A quick look at IELTS Academic Writing Task 1
The IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 covers topics that are related to areas of general interest and are suitable for test takers entering undergraduate and postgraduate studies or seeking professional registration. Responses to both tasks must be written in a formal style.
The IELTS Academic Writing Task 1
You will be presented with a graph, table, chart or diagram and asked to describe, summarise or explain the information in your own words. You may be asked to describe and present data, describe the stages of a process, how something works or describe an object, plan or design.
Summarising facts or figures from graphic information
In IELTS Academic Writing Task 1, you will be shown some visual information, a visual way to represent information. You may be shown one or more than one visual. This visual information can be shown as a:
You will also be given instructions so summarise the information you see by selecting and reporting the main features you see, making comparisons where relevant. You will need to do an information transfer task – the visual information you are given needs to be presented in the form of text. To complete the task successfully, you will need to:
Write an introduction
Write an overview (a summary of what you see)
Present and highlight the key features with figures (data)
You will need to write a minimum of 150 words and answers must be written in full, no bullet points or notes.
IELTS Academic Writing Task 1: FAQs
Is it necessary to have an overview for process questions?
Yes. You should write an overview for all Task 1 questions, even for a map or process.
For a process question, you could include the total number of steps, plus mention something that appears more than once or in more than one form. Here is an example process:
You will see that a kiln appears in two stages. Also, the temperature is different in two of the steps, with a third step for cooling. So a couple of possible overviews could be:
Overall, there are 10 main steps to this process, with the kiln playing a key role.
Overall, there are 10 main steps to this process, with temperature variation playing a key role.
Should I mention all of the divisions in a pie chart, even if one of them has very small and insignificant percentages?
Yes, it's important to mention all the features if you are looking for a higher band score. However, you should spend more time on the parts of the diagram where there are significant changes and mention the smaller items briefly.
On the other hand, if you leave out a key feature, you have the risk of your Task Achievement band score dropping to 4.
In a line graph question, is it best to describe each line one by one?
No. One of the requirements of Task 1 is to make comparisons and contrasts of the data, so describing each line one by one makes it harder to do this. One of the dangers of doing this is that your answer may sound mechanical, meaning you would lose marks.
Instead, you could try to put two of the lines together and compare them. Perhaps two of these items increase, but does one increase more than the other? Do they both have a high point and if so, does it happen at the same time? It's best to try and blend your descriptions – perhaps you can start with how they are similar and then talk about how they differ.
Is it better to have the overview in the introduction or in the conclusion?
It doesn’t matter where you place the overview – it can fit fine in either of those places. However, make sure that you mention the overview only once.
If you mention it in the introduction for example, don’t have a conclusion (this is a common mistake people make). To achieve a high band score, you need to have a clear overview, so mentioning it twice can be confusing.
Should I mention all of the categories from the graph in the overview as well as data?
No – you only need to mention 2-3 aspects in the overview. If you mention all the categories (e.g. if there are 6 divisions in a pie chart), then your overview becomes crowded and unclear. Don’t include data as the danger is your overview will look like similar to the body paragraphs.
IELTS General Training Writing Task 1
The IELTS General Training Writing Task 1 is based on topics of general interest.
The IELTS General Training Writing Task 1
You will be presented with a situation and asked to write a letter requesting information or explaining the situation. The letter may be personal, semi-formal or formal in style.
Writing a short letter for a specific purpose
In Task 1 in the General Training Writing test, you are asked to write a letter, where you demonstrate your ability to communicate using English letter-writing conventions. You will be given a common, everyday situation such as writing to apologise for missing a friend’s party, or complaining to a company about bad service, writing to give advice to a friend about where to go on holiday, or writing to express your interest in a new job.
In addition to being given the situation, three bullet points will outline exactly what information you need to include in your letter. You might, for example, have to describe details, give reasons, express likes and dislikes, or make suggestions or recommendations.
You will need use the correct tone in your letter. Tone is the way you communicate with people showing the kind of relationship you have with them. In letters, the tone you use is clearly indicated by a proper salutation and closing and it should also be conveyed by your choice of words or phrasing. Letters are usually written in a formal or informal tone.
Generally, if the letter is to friends, people you know well, or family, and the reason for writing is positive, the tone is informal. Letters to everyone else and for all complaints or negative messages, should be more formal.
IELTS General Training Writing Task 1: FAQs
Is it necessary to mention all three of the bullet points?
Yes. If you skip any of the bullet points you will be penalised under Task Achievement, meaning the highest band you can score is 4. If you need to achieve a high band score for this criteria, it is important to cover each of these fully.
One thing to watch out for is if there are two parts to any of the bullet points. Here are some examples:
Explain how this affects your family and the local community.
In this case, you should mention two effects; how your family is impacted and then say how the local community is impacted.
Describe the problems this will cause for your neighbourhood.
In this bullet point, you will see the word ‘problems’. As this word is in plural form, you should mention at least two issues for your neighbourhood.
What is a good way to start and end a formal letter?
