In this lesson, you’ll learn how to write the body paragraph.
In the body paragraph, you will explain the reasons and ideas to support your essay’s thesis statement. A TOEFL essay normally has three body paragraphs. Each body paragraph gives the reader a detailed explanation about one main idea. This idea helps to show or convince the reader that your idea is true or correct. In addition, each paragraph must flow from one to the next. This is called coherence and is done using transitions. Transitions between paragraphs can be done at the start of the new paragraph.
What does a body paragraph usually include? It includes
- Main idea
- Impersonal detail
- Supporting statement for detail
- Personal example
Using more complex transitions will help you get a perfect writing score, but it is not necessary to do well. For example, your body paragraphs can use simple transitions like
Body paragraph 1 – first of all, firstly, or to begin with
Body paragraph 2 – In addition to.., secondly, or furthermore
Body paragraph 3 – finally, thirdly, or lastly
We will look at a few high scoring essays that use both complex and simple transitions later on.
The main idea will summarize the body paragraph’s purpose. It’s meant to tell the reader what the paragraph will be about.
Finally, you need to write the supporting sentences. The supporting sentences are used to explain in detail the main idea. The supporting sentences need to fully explain the topic sentence using anything to help the reader understand. You can use things like reasons, examples, and even personal experiences. Since there should be more than one supporting sentence in each body paragraph, remember to use transitions to connect your ideas between supporting sentences.
Now I want to teach you about how to write a good body paragraph. What you just learned were the basics, but to get a high score, you need to write more than the basics.
There are three things you need to do to get a high score:
- Write a good topic sentence
- Use transitions to organize your supporting sentences with logical connection
- Show variety in sentence structure and grammar and a range of appropriate vocabulary
There are a number of things you should keep in mind when you write the topic sentence:
- Make sure your topic sentence is concise. In other words, don’t cover too many details and make sure it’s not too broad or too narrow.
- Make sure your topic sentence gets right to the point. Do not beat around the bush. When there is too much surrounding the topic sentence, the reader might interpret the main idea incorrectly, which could lead to confusion later on.
Also, avoid the following when writing the topic sentence.
- Avoid using facts. Don’t use facts as topic sentences. Remember, you are using the topic sentence to introduce a point or opinion you’re trying to make. Facts are better used in your supporting ideas to help convince the reader of your point.
- Don’t just talk about the “what” – talk about the “why” as well. That is, don’t just think about the effect, but it’s cause.
- Avoid telling the reader that you are going to tell them something. For example don’t say “I am going to tell you…” or “I am going to speak about…” when introducing a topic. The reader already knows you are the writer, it is irrelevant to say this.
Alright, let’s continue.
Bad Topic Sentences
- Driving is stressful.
- Four out of ten drivers use cell phones while driving.
Why are they bad?
Well…the first one, “Driving is stressful”, is too broad. A good topic sentence could be “Driving on the highway in heavy traffic is stressful for many motorists”.
Can you see the difference?
We’ve narrowed down the topic to be about a specific situation while driving. This will help the reader understand your essay much better.
The second one, “four out of ten drivers use cell phones while driving”, is using a fact and only talks about the what. It does not give the reader enough information to understand what the essay is about and what opinion you have about the fact. A good topic sentence would be “Using a cell phone while driving should be banned because it causes a lot of car accidents.” You should be able to immediately see a difference in that topic sentence as it provides more detail on the topic of the essay in addition to expressing where you stand on that topic.
Suppose the thesis statement is
In order to succeed in the classroom, college students need to utilize the resources available to them throughout their academic careers.
Here are 3 good topic sentences that support this thesis statement.
- One important resource that all college students should utilize for success is tutorial services.
- Another important resource for student success is frequent use of the library.
- In addition to using tutoring services and the library, college students should consult with their advisor on a regular basis to monitor success and make necessary changes when needed.
Notice how these topic sentences help the reader understand what the essay will be written about. Well…they actually do more than that. They also help the writer organize the main ideas of the essay. If a writer creates clear topic sentences early in the writing process, they can use those to organize the essay and create unity in each of the paragraphs.