The Secrets to Writing a Powerful Introduction for IELTS Writing Task 2
Updated: Aug 30, 2020
Discover what are the three essential parts you need to create a strong first impression.
Are you worried about creating a great first impression in IELTS Writing Task 2? Put your worries aside! In this article, I will reveal my secrets on how you can write a powerful introduction and increase your chances of getting a Band 8.
Like every essay, the IELTS writing task requires a structure--an introduction, body, and conclusion. While the introduction is not the most important part of the essay, it functions as the reader’s guide to the rest of your essay. In your opening sentences, you should be revealing what you plan to say in the body, and what your conclusion is.
Anatomy of an Introduction
Your introduction should have three major parts:
Opening Statement (Hook)
This is where you try to capture the reader’s attention and pull them into wanting to read the rest of your essay. It should be related to the prompt and will start to establish the context for your essay and argument. For IELTS essays, the hook is not compulsory, but it does add to a great introduction.
After the opening statement, give more contextual information that will help the reader understand your thesis.
This is the most important part of your essay, because it tells the reader what the essay is all about. The thesis makes a claim or argument that the rest of the essay will support.
How to Think about Crafting an Introduction
When you read the prompt, you will immediately start thinking about your answer to the question. What might end up happening is that you start building your introduction backwards, from the end to the beginning. Here’s how that works:
Develop an Opinion
Many IELTS prompts will present an issue and ask you what your opinion is on that issue. Your simplest answer to the prompt forms your thesis. This is the most important part of your introduction, because it establishes your position. This can be a very direct reformulation of the prompt, such as “I agree that…”, “I disagree with the idea that…” or “There are several advantages to…”. However, this can be tweaked into something less obvious, like “This idea is incorrect because…”. What is important is that you take a clear stance in your essay with respect to the prompt. It should be evident in your thesis statement and be carried through the rest of your essay.
In order to write an essay responding to a particular prompt, you need to understand the task’s topic and paraphrase it. Paraphrasing means interpreting and rephrasing the topic in your own words. A good way to start thinking about what to say in your essay is to brainstorm vocabulary related to the topic. You want to think of the ideas, views, and main points that you are going to elaborate on in the body paragraphs. For the introduction, you should be supporting your opinion with two or three main points. Write down quick ideas that answer these questions:
What is the prompt talking about?
What do I know about this topic?
Why is my opinion what it is, or what information leads me to form my position?
Having these keywords can not only help you build your introduction, but also give you ideas about what to discuss in the rest of your essay.
Often times introductions will start very broad and quickly get narrow in order to give enough context to the reader for the thesis to make sense. You might start off with a general fact about the issue presented in the prompt, then you can use the keywords you came up with to give the reader the necessary background information. After giving the background, then you can write down your thesis—and your introduction is done!
Let's dive into an example! Here is an 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?
Before you start writing, plan your essay. Have a clear idea of your thesis. Think about the number of body paragraphs you will need in order to support your thesis. Following the steps in the previous section will help you outline not only your introduction, but your entire essay.
For this example, I have to decide if I agree or disagree with the statement. I might also not agree or disagree completely, but then I would have to justify I feel that way within my essay. After reading the prompt, my opinion is ‘The government should make education free up to university level.’ And there’s the core of my thesis statement!
Next, I have to explain why I agree. I can think of two main reasons why I feel this way:
a) Education has become expensive, so government aid will make it affordable
b) government-funded education will curb the excess payments that some schools demand in addition to the regulated admission fee (this is called capitation, and is a big scam that some schools in India run).
Now that I have my thesis and the main points that I want to cover, I can start writing. An effective introduction for a short essay is about two or three sentences in length, or around 50 – 60 words.
Keeping in mind the time given to write your essay (40 minutes), which includes planning and proofreading, you will have approximately 25 minutes to write your essay. Out of those 25 minutes, spend the least amount of time in writing the introduction.
A Minimal Introduction
If you fall short on ideas or time, a single-line introduction comprised of just your thesis will be enough to make your position clear and give the rest of your essay its purpose.
I agree with this statement because it will make education affordable and curb capitation.
Having only your thesis as the introduction, though, may just give you a maximum score of Band 6.
A Better Introduction
If you wish to score 7 and above, it is good to write at least a short two-sentence introduction containing some background information and the thesis.
Education from the basic level all the way up to university has become expensive, but government aid can alleviate that problem; moreover, free education will curb excessive capitation in the name of admission fees. I agree that education through university should be paid for by the government because it will make education affordable and curb capitation.
These statements paraphrase the topic and show reader your ideas and opinion explicitly.
A Good Introduction
To form a really solid introduction, let’s add a hook to the background information and thesis:
Education has been internationally established as a basic human right around the world and is important for a successful society. Although education from the basic level all the way up to university has become expensive, government aid can alleviate that problem; moreover, free education will curb excessive capitation in the name of admission fees. I agree that education through university should be paid for by the government because it will make education affordable and curb capitation.
Remember, IELTS is not judging how creative you are or how interesting your opening lines are. They are more focused on how good your English grammar is, how effectively you use your vocabulary, and how well you organize your writing. Therefore, make sure that your opening sentences dive directly into the question and are solidly supported by the body paragraphs and conclusion of your essay. A strong, well thought-out introduction is a great way to start a clear and effective IELTS essay!
Do you have any questions? Or would like to share your own thoughts about writing a powerful introduction? If so, please comment below!
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