First impressions matter! Why the opening sentences of your IELTS Task 2 essay are critical

When correcting essays written by my classroom and online IELTS students, I consistently see essay opening sentences like these:

(1) ‘Culture is a well-known topic around the world.’(Problem: too ambiguous)
(2) ‘There are many people in this world who work hard, like my father, for example.’ (Problem: too specific)
(3) ‘The Global Economy has helped make the World a safer Place.’ (Problem: basic grammar)
(4) ‘The invasion of computers in the classroom has caused student marks to skyrocket.’ (Problem: amplitude)

Let me elaborate on why each of these examples prove to be terrible introductions to your essay:

In the first example (1), the student is making a large, overly generalized statement that is somewhat ambiguous and therefore difficult to understand. In a nutshell, this sentence is too broad. The student’s meaning is probably closer to: It is a well-known fact that the cultures of the world are not uniform. Of course, it’s a bad sign if your IELTS examiner can’t understand the first sentence you have written!

The second example (2) depicts a student with the opposite problem: their response is too specific. Giving examples before you’ve stated your argument is like trying to put on your shoes before you’ve put on your pants.

The third example (3) is a basic grammar issue, in this case capitalization. I’m always astonished by the number of students who seem to have forgotten when to capitalize their words and when not too. In this example, only ‘The’ should be capitalized.

The final example (4) shows a student who is trying to use more complex words in hopes of making themselves sound more academic. The problem is that this alters the amplitude of the sentence and therefore distorts the meaning of the piece. Saying that student marks have ‘skyrocketed’ is an overstatement. ‘Skyrocketed’ gives the impression that student marks have tripled or perhaps even quadrupled. A statement as outlandish as this would need to be supported with evidence.

About Ryan

I have been developing online IELTS training resources for over 10 years. For more information about me and how I can help your preparation for the IELTS, please email me:
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