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How to Write a Good Supporting Paragraph?

March 08, 2019

There are four basic paragraph structures followed by many IELTS task 2 essays.

  1. Introduction
  2. Supporting Paragraph 1
  3. Supporting Paragraph 2
  4. Conclusion

These paragraphs are parts of the essay that earn you most of the marks which makes it a place where marks can either be gotten or lost. Compose 4 great paragraphs and you will end up getting an excellent total mark.

This post is going to:

  • Check out the needs of the examiner
  • Check out both good and bad examples
  • Show you how to write topic sentences
  • Reveal how to create topic sentences with relevant examples

The needs of an examiner.

Task Achievement

Examiners only require answers that with related, comprehensive and supported ideas. This implies that your ideas must be linked or related, then comprehensive details should be provided on them and supported with examples.

Good and bad examples

Let’s consider these examples and find out the needs of the examiner to recognize a good essay from a bad one.

Question:

Parents believe that the best services for kids at the preschool age is provided at children centers while other parents believe that the best care comes from members of their family such as their grandparents.

Explain both views and provide your own opinion.

First example

Majority of parents that are fully employed prefers to include the help of their grandparents for the care of their kids whenever they are at work because they believe their kids would stay safer within the family. They are not confident that their kids would be safe when monitored by an outsider and would rather prefer their grandfather or grandmother. A 2013 Cambridge University research revealed that 62% of the employers lean towards an individual in the family to cater for their kids while at work.

Second example

Some obvious reasons have shown that the grandparents are the best to cater for kids. They are always in love with their grandchildren and would let nothing harm them. Also, kids are in love and comfortable around their grandparents. Grandparents are also very experienced in catering for kids due to their old age and immense experience having previously cared for many other kids.

Which do you think is better?

The first example explained that parents employ the help of their grandparents because they trust them. This has been clearly described in the first sentence and the reason behind it in the second sentence. Their ideas have also been supported with specific examples which is exactly what the examiner wants.

The second example has a lot of arguments and many of them are general. They don’t have comprehensive and detailed examples which are definitely not what the examiner is looking for.

How to compose a topic sentence.

The first sentence that should be in your supporting paragraph is the topic sentence. A major idea should be contained in each paragraph and the topic sentence will provide the details of the idea to the reader. This will ensure that the entire paragraph and essay can be easily read. Extra mark would be awarded in the IELTS test for being coherent if this is done. Just imagine them to be a signpost that provides direction to the readers.

Topic sentences are considered to be an essay argument in which one side is supported than the other.

Let’s consider another question

Top positions in many companies are contained by men even though more than 50% of females dominate the workforce in many developing countries. Do you agree that companies should also assign a specific percentage to females too?

Let’s consider the purposes behind and against assigning a specific percentage of the workforce to women.

For:

  • Fairness
  • Equality
  • Avoids discrimination
  • Women perform better than men in many tasks.
  • Women perform better than men in a lot of university and school subjects.

Against

  • Should not be founded on gender but merit.
  • The males are more qualified for jobs like construction.

The “for” category will be focused on and topic sentences will be provided for two of them. Ensure to always select the idea you have more knowledge about that is the ones that can be easily explained with supporting instance.

Topic Sentence 1: Women should be assigned a specific percentage because they are being discriminated based on their gender if this is not done.

Topic Sentence 2: The females should be assigned more tasks as they perform more than males in most university subjects.

Everything I carried out here was to introduce my idea in the best possible way.

It is not required to do this using an advanced method, you are only required to describe where you stand clearly.

Task: Select some of the questions here and create topic sentences from them.

Describing Our Ideas.

Most students face the problem of explaining their ideas, mainly because they consider it pointless. They have a belief that describing understandable ideas is a complete waste of their time since the examiner is learned and educated.

Students should not assume this but should presume that the reader has no knowledge of the topic and it should have comprehensive details for better understanding.

Some specific phrases that can be used to clarify our ideas are

  • That is to say………. (connecting)
  • In other words……….(connecting)
  • This is because………(provide reasons)
  • The reason is…………(provide reasons)
  • As a result…………(explain result).
  • As a consequence………..(describe consequence).
  • Therefore……………….(describe result).

Any of these phrases can be used to clarify the meaning, the purpose, and outcome of your topic sentence. Just choose to carry out one from the three and ensure that anyone can easily understand the main points behind them.

First example

Females should be assigned a specific percentage of jobs because not doing this implies that they are being discriminated due to their sex. Women will end up being refused jobs mainly because of their sex and not their level of expertise or skill.

Second Example

Females should be assigned the higher percentage of jobs because females perform more than males in many subjects at the university. This implies that women also have the same qualification as men and probably more and should be given more opportunities in the job market.

Finally, explanations should be specifically relevant to the question. They should clarify how the question is answered using the idea, not just generally describing the idea itself.

Therefore, ensure that the question is read over and over again before creating an explanation or topic sentence.

Supporting examples

The final part of the supporting paragraph is to provide a related example. Your points and argument becomes stronger and gets more control by providing examples.

Two major issues here are the inability to think of examples and examples that are not being precise.

You can always develop and example if you don’t have one during your IELTS test. Try to carry out additional studies and use genuine examples in school or the university but there is no issue developing one for your IELTS test. The test is not focused on your knowledge but your vocabulary. The examiners are only concerned about how the examples are related to your ideas, not the examples itself.

Examples can be easily developed using university studies or newspaper articles. I use this method when composing answers as they can help you to be more precise.

The examiner is only interested in a more precise example. This can be demonstrated by considering the examples below.

Females should be assigned a specific percentage of jobs because not doing this implies that they are being discriminated due to their sex. Women will end up being refused jobs mainly because of their sex and not their level of expertise or skill.

First example: Many women remain unemployed majorly because of their gender.

Second example: Majority of the businesswomen in Asia face the challenges of getting employed as a CEO in spite of their qualification.

Third example: It was reported in 2014 that Singapore’s top 100 companies only have 9 female executives even after making up more than half of the workforce.  

The first example is not direct and can be considered as an example that is not satisfactory.

The second example is better but “Women in Asia” is still not direct and cannot be used to back up our argument.

The third example is the best because it has been directly used to report some certain statistics (9%) in a newspaper at a certain time (2014) in a particular place (Singapore).

Assembling it all

Everything we have learned to write will be assembled into two supporting paragraphs for the question below.

Inflating the cost of petrol is the best solution to the increasing traffic and problems with pollution. What is the extent at which you agree or disagree with this notion?

Increasing the price of fuel in the best solution because it would lower its demand. This can be backed up by the law of economics which stated that the higher the price of an item, the lower the consumption of that item which will result in the reduced usage of petrol. Take for instance, during the fuel crisis in the 1970s that led to the very high price of fuel, the number of cars was limited.

Increasing the price of fuel will adversely affect the cost of goods because their transportation expenses would have skyrocketed. This implies that individuals will have a limited amount to spend at pumps which will additionally reduce the number of cars on the road. It was reported by New York times that the higher the cost of food in a community, it is certain that people will utilize public transport more due to not being able to purchase a car.

Homework


I hope you found the post useful and let me know if you have any comments or questions.


Serhii Baraniuk

IELTS blog by Serhii Baraniuk. Do you have questions or suggestions? Ask my anything on Twitter or Facebook