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IELTS is widely recognized as a popular academic English test in many parts of the world. It assesses the comprehensive skills of candidates, including listening, speaking, reading, and writing. However, compared to other academic English tests, achieving a high score in the Writing section of IELTS is particularly challenging. Therefore, to prepare well for the exam and improve this skill, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the test’s structure and requirements. This article aims to provide a clearer direction regarding the paragraphs in IELTS Writing Task 2.

  1. Academic English and IELTS Essay Structure:

IELTS is a standardised test that familiarises candidates with a higher-level academic environment abroad. It follows the conventions of academic essays for evaluation, with four criteria: Task Achievement, Coherence and Cohesion, Lexical Resource, and Grammar Range and Accuracy. The Coherence and Cohesion criterion emphasises the need for a clear and logical essay structure. Consequently, this will determine the first two paragraphs, which are the Introduction and Conclusion. The Introduction provides an overview of the essay’s viewpoint or purpose, while the Conclusion summarises the main content and purpose of the essay.

  1. The Body in IELTS Writing Task 2:

After considering the above, we have identified the two essential paragraphs in IELTS Writing Task 2 (Introduction + Conclusion). Next comes the Body paragraph(s). Most IELTS Writing Task 2 topics require candidates to argue and discuss non-specialized social issues. Furthermore, they specify a minimum word count of 250 words for an essay. Consequently, having only one Body paragraph and two Introduction and Conclusion paragraphs may not meet the word limit. Additionally, presenting only one Body paragraph will result in an essay that is too short and unable to address all the questions or ideas of the topic.

  1. The Body – Should it be 2 or 3 paragraphs?

Based on the information above, writing only one Body paragraph is not feasible. Therefore, the question arises as to whether we should write 2 or 3 paragraphs for the Body. The answer depends on the topic’s requirements and the candidate’s individual characteristics. Some complex topics may demand more than 2 paragraphs to fully address the question. Additionally, candidates’ own knowledge limitations play a role, as they may be able to discuss more broadly or in-depth based on their abilities. However, in general, most people are advised to stick to 2 Body paragraphs. This is because it strikes a balance between being neither too long nor too short, and candidates can fully address the question within these 2 paragraphs.

Another crucial consideration is time. Candidates have only 1 hour for the writing section, with the first 20 minutes usually allocated for Task 1. This leaves only 40 minutes for Task 2. If the essay is too long, candidates may not be able to complete it within the allowed time (which often happens if they write 3 or 4 paragraphs in the Body).

In conclusion, a standard IELTS argumentative essay typically consists of 4 paragraphs, including 1 Introduction, 2 Body paragraphs, and 1 Conclusion. This structure is sufficient and reasonable to meet most of the requirements for paragraphs in IELTS Writing Task 2.

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