide to the essay. However, the difference is pretty minimal. This is something to consider for people aiming to make improvements and score band 7.0 or higher.
[DW1] I have written a single sentence to introduce the topic, which essentially paraphrases the question.
[DW2] This sentence develops the idea further.
[DW3] Here, I outline in the most basic terms the function of the essay.
About The Author
David S. Wills
David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural Cambodia and loves to travel. He has worked as an IELTS tutor since 2010, has completed both TEFL and CELTA courses, and has a certificate from Cambridge for Teaching Writing. David has worked in many different countries, and for several years designed a writing course for the University of Worcester. In 2018, he wrote the popular IELTS handbook, Grammar for IELTS Writing and he has since written two other books about IELTS. His other IELTS website is called IELTS Teaching.
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IELTS Writing Tasks How to Write Task 2 Introductions
To score highly for IELTS writing tasks, you need to impress the examiner from the very first sentence. This lesson will show you how.
In it you’ll learn:
- Why the introduction is so important
- The 3 part structure
- 4 common mistakes to avoid
- How to write a great introduction
Want to watch and listen to this lesson?
Click on this video.
Why the Introduction is So Important
Beginning your IELTS writing tasks well will immediately start stacking up the marks for both Task Achievement and Coherence and Cohesion which together carry 50% of the marks.
A good introduction does several things:
- It gives an excellent first impression.
- It shows the examiner that you understand the question.
- It gives the examiner a brief overview of what you’ll cover in the rest of the essay.
- It focuses your thoughts and keeps you on track while writing.
The 3 Part Structure
A good introduction has a simple 3 part structure:
- Paraphrased question
This structure can be used for any type of question. It should:
- Have 2-3 sentences
- Be 40-60 words long
- Take 5 minutes to write
Before I show you how to write good introductions to Task 2 IELTS writing tasks, I want to flag up some common errors students make to help you avoid them.
4 Common Mistakes
# 1 not being specific enough.
It’s tempting to start your essay with a general statement about the topic of the question. Don’t do this. You need to be very specific. Here’s an illustration of a poor opening sentence.
Everybody should become a vegetarian because eating meat can cause serious health problems.
- To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Bad first sentence:
These days, many people are worried about their health and changing their diet is one way that they try to improve it.
This is not a question about health in general but one specifically about becoming a vegetarian for health reasons.
A good first sentence will paraphrase the question, that is, it will state the same information using different language and often, a different sentence structure as well.
We’ll be looking at paraphrasing and an example of a good first sentence later in this lesson.
# 2 Not writing a thesis statement
A thesis statement is a summary of the main idea of your essay. When the examiner reads it, they will instantly know whether or not you have understood the question correctly. It also acts as an outline for the rest of your essay.
This makes the thesis statement the most important sentence in your essay. If you get it right, you will have got off to the perfect start.
There’s an easy to remember formula for writing thesis statements which we’ll be studying below. For now, here’s an example relating to our sample question.
Thesis statement : This essay agrees that the world’s population should stop consuming meat due to the related health risks.
Note the use of synonyms to paraphrase the question.
# 3 Not stating your opinion
Task 2 IELTS writing tasks generally require you to give your opinion. Usually, this will be clearly stated in the question. For example, the instruction might say,
- Discuss both views and give your own opinion.
In other questions, it won’t be so clear that this is what you should do. For example,
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of tourism in the modern world?
However, your opinion – the main idea of your essay – is still required. If you always include it in the introduction, as well as throughout your essay, you won’t go wrong.
# 4 Using inappropriate language
For Task 2 essays, you must use formal language. Most students understand this.
However, many candidates make the mistake of trying to use clever or complex language to add interest or to show off their high-level language skills.
Keep tight control of your language. This is a very short essay and you don’t have the time or space to get carried away with elaborate words and phrases.
Get the information across quickly and succinctly using everyday language that includes topic words and their synonyms.
Most importantly, use the language correctly. The more complex you make it, the more errors you’re likely to make.
I show you how to write essay introductions for each of the 5 question types on their individual pages where I go into everything in much more detail.
Opinion Essays – Agree or Disagree
Problem Solution Essays + Causes & Solutions
Advantages & Disadvantages Essays
Double Question Essays
For the rest of this page, I’ll go through just one example to illustrate some of the points I’ve made.
