IELTS Writing task 1: Useful Beginners Guide

IELTS Writing task 1 | Academic IELTS writing task 1 | How to prepare for IELTS writing task 1 and get 9 bands.

Introduction to IELTS writing task 1 and important aspects which you should consider before starting to write the academic writing task 1.

IELTS Writing is such a broad topic that we decided to publish two articles. The first is devoted to completing the first task of the IELTS writing part, and the second is to writing an essay.

To enter a foreign university or work abroad, you must pass the international IELTS exam. IELTS Writing task 1 is considered one of the most difficult aspects of the exam. In this article, you will find practical tips for preparing for the IELTS writing exam, examples of completed assignments, basic vocabulary and a set of grammar constructions to help you get a high score.

I took the IELTS Academic, my overall score is 8.0, and for the Writing part – 6.5. The results of my students are 6-7 points. It surprises me that even native speakers who pass all aspects of 8.5-9.0 get 6.5-7.0 for the written part of the exam. These results prompted me to study this issue. In March, I attended a seminar on how to prepare students for IELTS Writing, I also studied a lot of literature and advice from experienced teachers, and in this article I will share them with you.

If you want some professional guidance for IELTS writing task 1 then visit this link.

Let’s start to penetrate the IELTS writing task 1.

General information about IELTS Writing task 1

In the first part of the written assignment, the candidate needs to describe a graph, chart, table or map in 20 minutes in 150 words. IELTS writing task 1 description includes an analysis of the main changes in the indicators in the illustration, a comparison of data and a summary of information. Expressing your own opinion is not required.

There are 8 main types of tasks in IELTS Writing, you will come across one of them (examples are taken from the IELTS Writing Task 1 Academic Module).

Work structure of IELTS writing task 1

1. Introduction – 1-2 sentences

The first sentence in the introduction should report the period, place, and object of the description. Examples of introductory phrases are given in the table.

IELTS writing task 1

It will be easier to write an introduction by paraphrasing the task, for this use synonyms, for example:

graph → line graph
chart → bar chart
diagram → figure
to show → to describe, to illustrate, to demonstrate
proportion → percentage
information → data
the number of → the figure for, the proportion of
people in the UK → the British
from 1999 to 2009 → between 1999 and 2009 / over a period of ten years
in three countries → in the UK, France and Spain

2. Summary – 2-3 sentences that summarize the main characteristics of the image

The summary can be placed immediately after the introduction (in the same or a separate paragraph) or at the end of the work. To write a summary, you need to analyze the general nature of changes in the image over the entire period and highlight the main trends. If the indicators varied all the time, it is better to choose another way – to indicate the highest and lowest indicators.

Let’s look at a list of words that will help you start your resume – Here are some most understandeable premade structure of IELTS writing task 1

academic IELTS Writing task 1 guide

3. Paragraph – the main part (2-3 paragraphs of 6-7 sentences each) with a detailed analysis

To write a good paragraph, follow these tips:

  • Analyze information about each change;
  • pay attention to the highest/lowest scores in each category;
  • compare indicators;
  • select key information and divide it into paragraphs, put similar trends in one paragraph;
  • do not describe all trends, only key ones;
  • do not explain what is happening, only analyze and describe.

1. line graph: IELTS Writing task 1

Let’s look at how to describe the IELTS line chart.

IELTS Writing task 1 guide

Sample Answer of line chart (Writing task 1)

IELTS Writing task 1

Structure

Introduction

The author paraphrased the task using synonyms, avoiding tautology:

shows → compares
number → figures
each day → daily
commuters → travel by workers
car, bus or train → forms of transport
between 1970-2030 → 60 years

Resume

The summary begins with the phrase it is clear, it does not contain factual information, only general features. Two main trends are mentioned here: the most popular mode of transport and the main changes in quantity.

Paragraphs 1 and 2

The division into paragraphs was carried out according to the time criterion: the past years were placed in one paragraph, and predictions in another.

Vocabulary: IELTS Writing task 1

To describe a line graph, the candidate will need vocabulary that characterizes changes in trends. We have identified the main verbs:

IELTS Vocabulary tips to build your experience in terms of speaking most toughest words.

IELTS Writing task 1
IELTS Writing task 1

Grammar of IELTS Writing task 1

The main difficulty in IELTS Writing task 1 describing a line graph can be the correct use of prepositions. For example, to increase by 10% in English would be to increase by 10%, not on 10%.

