How many paragraphs for an IELTS essay?

How many paragraphs?

The recommended number of paragraphs for an IELTS essay is 4 or 5. You must have an introduction and you must have a conclusion. You can have either two or three body paragraphs.

Do I need to divide my essay body into paragraphs?

Yes, definitely. You are being assessed on your ability to separate ideas into different body paragraphs. to get band score 7 in coherence and cohesion (25% of your marks), you must have a central idea in each body paragraph without repetition.

Can I have 4 or 5 body paragraphs?

That is not advisable – no, you shouldn’t. To get a high score in IELTS writing task 2, you must develop and extend your main points. This means that each body paragraph must contain enough supporting points. So, having 4 or 5 body paragraphs will limit your ability to develop your ideas.

Is it better to have 2 or 3 body paragraphs?

Both are fine. Either 2 or 3 body paragraphs is enough to develop ideas and show your ability to organise paragraphs. Your choice should depend on the essay question and on your main points. Take a look at my model essays (link below) to see how I use my paragraphs.

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  1. Dear Liz, I improved my reading because of your great website (4.5 to 6.5), but still i need to work on it to get score 7.
    Thank you.
    Kind Regards

    • Keep going. You can do it. Remember to make a list of paraphrases used in all questions and also the common traps you find 🙂

  2. Hi Liz,thank you so much for your wonderful advice and video lessons. Must I give an example to back my point in the two body paragraphs of the academic writing task2? Should I give examples only when it is feasible?

    • You use examples as you wish. It’s an easy way to support your ideas but not the only way. You make the decision of what suits you and what is best for your essay.

  3. Hi Liz,,,

    Should I write a main idea in each body paragraph?

    • Each paragraph should have a central theme , a central topic. In an opinion essay, each paragraph contains one main point for your view with supporting points. In a advantage/disadvantage essay, each paragraph has a central theme – advantages in one paragraph and disadvantages in the other. Body paragraphs for writing task 2 should be reasonably balanced in length – unlike task 1 where they can be of different lengths. See the model essays for task 2 on this page:

      • prasad reddy says:

        Hi Liz,

        I need to improve my speaking part 3. if i don’t know the answers I may get pissed off and my mind will go blank.please give some advise on this.

        • Why would part 3 make you angry? One of your main tasks in preparing for IELTS is to develop ideas for topics. This is so you can speak easily on different topics and express your thoughts. Even if your own language, if you don’t know the topic, you can still express yourself – your language doesn’t cease or fail. So, practice ideas for different topics and practice getting in and out of questions depending on how many ideas you have. See the main speaking page:

  4. Hi Liz, I did my exam tod2ay but I am worried. For my essay paragraphs, I made sure the paragraphs ended at the middle of the line.
    However I did not indent or leave a blank space. It’s very obvious that it’s a different paragraph but no space and indentation. Would I be penalised for this? Should I forget it and just write another ielts?
    Thank you.

    • As long as your paragraphs are very clear, it will be ok. But in future, always leave an empty line between paragraphs – it’s easier for the examiner.

  5. Pedro Goidanich de Castro says:

    Hi Liz, I have one doubt that I coud not find the answer anywhere.
    My handwriting is terrible, because of that I usally write using capital letters.

    If I want to use something like e.g. or i.e, do I have to write them in lower letters or capital letters?

    I know that they are suppouse tu be written in lower. However, I am afraid to be penalized because all the rest will be in capital. What do you recommend me to do?

    • You NEVER use ie or eg. You need to show your English which means linking words: for example, for instance, such as – see my page on linking words.

  6. Hi Liz,

    Thanks a lot for all the valuable info posted in the site.
    I have a question regarding thesis statement and have mentioned below.
    While answering advantage and disadvantage essay would it be fine to write the thesis statement in the following way,
    This essay will argue that remote working is clearly beneficial in many cases. It will show how the main advantage is time for yourself and will discuss how a possible downside is isolation.

