You know how to write a good introduction with a thesis statement. Now, let’s look at writing strong topic sentences to improve your body paragraphs.
It is clear that for the majority of people around the world living standards are at their highest level ever, however, there are those whose standard of living has been negatively affected by scientific development.
Over the past few centuries there has been a rapid improvement in technology and science which has led to a radical change in living standards around the world.
Exercise 2 | Introduction Analysis
True or False
- The first sentence of the essay must state the topic.
- You can use a few words from the question. Often key words such as living standards don’t have synonyms and so must be used. Candidates often try to paraphrase everything in the question and this creates unusual sentences that often fail to give the real topic of the essay. Don’t be afraid to use some of the keywords from the question.
- If you copy more than a few words from the question, then the examiner will delete them from the essay. This will affect the word count and coherence of your essay. Only use one or two keywords from the question.
- The use of the word ‘however’ shows that the writer wants to show a contrast in this essay. Both agreement and disagreement will be shown.
- There will be two body paragraphs. The second sentence of the introduction the thesis statement shows us this. If the writer wanted to write a third paragraph, then he or she would have to mention the topic of it here at the end of the thesis statement.
- This is mentioned in the first part of the thesis statement (for the majority of people around the world living standards are at their highest level ever) and so will be the first body paragraph
- This is mentioned in the second part of the thesis statement (there are those whose standard of living has been negatively affected by scientific development) and so it will be the second body paragraph.
A well written paragraph should have one main topic. The first sentence of a body paragraph should start with a sentence that tells the reader the topic of the paragraph. We call this a topic sentence.
A topic sentence should…
- clearly and simply state the topic of the paragraph
- use vocabulary from the thesis statement and keywords from the question to further build cohesion within your essay.
- be too long
- contain argument or examples.
Exercise 3 | Topic Sentence Examples
Body Paragraph 1 Topic Sentence
- a) This is the best answer as it matches the statement in the thesis statement and it uses the key phrase ‘living standards’.
- b) This is a poor topic sentence because it includes an example. Supporting ideas and examples should follow the topic sentence.
- c) This sentence does not follow the structure indicated in the thesis statement in the introduction. The thesis indicates that the first body paragraph will be about people who enjoy a higher living standard than in the past. This sentence also fails to use the key vocabulary - the topic of the essay – living standards.
Body Paragraph 2 Topic Sentence
- a) This sentence is about the wrong topic! The thesis statement indicates that the second body paragraph should be about people who don’t have a better standard of living than in the past.
- b) This topic sentence is clear and short. The use of ‘On the other hand’ shows the reader that the content of the paragraph contrasts with the topic of the previous paragraph. The examiner will be looking for these linking phrases. Correct use of linking phrases will boost your score for coherence and cohesion.
- c) This sentence is too long and contains too many ideas. The three supporting ideas should form the content of the body paragraph. Many IELTS candidates think that all the sentences in an essay must be long and complex but this is not true. A topic sentence should be clear and simple to understand.
To what extent do you agree or disagree?
The best way to improve your writing is by practicing so try and use what you have read here next time you write an essay. If you need some help with your writing email IELTStutors.org to get personalised IELTS writing feedback that will help you to achieve your goals.
If you have any questions or tips that you would like to share then please leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
Type 1 - Give your Opinion
- To what extent do you agree?
- Do you agree?
- Do the advantages outweigh the disadvantages?
- Is it a positive or negative phenomenon?
Body Paragraph 1
Body Paragraph 2
Note: If you have more ideas and write fast then it is possible to have more than 2 body paragraphs.
Let's have a look at an example:
First of all, certain types of programs can have a harmful effect on children’s emotional and behavioural development. Police stories and action movies, for example, often contain a great deal of violence. People are beaten up and killed with guns, knives and even cars. Seeing this, some children might think that these things could easily happen to themselves at any time and therefore become frightened. Moreover, some might begin to think that violence is a normal, acceptable form of behaviour because they see it so often on television. As a result, they may become aggressive and may hurt both themselves and their playmates.
Second, television can impair children’s reading ability. Reading requires skills and brain processes that watching television does not. If children watch television for too many hours each day, they do not have the chance to practice the skills that they need in order to learn how to read.
Finally, television may impact on children’s schoolwork in other ways. If they spend too much time watching television, they may get behind in their homework. In addition, if they stay up to watch a late night movie, they may fall asleep in class the next day. Consequently, they will not learn their lessons and they could even fail in school.
To summarize, if children watch too much television or watch the wrong programs, their personalities can be harmed. Furthermore, their progress in school can be affected. It is vital, therefore, that parents should find out what programs their children are watching and take appropriate steps to counteract any harmful effects. This should include turning off the television so that their children will study.
Second, television can impair children’s reading ability.