We have identified the main cases of using prepositions to describe changes:

  • Use to to report how the amount has changed – to increase to 100 (increase to 100), to fall to 20% (fall to 20%);
  • Use by to show the difference – to decrease by 10% (decrease by 10%);
  • Use at to specify the amount – the number of X peaked, at 90% (the amount of X peaked at 90%), Y remained stable at 15% (Y remained unchanged at 15%);
  • From … to is used to indicate a range – from 1996 to 2019 (from 1996 to 2019);
  • After nouns such as a decline, an increase, a climb, the preposition of is used to clarify the percentage (of 30%), then the preposition in to show what the changes were – there was a sharp decline of 40% in the number of children (the number of children has sharply decreased by 40%);
  • After words describing fluctuations, you can use between … and – there were considerable fluctuations between 5 and 6 million (there were serious fluctuations between 5 and 6 million);
  • Before the years we use in – in 1996 (in 1996).

2. Pie chart

Consider an example of describing a pie chart.

pie chart of IELTS Writing task 1
IELTS Writing task 1 guide

Structure of Pie chart

Introduction and summary

The first paragraph combines the introduction and summary. The summary begins with the words at first glance it is clear. Let’s see how the task is rephrased and what synonyms are used:

show → illustrate
the main → the primary
migration to and from → came to and left
reason → factor
definite job → employment

Paragraphs 1, 2, 3

According to the criterion of the reasons for immigration and emigration, the letter was divided into three paragraphs. At the same time, only the main reasons are singled out – work, study, family. Note that immigration and emigration are not described in separate paragraphs.

Vocabulary: IELTS Writing task 1

When describing a pie chart, the candidate mainly works with percentages. The table contains useful vocabulary, IELTS Writing task 1.

When describing a pie chart, the candidate mainly works with percentages. The table contains useful vocabulary.

Word/PhraseTranslation
the proportion ofshare, proportion
the percentage ofshare, percentage
a large number ofa large number of
over a quarter of peoplemore than a quarter of people
a significant number of peoplea significant number of people
a very large majoritylarge majority
a significant proportionsignificant amount
a minorityminority
a very small numbervery small amount
one in twenty (5%)every 20th
one in ten (10%)every 10th
less than a fifth (15%)less than one fifth
a fifth (20%)one fifth
a quarter (25%)quarter
less than a third (30%)less than a third
more than a third (35%)more than a third
two fifths (40%)two fifths
a half (50%)half
just overslightly more
approximately, nearly, almost, about, roughlyapproximately, almost
just undera little less

To talk about quantity, you first need to understand the difference between number and amount. Number is used with countable nouns and can be followed by a singular or plural verb. In the singular, the translation is “the amount of something / someone”, in the plural – “a large amount of something / someone”. Amount is used with uncountable nouns. Accordingly, the verb is used only in the singular.

The number of people was gradually decreasing. – The number of people gradually decreased.
A number of services were improved. – A large number of services have been improved.
A significant amount of money was spent on accessories. — A significant amount of money was spent on accessories.

Instead of number and amount, you can use the word proportion. It is used with both countable and uncountable nouns.

The proportion of young people listening to rock is higher than of those listening to classical music. – The number of young people listening to rock music is more than listening to classical music.
The proportion of water used for agricultural purposes is smaller than that used in industries. — The amount of water used for agricultural purposes is less than the amount of water for industry.

Let’s pay attention to the difference between percent and percentage. The word percent is only used after a number. Percentage is used generically and can be used with countable and uncountable nouns:

The percentage of women knitting jumped to 45% in 2018. – The percentage of women who knit jumped to 45% in 2018.
The percentage of food people buy in supermarkets has increased in the last 2 years. — The percentage of food that people buy in supermarkets has increased over the past two years.
80 percent of the population did not come to the election. – 80% of the population did not come to the polls.

Grammar

If we use words like a third, a quarter, and the like, the preposition of is used after them.

A third of the students prefer studying abroad. A third of students prefer to study abroad.

The exception is half, after which you can either put or not put the preposition of.

Half ( of ) the children were dissatisfied. Half of the children were not satisfied.
Half ( of ) the population was ill. Half the population was sick.

Note that if the noun is plural, then the verb will also be plural.

Expressions like one in three and one out of five that are followed by a plural noun do not require a specific verb form after them. Both singular and plural can be used.

One in three men from the study says / say he never drives in bad weather. – Every third man in the experiment says that he never drives in bad weather.

3. bar chart

Consider an example of a bar chart description.

IELTS Writing task 1
IELTS Writing task 1

Structure: IELTS Writing task 1

Introduction and summary

They are combined here in one paragraph. The summary begins with the words it is evident.

Made the following replacements:

British Emigration → British people who emigrated
between 2004 and 2007 → over the period 2004 to 2007, throughout the period

Paragraphs 1, 2, 3

The paragraphs are divided according to the popularity of countries among emigrants. Three countries of the leader are singled out, to which separate paragraphs are devoted. There are comparisons within paragraphs.

