Organizing Your Body Paragraphs in IELTS Writing Task 2
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
The body paragraphs are the most important part of your essay as this is where you earn most of your points.
After unveiling the secrets to writing a powerful introduction, are you now wondering how to organize the main ideas in your IELTS Writing Task 2 essay? In this article, I will give you a simple formula to structure your body paragraphs in order to score a Band 7 or above.
The body paragraphs are the most important part of your essay as this is where you earn most of your points. You present your most valuable ideas here. The Cohesion and Coherence metric of your essay is judged through your body paragraphs; therefore, you need to organize the paragraphs skillfully and effectively.
The Basic Elements of a Paragraph
Any good paragraph must have four basic elements:
This is the introductory sentence where you present the topic or focus of your paragraph. Using a clear sentence, you signal to the reader on what you will be discussing in detail in the rest of the paragraph and how it supports to your thesis. It provides unity and flow to your essay.
You need to support your topic sentence by providing more specific details. These details explain the reasons that you make the claim in your topic sentence and thesis and back it up with examples. The supporting details are the evidence to justify why your thesis is valid.
Transitions are essential in moving from one idea to the next. This can be a shift in ideas from one paragraph to the next, between sentences, or within individual sentences of a paragraph. Transitions help guide the reader in following the logic of your argument. They help achieve coherence (they are sometimes called cohesive devices for that reason), and they keep the essay together as a whole.
A well-developed paragraph is essentially complete with one central idea, adequately supported with two or more details, and a concluding sentence that sums it all up or ties it back to the thesis.
Organizing your Body Paragraphs
To score in Band 8 of Task Response (as per the IELTS rubric), an essay “presents a well-developed response to the question with relevant, extended and supported ideas.” To achieve this, your essay must be well-knit, consisting of ideas related to the question with strong supporting evidence. The paragraph must move from broad to specific information in a logical manner.
The first step to writing your essay is to generate ideas and explanations relevant to the prompt. If you haven’t already developed your thesis or written your introduction, figure out your thesis first (your most basic answer to the prompt), then brainstorm all the reasons for why you think your answer is right, noting down as many details and facts as you can.
Plan – One Idea, One Paragraph.
Next, plan your essay on how many ideas you would like to discuss. The number of ideas determines the number of body paragraphs you wish to write. Looking at all the reasons and ideas you wrote down, you will probably be able to group many of them into a few broad topics. It is always good to present just one main idea in a single paragraph (mostly, you may want to write just 2 or 3 body paragraphs, as you may not have time for more during the exam). For each topic you’ve generated, create a sentence that states the central theme of that idea clearly. This is your topic sentence for the body paragraph about that idea.
Explain Your Ideas
Having written your topic sentence, you need to expand the theme by explaining your idea. What does your idea mean? How does the idea answer your question? What is a reason why you think so? What is the result of the claim?
Use transition words and phrases like ‘because,’ ‘as a result,’ ‘consequently,’ etc.
Support with Specific Details
In the next part, you will add support to your topic sentence with specific examples. These could be in the form of facts, statistics, textual evidence, or experiences. One or two strong examples will suffice.
Being able to come up with example data quickly, especially in the middle of the exam, is the tricky part. If you are unable to think of examples, just make something up. You could put in any data, for instance, “As per the UN report ….” Your data does not have to be real (the examiner is not going to cross-check, they are focused on how well you write), but it does need to sound plausible. Also, remember to be specific, and do not generalize or go out of focus. Always keep your topic sentence and thesis in mind while writing.
It is not necessary to sum up your body paragraph with a concluding sentence. You will anyway be doing this in the concluding paragraph of your essay. However, a closure that leads the way to the next paragraph gives it completeness.
Example body paragraphs
Now that we understand the structure, let’s look at an example.
Let’s use this IELTS prompt:
Education, from preschool through university, should be paid for by the government and therefore free to students. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Thesis statement: I agree that education through university should be paid for by the government because it will make education affordable and reduce disparity in society.
Body Paragraph 1
Make education affordable
Education is expensive
People don’t have the resources
Youth have to work to support the cost of their university education
Body Paragraph 2
Main idea: Alleviate disparity in society
Differences in private vs public schools
Benefit the society
Now that we have brainstormed and planned the structure, we can start writing. Each main body paragraph should be around 75-100 words long.
First, government aid can make higher education affordable because education is expensive. Many universities have a high fee structure that students cannot pay, so they give up on their studies. As per a study done by The Southern Education Foundation, 20% of the population in the U.S. are from the low-income group, and young students from these families tend to drop out of school or are forced to take up part-time jobs to support their education. So, if a career-oriented education is supported by the government, the youth will be able to continue their studies.
The paragraph can easily be broken down into a four-sentence structure – topic sentence, explanation, example, conclusion – in order. We can similarly develop the next body paragraph.
To sum up, here are a few quick points to remember:
Avoid too many ideas in one paragraph
Follow a logical order within the paragraph and the essay
Use cohesive devices to link the sentences and paragraphs
Relate supporting details to the main idea
Leave a line between paragraphs to show a fresh idea is coming up
Most importantly, plan your time; your paragraphs should be of approximately equal length. Most test takers tend to write a lot in the first body paragraph and are left with no time for the next paragraph and conclusion.
Finally, remember each prompt will require you to structure your ideas a little bit differently, but all the essays can have similar paragraphing. I hope these tips were helpful and will enable you to create strong and well-developed body paragraphs, so you can reach Band 7 or higher!
Do you have any questions about body paragraphs? If so, please comment below!
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