How to Prepare for IELTS Writing Task 1?

Needless to say no matter how great your English is you still need to learn the correct approach to tackle the IELTS writing test. Without further delay, let’s dive into the complete guide that will shed light on all the critical elements of the IELTS Academic Writing.
The writing assessment requires you to respond to two questions in one hour.

IELTS Writing Task 1:

In task 1, you will be presented with some visual data (such as charts, graphs, maps, etc.), which requires you to provide a summary, compare figures, indicate contrasts, identify significant trends and describe the process. The minimum word requirement is 150 and it is highly recommended to complete the task in 20 minutes.

In this particular case, leave your creativity behind. Explain the factual data based on the illustration provided. Do not make assumptions. Imagine the examiner does not have the diagram and based on your report, s/he can easily follow the trends and visualize the information. Perhaps you are a little baffled at the moment but once you get a hold of the basic structure of a good response, you can apply that to answer every category of questions in task 1.

Line graph, bar graph, pie chart, table, process diagram or a map are usually the expected figures. Examiners will look for the following template in your response, no matter what diagram you are presented with:

Step 1 – Introduction – Paraphrase the question

The first sentence of your response should always be a paraphrase of the question provided. The smartest way is to do this is to use alternative phrases or synonyms.

Step 2 – Overview – Key features

While scanning the diagram, what do you notice at the first glance? What are the significant trends? The overview is a concise summary of the chief features. Identify the major trends and summarize them in your overview in one or two sentences. Do not go into details as of yet.

Step 3 – Supporting details – 2 paragraphs

In this segment, you need to explain the major trends you pointed out in your overview. If there are two main features, explain the first in the third paragraph and the second in the fourth, that is, the closing paragraph.

For better understanding, read the band 9 sample answers given below.

IELTS Writing Task 1 – Sample 1:

Question: The chart below shows the total number of minutes (in billions) of telephone call in the UK, divided into three categories, from 1995-2002. Summarize the information by selecting a reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Source: Cambridge IELTS Test Papers


The bar graph shows the combined time spent in billions of minutes, on three different kinds of phone call in the United Kingdom, from 1995-2002. 

Overall, local calls were the most popular over the whole period, with national and international calls and calls on mobiles second and third respectively. However, the number of minutes spent on international and national calls and mobiles both increased over the period; with mobile minutes increasing dramatically, thus narrowing the gap between the three categories by 2002.

Minutes spent on local calls fluctuated over the time period, with just over 70 billion minutes in 1995, peaking at approximately 90 billion in 1999 and then steadily decreasing to just over 70 billion minutes in 2002. 

National and international calls increased steadily year on year, from just under 40 billion minutes in 1995 to a peak of just over 60 billion in 2002. Mobile minutes increased at a very rapid pace from approximately 3 billion in 1995 to around 45 billion in 2002. Mobile phone usage nearly doubled from approximately 22 billion minutes in 2000 to 40 billion in 2001.

IELTS Writing Task 1 – Sample 2:

ielts writing task sample gradbunker
Source: Cambridge IELTS Test Prep Book

Here is a band 9 IELTS task 1 sample answer about the process of silk production.


The graphic illustrates the life process of the silkworm and the phases in the manufacture of silk material.

Overall, the lifecycle is a natural process and contains four cyclical phases, beginning with the laying of eggs and ending with the birth of a new moth from a cocoon. The production of silk is, in contrast to the previous stage, a man-made linear process comprising of 6 main stages.

To begin with, eggs are produced by the moth and it takes 10 days for the eggs to hatch into silkworm larvae that feed on mulberry leaves. This stage takes between 4 and 6 weeks before the worms construct a cocoon from silk thread, taking approximately one week. They stay there for around a fortnight, subsequently emerging as moths and the process can begin again.

The first stage in the manufacture of silk is the selection of cocoons and these are then boiled. Once boiled, the silk thread is unwound to a length of between 300 and 900 meters. Finally, the silk can be twisted and weaved into cloth before being dyed.

Task 1 is quite consistent and predictable. So once you get the hang of the pattern, it is a piece of cake. In short, recognize what’s significant, compare and contrast, and do not miss out the evident trends.
A detailed guide on the IELTS Academic Writing Task 2 will be put forward on our another post.

Disclaimer: No A.I. was used to generate any portion of this content.

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