All IELTS Writing questions require the writer to meet a particular goal, purpose, or objective, as detailed in the question. Whatever the writer is being asked to convey, that information needs to be done, clearly, logically, and concisely.
Transition sentences assist in this objective, by creating logical links between sentences, paragraphs, and other parts of the writing.
They act as sign posts directing the reader on what to expect next and tying the various parts of the writing together. They prevent the reader from becoming confused, and possibly losing interest in what is being said, all of which would make it very difficult for that piece of text to deliver the writer’s intended message!
In the IELTS Writing Test, this can result in marks being deducted from the Task Achievement (TA) and Task Response (TR) scores, as well as Coherence and Cohesion, in both tasks 1 and 2. If the examiner finds it difficult to follow the script, they may not identify that all requirements of the question, have been completed, even when they are!
Ideas and information must be well organised, to be coherent, and there has to be a logical progression, through the whole text! Cohesion, amongst other things, requires the effective use of linking devices, of which transition sentences are one such example.
A transition sentence is like a bridge linking one place to another. Where the bridge is missing, too short, or poorly built, this can cause a jarring experience, for the user. A missing or poorly constructed transition sentence can create the same jarring experience for a reader!
Remember that ‘eccentric characters’ in a story are memorable, they help the reader to identify and recognise them easily.
What happened to the discussion on transition sentences?
Now you know what that 'jarred' feeling is like, as there was no transition sentence.
Eccentric characters are not connected to the subject of transition sentences at all, but we can make them relate by connecting the two topics.
Transitions usually root in the first line of a new paragraph, but sometimes in the last line. If you can find a common denominator, you can make a smooth transition, like this:
'A transition sentence is like a bridge linking one place to another. Where the bridge is missing, too short, or poorly built, this can cause a jarring experience, for the user. A missing or poorly constructed transition sentence can cause the same jarring experience for a reader! [Setting up for the transition.] These bridges or connections come in many forms.'
For example, ‘eccentric characters’ (characters displaying bizarre, idiosyncratic, outlandish, or unconventional behaviour), act as a strong connection between the reader and the character, enabling them to be more easily remembered.
You can connect virtually anything if you find a common theme or connection. Transition sentences are a very effective method to gain some control of a reader’s mind!
One good transition sentence can enable the reader to jump decades in time, with ease:
'Emily looked at her mother’s photograph on the writing desk, gently touching the gold frame. She smiled, remembering the wonderfully happy childhood days she spent with her mother.
Now, after almost 25 years, memories of those times brought a tear to her eye ….'
What was the transition phrase?
'Now, after almost 25 years, ….'
Readers expect a new paragraph to build on and develop what was said before, in a way that flows so smoothly, that it is hardly noticeable.
To create a good paragraph transition, the writer has to demonstrate why one paragraph comes after another, in the same way, that a sentence, usually, only make sense because of the preceding sentence.
Look how confusing the second sentence would be, without the previous sentence:
'Gorging on calorie-packed delicious deserts has always been one of my favourite activities.
Sometimes, the cream covers my chin, waiting for me to lick it off. On one occasion a waiter commented, that he had never seen anyone devour several deserts with such fervour.'
The reader will expect something different, but related, to be discussed following on from the second sentence when a new paragraph begins.
'Sometimes, the cream covers my chin, waiting for me to lick it off. On one occasion a waiter commented, that he had never seen anyone devour several deserts with such fervour.
Often, I am the recipient unwelcome comments, given to me by people, perhaps, attempting to be humorous, or possibly helpful! Having someone, even strangers, making reference to my overindulgent sweet tooth, does at times, break through my otherwise thick skin.'
The second paragraph becomes a wider discussion of the behaviour the writer has experienced from others. Its objective is to expand the scope of the subject to include the effects it can have. Although there is a new focus, it develops the ideas of the previous paragraph to take the reader toward a new area of thought.
Some good transition words and phrases
in addition to
to sum up
as a result
on the contrary
Remember the secret: a transition sentence must use part of the topic it left and part of the topic it is approaching. As stated before, in IELTS writing, they are more than just a good writing practice. Failure to use them, or to use them incorrectly, will almost certainly have an influence on your final band score.
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Introduction to the IELTS Speaking TestIELTS Speaking
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Format & DataIELTS Writing
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Factually CorrectIELTS Writing
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Introductory MarkersIELTS Writing
Task Purpose / RequirementsIELTS Writing
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Transition SentencesIELTS Writing
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