The IELTS Process diagram task is much easier than it looks.
This lesson will take you through 5 key steps of describing a process:
- Rewrite the introduction
- Write an overview
- Use only the Present Simple Tense
- Link with sequencers and reference words
- Add some Band 7 ‘magic’
The diagram shows the stages involved in the process of making leather goods.
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant. Write at least 150 words
Process diagram Step 1: Rewrite the introduction
Re-write the introduction in your own words.
- Keep the basic sentence structure but use synonyms.
- Don’t try to change every word – this would sound unnatural.
e.g. The diagram shows the stages involved in the process of making leather goods.
Re-write as: The images illustrate the steps involved in the production of leather goods.
This is a safe option, as it keeps the same sentence structure.
- Check where you put the ‘s’ when you use ‘the diagram showS‘ (3rd person ‘s‘) or ‘the imageS show’ (plural ‘s‘). This is a common mistake.
- You could use a more complex sentence structure: change the word order and use the verb in the Passive
e.g. The diagram illustrates how animal skins are processed in order to produce a range of leather items such as shoes, handbags and toys.
Using the Passive Tense gives you an instantly sophisticated, complex and academic option.
Here’s another example:
e.g. The illustration depicts the numerous steps involved in the treatment of animal skins before they are turned into leather products such as handbags and shoes.
- Remember that you should NOT use any opinion (but see my advice in Step 5 about adding extra details to boost your vocabulary score).
Process diagram Step 2: Write the overview
This is the most essential part of ANY Task 1.
If you don’t write an overview, you are limited to a Band 5 for Task Achievement.
Many people DO just repeat what they’ve already said e.g.
‘Overall, the diagram shows that many items can be made from leather.’
This is better than no overview, but it is too obvious, too vague and there is no analysis.
- You need to say something noticeable about the process.
Here are some examples:
Overall, the diagram shows that it is necessary for animal skins to undergo a number of treatments before they can be made into everyday household items. The process is still a complex and lengthy one despite being mostly done by machinery rather than by hand.
Overall, the diagram shows that, despite the fact that the process of treating animal skins so that they can be made into everyday household items is done mostly in factories with the help of machinery, it is still lengthy and complex, involving several stages.
FAQ: Should the overview go at the start or at the end?
It doesn’t matter. The overview can go just after the Introduction, or at the END of the description.
Process diagram Step 3: Use the Present Simple
The diagram gives you several of the verbs that you need to describe each stage e.g. drying, soaking, polishing, flattening.
Again, you have the problem of avoiding using these words exactly as they are in the text.
So using the Present Simple (Passive) Tense gives you an easy solution.
The only thing you have to worry about is whether you need Singular or Plural. Both are possible here and both are correct.
e.g. The skins ARE dried OR The skin IS dried.
The skins ARE polished OR The leather IS polished.
(see quick review of Passive Tense below)
Process Diagram Step 4: Use a variety of linking words
Now you’ve got a list of stages all written in the Passive Tense, you need to put them all together NICELY with a variety of linking words.
One problem many people have is that they just put the linking words at the start of the sentence. This can sound repetitive, and it is important not to OVERUSE linking words.
- Don’t choose a different linking word for the start of every sentence. Use some in the middle
e.g. the process by which leather is treated, the liquid in which the skins are soaked, the place where the skins are flattened.
Compare these two versions:
Version 1: simple, accurate but a little ‘mechanical’
The skin is dried. Then it is taken to a factory. In the factory it is washed in water and lime, then soaked in lime and flattened and submerged in tannin. After that it is polished and taken to another factory. In the factory it is turned into leather goods.
Version 2: More fluent and natural
In the initial stages of the process, the skin is dried before being taken to a factory where it undergoes two treatments. Firstly it is washed with water and lime, followed by a soak in lime and then flattened, after which it is submerged in tannin.
The last stage involves polishing the leather with a roller. The pieces are subsequently transported to a processing factory where they are made into a number of items in preparation for shipping.
Step 5. Add the ‘Band 7+’ finishing touches
In 4 steps, you have completed all that needs to be done for a very good Task 1.
But what if you want to make it even better? Have a look at this final example – what kind of changes have been made to give it a little extra magic?
The diagram illustrates how animal skins are processed in order to produce a range of leather items such as shoes, handbags and toys.
In the initial stages of the process, the skin is air-dried before being loaded onto trucks and taken to a nearby factory where it undergoes two chemical treatments to clean and soften it. Firstly it is washed with a mixture of water and lime, and then it is soaked in concentrated/pure lime and pushed through a rolling machine in order to flatten it, after which it is submerged in a vat of tannin, which is a substance derived from vegetables.
The last stage involves polishing the leather with a roller to improve its appearance. The pieces are subsequently transported by road to a processing factory where they are made into a number of everyday products like footwear and sports items in preparation for shipping.
Overall, the diagram shows that, despite the fact that the process of treating animal skins is done mostly in factories with the help of machinery, it is still lengthy and complex, involving several stages.
- say WHY something is done (in order to.., so that…) (to soften the leather, to remove impurities)
- give extra details (transported by road, which is a substance, a mixture of)
- give more examples (like footwear and sports items)
- add adjectives (air-dried, everyday products, a nearby factory)
Although you should not use your opinion, adding small details like this can boost your Vocabulary score if you’re aiming for Band 7+.
