Sentence-level essay writing
In my next few blog lessons, I want to continue with the theme of the last lesson that I published on my old blog. Here’s a copy of that last lesson:
Three levels of IELTS essay writing
Let’s break essay writing into the following 3 levels:
- The full essay
- Paragraph level
- Sentence level
When faced with a writing task 2 question, some IELTS students / candidates are stuck at level 1. They have no idea how to organise their writing at paragraph and sentence level. They simply start writing and hope for the best.
Many IELTS students are at level 2. They know that they need an introduction, main body paragraphs, and a conclusion. They may also know about things like thesis statements and topic sentences. However, students at this level still struggle to write detailed and coherent main body paragraphs. There is still an element of “hoping for the best” when it comes to the main body sentences.
I teach students to break essays down to sentence level. This means that we decide exactly how many sentences to write (13 according to my method), and we know exactly what each sentence should do. If you learn to write like this, there’s no need to “hope for the best”; you simply treat each sentence as a mini-task and work your way through 13 of these until the essay is finished.
On this new site, I want to help you with level 3: the sentence-level approach to writing. So how do we write in this way?
Here’s a quick guide:
- First, we decide on a fixed number of paragraphs in any essay that we write. We will always write 4 paragraphs, never more and never less.
- We make a similar decision about sentences, always 13: two for the introduction, five for each main paragraph, one for the conclusion.
- Next, we look at the specific job of each of our 13 sentences.
Think about essay writing like this: each sentence has a job.
And here’s the good news: there is only a limited number of ‘jobs’ that sentences in an IELTS essay can do. A sentence can introduce a topic, give an opinion, explain something…
Study task: What other ‘jobs’ can sentences in an IELTS essay do?
If you need help, look at the essay plans in my writing task 2 model answer lessons here. My essay plans are really useful because they show you exactly what each sentence will do.
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