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Writing
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Paragraphing

In IELTS Writing Task 2, the use of paragraphing is an important issue, in Coherence & Cohesion (CC).

However, it can be important in other ways also. IELTS examiners usually have a large pile of Writing papers to mark, which can take them up to two days to complete. Reading through, and concentrating on the contents of dozens of answers, for the same question, can get very tiring.

Although an examiner is following set marking procedures, which are intended to ensure, as much as possible, that whoever marks it and wherever it is marked, the score will be the same; examiners are human, and can be both positively and negatively influenced, even though they may not realise it.

A script that is not easy to read, especially after a long period of marking, may, subconsciously, be read in a less sympathetic way. So if the examiner is not sure whether to award a lower of higher band score, in one particular section, they may not give the writer the benefit of the doubt, and award the lower band score.

This is why it is important to ensure all answers are clear, easy to read, and logical. Effective paragraphing is one way to enhance clarity, but if paragraphing is hard to identify, or non-existent, the Examiner may have formed a less sympathetic, even hostile subconscious opinion, before reading a single word. If so, not only may it impact on the CC score, but on the other three also!

The following three scripts are identical in content. The first does not have correct paragraphing, but the other two do. Which looks the easiest to read?

(1) Incorrect Paragraphing

More...

(2) Correct Paragraphing

(3) Correct Paragraphing

Although both the last two scripts have correct paragraphing, there is no doubt that the last one is the easiest to read. Double spacing clearly identifies the paragraphs and makes the text look more inviting, or at least less of an effort to read. This is why it is strongly advised to use double spacing in the IELTS Test, and leave one blank line between each paragraph.

The same principles are used throughout the newspaper and general publishing world. Anything that is meant to be easy to read has more white space and less text, per page.

So comics, young children’s books, and tabloid newspapers have larger fonts and more space, while textbooks, financial newspapers, adult literature, etc. has smaller print and more on each page. These publications are not intended to be easy to read, as they are read by people who really want to.

Don’t make it difficult for the examiner! If your script is no 39 that day, they would probably rather be doing something else, so make it easy for them, and leave one blank line of the answer sheet, between paragraphs.

 

 

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