A Good Topic Sentence In A Essay

2.2: Topic Sentences

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on August 7, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource covers methods of composing topic sentences for the paragraphs in your GED essay.

Topic Sentences

Topic sentences are sort of like thesis statements for your body paragraphs. A clear topic sentence will establish the main idea of the paragraph so that the reader understands what each body paragraph is about. The topic sentence does not need to be the very first sentence of the paragraph, but it should be near the beginning.

When writing the topic sentence for a body paragraph, consider the main idea of the paragraph. If you have already chosen the subpoints for your essay, it will make it even easier, since the each body paragraphs will focus on one subpoint. Our example writer’s topic sentences may sound something like the sentences below:

  • Topic Sentence for Body Paragraph 1: The first step I will take to getting a better job is to finish school.
  • Topic Sentence for Body Paragraph 2: Next, I will work toward getting a better job by preparing a resume.
  • Topic Sentence for Body Paragraph 3: The final step I plan to take to get a better job is to search for jobs.

You will notice that each of these sentences uses key words—“first, next, and final”—to transition between each paragraph. This is a very smart thing to do when writing your topic sentences, because words like these help your reader follow your points and connect them to one another. For more examples of transition words and phrases, see Lesson 4 on word choice.

Now you try! Write three topic sentences that correspond to the three subpoints you have chosen in response to the sample essay topic. Remember to keep the sentences clear and focused on the main idea of each body paragraph.

For more information about organizing your essay, please visit these Purdue OWL resources:

To practice responding to a writing prompt, please use the CWEST GED Essay Game.

1.1: Topic Sentences

This resource was written by Jaclyn M. Wells.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on August 7, 2009 .

Summary:
Part 1, Lesson 1 addresses organization. This page deals with topic sentences.

Lesson 1: Organization

This lesson addresses organization. Questions about organization make up 15 percent of the questions in Part I of the GED Language Arts, Writing test. Studying this resource will also help you think about organization in relation to the GED Essay. It will also improve your writing skills in general. Topics included in this resource are as follows: topic sentences, relevance of ideas, order of ideas, and transitions.

Topic Sentences

Every paragraph should include a topic sentence that identifies the main idea of the paragraph. A topic sentence also states the point the writer wishes to make about that subject. Generally, the topic sentence appears at the beginning of the paragraph. It is often the paragraph’s very first sentence. A paragraph’s topic sentence must be general enough to express the paragraph’s overall subject. But it should be specific enough that the reader can understand the paragraph’s main subject and point.

On the GED, you may be asked to choose a better topic sentence for a paragraph. Sometimes, a topic sentence may be entirely missing from a paragraph, and you will be asked to choose one for it. When choosing a topic sentence, remember these guidelines:

  • The topic sentence should identify the main idea and point of the paragraph. To choose an appropriate topic sentence, read the paragraph and think about its main idea and point.
  • The supporting details in the paragraph (the sentences other than the topic sentence) will develop or explain the topic sentence. Read all the supporting details in the paragraph and think about the ideas they discuss.
  • The topic sentence should not be too general or too specific. When considering the options, look for a topic sentence that is general enough to show the paragraph’s main idea instead of just one of its details. The answer should be specific enough that the reader understands the main idea of the paragraph.

Topic Sentence Exercise

Write a topic sentence for the following paragraph.

During the 1990s, I really enjoyed watching Friends on television every Thursday night. I really wanted Rachel’s haircut—I think every girl wanted Rachel’s haircut back then! Rachel’s haircut went really well with the Guess Jeans that were so popular in the 1990s. I remember all the advertisements for Guess and Calvin Klein Jeans that were in each month’s Sassy magazine. I don’t think Sassy magazine exists anymore, but it was one of the most popular magazines for young women in the 1990s.

Click here for exercise answers.

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