Writing Clear and Effective Paragraphs on the IELTS

August 13, 2018 by Lyla Hage

One important aspect of the IELTS writing exam is being able to write clear and effective paragraphs. This blog post will provide some information on how to write well-organized and well-written paragraphs.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind before writing your IELTS exam:


You have 60 minutes to complete Writing Task 1 and Task 2 on the Academic and General Training exam. I suggest taking approximately 20 minutes for Task 1 and 40 minutes for Task 2.

It is also important to know the minimum word count: 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2. Also, remember that Task 2 is worth twice as much as Task 1, so plan accordingly!

Reading questions

Before beginning to write, take time to carefully and completely read the questions to ensure you know what you are being asked to write about. Your examiner will look at whether the key features and points from the question are included in your response.

It is also a good idea to take a few moments to plan how you will write your answers. Take some notes and do a quick outline of your writing (especially for the Task 2 essay). This will help organize and focus your response.

And now for the writing! When writing your responses, I suggest keeping the following in mind:


For all responses, ensure you write in paragraph form. Do not write in bullet points or in note form for any part of the tasks. If you do, you will lose marks.

For the Task 2 essay, start with an introduction that tells the reader what you will be writing about in the essay. The next part is the body. The body paragraphs should include your main points as well as information that supports your points. To do this, you can use examples, details, data, etc. to explain and strengthen your points. The final paragraph should be a conclusion which summarizes the key information in the essay. The conclusion must be consistent with the information in the essay – don’t introduce new information or views.

University students taking exam

One idea

One way to ensure your paragraphs are well organized and clearly written is to include one idea per paragraph. Do not include too much information in a paragraph, but rather explain one main idea, along with supporting details, examples, etc. When you have another idea, you should start a new paragraph.

Staying on topic

When writing your responses, make sure you stay focused and write only about the topic. Do not write about an unrelated subject. Also, do not add information that is not relevant or related to your argument or points.

Your examiner will look to determine whether your position is developed and clear. If you talk about unrelated things, your position will not be clear.

Spelling, grammar, punctuation

Pay attention to your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Leave some time at the end to check your writing for errors. Your examiner will be looking at the spelling, grammar and punctuation, and you will lose points for mistakes.

Sentence forms

Although it is a good idea to use a mix of simple and complex sentence forms, do not worry about writing long, complex sentences. It is more important to have clear and well-written sentences with correct grammar and punctuation, rather than longer sentences that are confusing and/or contain errors.

 students taking test in classroom


Another important point when writing your response is the vocabulary you use. Ensure you use a range of words and phrases. Do not use the same words over and over throughout your responses. Also, be sure the words are in the correct form and are not too informal.

Cohesion, referencing, substitution

Well-written and well-organized paragraphs make use of cohesive devices, referencing, and substitution. Cohesive devices include the proper use of pronouns, conjunctions, articles, etc. Referencing is using a pronoun to replace a noun/noun phrase. Substitution is when we substitute forms for words and phrases rather than repeating the same thing.

I hope these tips will be helpful as you prepare for your IELTS exam. I am confident that keeping these tips in mind will help you write clearly and more effectively. Check here for additional examiner approved tips on preparing for your IELTS exam. 

Good luck!

Lyla is an English language instructor working with international students and immigrants in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Lyla loves everything about her work, especially helping people reach their language and learning goals.

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