  7. I am ok with reading and listening section plz help me to improve speaking and writing .the main problm that i got in these two modules is deficiency of ideas sometimes so wht can i do to improve this ….thnkew mam

  8. Hello Liz,

    My question is a little silly, I am hoping to still get an answer from you. I have searched in google that it’s acceptable to write all caps in listening and reading part of the test. My question is, how about in writing test? Is it okay toi write in all caps? thank you in advance for your answer. I am really new to this.

  9. Hey Liz!
    Do i need to write background statement in the introduction paragraph in all types of essay?
    Or only in opinion giving types?

  10. Navjot Virk says:

    Hlo liz . Is the writting task 1 structure has been changed From about last 6 month

  11. Referring to the link

    Under the Coherence and Cohesion you have mentioned that,
    ” Your score will increase if you :
    – have either four or five body paragraphs but not more and not less”

    Is it advisable to have 2-3 body paragraphs or 4-5 body paragraphs?

    Although I have seen your sample essays that all contain 2-3 body paragraphs, but still its confusing because you also mentioned that to increase the score 4-5 body paragraphs are required.

    Hoping to get a revert to my query soon.

    • Sorry, it should say – 4 or 5 paragraphs. I’ll change that now. Thanks for pointing it out.

      • Hello Liz,
        Thanks for the reply.
        Took my IELTS few days ago. The Speaking section didn’t go well, I could speak for around 30 sec only for the cue card, apart from that the rest was ok. The LRW was good enough.
        Your blog has been really helpful. For the writing task 2, the task was to discuss two views, and that was very similar to the model essay posted by you under the agree /disagree model answer.
        How much will the cue card task affect my speaking scores?

        • It will affect your score for fluency mostly because you didn’t show the ability to speak at length. The cue card contains prompts which are only guidelines and not questions to be answered. You are free to add any kind of information, story, description or detail to your talk to lengthen it – there is no such thing as going off topic in part 2 speaking. But if you did well on the other parts and other marking criteria, hopefully you can still get a reasonable score. Let me know what happens. I’ll keep my fingers crossed! 🙂

          • Definitely, will let you know, once I get the TRF.

            • Hi Liz,
              Got my results today. The overall score is 6.5, with individual scores as follows:
              L=6.5, R=7.0, W=6.5, S=5.5
              The scores are not up to my expectations. As pointed out earlier my speaking task was a disaster, so a score of 5.5 in speaking task is as expected. But the reading and listening scores are not matching my expectations, it’s far below than what I had been expecting( esp. the score in the listening task).
              Is there anything I could do now? Should I opt for re-evaluation?

              • It is highly unlikely that you will get an increase in more than one area of your test from remarking. Listening and reading scores very rarely change from remarking as the scores are based on right or wrong answers rather than examiner interpretation. It looks like you might have to take the test again. A low score can happen if you are unlucky in the test with topics and questions. But even so, make sure you score higher in practice tests before you book another real IELTS test.

  12. You have done one mistake while explaining the criterias of paragraphs and the mistake is
    …… (Can I have 4 or 5 body paragraphs?

    That is not advisable. It get a high score in IELTS writing task 2, you must develop and extend your main points. )

    Now, in the second line you are saying that “it get a high score” .
    We always use ‘s’ or ‘es’ after it with the verb. So may be you were saying that it doesn’t get a high score but undoubtedly you have missed this ‘doesn’t ‘ .
    Kindly correct and I really appreciate for your work and I regularly visit to your site , it really enhances my knowledge . I appreciate for your work .

    • Very well spotted. It’s a typo. The word should be “To”. I’ve corrected it. Thanks for letting me know.

    • Waleed Alsabbagh says:

      I is an oversight not a mistake … not a big issue.

    • Don’t write, “I really appreciate for your work.”
      Write, “I really appreciate your work.”

      Don’t write, “I regularly visit to your site.”
      Remove the “to” and instead write, “I regularly visit your site.”

      Don’t write, “I appreciate for your work.”
      Instead just write, “I appreciate your work.”

  13. Iago Videira says:

    Hello Liz.

