This post will break down the IELTS marking criteria for writing task 1 into 4 areas and explain the elements in each of them. In order to improve your band score in writing task 1, understanding how the report is graded is the key to IELTS success. 

The 4 areas of marking criteria are:

  1. Task Achievement 
  2. Coherence and Cohesion 
  3. Lexical Resource 
  4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy 

Note that each of the above 4 represents 25% of your total writing task 1 mark. 

We will use the below writing task 1 as an example to demonstrate the differences in IELTS marking bands. 

 

Southland's Main Exports

IELTS Writing Task 1_Exports

Retrieved from (The Official Cambridge Guide to IELTS, pg. 224) on 1 November 2016

1. 

IELTS writing task 1

According to the above, the examiner will be assessing your report to see if you have covered all the key features in your report and supported them with the correct details. This also includes some relevant comparisons on different stages and trends. 

With that in mind, let's look at the above question about the exports in Southland. To make things simple, we will only be looking at the overview of the report.

 

A band 5 overview:

  • When looking at the bar charts, we can see that the international tourism and dairy products increase and that of meat products decreases. 

To improve the above overview, we need to look closer on the dairy products chart. It seems that the figure first increases then decreases instead of increases throughout the period. Moreover, there is no mention of the unit of measurement. Looking carefully, we can see that the measurement is "income from a particular industry" in billions of euros.

The errors in format and ambiguity in the measurements in the graph prevent us from getting a higher band. 

 

A band 6 overview:

  • When looking at the bar charts, we can see that the income from the international tourism industry grows and that in the meat products industry decreases. Also, the revenue from the dairy products industry shows a rising and falling pattern. 

The above overview looks significantly better than the previous version. Still missing is the lack of description of the tenses in the graph. We have not fully covered the requirements of the task and this is stopping us from reaching band 7.

Note that the graph actually covers past, present and future. We don't have to include all tenses in the overview like the way required when describing the figures in detail. To make things simple, we just need to express the overview in the future tense. 

 

A band 7 and probably band 8 overview:

  • In general, it is obvious that the revenue from the international tourism industry is forecast to grow while that in the meat products sector is set to decline. Also, the revenue from the dairy product industry will display a rising and falling pattern.

As demonstrated above, this version achieves the following:

  • Includes all the key trends accurately
  • Compares the trends
  • Highlights the unit of measurements
  • Precisely mentions the tenses in the graph
  • Uses synonyms such as industry and sector to avoid repetitions

Note that the final band of your report will be determined by all paragraphs not just the overview. You need to support the overview with details such as numbers and years to present a piece of coherent writing. 

 

2.

IELTS Writing Task 1_Coheence

These criteria examine if the ideas in your report are connected and can be easily understood by the reader. Your writing should be separated into paragraphs. Each paragraph will have a particular purpose. For the structure of a report, please see the xxx post. 

At the most basic level, there should be 4 paragraphs in your report:

  1. Introduction 
  2. Overview
  3. Supporting details
  4. Supporting details

Let's use the Southland's main exports as an example to highlight the differences in band score. To keep it simple, we will only look at the introduction and overview paragraphs. 

 

A band 5 report:

  • Introduction: Apparently, these graphs show the major investigated information about the Southland's main exports in 2000, 20xx and with forecast to 2025.
  • Overview: By observing three bar graphs, we can see that two of the items increase but another decreases. The graphs cover three years of income but one of the year time is not clear."

In the introduction, the candidate is trying to use synonyms to paraphrase the word "main exports", albeit in a way that is confusing. There is no clear definition of the kinds of graphs that it is talking about. The last sentence is also ambiguous. 

 

A band 6 report:

  • Introduction: Apparently, the bar graphs show information about the Southland's main exports in 2000, 20xx and with forecast to 2025.
  • Overview: By observing three bar graphs, we can see that two of the items will increase but one will decrease over the period in question. 

Now it becomes more lucid for the reader to know the kinds of graphs, and the time frame of the question. However, there is no unit of measurements or definition of which item it is referring to in the overview. Also, the description  "two of the items will increase" is not accurate as the graph of dairy products first increases then decreases. 

 

A band 7 and probably band 8 report:

  • Introductoin: The bar charts illustrate data about three kinds of exports, measured in billions of euros in Southland in 2000, 2016, and with predictions to 2025.
  • Overview: In general, it is obvious that the revenue from the international tourism industry is forecast to grow while that in the meat product sector is set to decline. Also, the revenue from the dairy product industry will display a rising and falling pattern.

As this response addresses all the issues, arrange information logically and clearly, and uses a variety of cohesive devices effectively such as "in general", "while", and "also". The two paragraphs also attain their purposes of introducing the report and providing a clear summary, respectively. 