How To Write a Great Introduction
Here’s a reminder of the 3 part structure you should use for all task 2 IELTS writing tasks.
Start your introduction by paraphrasing the question.
Some young people are leaving the countryside to live in cities and towns, leaving only old people in the countryside.
Do you think this is a positive or a negative development?
Paraphrased question: The migration of the younger generation to urban areas is leaving many rural locations populated predominantly by the elderly.
Note the use of synonyms for many of the keywords. For example,
- young people – younger generation
- countryside – rural locations
- cities and towns – urban areas
- leaving – migration
- old people – the elderly
You don’t have to replace them all but do so where possible without making the sentence sound awkward.
It’s fine to repeat one or two words. Don’t spend too much time trying to think of synonyms or use ones you are not 100% sure are correct.
The thesis statement states your opinion on the topic. In most instances, you simply need to decide whether to agree or disagree with it and to reiterate the main idea of the statement. For example,
Thesis statement: This essay argues that the loss of young people from the rural landscape has problematic consequences.
This thesis statement states the opinion of the writer and paraphrases the question again in a way that makes this view clear.
Finally in the introduction, you must outline the two main points that you’ll cover in the rest of the essay. This acts as a guide to the examiner and also helps to keep you focused and on track as you write.
Do it in one sentence, or you can add them onto the end of the thesis statement if appropriate.
Outline statement: The two most serious are, the depletion of the rural workforce and the loss of local education facilities.
These two ideas will become your two main body paragraphs.
- Main body paragraph 1 – the depletion of the rural workforce .
- Main body paragraph 2 – the loss of local education facilities.
The Finished Introduction
So now, let’s pull the whole introduction together.
The migration of the younger generation to urban areas is leaving many rural locations populated predominantly by the elderly. This essay argues that the loss of young people from the rural landscape has problematic consequences. The two most serious are, the depletion of the rural workforce and the loss of local education facilities.
These three sentences exactly follow the 3 part structure I showed you for creating introductions to task 2 IELTS writing tasks and also avoid the common mistakes I outlined above.
This short paragraph would be an excellent introduction to an essay on this topic.
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More help with ielts writing tasks.
IELTS Writing Test – Understand the format & marking criteria, know what skills are assessed & learn the difference between the Academic & General writing tests.
IELTS Writing Tips – Top 10 tips to bring you success in your writing test. Essential information you need to know to achieve a high score.
IELTS Writing Task 2 – T he format, the 5 question types, the 5 step essay writing strategy & sample questions. All the key information you need to know.
The 5 Types of Task 2 Essay – How to recognise the 5 different types of Task 2 essays. 15 sample questions to study and a simple planning structure for each essay type.
Understanding Task 2 Questions – How to quickly and easily analyse and understand IELTS Writing Task 2 questions.
How To Plan a Task 2 Essay – Discover why essay planning is essential & learn a simple 4 step strategy, the 4 part essay structure & 4 methods of generating ideas.
How To Write Task 2 Main Body Paragraphs – Learn the simple 3 part structure for writing great main body paragraphs and also, 3 common mistakes to avoid.
How To Write Task 2 Conclusions – Learn the easy way to write the perfect conclusion for a Task 2 essay. Also discover 4 common mistakes to avoid.
Task 2 Marking Criteria – Find out how to meet the marking criteria in Task 2. See examples of good and poor answers & learn some common mistakes to avoid.
The 5 Task 2 Essay Types:
Step-by-step instructions on how to plan & write high-level essays. Model answers & common mistakes to avoid.
Problem Solution Essays
Advantages & Disadvantages Essays
Double Question Essays
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How to write an agree/disagree essay for IELTS Writing Task 2
01 February 2023
This article was first published on WeLoveIELTS.org (this website is now closed)
Knowing how to write an agree or disagree essay is very important because if you get this type of task question in the test and you don't know how to approach it, you might not get a very high score. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
An agree/disagree question is very similar to the one above. Let’s look at two typical agree/disagree essay questions:
- Some people believe that nowadays we have too many choices. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
- Living in a country where you have to speak a foreign language can cause serious social problems as well as practical problems. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
Can you see how these are similar to my question at the beginning? Both include a statement (= a sentence expressing an opinion) and ask you to what extent (= how much) you agree or disagree with it.
OK, so what are you going to do first? Start writing? Absolutely not .
