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T.R.E.E.S. Paragraph Structure

What is the best structure for IELTS writing task 2?

The structures below are based on extensive analysis of IELTS Band 9 model essays written by IELTS writing examiners. The templates taught in this course are designed to satisfy all the task requirements (Task Achievement), present ideas in a logical order and provide crystal-clear transitions between ideas (Coherence and Cohesion), as well as suggest sentence skeletons with appropriate vocabulary (Lexical Resource) and complex structures/passive constructions (Grammatical Range and Accuracy).

Memorizing these structures allows you to completely forget about Task Achievement and Coherence and Cohesion and focus on vocabulary and grammar. The reason why is these templates guarantee that you will provide the required information in the best possible order. Memorizing these templates means that you can focus on your message and not worry about whether or not you are including enough information or arranging it correctly. That is taken care of for you completely!

Full templates, explanations, and Band 9 examples are available in the course.

How many paragraphs should my essay be?

I strongly recommend 4 paragraphs for all essay types. The reason is that it's very difficult to develop more than 2 body paragraphs in the given time of 40 minutes. The templates below are based on many years of experience training students. They are not the only way to structure your essays, but in my opinion, they are the best way given the constraints of the IELTS examination:

  1. For agree/disagree essays, the 2 body paragraphs cover the 2 supporting reasons for your position.
  2. For 2 perspectives plus opinion essays, the 1st body paragraph summarizes the perspective you disagree with while the 2nd body paragraph summarizes the perspective you agree with and indicates that this is also your opinion.
  3. For advantages or disadvantages essays, the 2 body paragraphs cover the 2 supporting reasons for your position. There is no need to cover both sides of the issue for this essay type.
  4. For advantages and disadvantages essays, the 1st body paragraph summarizes the 1st perspective and the 2nd body paragraph summarizes the 2nd perspective.
  5. For advantages/disadvantages plus opinion essays, the 1st body paragraph summarizes the perspective you disagree with while the 2nd body paragraph summarizes the perspective you agree with and indicates that this is also your opinion.
  6. For causes and solutions essays, the 1st body paragraph deals with the causes of the problem while the 2nd body paragraph deals with the solutions.
  7. For double questions, the 1st body paragraph answers the 1st question and the 2nd body paragraph answers the 2nd question.

The introduction always follows the same structure:

  • Paraphrase the prompt.
  • Write a thesis statement which gives a direct answer to every part of the question. Your position on the issue must be crystal-clear! You do not need to summarize your reasons at this point, and there is a clever but very simple way to do this, which is taught in the course. This is one of the few "secret hacks" that will save you effort and time, and help you avoid mistakes.

Overall, the best body paragraph structure for fully developed responses is T.R.E.E.S.

  • Topic
  • Reason
  • Evidence
  • Example
  • Significance*

For the IELTS Writing Task #2 essay, TREES paragraph structure helps you cover all Task Achievement content requirements in the most organized way. This is the most effective structure for any IELTS essay body paragraph.

Topic sentence

  • 1 sentence

The topic sentence tells the reader exactly what to expect in that paragraph. In this case, state the first reason for your opinion, summarize the first perspective, or answer the 1st question in a 2-part question. The topic sentence in the first body paragraph summarizes your answer to the first half of the prompt; the topic sentence in the 2nd body paragraph summarizes your answer to the 2nd half of the prompt.


  • 1 sentence

Expand on your reason in general terms. 


  • 1-2 sentences

How do you know this is true? Refer to a research study or statistic that proves what you are saying is true. As long as it's reasonable, invent the data and results.


  • 1-2 sentences

Bring your point to life with an example. Invent a story of how this happened to you, a family member, or peer; you can refer to a news story.

Note that IELTS requires an example, according to the instructions. For IELTS, an example can be scientific or statistical evidence, or it can be a personal example. They don't care which one it is as long as it is well-developed. What they do not want to see is a list of reasons. For example, in an Agree/Disagree essay, you need 2 supporting reasons. Each supporting reason is developed into each of the two body paragraphs. The purpose of each body paragraph is to develop each reason.

There are three basic patterns for the example:

  1. Refer to a research study or newspaper report and explain what happened.
  2. Give a personal example - something that happened to you, a friend, or a peer.
  3. Start with a research study. Briefly describe it and then provide an example that brings it to life. This is the most effective method.


  • 1 sentence

Connect the paragraph to the thesis. Explain how the evidence/example supports your opinion. Remember, your opinion MUST be clear throughout your response; this is the place to remind the reader. This sentence often starts with "Thus, for that reason..."

The conclusion always follows the same structure:

  • Write a full thesis statement which directly answers every part of the question and summarizes your reasons.
  • You can end your essay with an observation and/or prediction. This is not a requirement of the task - it is not in the instructions or on the rubric - but helps to round off your essay if you feel that it has ended too abruptly.


This is the most powerful all-purpose writing template ever developed. It works because you only need to remember one, and it's infinitely adaptable.

In the past, I used numerous templates for different types of essays, but this confused students in terms of which one they needed to use. Using this one eliminates confusion. It works in ALL situations.

This template is easily adaptable to any writing situation. Sometimes it makes sense to describe an example before explaining your point in detail. At other times, you will need to provide more than one reason. Occasionally, not every T.R.E.E.S. element is needed (this is rare). You can also write one paragraph that describes a research study in detail, and then the next paragraph can include an extended personal example. However, if you stick to the T.R.E.E.S. template for your body paragraphs, IT WORKS 100% EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Everything is explained in detail in the course:

  • Full explanations
  • Detailed paragraph templates with sentence skeletons (suggested template sentences for ALL SENTENCES in the essay)
  • Writing exercises
  • Band 9 models written by current and former examiners, with analysis that shows you how all the parts of the essay work together
  • As well, you can have your writing checked by a former examiner and academic writing teacher with 20 years of academic English training experience. We follow the same process that professional writers use to improve their writing skills. It will work for YOU too!