    First of all congrats on the website, its amazingly useful 🙂

    I took the ielts recently, and i forgot to paragraph the essay, and i only got a 7. Im repeating it now. Do you think that paragraphing alone will raise that 7 to a 7.5 or an 8?

    Thank you for the website and all the help

    • If you don’t have paragraphs, you will get band 5 for Coherence and Cohesion, which is 25% of your marks in task 2 (this also applies to task 1). You MUST use logical paragraphs and use linking devices well to get a high score. In fact, you must have done very well in task 1 and also in the other aspects of writing task 2 to have got band 7 overall. I can’t say if it will certainly raise your score as it will all depend on your performance on the day. The fact that you don’t seem to be aware of what the examiner is looking for and how your writing is scored suggests that you are taking risks for the writing component of the test. Seriously consider getting at least one of my advanced lessons to open your eyes to the techniques you need to use and the skills you need to show in your essay writing: I wish you lots of luck in your next test. Please let me know how it goes 🙂

  14. Hi Liz,
    looking at band descriptors on writing, I’ve got a few questions:

    a. What is a “clear position through the response”
    b. What is a ” clear progression through the response”(really have no idea how can indicate it)
    c. What are “less common lexical items”? What are they? If there have some list?
    and lastly
    d. It is said “uses a variety of complex structures”, while for lesser band of 6, its written “uses a mix of simple and complex sentences forms”? Do they mean that in order to get 7 in grammatical range and accuracy, the candidate must not to use a simple sentences at all in essay, and only complex structures is allowed?

    I would be grateful for detailed reply.
    Thank you in advance,

    • A clear position means that you maintain your opinion through the whole essay and don’t suddenly change your position in the conclusion. That is for any question that requires your opinion. A clear progression is of ideas – order, linking etc. Less common items are those you might learn at intermediate or upper intermediate level – they are higher level. Common items are those used eveyday which are common to pre-intermediate levels and lower. To get band 7 people should be used complex sentences – the odd simple one might be ok but certain not a balanced of complex and simple.

  15. I have written more than 400 words in my IELTS writing task 2 part, and more than 250 words for Task 1; am I going to lose marks for such a fact?

    • no u wont loose any of the marks .. It all depends on how effectively and how innovatively u have represented ur ideas in an apt manner…………..!

  16. I have given three time IELTS but unfortunately in each exam i’ve got 6.5. However, in last attempt i’ve even mentioned statistics, research etc. in order to back my arguments.
    I would like to know is it better to mention those points or is it better to give descriptive answers backed by logic etc?

  17. Hi, mam
    M very weak in reading and writing . I already had 5 time ielts but m not getting 7 always you. 6.5 or 6.0 . Can you please help me

  18. Wassup people, I read most of your comments guys, just want to say two words: you guys are great. No offense to Ms Liz, you guys trynna past the test on laguage which you don’t know and plus write an essay, I’m pretty sure if people from UK or US will try to pass a test on other language they wouldn’t get even score 3 or 4 , reason why ? because they are lazy, I’ve met some guys from different countries in the US, they speak english that good that you couldn’t tell they are not from here. So is my rommate, he works for internet company and he’s on the phone since 6am morning to 5 pm evening. That is almost 12 hours. So keep it up! Once you pass the test and travel to some english speaking country, it will take maximum 1 or 2 years to speak english with no problem! Respect to ya’ll and have a wonderful day!!! Khodahafez

  19. Michael Carmelo says:

    Hello Mam Liz, Good day. I am Michael from Philippines. I have this problem in composing a paragraph in Writing Task. And I am planning to take my IELTS exam this April. Is there any pattern on how to make a paragraph in Writing skills. Thanks

  20. Fahim usman says:

    Hi Liz hope you doing well….
    I am fahim from india….i have scored 7 bands in academic ielts on 9th Jan. This is my bad luck that i was not aware of this site before my exam.
    I am currently working as a assitant teacher in my classes from where I had tutions of ielts.
    I will have most of your site for my juniors. You are doing best job…keep it up….

