This post will provide you with a step-by-step approach for the IELTS writing task 1 of your IELTS exam preparation. 

Let's begin by highlighting that the IELTS writing task 1 only accounts for about one-third of your total writing marks as it is worth half the marks of writing task 2. For instance, if you get band 7 for writing task 1 and band 8 for writing task 2, your final marks will be band 7.5 for the IELTS writing test. 


Your total score will be 7+8×2= 23. Next, 23 is divided by 3 to get 7.66. Your final band will be 7.66 and IELTS will round it up or down to the nearest half score which gives you band 7.5. 


IELTS Exam preparation










With this understanding, let's see our 7-step approach to the IELTS writing task 1:

1. Know what the examiner wants by learning the marking criteria 

Doubtlessly, you need to know how the writing test is marked in order to gain points. Notably, the marking criteria for the writing task 1 is different from that in the writing task 2. In the writing task 1, the first marking criterion is "task achievement" while that in the writing task 2 is called "task response". 

This section of the test is marked on a 1 to 9 band chart in 4 areas of criteria as follow: 

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

The examiner will give a score for each of the 4 areas and the score for your writing task 1 will be an average of them. You can read more on the IELTS writing task 1 assessment criteria from the British Council.  We have also written a post with examples to explain the IELTS marking criteria for writing task 1.


2. Study the structure of the IELTS writing task 1

Learning the types of questions that you may get in the writing task 1; the amount of time you have to compose your writing response; and the minimum number of words required for a decent mark is a vital step in the IELTE exam preparation. 

For a start, we don't recommend you spend more than 20 minutes in the writing task 1 as any longer than this will result in less time for your writing task 2. In additional, you will have to write more than 150 words (around 175 words) to obtain a reasonable mark. 

For the types of questions in writing task 1, please see 5 types of IELTS writing task 1 report.


3. Get used to the process of analyzing reports

Without a solid analysis of the question, it is impossible to get a quality mark in the writing task 1. For a minimum, you need to do the followings:

  • Breaking the question down into smaller pieces
  • Identifying the key features, main differences, and notable trends
  • Deciding the parts for comparison
  • Considering whether the graph is static or dynamic
  • Becoming aware of the tense of report 
  • Picking accurate data to support your reasoning 

Many candidates make the mistake of trying to incorporate as much information as possible. They not only encounter a lot of stress attempting to include all the details in their writing but also end up getting a lower mark than those that write about things selectively.

The IELTS question clearly states that it wants you to "summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features" instead of including everything in the report. 


4. Familiarize yourself with various report types 

As we explain earlier, there are 5 types of task 1 questions: graphs and tables; pie charts; multiple graphs and charts; maps and floor plans; and process diagram. Each requires you to focus on different things in your report. 

For instance, in a dynamic graph, you will be focusing on the beginning, the maximum and minimum points, and the ending of the graph. While in a dynamic map question, it is necessary that you mention the changes in the sizes and positions of buildings; alteration of other landmarks or infrastructures; and the things that remain constant in your answer. 


5. Learn the specific "topic language" for each type of the report questions 

Following item 4, you will be required to adopt the specific "topic language" to describe the changes in each of the 5 report types. 

For instance, the language you use to explain a process diagram might be:

  • "Once the goods have been packed into boxes, they are then delivered to the factory for storage".

In contrast, for a line graph about industrial revenue, you would use language like the below:

  • "The industrial revenue began at just below $100 million in 2000, after which it shot up to $200 million in 2010, and is set to reach $250 million in 2020."

As shown above, the language used in them are drastically different, and you will need to become familiar with all of them in your IELTS exam preparation. 


6. Paragraph your answers coherently

In your reports, having a clear format is indispensable. This makes your report not only easier to mark but also logical, and closely link together. Acquire the skills to structure your response in 4 paragraphs as explained in the structure your report post.

Trying to use a variety of "cohesive devices" such as moreover; in addition; after that; while; although/ though; in/by contrast; however; and therefore to connect the information in your report together is also vital in your IELTS exam preparation. 


7. Practice on the IELTS answer sheets and get them marked professionally 

To complete your IELTS exam preparation, it is a must that you practice writing your repose on the official IELTS answer sheet. This lets you become aware of how your font size affects the position of your sentences, and more importantly, it lets you gauge the line on the sheet where you have written the required words.  


How to prepare for the IELTS Writing Task 1