After you’ve carefully read the task question and understood the topic, the first thing to do is to ask yourself to what extent you agree or disagree with the statement. There are three possible cases:
- You agree completely
- You disagree completely
- You partially agree (which means you also partially disagree)
Next, ask yourself: ‘ Why do I think that?’ This is a very useful question because by answering it you will start generating ideas that you will then include in your essay.
How many ideas should you come up with? In all three cases the secret is that less is more, so I recommend having no more than four in total.
Let’s have a look at an example from Cambridge IELTS 11:
- Governments should spend money on railways rather than roads. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?
I’ve read the question and now I’m going to make some notes before I start writing. Here are my notes:
Partially agree - Both needs funding Why?
- Safety reasons
- Taxpayers expect government investment in both
Two main ideas. Now we have some direction and know where we are going with our essay. Should you now start writing? Not yet. You’ll need to develop these ideas, and the best way to do this is to give explanations, details, reasons and examples. Let’s add these to the notes.
- Safety reasons - Both roads and trains are widely used / all ages / need to be kept in good condition / if not, risk of crashes / example: Ponte Morandi collapse 2018 – Italy / lots of casualties / could have been avoided with more funding - maintenance / Trains are crowded at rush hour -> a railroad accident might be a terrible tragedy
- Taxpayers expect government investment in both - governments need to provide good services / citizens pay tax for this / example: train commuters pay to have efficient trains / if not – disruptions - late for work / same is true for road users / example: opening a new highway -> less traffic
Notice that I didn’t write full sentences but notes. Keep your full sentences for the essay! If you don’t do this brainstorming exercise before you start writing, the risk is that you’ll write whatever comes to your mind, and your essay will probably be confusing to read.
Top Tip: Think of how you’re going to structure your text. Keep life simple and always aim at four paragraphs: introduction, two body paragraphs and conclusion.
Two sentences are enough here. In the first sentence you should paraphrase the task question. In the second sentence say if you (partially) agree/disagree so you immediately let the reader know what you think.
Two main paragraphs
Why these paragraphs? A paragraph contains ideas about a single subject and using them will make your essay organised, structured and easy to read. When writing an agree/disagree essay there are, again, three possible options:
- You completely agree - First paragraph: reasons why you agree. 2nd paragraph: other reasons why you agree.
- You completely disagree - First paragraph: reasons why you disagree. 2nd paragraph: other reasons why you disagree.
- You partially agree - First paragraph: reasons why you agree. 2nd paragraph: reasons why you disagree.
Remember: it’s much better to have few well-developed ideas than a lot of poorly developed ones , so when you write the paragraphs make sure to give reasons, examples and details. All these must be relevant to the reason you agree/disagree.
Again, keep life simple and write one or two sentences only. You should briefly repeat and summarise your answer to the question. Don’t introduce information that you didn’t mention in your paragraphs before. We need a conclusion to conclude right? So, don’t introduce other reasons or topics at the end of your text.
- Read the topic of the question and make sure you understand it
- Ask yourself if you agree or not with the statement in the question
- Brainstorm ideas before you start righting
- State your opinion in the introduction
- Use four paragraphs
- Logically organise the main paragraphs (for example, one for reasons why you agree and the other for reasons why you disagree)
- Extend and develop your ideas with reasons, examples and explanations
- Write a short conclusion.
- Start writing immediately
- Include too many different ideas. Less is more!
- Introduce more information in the conclusion.
Hope this helps you with your writing. Good luck!
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IELTS Writing Task 2: Tips to Write an Effective Introduction
Updated On Oct 07, 2022
Limited-Time Offer : Access a FREE 10-Day IELTS Study Plan!
- 1.1 How to structure your introduction:
- 1.2.1 General statements aim to:
- 1.2.2 How to write a general statement?
- 1.3.1 What is the definition of thesis statement?
- 1.3.2 So, how to write a good thesis statement?
- 1.3.3 How does the thesis statement change with different types of question?
- 1.4 Sample thesis statements for 5 essay question types in IELTS Writing Task 2:
- 2.1 IELTS Essay Question:
- 2.2 Introduction:
- 2.3 IELTS examiner’s comment:
Many IELTS test candidates devote a lot of effort to practising their essay writing. The main goal of the IELTS writing module is to evaluate the test-takers’ writing abilities. Particularly taking into account the elements of vocabulary, grammar, spelling, and the capacity for writing. Success in the IELTS writing test relies heavily on essay writing.
