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IELTS Writing

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1


Are you preparing for the IELTS Academic Writing section and feeling overwhelmed by the challenges posed by Task 1? Don't worry! In this article, we explore the complex aspects of Task 1, offering strong tips and a complete explanation of assessment criteria to help you get the score you want. With a clear focus on diagrams, charts, and maps, this guide is your passport to success.

And these are what we're going to discuss:

  • Understanding IELTS Academic exam
  • Assessment Criteria and Expert Tips
  • Crafting Academic Style
  • IELTS exam tips
  • Strategic Time Management
  • Model Answer

Understanding IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

Task 1 in the IELTS Academic Writing module involves describing a diagram or multiple diagrams. As part of the 60-minute writing test, candidates are advised to allocate 20 minutes to Task 1. Achieving a high score necessitates writing a response of at least 150 words.

The tasks can include one of these visual ways to represent information or their combination:

  • Pie chart
  • Table
  • Line graph
  • Bar chart
  • Map
  • Process diagram
  • Flow chart

Assessment criteria and IELTS Writing tips

Your performance in Task 1 is evaluated based on 4 fundamental criteria:

Task achievement tips

  • cover all requirements of the task
  • present, highlight and illustrate key features/bullet points clearly and appropriately
  • present a clear overview of main trends, differences or stages
  • make comparisons where relevant
  • copy the data (e.g. figures, dates, proper names, etc.) carefully
  • don't speculate on the data, only describe what you see

Coherence and cohesion tips

  • logically organise information and ideas
  • use a range of cohesive devices (linking words and phrases, e.g. “moreover, however, in contrast, for instance, etc.”)
  • use paragraphing appropriately

Lexical resource tips

  • use a wide range of vocabulary including topic-specific and advanced vocabulary, collocations, and phrasal verbs
  • stick to the academic (formal) style of writing
  • don't make errors in spelling and/or word formation

Grammatical range and accuracy tips

  • use a wide range of structures including complex ones (different tenses, clauses, modal verbs, etc.)
  • pay attention to punctuation
  • proofread the essay to avoid grammatical mistakes

The scoring system ranges from 0 to 9.0 in half or whole bands. The final Writing band score is an average of the four criteria, for example:

  • Task achievement - 8.0
  • Coherence and cohesion - 7.5
  • Lexical resource - 7.0
  • Grammatical range and accuracy - 6.5
  • Writing band score - (8.0+7.5+7.0+6.5)/4=7.25-> 7.5
The details are presented in the tables below.

Crafting Academic style

In the realm of academic writing, formality reigns supreme. It's essential to focus on conveying facts and arguments rather than personal sentiments. So, try to avoid:

  • Informal words and expressions
  • Contractions and abbreviations
  • Informal phrasal verbs and vague expressions
  • Overuse of personal pronouns
  • Questions directed at the reader
  • Emotional responses

Tips to sharpen your skills

Enhancing your Task 1 proficiency requires practice and strategy. Here are valuable tips to elevate your performance:

  • Practice analyzing and describing various visual formats progressively.
  • Begin with simpler visuals and gradually tackle complex ones.
  • Temporarily disable text assistance tools like T9 and Grammarly to identify weak points.
  • Assess your initial skills, focusing on spelling and grammar gaps, and progressively improve.
  • Allocate ample time for crafting a well-structured response before practicing timed writing sessions.

Strategic time management

Efficiently managing your 20-minute allocation for Task 1 is crucial. We suggest the following approach:

2 minutes: Read the task and study the visual you have.

  • Grasp the main purpose of the diagram or the graph
  • Address the questions: "What is the main idea?" and "What do they want to show me?"

2 minutes: Develop a structured plan and brainstorm. Make the plan and determine the number of paragraphs required.

13 minutes: Construct the description.

  • Prioritize the four assessment criteria in your writing.
  • Use the brainstormed information effectively.

3 minutes: Proofread and edit your work. Check it for the misprints, spelling errors, repetitions, and grammatical inaccuracies.

If you don’t have time to check your writing, you can miss the opportunity to correct the mistakes and ultimately get a lower score. Try to do practice tests for 20 minutes so you get used to the timing.

A Clever Trick: Begin with Task 2

While an essay is the second task, you're allowed to tackle it first. This can be advantageous, particularly for those finding Task 1 more challenging. Task 2 holds double the weight of Task 1 in your Writing score, making a 40-minute allocation to Task 2 essential.

Mastering Brainstorming

Prior to commencing your response, effective brainstorming is key. Follow these steps:

  1. Compile essential key-specific and advanced vocabulary.
  2. Identify useful grammatical structures.
  3. Select suitable linkers.

Make a list of relevant words and phrases, grammatical structures, and linkers and then prioritise them in order of importance. After that decide which to include and which not. Start writing only after you’ve brainstormed a sufficient list.

Model answer

Task 1. Take a look at the chart below and perform the task as outlined: This graph shows the proportion of four different materials that were recycled from 1982 to 2010 in a particular country. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, making comparisons where relevant.
An example of a strong response presented by the British Council:
The chart shows the percentages of paper and cardboard, glass containers, aluminium cans and plastics that were recycled in one country between 1982 and 2010.

In 1982m about 65% of paper and cardboard was recycled. This figure fluctuated before rising steeply to reach a peak of 80% in 1994. From then on, however, it decreased steadily to a level of 70% in 2010. In 1982, half of all glass containers were recycled; after dipping to a low of 40% in 1990, the glass recycling rate gradually increased to 60% by 2010.

Aluminium cans were first recycled in 1986, starting at about 5%, but this figure climbed rapidly over 25 years and by 2010 it had reached 45%. Recycling of plastics, on the other hand, was not introduced until 1090 and, although the growth in this category was also constant, it was very slow, rising from 2% to around 8% over the period.

Overall, the proportion of paper and cardboard that was recycled was the highest of the four classes material, but this category experienced a decline after 1994, whereas there was a continuing upward trend in the recyclingof the other materials.

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