Vocabulary

When describing a bar chart, you need to compare trends. We offer the following useful words and phrases:

Word/PhraseTranslation
compared tocompared with
in compassion withcompared to
while, whereaswhile
howeverHowever
althoughalthough
on the one hand, on the other handon the one hand on the other hand
in contrast, by contrasthowever, for comparison, on the contrary
more … thanmore than
far less … thanmuch less… than
as … asthe same … as
likejust like
twice as much/many astwice as much as
three times more thanthree times more than
the same assuch as
the chart compares … in terms ofgraph compares … by criterion
to be by far the mostbe much more
to be fairly similar tobe quite like
in second place on the chart issecond on schedule
to be slightly higher thanbe a little higher than
with a similar proportion ofwith a similar ratio
to double twofold, to increase twofolddouble
a two-fold increasedoubling
to go up six timesincrease six times
six times highersix times higher
to fall by one fifthdecrease by one-fifth
to fall by halfhalve
to be one tenth the totalmake up one tenth of the total

4. table

Consider an example of a table description.

IELTS Writing task 1
IELTS Writing task 1

Structure

Introduction and summary

In the introduction, the task is rephrased using the following synonyms:

shows → illustrates
proportion → percentage
pupils → school children
between 2000 and 2009 → from 2000 to 2009.

The summary begins with the words it is evident.

Paragraphs 1, 2

The paragraphs are divided according to the criterion of changes. The first paragraph describes the changes of a negative nature, and the second – a positive one.

5. Combined task: IELTS Writing task 1

Consider an example of a description of a combined IELTS Writing task 1.

combined task
IELTS Writing task 1

Structure: IELTS Writing task 1

Introduction and summary

The IELTS Writing task 1 is paraphrased using synonyms, prepositions and cognates:

shows → illustrates
visits → visitors
to and from → went abroad and came
from 1979 to 1999 → between 1979 and 1999
the most popular → to be the most popular

In addition, both graphs are mentioned and the units of measurement are indicated – in millions.

The summary begins with the words overall, it can be seen that – it is important that it contains generalized information for both charts.

Paragraphs 1, 2

When describing a combined task, it is most logical to devote one paragraph to the first graph, and another to the second.

6. Map: IELTS Writing task 1

Consider an example of a map description.

IELTS Writing task 1
IELTS Writing task 1

Structure

Introduction

The IELTS Writing task 1 is paraphrased with the help of synonyms, other grammatical constructions and prepositions:

illustrate → show
changed → developments have taken place
from 1990 to 2012 → over a period of 22 years between 1990 and 2012

Resume

The summary is introduced by the phrase it is clear that. The general impression of the changes over the past years is described.

Paragraphs 1, 2

Describing the changes in paragraphs, the author used connecting elements: secondly (secondly), furthermore (besides, moreover), respectively (in the specified order, as appropriate). Such words allow you to follow the train of thought, but they should not be abused, drawing attention to the elements, and not the essence of the analysis.

Vocabulary: IELTS Writing task 1

When describing a map, one cannot do without special vocabulary:

Word/PhraseTranslation
northnorth
eastEast
southsouth
westwest
populationpopulation
a railwayRailway
a housing area, a residential arearesidential complex, district
a highway, a motorway, the main roadmain highway
to be located, to be situated, to lieto be situated
to run through, to run across, to pass through, to go throughrun through
to enlargeincrease
to expand, to extendexpand
to developdevelop
to demolish, to knock down, to pull down, to removedemolish
to cut down treescut down trees
to construct, to build, to erectbuild, erect
to introduce changesmake changes
to addadd
to convert, to redevelop, to make intoconvert
to replace smth with smthreplace
to modernizemodernize
to renovaterepair

Grammar

Speaking about the grammar needed to describe the cards, it is necessary to say about the tenses of the Perfect group. The Present Perfect is used when it is necessary to describe changes that have occurred recently and are still relevant. This time is used with markers such as since (since), recently (recently), lately (recently), over the period of time given (for a specified period of time).

Since 2015 , 2 new houses have been built . — Since 2015, 2 new houses have been built.
Over the last 20 years a few banks have appeared in the housing area. – Over the past 20 years , several banks have appeared in a residential area .

The Past Perfect is used when something has happened before a certain time in the past.

By 2015 , a new shopping mall had been erected in the city centre. — By 2015 , a new shopping center was erected in the city center.

Future Perfect time is essential when it comes to development plans.

By 2020 , 2 new kiosks will have been constructed next to the parking lot. — By 2020 , 2 new kiosks will be built next to the parking lot .

Another important grammatical construct for describing cards is Passive Voice. Since we cannot know who is initiating change or who is doing the work, passive sentences are used almost everywhere.

A new club was built in 2010. – A new club was built in 2010 .
The trees had been cut down by 2018. – By 2018, the trees had been cut down .
The central zoo will be renovated next year. The Central Zoo will be renovated next year .