  21. Hey Liz,

    I just got to know this website of yours. It seems awesome!

    My problem–or what I lack– is it’s been month, even years, I have longed to find a way to boost my writing ability.

    I am not –at least at the time– thinking about writing fiction or poetry, just writing practical things: good essays, powerful one-page writings, writings which express my meaning concisely, accurately and learnedly in one page. To do this I have pressured myself into finding books any trying to instruct myself, but it’s not been enough There needs to be some people around to be like a community. Without it I lose track or forget or lose interest (you know the last time I tried doing this, bettering my writing was this time last year and I do not even remember what I wrote then.)

    I make searches on the internet to find pals or community of beginning writers but of no avail.
    I believe I should look for people who read my essays and find their faults, and I ,in return, do the same for them, or pay them (paying I don’t know if be possible, since I live in Iran and transactions are impossible.)

    I appreciate your advice.

  22. Dear Liz
    I just want to get your attention on something,
    Under the section of “Can I have 4 or 5 body paragraphs?”
    You said : That is not advisable. It get a high score, you must…
    I think you wanted to say : To get a high score, you must.. I understand the pressure you’re under by working on this wonderful blog. So, I just want to get your attention to it.

    There is also in section for IELTS writing task 2, specifically under Essential writing task2 tips. You said: The most important tips to write a strong essay in writing task 2.
    For me, I could not understand the sentence, when I read it, I’m like waiting to see, the most important tips to write a strong essay in writing task 2 are….(then you just explain them). I dont know, can you explain this part, please.
    Best regards,

  23. Hello Liz,
    How UK IV IELTS exam is different from normal IELTS? I mean which parts of the exam is common for both and which are those that are different in writing, speaking , listening and reading.


  24. Ji Soo Choi says:

    Hi Liz
    My name is Poppy and I am from South Korea.
    I have taken Ielts for six times now and I am taking another one on this Saturday.
    For all six of them I’ve got 6.5 or 6 in writing despite that I’ve got 9 in reading and listening.
    What am I suppose to do? I am so lost 🙁
    Any kind of tip would be greatly appreciated

    Thank you

    • Make sure you learn the band score requirements for each band score in writing and speaking. You can find this information on the main pages of this blog. Prepare ideas for all common topics in writing and speaking – see main pages. Remember to add lots of extra information to answers in speaking – the examiner only wants to hear your English language, not your ideas. In writing, review all models, paragraphing, linking etc. Also think about my advanced writing task 2 lessons:
      All the best

  25. Liz i already attempt 3 Ielts Test
    1st time score speaking 7.0, listening 7.5,,writting 6.5,reading 5.5
    2nd time score speaking 7.0, listending 7.5, writting 5.5, reading 6.5
    3rd time score speaking 5.0, listening 7.0 writting 6.5 reading 6.5
    i need 6.5 minimum all four parts always one part less than 6.5 any suggestion for me please?

    • You need to spend more time reviewing the band score criteria for speaking and writing so you understand what the examiner is looking for. See my main pages. Also make sure you aim for accuracy in English for speaking and writing rather than try to impress the examiner. For reading and listening spend more time working on paraphrasing skills and also techniques for question types.
      All the best

    • I would file an Enquiry of Results (EOR) on the Speaking part if it is not too late. There should not be such a difference between your first two Speaking scores and the third score. There is a slight chance that your mark will be raised to a 6.5 (unless you know you did poorly) and you won’t have to sit the test again.

  26. Dear Liz..
    I took the exam 3 times and I keep getting a 6.5 in the writing wile I need a 7 at least .. all my other categories are above 7
    What can I do differently to get the extra 0.5 ?

  27. hello mam, im arti from philippines. i recently given ILETS test but i didn’t get the band score that i achieve for my result in (L-5.5), (R-5.0), (W-4.5), (S-7.0) = overall- 5.5. i was required 6.5 bands and i need your help to make my writing, reading, and listening bands higher. help

    • You will need to have better English to get a higher score. Spend more time developing your English to a higher level before thinking about IELTS.

