In the IELTS writing test Task - 2, you are expected to write an essay in about 250 words, in response to a certain point of view, a problem, or an argument. The duration to complete the writing task is 40 minutes.
First, let us understand what an essay is for the purpose of the IELTS writing test Task - 2. An essay is a piece of non-fictional writing that is designed to present an idea, develop an argument, express a point of view, and so on. As you are aware, most pieces of writing require more than one paragraph. Mastering the art of writing paragraphs is essential for success in any form of writing, whether it is an email, a report, a newspaper article, or an IELTS essay. In these longer pieces of writing, each paragraph generally introduces a new idea to develop the central theme. Needless to say, the division into paragraphs aids readability and prevents monotony as it provides a physical break on the page. It is important to remember if you do not have appropriate paragraphing in the essay, you are penalised.
A paragraph is unified by a central, controlling idea or theme. This idea or theme is called the topic of the paragraph and can be expressed at someplace in the paragraph by one (or two sentences), by the topic sentence. You can write the topic sentence as a statement, a problem, or even a question. This topic sentence can be at the beginning of, middle, or end of a paragraph. If one is a proficient writer, there may not be an overt topic sentence at all, it may be implied in the paragraph. However, most topic sentences are found at the beginning of a paragraph.
After you have gathered your thoughts and have started writing your paragraph, see that every sentence contributes to the central idea, which is contained in the topic sentence. Only then your paragraph will have unity. To maintain unity in the paragraph, you need to remember that other than the topic sentence and supporting details (the sentences that support the topic sentence) it should be coherent. In a coherent paragraph, you as a writer must take the reader logically and smoothly from one idea to the next. The reader must clearly recognise that each sentence logically leads to the next.
Another technique in the IELTS writing test Task - 2, that brings about coherence in a paragraph is the use of cohesive devices between sentences or at the beginning of sentences. These words/phrases will help you as a writer to move smoothly from one sentence to the next and show a logical relationship between sentences.
The following list includes words and phrases that function as cohesive devices or linkers:
- To give examples: for example, for instance, as an illustration
- To express sequence: first, second, third, then, next, finally
- To express addition: moreover, furthermore, also, besides, in addition
- To express comparison: similarly, likewise, whereas
- To express contrast: however, nevertheless, on the other hand
To develop the central theme of a paragraph for the IELTS writing test Task - 2, you have to expand the idea contained in the topic sentence. This you can do by adding more information, explanation, examples, etc. Giving examples is one of the simplest ways of developing a topic. When you give examples, you help the reader understand a rather difficult and abstract generalization that may be contained in the topic sentence. You are also able to persuade the reader that the generalization is correct because there are examples to support it. Examples also add to the reader’s interest. Besides using illustration to develop the topic of your paragraph, you may in some cases need to use the technique of cause and effect. You may, for instance, be asked to write about the causes of and the effects or consequences of taking drugs, deforestation, noise pollution, etc.
So far you have seen ways of developing paragraphs that deal only with one topic. Sometimes a topic can be developed by showing how two things are alike or different, i.e.by showing comparison and contrast.
Generally, two items are compared for three basic purposes:
i) To point out distinctions in order to give information about the two things. ii) To clarify the unfamiliar by comparing it with the familiar.
iii)To show the superiority of one thing over another, for example, a comparison between two television sets.
There are two ways of arranging information when comparing or contrasting things. One is to write down all the main points about one of the things to be compared or contrasted in a paragraph and then to use the next paragraph to write about the other thing. The other way is to take each point in turn and to compare the two things in respect of each point.
Finally, any writing can only be impactful if there is a range of vocabulary used with correct grammar. So, be a ‘word collector’ and ‘word seeker’. This can only happen if you read regularly and listen to English programmes. Also write at least a paragraph every day. Remember the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary is practice.
For more tips on IELTS writing test Task – 2, click here to refer to the IELTS assessment criteria