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IELTS academic writing
Lesson 1a
Lesson 1b
Lesson 2a
Lesson 2b
Lesson 3a
Lesson 3b
Lesson 4a
Lesson 4b
Lesson 5a
Lesson 5b
download lesson 5 as a .pdf file
ielts academic writing module > lesson 5
LESSON 5 continued


So far in these IELTS lessons we’ve looked at three types of discursive composition:

Describing a problem and offering a solution
Describing the advantages and disadvantages of something
Expressing your opinion on a controversial issue

These are the main types of composition you may be asked to write. We’ve also looked at how to spend your first five minutes before you start writing:

  • Brainstorming ideas
  • Organising ideas in a mind map
  • Planning your composition

In this lesson we’ll look at how to organise your writing at the level of the paragraph and, finally, how to write a good conclusion.

Activity 7 > Building paragraphs (1) > 10 minutes

One of the features of good academic writing is that it has a logical ‘flow’ to it. Sentences should not be isolated, but each sentence should follow on logically from the one before it. They should all build into a united paragraph. The basic building block of your paragraphs should be pairs of sentences or sets of three sentences.

Up to now we have looked at the following types of sentence pairs:

  1. Argument & counter argument
  2. Opinion & supporting examples
  3. Opinion & supporting reasons
  4. Listing (reasons or examples)

a)  Click here to make sentence pairs by matching pairs of sentences.

Now for each pair, click here to say what type of pair it is (from the list above).  

b)  Now write a suitable sentence to follow on from each of these sentences below.  (There are too many possibilities to give suggested answers)

  • Most road accidents are caused by careless and irresponsible driving.
  • It is sometimes said that modern technology has helped create greater understanding between nations.
  • In my view there should be a total ban on the advertising of cigarettes and other tobacco products.
  • A first measure we could take to in order to reduce the AIDS pandemic is to make suitable drugs more readily available.

Activity 8 > Building paragraphs (2) > 10 minutes

Your writing should be clear to understand and you can achieve this by writing short sentences with only one or two clauses. However, if you are looking for an IELTS grade of 7 or higher in the writing test, examiners will expect you to include a few examples of more complex sentences. For instance, you can join two ideas together into a single sentence with linking words like these:

not only,  apart from,  despite,  even though,  although,  contrary to,  while

For example, these two ideas:

  1. Space exploration has some scientific value.
  2. The money spent on space exploration could be better spent on relieving starvation around the world.

could be joined into a single sentence:

  • Even though space exploration has some scientific value, the money could be better spent on relieving starvation around the world.

Now click here to link some ideas into a single sentence by using the linking word or phrase given in brackets.     

Activity 9 > Building paragraphs (3) > 15 minutes

In good academic writing, each paragraph should have a logical structure to it. You should think of each paragraph as a mini essay, with an introduction, development and conclusion.

Topic sentences act as the introduction. As you saw in the last IELTS Academic Writing lesson, topic sentences signal to the reader that you are going to discuss a particular aspect of the question. You can then build the paragraph by using pairs or sets of three sentences which develop a logical argument. These can be of the type we looked at in the previous exercises. Finally, round off your paragraph with a restatement of your topic sentence. This signals to your reader that you have come to the end of one part of your discussion and that you are about to move on.

a) In the box are two paragraphs taken from different compositions, but mixed up.  Click here to reorganise the sentences into two paragraphs following the paragraph structure discussed above.

b) Now write your own paragraph which carries on from the topic sentence provided below. Remember to use the paragraph plan:

  1. Topic sentence (TS)
  2. Developers (D1, D2, D3 etc)
  3. Restatement sentence (R)

Unfortunately it is not unusual for dogs to be owned by people whose homes and lifestyles cannot offer what their pet needs…

Activity 10 > Checking your work > 10 minutes

It is very important that you leave 2-3 minutes at the end of the writing test to read carefully through what you have written and check for errors. At this point, don’t worry about ideas. Just make sure that your spelling and grammar are accurate.

a) Here’s a typical Part 2 writing task of the ‘problem and solution’ type. Plan and write your answer (in not less than 250 words).

Present a written argument or case to an educated reader with no special knowledge of the following topic.

Having a large pet dog is becoming ever more popular, although the lifestyles and homes that people have are becoming less and less suited to dog ownership. What problems does this cause and what possible solutions are there to these problems.

You should use your own ideas, knowledge and experience and support your arguments with examples and relevant evidence.

b) Read through your composition carefully and check for errors in grammar and spelling.

c) Now read this example answer. There are ten mistakes with spelling or grammar. Click here to see if you can find them.

Activity 11 > A good conclusion > 5 minutes

The example answer in Activity 10 is missing one important thing - a good conclusion.  A good conclusion should have the following qualities:

  • It should not be more than a few sentences long.
  • It should sum up the main points you have mentioned.
  • It should not include new ideas or thoughts not already mentioned in the composition.
  • It should bring the compositions to a satisfying end.

a) Write a conclusion for the example composition you read in the previous activity.

b) Click here to compare your conclusion with the example in the key - but first you'll have to reconstruct it.  Make it as easy or difficult as you like.

Lesson Review

In this lesson you have:

practised ‘reading’ diagrams.
learned language for expressing purpose, cause and result.
reviewed and practised relative clauses and passive voice.
learned how to organise a good academic style paragraph.
practised writing more complex sentences.
learned what makes a good conclusion to your composition.

We hope you have found these IELTS Academic Writing lessons useful and good luck with your exam!

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