Have you ever felt challenging to write an essay in IELTS Writing task 2?
All IELTS learners (even IELTS teachers) reckon that the most difficult part of writing is how to get started. Getting started, or writing an introductory paragraph, can be easy if you remember that an introduction has four purposes:
- Introduce the topic of the essay.
- Arouses the reader’s interest in the topic.
- Indicates the overall “plan” of the essay.
- Tells reader what the essay is about
In the IELTS writing exam, the examiners are not looking for the interesting introduction as it is not assessed in your IELTS essay. In other words, there is no difference between the fascinating introductions and boring ones in IELTS exam. In addition, time is another pressure for IELTS Writing. You have to do a lot of things in your essay for the IELTS writing within 40 minutes, for example, analysing the statement, planning your essay, and proofreading it when you have finished, so actually you just have about 35 minutes to write your essay. There is not enough time for you to worry about having “a hook” in an introduction.
Basically, the introduction has two parts:
- General statements
- A thesis statement
You should aim for around 50 words for the length of your essays.
How to structure your introduction:
- Your introduction should be 2- 3 sentences
- Sentence 1 -2 : General statement. Introduce the topic of the essay.
- Sentence 3: Thesis statement. Keep it clear, and get to the point. “ While I agree that governments and individuals are spending a significant amount of money on those celebrations, I would argue that this activity is necessary and therefore can be considered acceptable.”
Beer in mind that specific examples from your own experience shouldn’t be included in the introduction paragraph (instead the body paragraph).
General statements aim to:.
- introduce the topic of the essay
- give background information on the topic
How to write a general statement?
When it comes to writing a general statement, the first sentence in an introductory paragraph should be a very general comment about the subject. Each subsequent sentence should become more specific than the previous one and finally, lead into the thesis statement.
Make sure you do it by paraphrasing the statement of the question, which means you need to write it again with the same meaning but use your own words. This act helps you to increase your score in the IELTS writing test, for instance:
Question : In recent years some countries have experienced very rapid economic development . This has resulted in much higher standards of living in urban areas but not in the countryside. This situation may bring some problems for the country as a whole. What are these problems? How might they be reduced?
General Statement : It seems to be an increasingly widespread concern for the effects of urbanisation with the imbalance in living standards between the city and the outskirt.
Obviously, you can see in this example; the writer used the different vocabularies with the same meaning to introduce also give the background information on the topic.
What is the definition of thesis statement.
A thesis statement is usually a sentence to offer a concise summary of the main point or claim of your IELTS essays and follows the general statement. It is critically important in your IELTS writing task 2 because it is your answer or your opinion/point of view about the given topic in the Writing test. It will guide IELTS examiner what your essay is about and help keep your argument focused.
So don’t get it mixed up with the general statement which tells the reader what topic of your essay is at the beginning of your introduction.
So, how to write a good thesis statement?
There are a range of essay question types in IELTS Writing Task 2, namely:
- Opinion (Agree or Disagree)
- Discussion (Discuss both view)
- Advantages and Disadvantages
- Problem and Solution
- Two-part Question
The first thing we need to do is to identify which type of question it is and look at the action words. For example, in the question below the action words are ‘do you agree or disagree?’
Question: The government and individuals are spending too much money on national celebrations like new year or festivals. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
We, therefore, need to tell IELTS examiner clearly whether we agree or disagree, and this will influence our thesis statement. So, the thesis statement should be as follows:
People have different views about whether public expenditure on national occasions such as new year or festivals is too much nowadays. While I agree that governments and individuals are spending a significant amount of money on those celebrations, I would argue that this activity is necessary and therefore can be considered acceptable.
As can be seen, the above sentence makes it crystal clear to IELTS examiner what you think about the question. The rest of your IELTS essay will go on supporting this thesis statement.
How does the thesis statement change with different types of question?
We will now look at how thesis statements can vary with different question types. However, you should not try to learn set phrases or sentences to fit certain essays.
The golden rule is to always read the question very carefully and figure out what you have to do.
Your thesis statement will then follow on from this, depending on what you have decided you need to write about in order to answer the question.
