Writing an introduction for Task 2 IELTS
In Task 2, the first paragraph of your essay, the introduction, is very important as it is where the examiner will make their first judgment about your ability in written English.
Below is an introduction to a Task 2 essay, but it isn’t very good. Have a look at the introduction and then the points that follow.
No, I don’t agree. I don’t think we should worry about exercising. I think people should live how they want and thats it. Just a bit of running or something isn’t going to help much. And nobody really has the time to do it regularly! it’s more important to watch what you eat and drink, and get enough sleep.
Problems with this introduction:
- register (the introduction is too informal)
- the punctuation is incorrect in places (capital letters missing, apostrophes are missing)
- contractions have been used (that’s instead of that is)
- the sentences are too short (sentences could have been combined with relative clauses)
- there is no clear topic sentence
- only the most basic linking words are used
Here’s is how the introduction could have been improved:
It is arguable that being overly concerned with exercising is not necessarily worthwhile. More importance should be given to living comfortably, as there is often insufficient time in the day to follow an effective exercise regime. Care in what is consumed and getting sufficient sleep are two factors, however, that should be considered as will now be discussed.
There are a number of steps which need to be covered in the introduction, and also a number of common errors to avoid.
- Paraphrase the title into a sentence, including the task words
- Write no more than 40 words
- Show the examiner the ‘direction’ the essay will take
- Use formal language and grammar
Consider this title:
The arts should be rejected in favour of more practical studies. Do you agree?
Here’s an example of a good introduction to the title above:
Some people feel that studies involving the arts are insufficiently practical to pursue. However, there is an argument to be made against this and that education is valuable regardless of the discipline, as will now be discussed.
Why is it good?
- The title has been rephrased (rejected > insufficiently practical to pursue) including the task words (‘Do you agree?’ > ‘There is an argument to be made against this’)
- It is 37 words.
- The writer has told the examiner that the essay will take the position of disagreeing with the topic
- The introduction uses the passive (‘will now be discussed’) to avoid personal pronouns (‘As I will now discuss’).
Common errors when writing an introduction to Task 2
There are a number of common errors that will immediately cost points when writing an introduction. Consider this example (it is based on the Writing title above).
The arts should be rejected in favour of more practical studies. I agree with this. The arts have been studied for centuries and many famous and well respected people have studied them.
- The writer has copied the question title directly. It is important to show the examiner that you have a range of vocabulary, and copying from the question will not demonstrate this.
- Personal pronouns have been used (‘I agree’). It is better to use the third person (Some people would agree with this) and passive constructions (an argument can be made for…)
- Irrelevant detail has been added (‘the arts have been studied for centuries’). Keep your introduction relevant and direct.
- The writer has not indicated to the examiner what will happen next. It is important in the introduction that you show the examiner the direction your essay will take – this shows that you have planned your answer and lets the examiner know how you are going to structure your work.
Here are four more good introductions to the essay topic above.
- Many people want to study a subject that has a definite value in the workplace. The arts should therefore be studied more for personal interest than as a course as such studies do not offer anything practical, as will now be discussed.
- Further education should be an opportunity for people to extend their knowledge of whatever appeals to them. Thus arbitrarily limiting the courses available only to what is deemed ‘practical’ is unfair, as will now be presented.
- Many students of the arts are able to contribute as much to society as any other graduate regardless of career opportunities. Accordingly, they should not be made to feel that only practical education has any worth, as this essay will now consider.
- For most people, further education means an improvement in career opportunities. It seems clear, however, that studies with an arts-related focus often fail to train people for a specific job, as will now be argued.
Tips and hints for writing an introduction for Task 2
It is important to be able to write your introduction quickly and simply, as you only have 40 minutes to complete the task. Use these tips and hints to help you improve your introductions.
- Avoid using personal pronouns (I, we, you)
- Use parallel expressions to rephrase the questions (don’t copy vocabulary)
- Show the direction your essay will take (whether you will agree or disagree, for example).
- Keep your point relevant – you are looking at between 25 and 45 words for the ideal introduction to Task 2