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?
What is a Thesis Statement?
- tells the reader your opinion about the subject of the question.
- may also give the reader information about the organization of the essay.
- is the final sentence of the introduction.
Exercise 1 | Organize the introduction
To what extent do you agree or disagree?
It is clear that classroom teaching is still important in educating young people as it provides a different type of education to the material that they encounter online or on the TV.
The youth of today are not just educated in the traditional classroom setting, but also in more modern and less conventional ways by the internet and television.
- The first sentence of the introduction paraphrases the information in the question. The words internet and television don’t have synonyms and so they are not paraphrased.
- The thesis statement logically follows on from the introduction sentence as it provides the writers opinion about the question and topic.
- Notice how the first sentence of the introduction is very general while the thesis statement directly answers the question. This is typical in academic writing which follows the pattern of general to specific information.
Exercise 2 | More Practice
Why is this happening? What will be the effects on families and society?
While people often used to spend time eating with their family in the past, in recent times this tradition has broken down.
This is happening due to changes in lifestyle and culture, and, unfortunately, is unlikely to have a positive effect.
- The thesis statement suggests that the topic of the first body paragraph will be about lifestyle and cultural changes that have resulted in families not eating together. It then suggests that the second body paragraph will be about the negative effects of families not eating together.
Exercise 3 | A look in more detail
To what extent do you agree or disagree.
There is often debate about the relevance of traditional arts subjects in the school curriculum when computing and business skills are so important in the world of work. However, I strongly believe that the arts are a valid part of school education as they provide students with a chance to express themselves and also because a school education is about more than preparing young people for work.
Are the following statements about the introduction true or false?
- The first sentence of the introduction tells the reader the topic of the essay.
- Key words and phrases such as ‘relevance’ ‘arts subjects’ and ‘computing and business skills’ are used to make the topic clear to the reader.
- The writer limits himself to ‘arts subjects’ and ‘computer and business skills’.
- ‘However’ and ‘on the other hand’ are good phrases to introduce contrasting ideas in your writing.
- The first idea mentioned in the thesis statement is that the arts provide students with a chance to express themselves. This will logically be the topic of the first body paragraph.
- The second idea mentioned in the thesis statement is that school education is about more than preparing young people for work. As this is the second idea mentioned in the thesis statement, it is logical that this will be the topic of the second body paragraph.
Now move on to our lesson about how to write good paragraph topic sentences.
Follow our other lesson for more introduction writing practice.
In order to get a band 7+, the first line of your introduction must give the reader the basic information about the data, process or map.
The best way to start the introduction is to paraphrase (write in your own way) the information in the rubric (the statement written on the question paper).
In this class we are going to:
- Learn to paraphrase the rubric for task 1
- Learn synonyms for commonly occurring words in task 1 rubric
How do I paraphrase the information about the graph?
‘The graph below shows population figures for India and China since the year 2000 and predicted population growth up until 2050.’
‘The graph illustrates how the populations of India and China have changed from 2000 and how they will continue to grow up to 2050.’
- Instead of ‘shows’, the verb ‘illustrates’ is used.
- Instead of ‘population figures’, ‘population’ is used.
- Instead of ‘since’, ‘from’ is used.
- Instead of ‘predicted’, ‘will’ is used to show prediction.
Some phrases such as ‘India and China’ and the dates ‘2000’ and ‘2050’ cannot be changed. It is fine to keep these key words the same.
Match the synonyms
|The graphs above give information about computer ownership as a percentage of the population between 2002 and 2010.|
The provide concerning the of the population who owned computers an 8-year period.
|The line graph below shows changes in the amount and type of fast food consumed by Australian teenagers from 1975 to 2000.|
The chart the in the type and of fast food which was by Australian teenagers in the last quarter of the 20th century.
|The first diagram shows how cement is produced. The second diagram shows the production of concrete.|
The two diagrams reveal the industrial by which cement and concrete are .
|The graph shows the average number of hours worked by single parents per week in 3 European countries over a 10 year period.|
The chart the workload in hours per week of single parents in a number of European countries over a .
|The tables show the amount of Fairtrade-labelled tomatoes and tea imported into 5 European countries in 2000 and 2008.|
|5.||The the of fair-trade tomato and tea imported to certain European countries in two separate years.|
can be used instead of giving a list or number of countries.
…the process by which ____ is produced
can be used to introduce what is produced in a process diagram
…in two separate years
can be used when the graph/chart/table has data on two different years
Practice using this language next time you write your paraphrase for your writing task 1. Want to find out more about how to write a high band task 1 essay?Check out more of our articles on this topic!
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About The IELTS Test
Academic Writing Task 1
Academic Writing Task 2
Band 7 Grammar
Cause And Effect
Coherence And Cohesion
Complete The Notes
Complete The Table
Data And Figures
Frequently Asked Questions
General Training Reading
General Writing Task 1
General Writing Task 2
Grammatical Range And Accuracy
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