IELTS, TOEFL & TOEIC Writing Tip: When to begin a new paragraph

ScottsEnglishScottsEnglish Administrator Posts: 1,296 admin ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
edited May 2017 in Writing

What is a paragraph?

A paragraph is a collection of related sentences dealing with a single topic. Learning to write good paragraphs is essential to a high score in your IELTS, TOEFL and TOEIC test. Good paragraphing helps your reader (examiner/rater) in following your thinking. You can have fantastic ideas, but if those ideas aren't clearly organised, you will lose marks.

The Basic Rule: Keep one idea to one paragraph

The basic rule with starting a new paragraph is to keep one idea to one paragraph. If you begin to transition into a new idea, it belongs in a new paragraph. There are some simple ways to tell if you are on the same topic or a new one. You can have one idea and several bits of supporting evidence within a single paragraph. You can also have several points in a single paragraph as long as they relate to the overall topic of the paragraph. 

Consider the following sample - what's wrong?

First of all, scientists experimenting with lab animals is inhumane. Everyone is born with equal rights and this extends to the animal kingdom as well. Animals have the right to survive and experimentation violates the rights of animals.

Second, animal experimentation is harmful to the mental development of children as it sends the wrong 'message'. Children might think that the life of animals is not important.  

Lastly, using animals to test new products is old fashioned. We can use other methods, such as computer modeling and to test the safety of new products. 

The problem here is that all three sentences relate to one (1) idea - that experimenting with animals in labs is wrong. Therefore, all the ideas should have been combined into one (1) paragraph.

Elements of a paragraph

To be as effective as possible, a paragraph should contain each of the following: 

  1. unity
  2. coherence
  3. a topic sentence  
  4. good development. 

All of these aspects overlap. Using and adapting them to your individual purpose will help you construct effective paragraphs.

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