When describing a map, it is important to indicate the location of objects.

Next to the theater there is an Italian restaurant. – An Italian restaurant next to the theatre.
A new cinema was built by the road. A new cinema has been built by the road .
The new park is in the south . — The new park is in the south .

Word/PhraseTranslation
oppositeagainst
behindfor
in front of, beforefront
along the road, up the road, down the roadalong the road
acrosson the other side of
in the neighborhoodNext door
nearbynear
over, aboveover
underunder
amongamong
betweenbetween
from … tofrom to
near, next to, at, beside, bynear

7. Process: IELTS Writing task 1

In this type of task, any illustrated process can come across, such as the manufacture of a substance, or the life cycle of an animal.

Consider an example of a process description.

IELTS Writing task 1 process
IELTS Writing task 1

Structure

Introduction

The task is paraphrased using synonyms:

process → illustration
how … create → are able to produce

Paragraphs 1, 2

The paragraphs are divided into stages. The first paragraph describes how sugar is made, the second describes how it is used.

Resume

The summary is at the end of the work, it summarizes the number of elements of the process.

Vocabulary

First of all, you will need to indicate the stages of the process. It is important to know the words that describe the sequence of actions:

Word/PhraseNoun
firstly, secondly, thirdlyFirstly Secondly Thirdly
to beginto start
then, nextThen
following thisfollowing this
in the subsequent stagenext step
followed byfollowed by
finallyin the end
before (that)before as
after (that)after
once, as soon asonce
subsequentlyafter that
a stage of the processprocess step
stage twosecond phase
in the next stage, in the following stagenext step
in the previous stageat the previous stage
in the first stage, in the initial stageat the first stage, at the initial stage
in the last stage, in the final stageat the last stage, at the final stage
in a later stageat a later stage
the next step in the processnext step in the process
at this/that pointat this/that moment
in the first four stagesin the first four stages

8. Block diagram of the algorithm

The IELTS Writing task 1 flowchart of the algorithm is a step graph that shows a step-by-step algorithm of some procedure. It differs from the process in that it has no illustrations, only blocks and arrows. So any business process can be represented.

Let’s consider an example of the description of the block diagram of the algorithm.

block diagram of the algorithm IELTS Writing task 1
IELTS Writing task 1

Structure

Introduction

The task is paraphrased using synonyms:

the process shows → the flowchart illustrates
diamonds moving → getting diamonds from … to
retailer → who are selling them

Paragraphs 1, 2, 3

The first main paragraph deals with how diamonds of different qualities are mined and sorted. The second paragraph is for low quality diamonds, and the third for high quality.

Resume

The summary states the fact of the completion of the process at a certain moment.

Mistakes and tips for IELTS Writing task 1

Common Mistakes of IELTS Writing task 1

You don’t need to do the following:

  1. Spend more than 20 minutes on task 1. Spend 5 minutes planning and checking what you have written and 15 minutes writing your paper. The essay in the second part is rated higher, so we recommend spending the remaining 40 minutes on it.
  2. Repeat words and expressions from the task.
  3. Ignore resume. 1-2 sentences describing the overall picture must be present in the work.
  4. Carry out the entire analysis in one paragraph.
  5. Describe all the numbers that you see on the chart. You have to be selective. If there is a lot of information, something needs to be sacrificed. The key skill is to choose the main facts. If you need to describe a map or a process, it is important to understand that details cannot be excluded, as they are part of the whole picture.
  6. Describe each change or indicator individually or in turn. Remember that you need to show your analytical skills and benchmarking.
  7. Add facts that are not in the images (especially in maps and processes).
  8. Indicate your opinion or attitude to facts.

Helpful Hints for IELTS Writing task 1

  1. Before you start practicing, read as many examples of answers with good scores as you can. Highlight key words and phrases in them to describe numbers, proportions, trends and changes. Pay attention to what grammatical constructions the authors use, how they divide the text into paragraphs, what information is included and what is omitted.
  2. Read the task carefully, highlight the key tasks in the description for it, as well as key indicators.
  3. Start your training by writing an introduction to each task. Practice rephrasing the task in several ways. The next day, write a summary of all those introductions that you have already prepared. A day later, describe the trends, numbers and changes. Then check your work.
  4. Before writing paragraphs, clearly define for yourself by what criterion you share information.
  5. Compare trends as a whole, not individual numbers or endpoints. Analyze not only similarities, but also differences.
  6. Use short sentences, write only to the point. Use a moderate amount of connectors.
  7. Maintain a separate vocabulary by topic, such as expressions that describe an uptrend or words that describe fluctuations, etc.
  8. Exercise every day for 20 minutes. Leave yourself time to proofread your work.

I hope you understood the IELTS Writing task 1very deeply. I am sure it helped you to achieve 8+ IELTS band score in your exam.

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