IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 – Top Tips

The IELTS Writing section can be one of the most challenging parts of the whole test.  It is important to understand that part one of the Writing section is different for the different versions of the test (Academic & General Training). Read these top tips for the IELTS Academic Writing task 1 so that you know what to expect on test day and give yourself the best possible chance to get the level you need for your academic goals.

  1. Understand the types of tasks you may get

In part one of IELTS Academic Writing section, you are given one task to do.  There are three possible task types:

  • Charts
  • Processes
  • Maps

It is important to familiarize yourself with each task type and ask yourself some key questions about each, such as:

  • Charts – what is the chart about? What are the main trends? How are the numbers in the chart reported (i.e. in thousands, millions, percentages)?
  • Processes – What is the process describing? How many stages are these in the process?
  • Maps – What do the maps show? What are the main differences between the maps?

See samples of the IELTS academic writing task 1.

  1. Read the question carefully

Don’t rush into answering the writing question without reading it carefully beforehand! For part one, whatever task you may be given (chart, process or maps), the task usually asks you to summarize, select and make comparisons.  These words are very important, so underline or circle them. When you are completing the task, make sure you have summarized the information, selected key points and made comparisons.  Also, think about the type of vocabulary you need to do these tasks.

  1. Make sure you have an overview or summary in part one

An overview or summary is a few sentences which covers the main points and that doesn’t include every single detail.  For part one, you are usually required to write an overview (i.e. summarize the information).  This part of the task is vital and can be included at the start or end of your writing passage, but make sure you have it!

  1. Don’t add your opinion in your task one response

In task one you may have to report trends from a chart, summarize steps in a process or describe changes in a map. When you do this, it is important not to give reasons from your opinion or mention any point that is not clearly displayed in the diagram you see.

  1. Understand what you are being marked on

There is a specific marking criteria that IELTS examiners use to grade your work.  Examiners do not simply base the quality of your work on their opinion.  They need to see you have covered the following areas in order for you to obtain a strong mark.  The marking criteria covers four key areas:

  • Task Achievement – have you covered all parts of the task? Do you present a clear overview of main trends, differences or stages?
  • Coherence and Cohesion – do you logically organises information and ideas? Is there clear progression throughout your response? Do you use a range of cohesive devices appropriately?
  • Lexical Resource – do you use a sufficient range of vocabulary?
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy – do you use a variety of sentence structures? Have you written frequent error free sentences?

Find out more about the marking criteria and what you need to do to achieve each band score.

  1. Make sure you plan your time effectively

The amount you need to write for part one of IELTS (150 words) is shorter than part two (250 words), so make sure you plan your time for this. In total, you have 60 minutes for both tasks, it is advisable to spend around 20 minutes on task one.  When you are practicing, make sure you time yourself and set the timer for 20 minutes.  You should also set some time aside to check your work.

  1. Be realistic

It takes effort and time to improve your writing skills. If you get a band or than you would like (i.e. you need a band 7 but you get a 5 or 6), you probably should not take the test again immediately as you will most likely score a similar band.  Take the time to practice your writing skills, so that you are ready for your next test.  For a small fee, you can even take a practice test which will be marked by an official IELTS examiner. This will provide you with a band score and detailed feedback. This exercise will help you know how ready you are to take the IELTS test and get the band score you need.  This service is called IELTS Progress Check.

  1. Get available practice resources

In preparation for your IELTS Academic writing, it is important to plan.  There are many free online practice materials available.  If more help is needed, seek out an IELTS tutor who can tell you where you may be going wrong and what to improve on. Practice. Practice. Then practice more.  You can never be too prepared for test day.

Visit the IELTS Canada homepage to find out more.

For IELTS practice materials and courses, visit our prepare page.  Best of luck with your IELTS preparation!