Need to develop your Writing Skills for Task 1?
You will need to:
- analyse information
- describe changes
- make comparisons
- draw conclusions
- paraphrase the introduction
- choose correct tenses
- organise information logically
- avoid describing facts mechanically.
IELTS Academic Writing Task 1
Let’s look at some basic rules about Writing Task 1.
DO write a minimum 150 words
Practise this at home. If you use many words from the question, the examiners don’t count these words, so you will lose marks for being under-length.
There are always some words you cannot change, e.g. ‘chart’ or ‘map’, but try to use synonyms as much as possible:
e.g. (Question paper) ‘The map shows…’
(Your answer) ‘The map illustrates….’ or ‘In the map we can see….’
Do NOT mention the ‘x-axis’ and ‘y-axis’.
These are just details that the reader can see. It is a waste of time and words.
DO NOT spend more than 20 minutes on Task 1
Task 2 is worth more than Task 1, so make sure that you stop after 20 minutes, and go on to Task 2.
Quickly decide on 3 key features.
Write on the Question Paper. Find
- the highest/the lowest,
- the things that changed the most/the least,
- the things which are the same,
- the things which are different.
This should only take 2 minutes. Find an ‘overall trend’, something which is very general and relates to the picture as a whole. Imagine you’re reading the chart without your glasses on (if you wear glasses!).
Include specific data
e.g. sales decreased by 20%, prices went up from £10 to £20, numbers peaked at 300.
But DON’T just list numbers
- analyse and make comparisons
e.g. In 1990 only 10% of UK citizens owned a mobile phone, whereas 10 years later this number had doubled to 20%.
Use linking words
But don’t start every sentence with ‘However’ ‘In addition’ ‘Nevertheless’ etc. Try to use more variety in your linking words e.g. even though, whereas, apart from etc.
Use a variety of expressions to describe change.
e.g. verb + adverb: It fell considerably.
adjective + noun: There was a considerable fall.
And DON’T give your opinion.
It is very tempting to give your opinion on why the changes happened, but don’t.
Finally, make sure you have an ‘overview’.
A lot of people find this the most difficult part, but it is very important.
Always include a sentence beginning ‘Overall,…’
This can come at the start (in the introduction) or at the end as your final paragraph.
Try not to repeat information that you have already mentioned.
Try this difficult graph using the techniques I outline above. Then compare your answer with my model.
The bar chart below shows the average monthly maximum temperatures for three Australian cities in the year 2016.
The chart outlines differences in the peak temperatures of Melbourne, Darwin and Perth in 2016.
Overall it can be seen that Darwin, whose temperatures changed the least, was the hottest city throughout the period.
Melbourne and Perth saw similar trends in their seasonal temperatures. Melbourne’s temperatures dipped considerably during the ‘winter’ months, dropping gradually from 25.1*C in January, which was the hottest month, to 13.4* in July, which was the coldest. They went back up at an equally steady pace, ending the year almost back where it started, at 24.1*.
Perth followed roughly the same pattern, though its temperatures were generally higher than Melbourne’s, starting at 28.1 and falling consistently to reach 18.8* in July. It also experienced a noticeable jump in October when it rose by more than 4* in one month.
Darwin showed some similarities in that its temperatures dipped briefly in June and July, but there was not such a significant contrast between its highest temperature and its lowest (33.3 and 30.5 respectively) in comparison with the other two cities (a difference of more than 10* for both). Temperatures also fluctuated, with highest temperatures in April and November as opposed to the other two cities, whose hottest month was January. Melbourne experienced the coldest average temperatures throughout most of the year apart from March when it was the same as Perth.
- Find out how to Describe a Process here.
- Find out how to Describe a Cycle here.
- Find out how to Describe Changes to a Plan here (with YouTube 10-minute tutorial)
- Get more examples and advice about Task 1 here.
- 14 simple ways to improve your IELTS Writing Score