Writing an Introduction on an IELTS Essay or Writing Task 2?

How NOT to write an IELTS Essay introduction?

A simple Google search will show a few common tips and tricks about how students should start their IELTS Writing Task 2 or essays. While those tips work for those who already have a solid foundation in the language, most students may not be able to use those tips as appropriately as one might want. Students are often told to paraphrase whatever is written in the essay, or use synonyms and flowery language to gain the examiner’s attention, which backfires more times than it works. As a result, they commit some typical mistakes which e are going to discuss here.

In our view, paraphrasing or using synonyms is not going to work for most students, especially if the topic is about something extremely general, or if the student does not have a vast vocabulary. That should not stop a student from receiving a 7 or 8 band because IELTS is not about being the next Shakespeare – it is about the ability to communicate what you want to say.

To write an introduction, students must find out the main point of discussion and the overall scope of the IELTS Writing Task 2 or IELTS essay. Once it is found, they can ask themselves what they have observed regarding the topic and its extent of discussion in the task. Now, using these observations, they can write an essay introduction well and score well on IELTS. In case asked, they can also note their opinion on the matter.

Now let’s discuss the problems faced by students in writing introductions on IELTS essays or writing task 2 and their solutions. To ensure you are with me, let’s take an example.

Some people say History is one of the essential school subjects. Other people think that, in today’s world, subjects like Science and Technology are more critical than History.

Discuss both these views. Give your own opinion.

Common problems on IELTS Essay introductions

The Trap of Paraphrasing the Question on IELTS essays

Now, look at this answer by one of our students.

“The effectiveness of studying subjects like Science and Technology is debatable. Some believe that in the modern world, these subjects are more important than subjects like History, while others do not. This essay will analyse both sides of the claim in detail and provide evidence as to why subjects like Science and Technology are more superior.”

You may notice that the second sentence has many words copied from the topic statement. The sequence is the same, and it gives an impression to an examiner that you are not that good at writing by yourself. The fault does not lie with the students, but most of the teachers who encourage students to paraphrase the topic.

For example, if the question is about discussing the advantages and disadvantages of having cats as pets, how can a student with an average vocabulary replace the word ‘cat’ or ‘pet’? Expecting everyone to know a language like ‘feline friends’ is a little unreasonable even according to IELTS.

However, now students must unlearn what they have been taught all these years. The biggest problem with this technique is that specific ideas just cannot be replaced.

The Pressure Mounts When Students Try to Impress the IELTS Examiner

Students usually insist on using this strategy of paraphrasing while writing IELTS essay introduction, even when they don’t have the necessary vocabulary. As a result, the pressure on them just keeps rising as they read the question. Scrambling for words when you have only 40 minutes to complete the IELTS essay is not the best use of time. Neither is taking all the stress of memorising a dictionary. Even a student with an above-average vocabulary would struggle with replacing and paraphrasing everything if they cannot think of the right word in time. Many times students have a word at the tip of their tongue but cannot remember exactly what it is. Consequently, they waste precious time that could have been spent coming up with ideas or thinking of smart connectors to join ideas with. What can one do?

Winding, Verbose Sentence Structures on IELTS Essays

Here is an introduction by one of our students.

Many people who have questioned the significance in today’s world of subjects like history, which do not have an instantly noticeable impact on most future careers in this modern world filled with new gadgets and technology. While I imagine that history should still be obligatory, more pragmatic subjects attached to technology and the arts are more needed in our advancing world.

Now you may look at the first sentence and may get impressed. But ask yourself, what does it even mean?

According to most trainers, paraphrasing requires one to use impressive, long sentence structures. There is nothing wrong with long sentences. It is the same as driving at a fast speed. Meaning, it should only be done by people who are experts and have command over their car, on, in this case, English. Someone who is not supremely confident of their English will end up with long sentences that are grammatically incorrect. Because they took a long time to come up with synonyms, and now they are under pressure to finish their essay in a ridiculous amount of time. Those long sentences may have a few words missing, leading to a fatal accident. So, the examiner reading the first sentence of the essay and negatively judging the student.  Often to keep an impressive sentence structure, the student might just change the meaning of the sentence altogether. This will adversely affect their Lexical Resource for imprecise language. Task Achievement marks would be affected considering they would no longer be on topic. When one can say something using lesser words, why use more?

Students Don’t Stick to the Main Point of Discussion

Now read the following introduction for the same essay.

Primary education has always played a key role in building the foundation of knowledge. Students study various subject to enhance their awareness about various life. History is one of them, which offers us with knowledge about the past. Some people consider that history must be taught in primary schools. In contrast, others think that the priority should be given to the subject like Science and Technology.

The problem here is nobody asked about primary education, especially. Also, the author takes too many sentences to come to the point in the third line. And also when he or she finally addresses the issue, the words used are very similar to that used in the IELTS essay topic.

So, what should I do?

Now, how does the following instruction sound like?

“In most of the schools around the globe, all subjects, including History, are given equal priority; however, nowadays, many voices are demanding preference for teaching Technology. Looking at this trend, one must analyse whether it is essential to emphasise on History along with other subjects or make Science the pillar of schooling. Personally, I favour a balanced approach.”

So, what do you think?

As said earlier, the introduction above has the following characters.

  1. The author recognises the main topic of discussion and presents it in the first sentence itself.
  2. Then, the author defines the scope by saying that he or she is going to analyse the two sides to evaluate the trend.
  3. And the author briefly offers opinion at the end.
  4. Most importantly, the author does not even bother to use the words from the IELTS essay task and instead relies more on personal observations to write an effective essay.

IELTS to the Point has developed a unique approach towards writing stellar introductions. You don’t need fancy language, unnecessarily long sentences or paraphrasing. However, you must understand what IELTS expects of you. If you want to know more, access our lessons at https://courses.ieltstothepoint.com

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