Writing The Introduction To Your Essay: Tips, Examples and Problems

In this post, we will look at the introduction to an IELTS essay for IELTS Writing Task 2.

What Is An Introduction?

The introduction to your IELTS essay should be a short paragraph that tells the reader what your essay is going to be about.

A good introduction should do two different things:

  1. introduce your reader to the topic of the essay
  2. introduce your reader to your answer to the essay question(s)

1. Introduce the Essay Topic

The introduction should firstly introduce your reader to the essay topic.

All IELTS tasks start with a topic statement. For example, in this task:

Some children spend hours every day on their smartphones. Why is this the case? Do you think this is a positive or a negative development?

The topic statement is:

Some children spend hours every day on their smartphones.

The simplest way of introducing the topic to your reader is to rewrite the topic statement in your own words. Here are some different ways of rewriting the topic statement:

  • Many children spend a lot of time daily using their phones.
  • Smartphones are being used for hours every day by children.
  • Children are becoming increasingly addicted to their smartphones, spending several hours a day on them.
  • A recent development is heavy smartphone usage amongst children.
  • Heavy smartphone usage amongst children has been a growing trend in recent years.

The above examples use language in a flexible way. Using language flexibly will help you get a higher band score.

2. Introduce your Answer

The second thing you need to do is introduce your reader to your answer to the essay question(s). This is your response.

This should be a concise answer. One sentence is usually enough for this.

If the question is asking you to give your opinion (e.g. “to what extent do you agree?”, “what is your opinion?”, “is this a positive or negative development?”), then you just need to tell your reader what your opinion is. For example:

  • “I believe that this development is largely negative”
  • “I completely disagree with this point of view.”

For questions which don’t explicitly ask for your opinion (e.g. “discuss both views”, “what are the problems and solutions”, “what are the advantages and disadvantages”), then just say what you are going to write about in your essay. For example:

  • “Several factors have caused this problem, but they can be solved”
  • “This trend has significant disadvantages, but there are also some benefits too.”

Common Problems with Introductions

I’ve assessed thousands of IELTS essays, but I see the same common problems in introductions. Here are those common problems. Make sure you avoid these!

Common Problem #1: Scope Sentences

Many test takers write sentences which start with “This essay will…” These are known as scope sentences. For example:

  • “This essay will discuss the problems of this along with some solutions”
  • “This essay will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this trend.”

There’s nothing wrong with these sentences, but they contain quite rigid language.

Common Problem #2: Writing an Opinion Statement as if it’s your opinion

Look at this task:

Some people believe that nowadays we have too many choices. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

It is clear that the 1st sentence is an opinion statement because it starts with “some people”: “some people believe that”.

However, IELTS could have written the task like this:

Nowadays we have too many choices. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this statement?

The 1st sentence is still an opinion. We know it’s an opinion because you are asked if you “agree or disagree” with it.

However, some test takers will write this in their introduction:

“We have too much choice today. I strongly disagree with this view.”

This is confusing! The 1st sentence states that the writer thinks that we have too much choice. The 2nd sentence says the opposite. So the examiner doesn’t know what the writer’s opinion actually is. This will limit Task Response to around Band 5.

Common Problem #3: Long Introductions

Keep your introduction short and concise. 2 sentences is almost always enough. Examiners mainly assess your essay by looking at the body paragraphs, so it’s important to spend time writing your body paragraphs, NOT your introduction.

Common Problem #4: Copying the Question

Another common problem is that test takers simply copy the topic statement. It is important to rewrite the topic statement in your own words.

Key Points to Remember

  • remember to introduce the topic of the essay to your reader. You can do this by writing the topic statement using your own words – do not simply copy the topic statement!
  • also introduce your reader to your response – to your answer(s) to the essay question(s)
  • keep your introduction short. 1 or 2 sentences is enough

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About the author

Charlie is a former IELTS Examiner with 25 years' teaching experience all over the world. His courses, for both English language learners and teachers, have been taken by over 100,000 students in over 160 countries around the world.