How To Write Main Body Paragraphs

Following the introduction you can then start writing your main paragraphs. You will have already come up with your ideas in the second stage of writing 'preparing to write'. All you now need to do is build on those points.

A lot of people get confused by all the different question types and what type of paragraph they should write for each one. In fact, you can make your life a lot simpler by using the paragraph outline below. It will work for all question types! Now, all of a sudden you do not have to worry about remembering all different paragraph structures. The simpler you can keep things, the better you will do in the exam!

The reason this works is that your topic sentence is going to be directly linking to the question being asked, the rest of your paragraph then simply flows from that, that's it, no complicated structures to remember or to get worried about.

As a guideline, your body paragraphs should:

 

  1. Start with a topic sentence.
  2. Contain no more than 2 main ideas.
  3. Be 4-5 sentences in length.
  4. Take about 10 minutes to write.
  5. Develop and expand your ideas using explanations and examples.
  6. Relate specifically to the question being asked.

We will use the question below as an example to write a body paragraph for:

1. Write The Topic Sentence

This should provide the main point of the paragraph that you wish to discuss further e.g.

University education provides a deeper knowledge of a subject area and can therefore be used later on in life.

Notice how the topic sentence is not overly long or too complicated. It does, however, clearly state the main point, but it is not too specific. Your paragraph should start quite general and then become more specific as you add sentences.

2. Provide A Supporting Sentence

Next we can add a supporting explanation sentence which starts to become more specific. For example:

Graduates may study theories that are relevant to only higher level managers which they may only become after a few years of employment in a company.

Here you can see that the explanation is starting to become more specific with words like graduates, theories and  managers.

3. Add A Specific Example

After this explaining sentence, we can now add a specific example. It might look like this:

For instance, graduate engineers at Aker Solutions Ltd often start as mere labourers undertaking manual work, however, after completing 18 months of probation they can then become Technical Planners, and therefore utilise their knowledge more fully of 3D CAD design software.

Note that this sentence not only clearly demonstrates that main point of the topic sentence but is also very specific. The more specific you can be with your examples the better.

Many students worry that they do not know enough examples, don't worry! Simply make them up! Remember the examiners are only interested in your English ability and not your general knowledge, they will never check your examples.

4. A Second Topic Sentence (Supporting Idea)

Now we are three sentences in to the paragraph, we have two options. We can either continue to develop the same point with further examples, or explanations, or, we could make a new related point.

I am going to make a new related point as it improves the discussion. So my next related idea I am going to write in a second topic sentence, it reads:

Knowing the advanced theories related to a topic can improve an employees motivation.

Once again the topic sentence still directly relates to the question, and it is not too long and quite general.

5. A Further Explanation Or Example

This could be followed up with fifth and final explaining sentence of the paragraph:

In the long term a motivated employee is going to be promoted far more quickly through the company hierarchy and work much more efficiently for the company than someone lacking that knowledge.

So, overall the paragraph might look something like this:

University education provides a deeper knowledge of a subject area and can therefore be used later on in life. Graduates may study theories that are relevant to only higher level managers which they may only become after a few years of employment in a company. For instance, graduate engineers at Aker Solutions Ltd often start as mere labourers undertaking manual work, however, after completing 18 months of probation they can then become Technical Planners, and therefore utilise their knowledge more fully of 3D CAD design software. Knowing the advanced theories related to a topic can improve an employees motivation. In the long term a motivated employee is going to be promoted far more quickly through the company hierarchy and work much more efficiently for the company than someone lacking that knowledge.

Further Options

You do not have to follow that exact sentence pattern, there are different ways to do it although you must always start with a topic sentence.

If you felt your first three sentences were particularly long then you may not need to add sentences 4 and 5.

You could even change the order of the sentences. You could start with a topic sentence and the give and example in the second sentence, then write a supporting sentence. You could follow that with another example and a further supporting sentence.

Many other combinations are possible, but the example I have given you works really well for all Discussion, Opinion, Discussion and Opinion question types.

Situation Question Types

For 'Situation' question types (problem and solution and two part direct questions), the same principles apply, you still start with your main point in the topic sentence. That could be stating the main problem, or giving an answer to one of the direct questions in the question, you would then follow these up with explanation and examples in the same way.

After describing a problem I would then provide possible solutions in the same paragraph. I would also start a separate paragraph for answering a different direct question.

I will add a further page with examples, for 'Situation' question types soon. For now though, the above example body paragraph will work really well for you, so remember:

  1. Start with a topic sentence.
  2. Contain no more than 2 main ideas.
  3. Be 4-5 sentences in length.
  4. Take about 10 minutes to write.
  5. Develop and expand your ideas using explanations and examples.
  6. Relate specifically to the question being asked.

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