I wrote this post a few weeks ago for some of my IELTS students who take online lessons with me and it has really improved their writing. For that reason, I decided to share it on my website for free and hope that it will help many more IELTS students. Once you have read this, why not try to write a full IELTS essay and use my writing correction service to check it.

Many students find it difficult to write a structured paragraph and over-complicate what could be a very simple task. In fact, it is so simple that once you learn it, you probably won’t believe it. 

Band 9 for task achievement has only two requirements 


presents a fully developed position in answer to the question with relevant, fully extended and well supported ideas


fully addresses all parts of the task 

Let’s compare that with band 5


addresses the task only partially; the format may be inappropriate in places 

expresses a position but the development is not always clear and there may be no conclusions drawn 

presents some main ideas but these are limited and not sufficiently developed; there may be irrelevant detail

How Can I Write a Band 9 Paragraph?

Therefore, it is clear that to write a great paragraph you need to provide relevant, fully extended and supported ideas. 

So, how do you make sure that you actually do this? 

The answer is simple, you need a main idea, an explanation and an example.

Where do you Put the Main Idea?

The main idea should always go at the beginning of the paragraph. There are 2 main reasons for this 

1) It makes it simple for the examiner to identify your main idea and understand the point that you are trying to make.

2) It allows you to fully extend and support your idea after you have presented your topic sentence. 

What do you Write After the Main Idea?

The main idea then needs to be supported with an explanation or examples. This is to ensure that the reader understands the logic of what you are trying to say. Something may be true in your country, but that doesn’t mean it is universally accepted. Therefore, the trick is to allow the reader to see the reasons behind your idea. 

What is the Difference between an Explanation and Example? 

An explanation gives the reason or justification that you think that something is true or makes something clear. 

An example uses real-world events or situations to demonstrate the idea in action. 

Do I have to Use an Example for Every Idea?

Not necessarily, as you can see by the marking criteria, examples are not mentioned. However,  I’d advise using one per paragraph because they are easy ways to support the main ideas. If you can’t think of a specific example, it is possible that your main idea is too complicated. 

Can you Show me How to Write Using this Strategy?

Of course, let’s have a look at a real question from 2020

Some people believe that there should be a law which prevents young people under the age of 18 being outside after midnight. Do you agree or disagree?


Create a Short Plan before Writing Your Essay



Simple Plan

More in-depth plan

Main Idea

It would be expensive to enforce a curfew on young people. 

Forcing youngsters to stay inside may exacerbate the problems it was designed to resolve.


Extra police officers would need to be employed

Proponents of this idea might argue that enacting a law would reduce antisocial behaviour. However, it is likely that it could make it worse. 


UK police officer salary minimum of £25,000 

Recent research in the United States has suggested that youth curfews actually increase the crime levels in a city and there is no evidence that they are effective. 

Now place this information into a paragraph using full sentences and a level of grammar and vocabulary that you are comfortable using. 

Please try to write a paragraph before reading my model answer below. 


Is the main idea at the beginning of the paragraph?

Have you supported your idea with an explanation?

Have you provided a real life example from your country/knowledge?

Sample Paragraph

Main Idea



Conditional Sentence/Link back to the question

A real example of a paragraph using this strategy

The most important reason for not implementing the proposed law is that it would cost too much money. Ensuring that youngsters remain inside during the night would be prohibitively expensive, especially considering the salaries of police officers. In the UK, the starting salary of a police officer is around £25,000 and it is clear that thousands of extra staff would be required to enforce this policy.  If this money was invested in preventing the causes of juvenile crime such as poor education and a lack of opportunities, this could prove better value for money. 

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