The standard convention to begin a formal letter (when you don’t know the person) is:
Dear Sir or Madam,
(note that this is included in your Task instructions)
At the end of the letter, finish with:
John Smith (note: this should be your given name + surname)
But, if the formal letter is to someone you know (e.g. your manager, professor, etc.) then use a surname:
Dear Ms Jones,
When it comes to the ending, use your full name as well, but use ‘Yours sincerely’ instead:
Yours sincerely, John Smith
Why is the tone of a letter important?
It is important because if it's not appropriate, your Task Achievement rating can fall to either band 6, band 5 or even band 4. This can happen if you are too formal in a letter to your friend. Conversely, it can happen if you are too casual in an informal letter. Try to make sure your vocabulary use is appropriate for the task.
Another point to consider is that IELTS General Writing Task 1 is a cultural task. If we look at a letter of complaint for example, in English-speaking cultures, people tend to be a little indirect when complaining. If you are too direct in a letter of complaint, it can affect the tone. Also, look at other task types too. How do people in English-speaking cultures apologise? How do they ask for information?
IELTS Academic and General Training Writing Task 2
The IELTS Academic Writing Task 2
You will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. You will support your point of view with relevant examples from your own knowledge and experience.
Writing an essay
In Task 2 of the Academic Writing test, you are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, an argument, or a problem. Essays should be written in an academic, or semi-formal style. Topics are about relevant issues and focus on a particular aspect of the topic.
For example, if the topic is about computers, the focus will be on a particular aspect rather than writing about computers in general. The task instructions give you information about the question telling you how to discuss the topic in your essay.
You may be asked to provide factual information, outline and present solutions, justify an opinion or evaluate evidence and ideas. It is important that you complete the task carefully using relevant ideas and examples to support your position. Your ideas should be organised clearly, using paragraphs for each idea. You must write a minimum of 250 words. You are assessed on your ability to follow English essay-writing conventions to organise and link information in a coherent way using language accurately and appropriately to express your ideas and opinions.
The IELTS General Training Writing Task 2
You will be asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, argument or problem. The essay can be slightly more personal in style compared to an Academic Writing task. You will support your point of view with relevant examples from your own knowledge and experience.
Writing an essay
In Task 2 of the General Training Writing test, you are asked to write an essay in response to a point of view, an argument, or a problem. Topics are of general interest such as whether it is better to homeschool children, whether the drinking age should be raised, who is responsible for the care of the elderly or how families could be brought closer together.
The task instructions give you information about the question telling you how to discuss the topic in your essay. You may be asked to provide factual information, outline and present solutions, justify an opinion or evaluate evidence and ideas. It is important that you complete the task carefully using relevant ideas and examples to support your position. Your ideas should be organised clearly, using paragraphs for each idea. You must write a minimum of 250 words.
You are assessed on your ability to follow English essay-writing conventions to organise and link information in a coherent way using language accurately and appropriately to express your ideas and opinions.
IELTS Academic and General Training Writing Task 2: FAQs
In ‘Do you agree or disagree?’ questions, should I put my opinion in the introduction?
This type of task is an opinion question, so it is important to be very clear with your position. One good place to include this is at the end of your introduction so the reader (the examiner) knows what to expect in the rest of the essay.
The first part of the introduction can be used to mention some background information on the topic and to introduce the argument from the question.
Is it a good idea to make a plan before I start writing?
Yes, this is a very good idea. It can help you organise your ideas and how they can be connected together. It can also serve as a good guide to remind you to stay focussed on the question and not get side tracked (you will lose marks if your answer becomes off-topic). Even if you are really sure about what you want to write about, it is still useful to spend a few moments arranging your ideas in a logical and coherent way.
What is the difference between ‘Do you agree or disagree?’ and ‘Discuss both of these views and include your opinion?’ questions?
‘Do you agree or disagree?’ is an argumentative essay, which basically asks you to have a position on an issue. In this case, be very clear about whether you support the statement or not. If you partly agree, make sure you have a factor that it depends on. For example, for the question:
Public transport should be free for everyone. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
You can say on one hand, you agree for children, but you disagree for adults. It can be confusing if you have opposing paragraphs that are not connected. Alternatively, it can be easier to choose a side, i.e. you either agree or disagree.
With regards to discussion essays, it can be helpful to look at both sides of the argument first before you state your position. When discussing the two sides first, you can look at them from other people’s perspective (e.g. Some people claim that …), while when it comes to your own view later on, make it clear that the opinion belongs to you (e.g. However, my personal stance on the matter is …)
Is it okay to start every sentence with a linking device (e.g. firstly, furthermore, etc.)?
These kind of words are good to use in your essay, but make sure you do not overuse them as you can lose marks. One way to not overuse them is to try referencing words instead. Here are some sample sentences:
First of all, one of the advantages of free public transport is it can help reduce the number of cars on the road, especially considering how costly owning and using a car is. Therefore, people’s health would improve as there would be fewer impurities in the air and the process of getting on and off public transport requires more energy than driving. As a result, the initial cost for the government to provide this free service can be recovered because of the savings made in areas of health.
An alternative way to connect the ideas is as follows:
First of all, one of the advantages of free public transport is it can help reduce the number of cars on the road, especially considering how costly owning and using a car is. This means that people’s health would improve as there would be fewer impurities in the air and the process of getting on and off public transport requires more energy than driving. A result of this is the initial cost for the government to provide this free service can be recovered because of the savings made in areas of health.