IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

May 28, 2019 | IELTS Test, IELTS Writing

Task 2 carries more marks, but most candidates lose their target band score because of IELTS Academic Writing Task 1.

Why? There are several reasons…

  1. Many candidates have never described data before – and writing in another language makes this task even more challenging.
  2. Task 1 comes in six different flavours (pie charts, bar graphs, line graphs, tables, maps and process diagrams). This diversity of question types makes Task 1 hard to master.
  3. IELTS rounds down the overall score for Writing. You might have scored Band 7.0 for Task 2, but a score of 6777 for Task 1 will bring your average down to 6.5
  4. The examiner looks for specific things in your essay (such as an overview). If you don’t have these – you can’t achieve a high score.
  5. Many candidates ruin their score by using an inappropriate format (e.g. numbered points).

Our video courses help you to navigate this minefield and ensure that you avoid big mistakes.

The Six Types of IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 Questions

The first four types involve charts and graphs.

Bar Charts

Bar charts make regular appearances in the test.

The might present information on one or multiple connected topics.

Here’s an example…

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 Bar Chart by Andrew Turner for

You can see our model answer for this bar chart question here.

Pie Charts

Pie charts also make a regular appearance.

A question could contain anything from one to eight pie charts. They could cover one area of a topic, or they could explore several interrelated areas.

Take a look at this example…

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 Pie Chart by Andrew Turner for



You could be presented with one or more tables covering multiple aspects of a topic.

Here’s an example…

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 Tables by Andrew Turner for

Line Graphs

Line graphs appear more than any other question type.


IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 Line Graph by Andrew Turner for

Process Diagrams

Process diagrams appear around 5% of the time.

Often enough for you to need to prepare for them.

Process diagrams illustrate one or more processes. These processes can range from linear production lines to cycles.

You approach to writing about a process diagram will differ compared to other question types. We describe how they are marked below…

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 Process Diagram by Andrew Turner for


Map questions usually involve two maps that you must compare. Often you will compare two periods – past, present or future…

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 Map by Andrew Turner for

You can see a model essay for this question here.

How is IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 Marked

Not knowing the marking criteria counts as one of the main reasons exam candidates fail to get the score they need.

So, grab your favourite beverage and see if the following contains any surprises for you…

Task Achievement

This part of the descriptors judges if you have addressed the requirements of the task.

You must select and highlight all the main points. Miss one and you will score Band 4.0.

To obtain a good score here, you must also include an overview.

An overview should describe the overall trends of the entire chart. An overview is not just picking out the most significant numbers or writing an introduction.

Book some lessons or buy one of our video courses if you need help!

Other ways to lose marks include using numbered or bulleted lists. These can take you all the way down to a Band 4.0!

For a more detailed analysis, see our video course.

Coherence and Cohesion

This section measures how well you have arranged information and ideas. For example, did you use cohesive devices as I did at the beginning of this sentence?

The examiner also marks your referencing here. For instance, repeating a word within a sentence might cause you to lose marks.

Examiners will also mark you down for overuse of connecting devices.

Again, we go over the above in our video course in more detail and show you what overuse and underuse means.

Lexical Resource

Using a wide range of vocabulary can be difficult in a Task 1 question.

The key is to use words which show both flexibility and precision in the description of trends.

You need to learn to use expressions like constant and considerable discrepancy and sudden and noticeable differences.

We demo how to use these and more in our video course.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

You must use both simple and complex sentences and show a good deal of accuracy in both.

To score a Band 8.0 or higher, more than half your sentences should have no error.

Take care to use the correct tense. When presented with data in the past, you will use past tenses. For example, with two past time periods, you might use both the past simple and the past perfect.

For future projections, you will use future tenses with will and going to.

Academic Writing should include both the active and passive voice. You will likely use more of the active voice with graphs and charts, and more passive sentences with maps and processes.

Free Gift

Click here to download a free PDF form of the above exam questions.

You can even answer the questions and buy our writing correction package to receive constructive feedback?

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