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TOEFL iBT. The Essay Structure

При написании какого-либо эссе необходимо обязательно соблюсти четкую структуру, чтобы основаня идея, изложенная в нем, была ясной, четко сформулированной и понятной. В этой статье рассматривается структура эссе, с примерами и полезными советами. Если у Вас возникнут вопросы - оставляйте их на форуме, и наши консультанты Вам обязательно ответят.


Like all first impressions, the introductory paragraph of your essay will leave a lasting imprint. Therefore, it is extremely important that it be well written. To favorably impress your readers, your introduction should contain the following:


How is a hook used in fishing? It dangles in front of its target (the fish) and tries to lure or captivate it. In much the same way, the "hook" in an essay is used to catch the attention of your audience. To (accomplish this, begin your essay with an interesting, thought-provoking idea about the topic you have been assigned.
Avoid asserting the obvious; that is, merely stating a fact that everyone knows is true. For example, "Learning a new language is difficult" is a fact known to be true by almost everyone, and, therefore, serves no useful purpose.

Sometimes a quotation (or proverb) works well as a hook if it is particularly relevant to the thesis.

General Statements Regarding the Assigned Topic

Your introduction should only introduce the main ideas of your essay. This is not the place for you to provide supporting details, such as specific names, places, and dates. Save these for the body of your essay.


The thesis is the most significant statement in your essay. It consists of one sentence only and is usually the last sentence of your introduction. A thesis must be a complete sentence (unlike a title). It should also be narrow enough for you to be able to discuss it within the short time frame allowed on the TOEFL and within a two- or three-paragraph body. Yet it must also be general enough for you to be able to write two to three sub-points on this topic.

Unlike some countries, in the United States, we do not state directly what we plan to do or say in our 'essay; for example, "I will write about..." is unacceptable in an American essay. If your essay is well written, your intentions should be obvious to your reader without your having to explicitly state them.

The thesis serves two basic functions.

Firstly, it states the main topic of your essay.

Secondly, it provides a viewpoint or position that you, the writer, hold about this topic. For example, this is not a thesis: "Smoking In restaurants In New York is illegal."

It merely states a fact, but provides no position or opinion regarding this fact.

This is a thesis: "Not allowing smoking in restaurants in New York is highly unfair to the smoker and gives too much power to the nonsmoker."

Here we are given both a topic (i.e., smoking in restaurants in New York is illegal) plus two clear opinions about this topic. Because this thesis states two positions regarding the topic, it will also help the writer to quickly and effectively set up the organization for the body of his/her essay. That is, the two sub-points have been clearly laid out in the introduction for both the reader and the writer. Often students feel that there must be a "right" or "wrong" position that they should take on a given topic.

Remember: You are entitled to your own opinion.

The readers are only interested in whether you have logically, clearly, and effectively supported the position that you have taken.

Be sure the thesis statement:

• Contains one, and only one, complete sentence
• Provides a clearly defined main topic
• Takes a clearly stated position on the topic (instead of merely stating a fact)
• Doesn't explicitly state what you plan to do/say


The main purpose of the body of your essay is to give support to your thesis (usually the last sentence of your introduction). To give sufficient support, you need to provide a minimum of two or three paragraphs in your body for an essay examination. However, a take-home essay generally has several body paragraphs.

All body paragraphs begin with a topic sentence. The topic sentence states the main idea of the body paragraph, a main sub-point of your thesis. For this reason, it may be said that after your thesis, topic sentences are the most important part of your essay.

Immediately following the topic sentence, you should provide clear, specific details to lend credence to the argument of your paper; specifically, to the topic sentence of that paragraph. To accomplish this, you should use specific dates, people, places, and/or events. You will most likely need more than one sentence to provide sufficient details for each point. Use transitions to introduce your examples (see list in appendix).
Generally speaking, the body paragraphs are longer than the introduction and conclusion.

However, be sure that each body paragraph contains only one main sub-point. All the ideas included in each paragraph must fall under the broader topic sentence. That is, every new idea requires a new paragraph.
Think of each sentence after the topic sentence ("the set") as a sub-set of it.

While you will want to use transitions within your body paragraphs, you also need to use them to connect one body paragraph to another. This is necessary to make your paper smooth and coherent. For example, if you are writing a compare/contrast essay, you may want to begin your second body paragraph with a transition phrase such as on the other hand or in contrast. Study the list of transition terms at the end of this chapter to determine which one(s) would be appropriate for the type of essay you are writing.


The conclusion of the essay is often neglected.

One reason for this is that students often run out of time during the essay examination and never get beyond the body of their papers. Another factor is that students often do not know how or when to end their essay. Yet failure to end your essay is analogous to not finishing the final chapter of a book. Your reader is left with unanswered questions; you must put these to rest before you finish your paper. However, if you have gone through the recommended organization steps laid out in our earlier sections and practiced timed writing on your own, finishing your essay should become an easier task.

The following guidelines can help you improve your concluding paragraph:

• Before writing your conclusion, reread your introduction {paying special attention to your thesis) and your topic sentences. This will refresh your memory as to the main idea and main subpoints of your paper.
• Begin your conclusion with a paraphrase of your thesis. It is vital that you not repeat your thesis verbatim. Doing so is redundant and boring, and you miss the opportunity to show your readers the breadth of your vocabulary.
• Follow with general statements. These should be a summary or evaluation of previously mentioned main thoughts.
• Your last sentence should provide a final thought or comment concerning your main topic.

The following should be avoided in a conclusion:

• New information does not belong in a conclusion. You have neither the time nor the space to develop it further (this is what the body paragraphs are for).
• Avoid detailed information in support of your thesis. This, too, should be found in the body of the essay, after your topic sentences.
• Don't begin your conclusion with "to conclude" or "in conclusion." It is clear to your reader that this is your final paragraph and is obviously your conclusion. (You may, however, begin your conclusion with transitions like therefore, thus, to sum up, or in summary.)
• A conclusion should not be lengthy. In general, three or four sentences will suffice. This is especially true of a 30-minute essay examination conclusion.

Edited by
Katherine Protsenko,

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