Quick review of Passive Tense
Basic structure: Thing(s) + be + past participle
Leather + is + dried
Skins + are + dried
Past Participle – in Purple to help you remember. These can be regular (just add ‘-ed’ but watch out for spelling changes like dry-dried, stop-stopped)
The verb ‘to be’ – I put this in orange to help you remember that you need to CHANGE this verb depending on Number and Tense.
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If I unfortunately give one step wrong then how much it will influence my score?
It depends what you mean by getting one step wrong (send me an example if you can).
The Band 6 descriptor for Task Achievement says : ‘presents and adequately highlights key features/ bullet points, but details may be irrelevant, inappropriate or INACCURATE’.
So if, for example, you said ‘The diagram shows how leather goods are recycled’, you might get a lower score because it is inaccurate, but you’d still score well in grammar.
I hope that helps,
Hoang Duong says
I have attempted to make a shorter version for one of the sample tasks given in your site. as it is much shorter, i was wondering if i ran the risk of missing out some information in the chart.
i would be grateful if you could tell me how i can boost my score.
many thanks in advance.
The bar chart compares the highest temperatures in three Australian cities in 2016. The data were recorded in degree Celsius.
Overall, the temperatures in the three places showed changes over the months, albeit with similar pattern. However, Darwin’s temperature was consistently higher than the other two cities.
In detail, from January to May, Darwin saw a mild fluctuation in its temperature, which dropped to its bottom in the next two months, standing just over 30 degrees. The following months, nonetheless, experienced a slight recovery to around 33 degrees.
There was a significant drop in temperature in Perth over the first six months before almost leveling off in July and August. The figure was highest in January at 28 and lowest in July at 18.8 degrees. It then reversed the trend and nearly reached the greatest level.
Finally, showing a similar pattern to Perth, Melbourne was the city with the lowest temperatures throughout the year, reaching its peak of 25.8 in the first two months and bottoming out in July at 13.4 degrees which was similar to the other two. This was also the bottom record among all the cities.
Sorry I can’t mark everyone’s writing on the site but you are welcome to join the Members Academy to get feedback,
Hoang Duong says
thanks a lot for your valuable sharing about the writing tasks and how we – test-takers – can touch up our writing.
i find the task about the lifecycle of a butterfly is rather challenging as there is just little information to include in our writing. I therefore gave it a go.
if possible, could you just give me some advice on how i can improve this piece.
The illustration shows the different stages through which a butterfly goes.
Overall, the five pictures depict significant transformations from an egg to an adult butterfly. It is noticeable that the body of the final insect is completely different from the shapes of itself in its many stages of changes.
In detail, the initial phase of this cycle commences with the production of an egg which then turns into a caterpillar. From the pictures, it can be seen that the environment for these early living forms is on trees’ leaves. Following that, a chrysalis is formed. Inside this develops a young butterfly.
The next step stage involving the breaking of the outside layer of the chrysalis and the appearance of an adult butterfly. Even up to this period, the predecessor of the fully-developed butterfly still relies on leaves of trees. This whole process, however, is complete when the ultimate creature leaves its habitat.
hi Fiona it is very useful thanks ) I have a question I have an exam after 10 days in university which enables us to pass to the second term So it is very important for me And I have many difficulties in task1 (bar chart, line graph, process) I do not know which material I should use to improve them. Can you give me advice please I don’t know where I should start(
Hi Fizza. I’m not sure how much you will be able to cover in 10 days but my IELTS Task 1 Bootcamp would be perfect for you.
Hi ms, in the 2nd paragraph, why we use the word “onto trucks” but not “into”.
Also, ‘ the “skin” is air-dried before being loaded onto the trucks”. “skin” is not plural?
Hi Han. Many thanks for your questions. You could say ‘into’ trucks too. Check out both examples on this fantastic website Ludwig.guru (click here – I did the search for you).
If you jump back up to Point Number 2, you can see that ‘skin’ can be uncountable, when you talk about it in build (like ‘chocolate’) or countable when you talk about it in individual pieces (like ‘chocolates’).
I hope that helps,
Aishwarya Pradhan says
I had a query about writing task. I repeat atleast one word like 6-7 times and always i see it after completing the entire task. Can you tell me how will it affect my score? and how can i improve this? also is it ok not to paraphrase the terms given in the process diagram, like can i copy the exact words from the process diagram?
Hi Aishwarya and many thanks for your question. 1. The ‘Lexical Resource score is based on RANGE (variety) and accuracy, so if you use the same word many times, this will lower your score. The only way to stop doing this is to build your vocabulary so that you have more range to choose from when you’re writing e.g instead of repeating ‘important’ you can say ‘siginificant’ or ‘essential’. 2. It is not always possible to paraphrase the terms in the process diagram, so it’s fine to copy the exact words in your writing. However, the examiner will look for instances of where you have used your own words e.g. ‘The diagram shows how plastic bottles are recycled’ = ‘The diagram shows how plastic bottles are processed so that they can be reused’. I hope that helps, Best wishes, Fiona.
Hương Đỗ says
Can I write in two paragraphs:
Paragraph 1: Introduction and overview
Paragraph 2: Describe the process
Yes absolutely! The Overview can go at the start with the introduction or at the end as a separate paragraph. Both options are fine. Thanks for your message.