  28. Hi Liz,

    I’d like to know if using first , second or third person is fine in writing task 2?

    Like for example to this question:
    What are the advantages and disadvantages of leaving your country or study abroad?

    I use most of my sentence as the first person and talking more about myself and own experience.

    Thank you so much!


  29. Hi, Liz! Can I use cursive writing in my writing tasks? I was told never to use that because examiners will have a hard time reading the paper. I tried writing in block letters, honestly, I am not comfortable. Feels like I am dwelling with my ideas and thoughts for the writing itself and as the way I write. 🙁

    Ill be taking my exams this Dec 5th in the Philippines, is that cursive fine? Or should I keep on practicing for block writing. Thanks.

  30. suman shrestha says:

    hi liz…thank for your help. I am preparing for ilets exam but i have problem in writng task 2. I can’t find opinion and can’t support my views. please help me…… 😀

  31. Hi Liz,
    I am going to take the test in January.i am not able to speak on the topic which i get during speaking practice.eventhough i have some idea,m not able to elaborate it.would you please tell me how to solve this problem.

  32. Hi Liz:
    Thanks for your advice. may I know how can I generate ideas about Essay topics?


  33. Dr. Raheel Anis says:

    Hi , firstly I want to thank you , while going through your lectures I had my band score overall 7 in just 10 days of study , but I am suffering problems in writing , I have very low score in it which effects my overall band score as well my registration requirements, so I need to improve it.

  34. Hello Liz,

    I get stuck with Yes, No and Not given questions. They are bit tricky. Is there any special tip to deal with this.

    Amar Lal

  35. Hello liz , i would like to thank you very much for this lesson which is very useful , i wanna ask you for the most probable topic in task 1 thank you

  36. Hi Liz, I’m Jacopo from Italy, I just want to say THANK YOU! Your blog was essential for my preparation, especially for Writing task 1 and 2. In particular, I think that all your tips about the writing structure are fundamental to get a good band score. There should be more people like you in the world 🙂
    All the best
    Jacopo (Overall 7.5/ Listening 7.5/ Reading 8.5/ Writing 7.0/ Speaking 7.5)

  37. Hi, Liz! Really like ur every lesson, but I can not find any examples of essay 2, could u send some.. thanks

  38. hi liz, your lessons are very useful but i am so nervous , my exam will be next saturday

    • Relax. Review the model answers for writing and speaking. Then focus on the most difficult types of question for reading and listening.

  39. hi Liz
    i have done a few times of IELTS in academic style. maily got speaking 7, listening 7.5, reading 7, and my writing has been on 6 or 6.5. i need to get all straight 7 at least. I am not quite sure how to get it improved. any tips??

    much appreciate your help

  40. Hi Liz,
    I recently attempted IELTS exam and I got following scores:
    S: 7.5, R: 8.5, L:9 and W: 6.5.
    I am going through your lectures and they are very useful. Is there any place where I can get my writings tasks evaluated? So, I know what mistake I am doing?

    • Unfortunately, I don’t offer that service this year and I don’t have the details of a teacher who does.

  41. I’m Milton. I’m Angolan I will getting IELTS next month.

  42. hello madam,last ielts score is L-6.5,R-6,W-5.5,S-6,PLEASE GIVE suggestion for improvement of band score

    • To go from overall band 6 to overall band 7, you need better English. Spend time checking the accuracy of language you already know and then building on it. Always aim for accuracy to get more than band 6. Then review key IELTS exam skills – most are mentioned on the pages of my blog.

  43. Navneet Girdhar says:

    Hi Liz,
    I would like to that you for the magnificent work that you have been doing through this blog for IELTS preparation. I took it recently and got this amazing score of L-9,R-9,W-7,S-8 and overall 8.5. Your website helped me a great deal with all the modules during my preparation. You are truly helping all the aspiring candidates and a big thanks to you. Keep up the good work!

