Writing Task 2: How to Write a Good Introduction

January 4, 2019 by Andrea Castro Andrea Castro

Introductions can be difficult to write. Usually, when candidates analyze the topic they have to write about in Writing Task 2, they have at least some sense of what they want to say in the body of the essay. They may think of an example or two they want to use or have a few ideas to help them answer the questions in the prompt. But what many candidates struggle with is introducing these ideas in a way that makes sense to their readers, so that these middle parts of the essay don’t seem to just come out of thin air.

Your introduction in Writing Task 2 will create the initial impression on the examiner in terms of your ideas, your writing style, and the overall quality of your writing. An error-filled, confusing, or disorganized introduction will most certainly create a negative first impression. On the other hand, a well-written, engaging and concise introduction will have the opposite effect, which is exactly what you want to achieve. As a result, it’s important that you have strategies for writing a good introduction for Writing Task 2 in order to achieve this desired effect.

Strategies for writing a good introduction

Female student at a desk, with a pencil in hand, thinking

An effective introduction conveys substantial important information clearly but briefly. Think of your introduction as a roadmap for the rest of your essay. This roadmap should let the examiner know what the topic of discussion is, as well as your position in relation to the topic, and you may also choose to briefly explain how you plan to develop the essay. Below are some strategies for writing an effective introduction:

     • Read and analyze all the information provided to you.
Your entire essay will respond to the question(s) in the prompt and your introduction is the first step towards doing so. Therefore, it is important that you know exactly what you’re being asked to discuss and that you introduce your answer to all of the parts of the prompt.

     • Do NOT copy material from the prompt.
While the prompt can give you some clues about how to approach your opening paragraph, make sure you use your own words when writing your introduction. Using the same words or phrases from the prompt can show limitations in your range of vocabulary, which can affect your band score. Instead, use synonyms, put the information in a new order, and break down more complex ideas into smaller ones, while making sure you’re accurately stating the topic. To illustrate this, take a look at the following example Writing Task 2 prompt, and notice how the initial statement has been paraphrased so that it can be used as part of an effective introduction:

Prompt:

The first car appeared on British roads in 1888. By the year 2020 there may be as many as 29 million vehicles on British roads.

Alternative forms of transport should be encouraged, and international laws introduced to control car ownership and use.

To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

  Paraphrase:“It is evident that there has been a massive growth in car ownership in Great Britain since the first car arrived on British roads in the year 1888.”

     • Start off with a ‘big picture’ sentence and then focus in on the details of the prompt.
Task 2 prompts normally begin with a broad statement and then narrow to focus on more specific points or questions on the topic. As such, it’s a good idea for you to use a similar model in your own introduction: start off with a ‘big picture’ sentence (or two) and then focus in on the details of the prompt. If you do choose to start your introduction with a ‘big picture’ opening, make sure that it’s closely related to your topic and it’s not too broad. In the prompt presented above, the paraphrased statement is the perfect example of a ‘big picture’ statement, and the details of the prompt would be 1) alternative forms of transport should be encouraged and 2) international laws introduced to control car ownership and use. The following sentence is a good example of focusing in on the details of the prompt:“Some people believe that encouraging other forms of transport and introducing international regulations are necessary to keep future growth in car ownership under control.”

     • Make your position clear.
Writing Task 2 prompts will always include questions or statements that will encourage you to give your opinion on a topic, agree or disagree with a statement or address specific questions (e.g. What do you think are the advantages of elderly care facilities? Do these outweigh the disadvantages?) Your position then, will come as a direct response to these questions or statements. Given that you’ll be expected to present a clear position throughout your response, you should state it at the beginning of your essay as part of your introduction. In the example prompt above, you’re expected to indicate the degree to which you think the statement is true or untrue (e.g. “I completely agree with the mentioned argument, as new rules and regulations would ensure order in our communities and a better quality of life for all.”) .   

     • Re-read your introduction once you’ve finished writing your essay.
Because the writing process in itself is a way to organize your ideas and refine your thoughts, as you develop the body of the essay in Writing Task 2, you may find that you started out thinking about arguing a particular point but ended up arguing something different. This is why it’s important for you to revise your introduction after completing your essay, to make sure it matches your final thoughts and arguments.Just as a good introduction will help to prepare your examiner for the content of your essay, an effective conclusion will help to remind them of the strength of your main arguments. Stay tuned for our next post on how to write a good conclusion for Writing Task 2!



Andrea Castro

Andrea is an experienced English teacher who has worked since 2009 in Costa Rica, Dubai and now Canada. When not working for IELTS, she spends her time with her little girl and her two canine siblings.

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