Below are the essential preparation tips to learn how to prepare for your IELTS writing task 1 test. These top 12 tips are for the IELTS academic writing paper.
1. Understanding Task 1
- write an academic report on a chart of graph (see below for all types of task 1)
- write over 150 words (the examiner will count your words and there will be a penalty for being under the word count)
- write your report in 20 mins (don’t take more time because task 2 is worth double the marks)
2. Practice Tests
Get the Cambridge IELTS Practice test books. There are 9 books which have been published by IELTS. Each books contains 4 full IELTS tests which are authentic (real) past exam papers.
3. Task 1 Band Scores and Marking Criteria
Understand the band scores for each criterion in writing task 1. The IELTS examiner will mark you on:
- Task Achievement (25%)
- Coherence and Cohesion (25%)
- Vocabulary (25%)
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy (25%)
Get to know the requirements for each criterion for the band score you are aiming for. Here’s a link to the IELTS writing task 1 public band score descriptors which are published by IELTS. The examiner will give you a band score for each individual criterion above and then your final score for writing task 1 is the average of the 4.
4. Types of Task 1
Learn the 6 main types of charts that can be given in writing task 1 (maps, diagrams, bar charts, tables, line graphs and pie charts). You should practice writing reports for all types of task 1 by using sample IELTS charts. It is also possible to get a combination of two types, for example a bar chart with a pie chart.
5. Introduction Paragraph
Practice writing the introduction statement. Here are two examples, which one do you think it best?
- Here we can see that the graph represented information regarding the number of sales of two companies in two years
- The chart illustrates the number of sales of two companies (Marks Ltd and Bumper Store) in 2000 and 2010.
The introduction is usually very quick to write and quite formulaic (standard) in content. Here’s a link to see how to write an introduction for a bar chart.
6. Overviews for Writing Task 1
Practice identifying key features for all kinds of charts. The key features make up the content of the overview which is the most essential paragraph in your task 1 report. The key features for most charts are the highest and lowest categories as well as the most significant differences between categories. However, for diagrams the key stages can be harder to identify so here a link to a sample introduction and overview for an IELTS diagram. Many students get confused whether to have a conclusion or an overview – make sure you get it right.
Get a list of useful vocabulary for each type of writing task. This is particularly important for line graphs, maps and pie charts. The line graph is the type of writing task 1 which has the biggest range of possible vocabulary that can be used. Here’s a link to vocabulary for line graphs.
To get a good score in writing task 1, it is important to use a range of words which means you need to paraphrase when possible. However, as mistakes can cause you to lose points, it is important not to take chances with your vocabulary. Spelling is also checked so make sure you don’t make mistakes with your spelling.
To get a good score, you will also need to work on complex sentence structures. For students aiming for band score 6 and above, this is essential. Luckily sentence structures for task 1 can be learnt and then adapted to fit each individual task (to some extent). Here’s a link to the 4 main sentence structures for a line graph. Along with grammar is accuracy. The more mistakes you make the lower your score will be so getting rid of common errors is important. Here is a link to spotting grammar mistakes for a pie chart. If you have frequent errors, you may get band score 5 for grammar.
9. Structure for Writing Task 1
You need to make sure you structure your report correctly as the examiner will pay attention to the organisation of information and paragraphing. Here’s a link to the structure for IELTS writing task 1 report. Make sure you follow this as it is easy to get a good score for organisation. Structure and linking devices are part of the criterion of Coherence and Cohesion which makes up 25% of your marks.
10. Linking Devices
Linking is also very important. You will need to show the examiner a range of linking devices that connect information together and compare information in a coherent way. Again, linking is very easy to learn so make sure you pay attention to this. Different charts use different linkers so make sure you review each type of task to see the best linking devices to use.
11. Model Answers for IELTS Writing Task 1
Follow safe models. There are a lot of sample answers for you to follow on the internet, but following a safe model which fulfills the requirement set by IELTS is essential. Here’s a link to a complete lesson on how to write a pie chart report paragraph by paragraph.
12. Practice using the Answer Sheet
Before your test, make sure you practice writing on the official IELTS answer sheet for writing task 1. Watch this video lesson to learn why you should practice with the answer sheet and how to fill it in properly. Here is a link to download the answer sheet.