    • Overall 8.5, an excellent result. It is an inspiration for all other students. Thanks for letting us know. I’m glad my blog helped.
      Good luck with your future plans.
      Liz 🙂

  44. gurjant singh says:

    hloo liz test is on 8 august but in my city every trainer prefer diffrrnt method than i found on internet their method for tadk 1 is INTRO ,BODY PART1,BODY PART 2, OVERALL this right or wrong double minded abou pattern

  45. Hello Liz,

    I just wrote the IELTs english test and used the paraphrasing technique in the Writing Task 2.
    I substituted the word young children for youths in some parts of my essay. Now I am thinking about whether or not that was an appropriate choice and if not what are the consequences?

    • If you only made one mistake with vocabulary, you can still get band 8. It actually depends on how many mistakes you made throughout your essay as well as the other marking criteria. Don’t worry too much. Wait until you get your results.
      All the best

  46. Hi Liz,
    My IELTS Academic exam is scheduled to be held on August 1. This would be my third attempt for the same and every time I score less in writing(6.5) and my requirement is 7 in each module. The rest of the modules I have managed to score more than 7. Could you please guide me so that I can crack the test this time. Also, kindly let me know if there is any way so that I can email my writings to you for evaluation. Please help.

    • Hi Neha,

      Check this page with tips about band scores for writing: You need to learn what causes your score to go up and what causes it to decrease. There is a similar page in the writing task 1 section. Unfortunately, I don’t offer essay marking.
      All the best

    • gurjant singh says:

      hloo miss neha ..i dnt know u but i want one hepl from u wrote ur task 1..means INTRO OVERALL BODY PART1 and BODY PART 2 or something else.. and moreover from where u got training

  47. My IELTS exam is on 23rd july and my writing part is not as good as it should be. I’m just getting tensed day by day. I’ve already practiced so much. Now i dont know wat to do.

    • I don’t know what I can suggest. You need to look at the method used for each type of essay question by reviewing my models. You need to look at the essay structure, linking, and length of each paragraph. Try to find where your weakness is.
      All the best

      • well thanks for the above suggestion…i hope it will help me all the way.
        i have one more problem…. I get nervous while speaking… can u suggest how can i gain some confidence?

        • Firstly, do practice speaking tests. I have two on this site. Secondly, prepare lots of ideas and vocabulary for common topics and practice using them to answer questions. Thirdly, practice speaking your answers out loud rather than in your head or on paper. Please watch my video about developing your speaking at home on the speaking page. With practice, I’m sure you can forget your nerves for 14 minutes in the test.
          All the best

  48. Beatrice says:

    Liz thanks very much for your free ielts tips. Will a writing band score be affected by the repetition of a particular word like (Spent) up to 5 times in task 1?. I couldn’t just figure out a synonym for that word and i was running out of time because i started with task 2.

    • Not all words can be paraphrased and some words might be repeated. “spent money” will be repeated but you could change to “spending on” or “expenditure”.
      All the best

  49. Khadija says:

    My ielts exam on 25th July 2015 and my reading score is poor 5 .. I want to improve my skills in reading …

  50. Manpreet says:

    Hi Liz, i am having an exam on 21st July. i am confident but little week in reading..need your guidance for reading please.

    • All my advice and tips are on my reading page. Please take a look. Work through the practice lessons to develop your skills. Make sure you have a clear strategy for each type of question.
      All the best

  51. Hello liz…..i am very nervous because my exam .11 july ……My Acedamic reading performance is very poor then how can i improve it….

    • Working through my lessons, tips and videos to help. Spend time deconstructing and reconstructing my model essays to understand more about essay writing.
      All the best

  52. Sandeep says:

    Hello mam, I am Sandeep from India. I recently given IELTS test but i am not got sufficent result ((Read. &List. -5)-(Writ.&Speak-5.5) overall5.5). As i requried overall 7 band no less than 6 band in each modules. So i need your’s help how i improve my band score.

    • You will need to improve your English language significantly to get a higher score. That means being able to produce complex language with few errors to get band 7. The more errors you make, the lower your score will be. Also work on exam skills and understanding all the different types of questions in each section of the test.
      All the best

  53. Please help joining free ielts

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