Finally, television may impact on children’s schoolwork in other ways.
It is vital, therefore, that parents should find out what programs their children are watching and take appropriate steps to counteract any harmful effects. This should include turning off the television so that their children will study.
Give your opinion with a concession paragraph
Concession Paragraph (not your opinion)
Your opinion Paragraph
One of the main arguments in favour of television is the role it can play in educating children. For example, programs broadcast on channels such as Cbeebies and BabyTV, which are dedicated to pre-school education, can help young children learn to speak, count and read and are very popular. Although educational programs may be beneficial I think that it is better to educate children through books or, these days, through interactive computer games designed for the purpose. Both of these examples are more active and encourage deeper use of cognitive abilities than passively watching the TV.
A major cause of concern among parents is the amount of violence on television. Even so-called “children’s entertainment” programs frequently involve battles between the “goodies” and the “baddies”. This has a very harmful effect on children’s moral, social and behavioural development, because it teaches them to label people as “good” or “bad” and condones the use of violence as a way of resolving disagreements. Such programs simply encourage hatred and aggression instead of promoting tolerance and conciliation. The danger is even greater if children watch violent programs that are meant for adults, such as crime stories, action movies and the like.
Another danger with television is the impact of advertising. Children are bombarded with advertisements for snacks and toys. As a result, they are likely to demand a diet of junk foods high in MSG, and clamour for toys which their parents cannot afford to buy.
In conclusion, certain television programs are beneficial for children while many others are harmful. It is vital, therefore, that parents supervise their children when watching television and take appropriate steps to counteract any harmful effects.
In my opinion, the effect of television is at best neutral and often negative...
Then adds: Although educational programs may be beneficial I think that it is better to educate children through books...
The first argument is against the writer's opinion, so it is a concession.
Write a response to the question below. If you would like some free feedback, copy and paste your essay into the comments section below, and we'll get back to you with our ideas. Happy writing!
Some people think the government are responsible for the rise in childhood obesity, while others think it is the fault of the parents.
Discuss both sides and give your opinion.
The next post on Writing Task 2 'Types of Task' is about how to structure an essay to describing a problem and its solutions. Follow the link to keep studying.
- introduces the general topic.
- introduces the specific topic.
- gives the writer’s position.
- tells us how many paragraphs / main ideas there are (optional).
IELTSTutors Body Paragraph Advice
- Make sure you plan the essay before you write anything. In the test you can plan your essay on the question paper. Note down your main ideas and the supporting reasons for them.
- Every paragraph should contain one main idea relating to the position (opinion) you gave in the introduction.
- You should have no more than three body paragraphs in your IELTS Writing Task 2 essay because you don’t have time to write more. Usually 2 body paragraphs will be enough.
- Start your body paragraph by giving an idea which relates to the position (opinion) you gave in the introduction. This sentence is called a topic sentence because it tells the reader the topic of the paragraph.
- After you give the topic sentence you need to give supporting examples. These could be from personal experience or from things that you have read or seen.
An IELTS Body Paragraph Example
Look at the example below.
Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?
This is our introduction and first paragraph model answer:
The first reason is that children learn and remember new words more easily at a young age than when they are older. As a teacher I notice my young students have much better memories for new words than older students even though they often struggle to understand the complex rules of grammar which the older students are better able to cope with. Studies have been done which support this and show children who start studying a second language at elementary school absorb new words much faster than older students and in the long term are more likely to achieve a higher level in the second language than students who only start studying a second language at high school. However, these studies also suggest that complex grammar should be left until students are older and more able to deal with such complex concepts.
Common IELTS Paragraph Mistakes
- There is no clear break in the essay. You should leave a line between two paragraphs.
- There is no clear main topic for the paragraph. People sometimes try and cover more than one main idea per paragraph. This can be confusing for the reader.
- There is no topic sentence at the start of the paragraph.
- Sentences do not follow on from each other logically.
- There is no use of discourse markers such as ‘for example’, ‘for instance’ or ‘such as’ to introduce examples or ‘however’, although’ or ‘though’ to demonstrate contradiction.
- Some of the information in the paragraph does not relate to the main idea of the paragraph and so is pointless.
- There is not enough supporting evidence for the writer’s main idea.
- People who don’t plan their essay often write too much in the first body paragraph and then not enough for the second body paragraph because they run out of time – plan your essay first!
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About The IELTS Test
Academic Writing Task 1
Academic Writing Task 2
Cause And Effect
Coherence And Cohesion
Complete The Notes
Complete The Table
Frequently Asked Questions
General Training Reading
General Writing Task 1
General Writing Task 2
Listening Section 1
Listening Section 2
Listening Section 3
Listening Section 4
Problem Solution Essay
Speaking Part 1
Speaking Part 2
Speaking Part 3
True / False / Not Given