Writing Task 2 | Essay Structure Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

In this class you will learn to write an effective introduction paragraph. Follow the steps and suggestions in order to improve your task achievement band score.

Exercise 1

You cannot write an effective introduction unless you understand what is expected from an introduction.
Below are two paragraphs describing the purpose of an IELTS writing task 2 introduction. Choose the paragraph which you feel best describes an introduction for an IELTS writing task 2.
A The purpose of an IELTS writing task 2 introduction is to; first, specify the topic of the essay; second, to give some background information about the topic; third, provide a rationale for why the topic is important; and finally, to provide a thesis statement. This is a statement which occurs at the end of the introduction and contains the writer’s opinion about the topic of the essay. The thesis statement should be fairly specific and suggest the structure of the essay. The writing style should be semi-formal or formal. Ideally, the introduction should be between 4 and 6 sentences long. After reading the introduction the reader should have a clear idea of the topic and opinion of the writer.
B The purpose of an IELTS writing task 2 introduction is to first specify the topic of the essay for the reader and then to provide a thesis statement. This is a statement which occurs at the end of the introduction and contains the writer’s opinion about the topic of the essay. The thesis statement can be fairly general and need not contain any detail. The writing style of the introduction should be semi-formal or formal. Ideally, the introduction should be two or three sentences long. After reading the introduction the reader should have a clear idea of the topic and opinion of the writer.
Which paragraph is correct? Find out here
Option A describes an introduction that would be more appropriate for an undergraduate essay at university. This type of introduction typically contains much more information than is necessary in a short IELTS task 2 essay.

Option B describes the ideal IELTS writing task 2 introduction.


Exercise 2

Before you write your introduction, you must analyse the question so that you understand what you have to write about.

​A very common error that people make is that they do not analyse the question or instructions and so they write about the wrong topic or they misunderstand the instructions, resulting in a reduced band score for task achievement.

Read the following IELTS writing task 2 questions. Choose the most appropriate statement about the structure of the essay based on the instructions.

Read the following IELTS writing task 2 question.
Some people believe that it is better for children to begin learning a foreign language at primary school rather than at secondary school.

​Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?

Before you write your introduction, you must decide on your position (opinion) because it must be included in an opinion essay.

​There are three possible positions that you may have.
  1. The advantages are greater than the disadvantages
  2. The disadvantages are greater than the advantages
  3. There are both advantages and disadvantages and neither is greater


Exercise 3

Below is the introduction. What is the function of each sentence?
1 There is a great deal of debate concerning the most appropriate stage in a child’s education to begin studying a foreign language. 2 Personally, I believe that students should receive foreign language tuition from primary school onwards as this has many advantages.
Language Note
  • Note that the writer doesn’t copy the vocabulary or structure from the question. The writer correctly identifies that the topic of the question is “the appropriate stage in a child’s education to begin studying a foreign language” and so states this. Many IELTS candidates try and think of synonyms for words in the question and copy the question statement but insert synonyms. This often results in very unnatural and often incorrect sentences.
  • Note that the writer introduces their opinion with the phrase “Personally, I believe that...” this is a good semi-formal opinion phrase that you can use in opinion essays.
  • Note that the writer uses the word “advantages” to directly link with and answer the question in their thesis statement.


Exercise 4

Study the following question.
Some students struggle to learn a foreign language while they are at school.

What problems does this cause?


​What solutions can you suggest?


​​Now read the following introduction paragraph and decide if the statements are true or false.
Some young people leave school without having acquired a foreign language. As a result, they may struggle to get into universities or get good jobs, however, there are possible solutions for these problems.
Structure Note
These are the two introduction paragraphs we have looked at in this class.
Advantages/Disadvantages Essay Introduction
​There is a great deal of debate concerning the most appropriate stage in a child’s education to begin studying a foreign language.
Personally, I believe that students should receive foreign language tuition from primary school onwards as this has many advantages.
Problem/Solution Essay introduction
Some young people leave school without having acquired a foreign language. As a result, they may struggle to get into universities or get good jobs, however, there are possible solutions for these problems.
Although these introduction paragraphs may seem simple, this is all you need to write for the introduction to achieve a top band. Many students think that an introduction paragraph needs to be complex, but because you don't have much time in the test, it is better to be short, direct and clear. Two sentences is enough.
Well done! You can go here for more Introduction Paragraph practice...

...or continue to the next lesson that looks at how to write a body paragraph.
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