How to do Task 1 of the IELTS Writing exam

The IELTS exam has 4 parts, the Writing part being the third one. You have one hour in total to complete the IELTS Writing exam and you should spend 20 minutes on Task 1 and 40 minutes on Task 2. In this article you will read about how to use those 20 minutes effectively and how to write a short essay that satisfies the criteria that the examiner uses to mark your writing.

What are the task requirements?

In Task 1 of the Academic Writing exam you will be presented with one or two graphs. This could be a bar chart, a pie chart or a line graph.

Your task is to write a minimum of 150 words summarising and describing the information represented in the graph using language that is appropriate to an academic, formal context.

If you want more information on how the examiner will score your writing, read the article: How to do the Writing section of the IELTS exam.

Reading the question

Read the question carefully, although the instructions will often be similar, you need to focus on answering all the aspects of the question.

Example:

The following charts below show admission averages for students in several programs at different points in history.

Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

graphique de la question avec pour titre "admission averages by program and decade"

 

The first part of the question will provide you with a brief description of the graph. Here it might be helpful to write some synonyms for the words in the question which you can use in your answer. If you repeat the vocabulary from the question too often, this will have an impact on your score. So, in this example you might note alternatives such “across the decades” instead of “at different points in history”.

The second part of the question will tell you to provide a summary that reports the most relevant information and that compares findings in the data if appropriate. This means that you need to explain the patterns demonstrated in the graph in general terms, rather than focus on small details.

Write a plan

Although you are under time pressure, it’s still essential that you do not start writing immediately, but instead take a few minutes to plan your answer so that your writing will be clear and structured. The plan does not need to be detailed but it should help you to organise your ideas and anticipate the language you will need to use.

You need to identify the main trends in the graph before you start. In this example plan you can see that the candidate has written a short description for each line on the graph, and a final note detailing a point of comparison.

Notes:

– general upward trend science

– probable upward trend in arts, but insufficient data points to be sure

– considerable variation i,n music

– science admission averages generally higher than arts. No correlation for music.

Write an Introduction

Once you have decided on your key points, you can start writing. You need to write a clear introduction, imagine that the person who is reading it cannot see the graph so you need to include the key information.

Suggestion

This chart gives the admission averages of successful for several types of programs across the span of 5 decades.

As you can see in the suggested answer, the candidate has paraphrased the question, using alternative words such as “gives” instead of “shows” and “across the span of five decades” instead of “at different points in history”.

Highlighting key information

Using your notes, you can now write the main part of your short essay which reports or highlights the most important information in the graph.

Suggestion

Admission averages were generally the highest and on an upward trend in science programs, peaking at 90% in the 2000s and 2010s. In music programs, admission averages varied erractically, starting at 60% in the 1970s and peaking at 90% in the 2000s before falling to 65% in the 2010s. Arts admission averages were somewhat more stable, hovering at 70% in the 197°s, 1990s and 200s and fluctuating only as low as 65 and as high as 80. Admission averages were consistently higher in science than in arts, whereas music admission averages were at times the lowest of all and at times on par with science applicants.

Here you can see the candidate has expanded upon his note about the “general upward trend in science” and added a point about admission averages “peaking at 90% in the 2000s and 2010s”. For music the candidate describes in more detail, expanding on their note about “considerable variation”, explaining the averages “varied erratically” and describing the fluctuations from the 1970s to the 2010s.

Notice that the candidate uses a variety of verbs, such as “peaking”, “falling”, “hovering” and “fluctuating”. And also adjectives and adverbs like “stable” and “erratically”. Using a range of vocabulary will increase your band score for “Lexical Resource” and GlobalExam can help you to improve in this area as each model answer includes words to memorise and reuse, as in the example below:

Verbs Nouns Adjectives Adverbs
to vary trend highest erratically
to peak volatility upward consistently

Writing an overview

In the final line of his paragraph the candidate makes a comparison between the trends for the three programs, explaining their relative popularity at different points in time. Writing an overview like this is essential as the examiner will look for this when deciding your score for Task Achievement.

Write a conclusion

You do not need to say much, remember you are not asked to interpret the data or make predictions. Indeed, the candidate here says it is not possible to “predict future averages” but states in general terms what the graph is about. It’s not essential that you write a conclusion but you can very briefly summarise your findings:

Given the limited amount of data for analysis, it is difficult to draw conclusions or predict future admission averages. However, this chart presents a snapshot of general trends and volatility in admission averages across the decades.

Model answers

Now you can see the complete model answer. Always take time to read these and make a note of language that you can reuse and recycle in your own essays. Of course, memorising a complete answer and copying it in an exam is a very bad strategy. But practise at writing your own essays and becoming comfortable using the type of language required for the exam is excellent preparation for writing an organised and well-worded essay on exam day.

After training for this task, you will need to study for the Task 2 of IELTS Writing, which is more important.

Online Training with GlobalExam

On the GlobalExam platform, you can practice in real exam conditions thanks to many exercises and mock exams. All our content follows the pattern of the test and the question types, so you can become familiar with it and improve your score!

You will get corrections for the exercices, as well as explanations, along with study sheets if you need to reviex some specific points.

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