Topic sentences are important
For cohesion and coherence, band score 7, you need to persuade the examiner that you have a clear central topic in each main body paragraph.
A good topic sentence makes it easy for the examiner to see your clear central topic.
Before looking at a simple topic sentence, it's important to understand where the topic sentence goes and what its role is in a paragraph.
The topic sentence should be the first sentence in your paragraph. The examiner wants to see a topic sentence, so don’t disappoint him.
The topic sentence should do two jobs. One is compulsory, and the other is optional but desirable.
What two things should the topic sentence tell the examiner?
Your default topic sentence
What is your default topic sentence?
In other words, what will you write if you can’t think of anything better?
Take a typical IELTS Task 2 question:
Paragraph 1 is about the reasons why people change their jobs.
Not all paragraphs are about reasons.
If you're writing main body 1 for the question above, your paragraph is not about reasons; it's about areas of progress. You could adapt the technique from above like this:
There are two main areas in which mankind has made progress.
Mankind has made great progress in two main areas, namely in medical science and in communications technology.
Simple topic sentences
There are two main reasons why people change their jobs.
People change their jobs for various reasons.
People change their jobs for two main reasons.
Extended topic sentences
There are two main reasons why people change their jobs, namely through choice and necessity.
People change their jobs for reasons which are related to choice and necessity.
People change their jobs for reasons related to choice and necessity.
People tend to change their jobs because they have a choice or because they have to.
You could adapt these high band score topic sentences to many different main ideas. Here are some examples:
Obesity is on the rise because people consume poor diets and do not do enough exercise.
There are two main reasons why obesity is on the rise, namely because of poor diets and a lack of exercise.
Online shopping is advantageous to consumers for two main reasons, namely because it is convenient and cheap.
There is one main reason why raising the price of petrol will reduce traffic congestion.
All the sentences shown above would be perfectly good as topic sentences for writing Task 2. They do their job which is to tell the reader what the paragraph is about and, in most cases, what the supporting ideas are.
A note about the examiner's criteria
Most of these high band score topic sentences do two things:
- they tell the examiner what the main idea is (or what the paragraph is about)
- they outline the supporting ideas in simple terms
These topic sentences also allow you to refer back to them later in the paragraph to help your score for C&C. I often start my next sentence with With regard to the former, [...] , as in this paragraph about the dangers of the internet:
If you can write a good topic sentence, your scores for C&C, GRA, and TR will all benefit.
In order to write high band score topic sentences, you need to understand noun phrases and noun clauses. You can find more about noun clauses and noun phrases here.