How to spot good and bad IELTS introductions
Let’s take a look at a problematic introduction:
The phenomenon of driving to work is more and more common in society. This is causing more negative effects than positive effects. This essay will offer two reasons why.
This introduction isn’t as good as it could be because it doesn’t make it obvious what the essay is about or what it’s going to do. Let’s take a look at a better version:
As people get richer, more and more of them are choosing to drive to work rather than use public transport. This essay will argue that this trend is causing more negative effects than positive effects. First, because commuting causes traffic congestion, and second, because it increases air pollution.
This version is better because it makes it more obvious what the essay is about and tells you what you’re about to read. It is made up of three sentences:
- A background sentence.
- A thesis statement.
- An outline.
Let’s take a look at how to write those three sentences that make up a perfect introduction.
The first thing to include in your introduction is some background information. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything about the background of the question because the exam question will always give you some background. However, you shouldn’t just copy from the question, it’s important to paraphrase this information. This means you should write the same information using different words. For our sample introduction, the question is:
People are increasingly switching abandoning public transport to travel to work by car instead of public transport. Do the advantages of this outweigh the disadvantages?
To paraphrase that, the introduction starts with:
As people get richer, more and more of them are choosing to drive to work rather than use public transport.
This sentence expresses the same idea without repeating the question.
The thesis statement is a sentence that expresses the main idea of the essay as a whole. You can also think of it as the sentence that answers the question. You should keep things simple for this sentence so that your central idea is clear. In the sample introduction I’ve written:
This essay will argue that this trend is causing more negative effects than positive effects.
But if you don’t want to write ‘This essay will…’you could also use:
In this essay, I will argue that this trend is causing more negative effects than positive effects.
One thing you should avoid is writing something like ‘I think that’. This makes it sound like you’re just giving your personal opinion rather than expressing the central idea of an essay.
The outline isn’t actually an essential part of the introduction. You may see examples of essays online without one of these. That said, they’re very useful because writing an outline lets you check that you have planned the rest of your essay. It also lets your examiner know your essay is going to be well organised and shows coherence between the introduction and body paragraphs. For the example outline, I’ve written:
First, because commuting causes traffic congestion, and second, because it increases air pollution.
Taking another look at our example sentence we can see that it gives some background, expresses its main idea and outlines what the rest of the essay is going to be about. Try and use this structure in your essays and leave a comment below if you have any questions.