In short, this version incorporates the following:

  • Definition of the kinds of graphs
  • Logical and lucid sentences
  • Highlight of the unit of measurements
  • Accurate description of the trends 
  • Indication of the time frame 
  • Clear signal of the graph that it refers to 
  • Appropriate usage of cohesive devices

 

3.

IELTS Writing Task 1_Lexical Resource

The vocabulary or words in your sentences is measured against these criteria. The examiner will see if you use a wide range of words or a limited number of words repetitively. Spellings of words is also examined here. 

 

To better explain this, let's continue with the example of Southland's main exports. We will be zooming into the 3rd and 4th supporting paragraphs of the report. 

 

A band 5 report:

  • We can see that the international tourism industry had the best income in 2000. The international tourism industry will grow from 2000 to 2025. In that time, the  revenue from dairy products has grown, too. In dairy products graph, we can see dramatic changes from 20xx to 2025. In the beginning, dairy products were not famous. In 2025, meat products will be reduced. 

From the above, there is a number of amendments we should make. We can improve the word choice of "the best income"; "not famous"; and expand the range of words to avoid repetitions. 

 

A band 6 report: 

  • We can see that the international tourism industry generated the most income in 2000. The revenue from international tourism industry will grow from 2000 to 2025. In that time, the revenue from dairy products will climb too. From the graph of dairy products, we can see dramatic changes from 20xx to 2025. In the beginning, dairy products were not popular. In 2025, the income of meat products will reduce.

Afer defining the unit of measurement, and improving the things we mentioned above, the band of this response has been scaled up. Though there are still repetitions in word choices, and there are not enough variety in vocabulary. 

 

A band 7 and probably band 8 report:

  • We can see that the international tourism industry generated the most income in 2000. It is forecast to grow from 2000's 8.1 billion euros to 2025's 9.9 billion euros. During the same period, the revenue from dairy products industry is set to expand too. There are also dramatic changes in the income of meat products from 20xx to 2025. In the year 2000, meat products were not very popular, producing only 6 billion euros of sales. This popularity is further predicted to decline by 2025 when the sales drop to 5 billion euros.  

 

In short, things that are looked upon here include:

  • Spelling of words
  • Choice of words
  • Word order
  • Range of words and repetition 

 

4. 

IELTS Writing Task 1_Lexical ResourceHere we will be looking at the complexity of your sentences and the grammatical errors in your report. 

Some of the most common grammatical errors include:

  • Tenses
  • Punctuation 
  • Singular and plural forms of words
  • Mistakes in capitalization of words and articles such as "a", "the"
  • Errors in subject-verb aggreement
  • Repetitive sentence structures
  • Not having a range of simple and complex structures

Using the Southland's main exports as an example, we will show you how the grammar of the supporting paragraph can be improved. 

 

A band 5 report:

  • We can see that the International tourism industry generates the best income in 2000. The International tourism industry has grown from 2000 to 2025. In that time, the revenue from Dairy products have grown too. In dairy products graph, we can see the dramatic change from 20xx to 2025. In the beginning, dairy products were not popular, in 2025, meat products will be reduced. 

In the response above, we can see there are punctuation, tenses, article, subject-verb agreement, and word choice errors. Also, the capitalization of names of industries is inconsistent. 

 

A band 6 report:

  • We can see that the international tourism industry generated the most income in 2000. The revenue from international tourism industry will grow from 2000 to 2025, and the same trend can be seen in the dairy products sector. From the graph of meat products, we can see dramatic changes from 20xx to 2025. In the beginning, meat products were not popular, and in 2025, it is set to become even less popular.

In the above version, sentences are combined to form more complex structures. Mistakes in tenses and punctuations are corrected too. 

 

A band 7 and probably band 8 report:

  • From the bar charts, we can see that the international tourism industry generated the most income of over 8 billion euros in 2000, and this is forecast to grow consistently to almost 10 billion euros in 2025. During the same period, the revenue from dairy products started at slightly below 7 billion euros, and shot up to approximately 10 billion euros, then, in contrast to that from international tourism, it is envisaged to dwindle to around 9.5 billion euros in 2025.  Regarding the income from the meat products sector, it started at a mere 6 billion euros in 2000 and displayed a downward trend throughout the period in question. It is projected to shrink to 5 billion euros in 2025.

To reach a higher band, we have done the following:

  • Include a range of simple and complex sentences
  • Use a variety of grammatical structures 
  • Add in more numbers and details 
  • Use the correct tenses 
  • Improve sentence flow
IELTS Marking Criteria for Writing Task 1

One thought on “IELTS Marking Criteria for Writing Task 1

  • November 19, 2016 at 11:18 am
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    Way to use the internet to help people solve prbmoels!

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