A topic sentence is, like the name suggests, there to introduce the topic of the paragraph. Your topic sentence should be simple so it’s easy for your reader to know what the paragraph is going to be about. It’s also important to make sure that your topic sentences line up with what you wrote in the outline portion of your introduction
In our article on IELTS writing introductions, our sample introduction promised the essay would cover traffic congestion and air pollution. For a paragraph on traffic congestion, a good topic sentence might say:
First, more people driving to work causes increased traffic congestion.
This sentence describes what the paragraph is about well. It’s also nice and simple.
Once you’ve completed your topic sentence, it’s time to add three or four supporting sentences. Students sometimes ask why not more than four, especially if you have time. However, it’s more sensible to use any extra time to make your sentences more complex than add more simple sentences. Another issue with supporting sentences is that you need to make sure all of them are related to the topic sentence. It’s easy to drift away from your topic especially towards the end of your paragraph. It’s best to check back on the paragraph topic to make sure you’re not drifting away from it too far.
What to write in your body paragraphs
Students often want to know what they should actually write in their IELTS body paragraphs. There are three main things you should think of:
These explain what the key term means. In our example, we’re talking about traffic congestion. In this case we can explain what ‘traffic congestion’ means:
Traffic congestion is when there are too many cars on the road causing traffic jams and delays.
An argument is a reason why we should do something or a reason why something is true. One reason for traffic congestion is old cities, so we could write:
Many cities were designed before people drove cars and as a result, they don’t have enough road capacity for everyone to commute to work by car.
You can also give examples of what you’re talking about. It’s best to introduce these with ‘For example,’ or To give an example,’. For our example paragraph we can add:
For example, cities like London have had to introduce congestion charging because the traffic congestion had gotten so bad there.
Let’s take a look at our body paragraph all together.
First, more people driving to work causes increased traffic congestion. Traffic congestion is when there are too many cars on the road causing traffic jams and delays. Many cities were designed before people drove cars and as a result, they don’t have enough road capacity for everyone to commute to work by car. For example, cities like London have had to introduce congestion charging because the traffic congestion had gotten so bad there.
We can see that this paragraph goes into a good amount of detail on one specific topic. It has a topic sentence that describes that topic and uses explanation, argument and an example to explore its topic. You can use a similar structure in your IELTS writing part two essays to put together effective body paragraphs.