Archive Lessons Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

For upgraded material, please go to our new, more complete Topic Sentences Guide.

For the old lesson, continue reading.

It doesn’t matter if you are doing IELTS General Training Writing Task 2 or Academic Writing Task 2, you need to write clear and concise topic sentences so the reader knows what each paragraph is about. If you can do this effectively it will benefit your Coherence and Cohesion band score.

What is a Topic Sentence?

  1. A topic sentence is usually the first sentence of a body paragraph.
  2. A topic sentence tells the reader what the paragraph is about.
  3. The following sentences in the paragraph will provide examples and supporting ideas related to the topic sentence.
  4. A topic sentence is related to your thesis (the position/opinion you presented in the introduction).

So, how should I write a topic sentence?

Use ‘is’, ‘might be’, ‘could be’ + noun phrase / noun clause to write a topic sentence.
Click here for more on complex noun phrases.

Look at the examples below.

Examples: 

advantage / free higher education

One of the advantages of free higher education is that it allows poorer people to study.
 
‘that it allows people to study’ – this is a noun clause. It is introduced by the word ‘that’. This is an example of complex language and will benefit your Grammatical Range and Accuracy (GRA) band score.

effect / global warming

One of the effects of global warming might be a large rise in sea levels which could cause problems for coastal communities.
 
The underlined relative clause provides more specific information and suggests the paragraph will focus on coastal communities.

cause / rising food prices

A likely cause of rising food prices is that the global population is growing but the amount of food produced is not increasing at the same pace.

​Now try and write topic sentences from the prompts below, then compare your sentences with ours.
1. advantage / online shopping


​An advantage of online shopping could be that it is very convenient, particularly for people who are very busy.
2. disadvantage / being famous


​These days a major disadvantage of being famous is that privacy is reduced because the media want to cover all aspects of celebrities’ lives.
3. effect / high cost of petrol


One of the possible effects of the high cost of petrol could be that food prices might rise.
4. solution / problem / heavy traffic in cities


A solution to the problem of heavy traffic in cities today might be for the government to introduce a fee for driving in city centers at busy times of the day.
5. negative effect / children watching TV


A negative effect of children watching TV is that they are becoming less active than they were in the past and this is bad for their health. 
6. cause / falling numbers / fish


​The biggest cause of falling numbers of fish in the world’s oceans is over-fishing.
7. benefit / school sports


A benefit of school sports is that even children who are very inactive at home will get some exercise in school and so be healthier.
8. advantage / online learning


​One advantage of online learning is that people who are working can study at a time which suits them.

Now that you can write topic sentences, you should practice what you have learned by using them when you write your task 2 responses.

If you want some free feedback, write a response to the following question and then copy and paste your response into the comments section and we’ll get back to you when we can. Remember to write at least 250 words but don’t take longer than 40 minutes.

Question:
Some people think more money should be spent on protecting endangered wildlife while others think it is a waste of valuable money.

What is your opinion?


If you feel like you need more practice, we have another detailed interactive lesson on topic sentences here.