Sample thesis statements for 5 essay question types in IELTS Writing Task 2:
- Opinion (Agree or Disagree) Topic: Too much emphasis is placed on going university for academic study. People should be encouraged to do vocational training, because there is a lack of qualified tradespeople such as electricians or plumbers. To what extent do you agree or disagree? Thesis statement: It goes without saying that society always needs a skilled workforce to function. Employees of different professions contribute differently to the thriving of the community, and therefore I disagree with the statement that vocational courses should be given any more weight than before.
- Discussion (Discuss both view) Topic: Some people prefer to spend their lives doing the same things and avoiding change. Others, however, think that change is always a good thing. Discuss both views and give your opinion Thesis statement: Many people show preference for repeating their daily routine while others always look for change as they believe change would bring more benefits. In my opinion, I would agree with the latter point of view.
- Advantages and Disadvantages Topic: Some people prefer to spend their lives doing the same things and avoiding change. Others, however, think that change is always a good thing. Discuss both views and give your opinion Thesis statement: Many people show preference for repeating their daily routine while others always look for change as they believe change would bring more benefits. In my opinion, I would agree with the latter point of view.
- Problem and Solution Topic: There is a general increase in anti-social behaviours and lack of respect for others. What are the causes and solutions? Thesis statement: The widespread problem of anti-social behaviours and disrespectful attitudes towards others has long been a major topic of concern in society. Some of the major culprits of this problem will be discussed before the most important solutions are drawn.
- Two-part Question Topic: Nowadays the way many people interact with each other has changed because of technology. In what ways has technology affected the types of personal relationships? Has this become a positive or negative development? Thesis statement: Rapid advances in technology have undoubtedly affected the way we interact in various ways. While some of this change can exert a negative impact on the way we communicate with each other, my view is that overall modern technology typically improves communication in personal relationships.
Below are two potential introductions with different thesis statements for IELTS essay question. Choose which one is better.
IELTS Essay Question:
Some people believe increasing business and cultural contacts between countries is a positive development while others argue that it is a threat to the identity of a nation? Discuss both views and give your opinion?
Intro 1: It is sometimes argued that increasing business and cultural contacts between countries are a positive development. I believe that the trend is a threat to identity a nation.
Intro 2: It is sometimes argued that increasing business and cultural contacts between countries is a positive development. Such positive elements include increased employment prospects, increased commerce, and increased multilateral harmony. However, I believe that this trend is a threat to the identity of a nation.
IELTS examiner’s comment:
Intro 2 is the better one. A better thesis statement (and an increase in coherence) would be to state what the reasons’ are. For example, sentence two could be “Such positive elements include increased employment prospects, increased commerce, and increased multilateral harmony.” Remember that a clear position throughout is a key feature of TR and a strong thesis statement is a great start to alert the examiner that you making your position very clear in the beginning. (notice that the above use of increased’ three times in this context is an effective writing technique)
I hope the tips mentioned above could help you to hike up your IELTS score in the IELTS writing test! Stay tune for the latest update on IELTS Material website.
Don’t forget to keep practicing to write an introduction to get yourself familiarized with the IELTS test and get the high score in IELTS.
You can also write your own introduction in the comment boxes below to receive feedback from us!
Also check :
- Tips to Improve IELTS Writing Skills
- IELTS Writing recent actual test
- IELTS Band 9 essays
- Advantage and Disadvantage Essays
- IELTS Writing Answer sheet
- IELTS map vocabulary
- IELTS Writing Task 1 Connectors
Practice IELTS Writing Task 2 based on Essay types
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Soon after graduating with a Master’s in Literature from Southern Arkansas University, she joined an institute as an English language trainer. She has had innumerous student interactions and has produced a couple of research papers on English language teaching. She soon found that non-native speakers struggled to meet the English language requirements set by foreign universities. It was when she decided to jump ship into IELTS training. From then on, she has been mentoring IELTS aspirants. She joined IELTSMaterial about a year ago, and her contributions have been exceptional. Her essay ideas and vocabulary have taken many students to a band 9.
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Posted on Jan 7, 2017
It seems that countries in the globe are enhancing their business and cultural interaction with each other. Although some people consider it a sinister to a nation identity, I think that it is a positive development. It will bring increased employment prospects, increased commerce, and increased bilateral harmony. In addition, this essay will also discuss how the identity of a nation can be kept safe with these activities by adopting some procedures.
Gurgaon city scape, gurgaon bptp.
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