This post aims to convey to you some IELTS writing tips for task 1. We will cover not only the things to avoid but also the things you should do to get a good mark in the writing task 1.
Trying to include everything in your report
IELTS writing task 1 asks the candidates to "summarize the information by selecting and reporting on the main features, and make comparisons where relevant". This means you should only talk about the main points, significant features or trends, and only make comparisons if there are relevant ones. Do not include everything in the report.
Trying to write about everything not only drains your energy out but also depletes your time. You may end up with a messy report with little logic and lots of mistakes as you rush to complete it.
Prioritize the things you choice.
Writing it until the last minute
Everyone makes mistakes, whether they are small grammatical errors or slips in tenses, plural lacking 's' , subject-verb agreement..etc. Most of these are avoidable if you spend a couple of minutes reviewing your report. Most candidates make the same mistakes repeatedly, which are easily spotted, as long as they pay attention to them.
It is far better to spend the last few minutes checking your report than writing one or two extra sentences.
Inappropriate use of "topic language"
As explained in the post 5 types of IELTS writing task 1 reports, the five types of questions each requires different kinds of language. Take a pie chart question, for instance, the sentence may resemble:
- It is apparent that A, B, and C accounted for the majority of energy use.
- B represented 25% of the total energy consumption
- C contributes 40% of the energy usage in 2005
If the question is a process diagram, the language would be diametrical:
- To begin with, A and B are added into the mix, which then passes through a cement container.
- Once the liquid has been heated, it is then directed to a cooler.
- In the last phrase, after the various ingredients are being combined to form the product, it is then sent to the store ready to be sold.
Using the language that corresponds to the question is one of the most used IELTS writing tips.
Not having clear paragraphs
The IELTS marking criteria state that you are required to "sequence informational and ideas logically". This includes separating related information into paragraphs. You can refer to "how to paragraph in your IELTS writing task 1" for more details.
Some candidates either cover too many details in their overview, or having too much data in one supporting paragraph, and too little in the other.
Moreover, it is very common to see reports with details that are not organized logically. This can be a result of not linking the sentences with "cohesive devices", or not signaling the beginning and ending of the graph, chart or process map.
The reader should be able to roughly draw out the picture from the information in the report. If the graph covers information across a period of time, you need to make explicit the beginning and ending parts, and the peak and bottom of the graph.
Having an ambiguous overview
An overview is arguably the most important part of your task 1 report. It is a short description that contains 2-3 most noticeable things about the illustration.
Under the "task achievement" of the IELTS marking criteria, it states that a candidate needs to "present a clear overview of main trends, differences or stages" to be awarded band 7.0 or above. At the most basic level, it is similar to a conclusion that highlights the big message of the picture.
Using the wrong tenses
It is not uncommon to see a task 1 question that starts from the past and extends into the future. Consider the following example:
Retrieved from (Cambridge English IELTS 9, pg. 101)
Note that this example begins from 1980 in the past and continues into 2030 in the future. Therefore we need to be cautious about the tenses we use when describing data.
If you only use past or present tenses in your report, you will lose marks in the "grammatical range and accuracy" marking criteria.
Inaccurate description of data
This mistake not only includes using the wrong figures to support your answer but also sentences that are overcomplicated. More often, candidates try to use vocabulary and grammar that they are not 100% clear about.
We advise candidates to learn some common language to describe the changes. See below for examples of the vocabulary and their synonyms:
- Increase – climb up; edge up; rise; grow; expand
- Decrease – shrink; dwindle; drop; fall; decline
- Fluctuate – rise and fall; alternate between
Also, sometimes using descriptive language to indicate the accuracy of your data wins you more points than saying the exact number. For instance, writing "the figure began at slightly below 50" is better than "the figure began at 48".