IELTS Writing Task 1: Essential Preparation Tips

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?

  1. Here we can see that the graph represented information regarding the number of sales of two companies in two years
  2. The chart illustrates the number of sales of two companies (Marks Ltd and Bumper Store) in 2000 and 2010.
The second introduction statement is best. The first example contains non-academic language (Here we can see …”) and also does not contain enough information about the companies or which years.


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.

7. Vocabulary

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.

8. Grammar

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.

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  1. Hi Liz, First of all I’d like to thank you for your efforts and hard working to help us improve.
    I have a question about academic writing task 1. what are the maximum words that we should write? Is it ok if I write 216 words in this task?
    Best regards, 😀

    • If your writing task 1 report contains too many small details, you will get a lower mark. 25% of your marks for task 1 is your ability to select information and highlight key features. Of course, if the chart gives few details, then you might present all but if there is plenty of information to present then you must be selective. So, writing over 200 words is not showing the skill of selecting.

  2. Hey Liz,

    Do you have an overview of when to write a conclusion section for writing part 1?
    Thank you in advance!

    Kind regards

  3. i wann practise ielts writing part .

  4. EAB Villaflor says:

    Hi Liz, I am planning to retake IELTS exam because I was unable to get a score of 8 and above for my writing. I need someone to critique my essays. Can you help me on this? Please contact me at:

  5. Mam… First of all Thanku so much for this website this helping us a lot for preparation…
    I wanna knw that what is the difference between the Cambridge ilets 9 and 11 which book is to be purchased

  6. my writing band score is not

  7. hii Liz…I really appreciate your efforts for creating such a wonderful platform to score in IELTS.Your videos are helping me a lot.Thank you so much..:)

    I have a question on writing task 1 .
    Is it fine if I write upto 190 words?

    I look forward to hearing you soon..

  8. do we have time for rewriting?

  9. mana chhantyal says:

    should we write a conclusion or not

  10. hi liz,
    can we write figures in overview paragraph?

  11. harpreet singh says:

    from where to i could start ilets practice….?

  12. jass shergill says:

    is there any difference in idp and bc marking test

    • No. The marking criteria are exactly the same and the examiners are trained in the same way. These are not separate companies when it comes to IELTS, they are both co-owners of IELTS.

  13. Hi liz!! Can I use present contin. in WT 1? , Thank you for your data!

  14. mother u explained well

  15. hi mam. when u will be back ?

  16. Hi,
    In writing task-1, do we also have to analyse the figures? Like for example, if the question is about people listening radio and watching TV, then do we also have to write like..people probably don’t watch TV in morning because they are working in office.
    Or we just have to stick to explaining the graph backing the statement by data?
    (Interpretation and analysis both or just the interpretation?)

    • You never give an opinion or try to give reasons for it. You report what you see. This is report, not an essay.
      All the best

  17. Hi Liz

    Do you have an idea in terms of which test is easier to take on the following: IELTS Academic,PTE Academic,TOEFL and CAE?

  18. Hi Liz

    Kindly assist me,I took a GT exam for immigration to Australia and did not do well in listening because i want 8 band across all modules.

    I have a date for academic but wanted to find out if the band will be reduced because i am taking Academic instead of GT, and is it difficult as people say because i could have taken CAE,TOEFL,PTE Academic but feel with the knowledge i accumulated on this site better to do IETLS


    • Sorry, I don’t have information about immigration. Make sure your English is strong enough to get band score 8. If your English is not good enough, you must work to improve it before you book your next test.
      All the best

  19. Hi, there! Liz, your website is awesome! I’m lovin’ it! The thing is, as I was reading through the pieces of advice you’ve shared above, I came up to something that made me really confused. And that is “Why are you saying ‘each criteria’ instead of saying ‘each criterion’? “

    • The reason is that I’m not careful when I type quickly and don’t proof read enough. Thanks for spotting it!
      All the best

  20. Dear liz,
    Just have one doubt about cocluding task 1. What is the appropriate way to do.

  21. Hello Liz
    I have question .. The following is writing task 1 statement “The bar chart below shows the percentage of people in UK living alone by sex and age in 2004/05 “.. Is it possible to paraphrase it to the following “The bar chart illustrate the amount of people in UK who are living alone in terms of percentage dividing according to their age and gender during the period 2004/05.. Is that a good paraphrase? If it is not, who can I make it better?

  22. Hello Liz
    I have question related to the overview paragraph, Is there any words except overall by which we can start our overview paragraph ???

    • “Overall” is the most appropriate to use. It helps the examiner locate your overview quickly and easily which helps you get a better score.

  23. Hi Liz,
    In writing task 1 (Academic) there are two pages provided. My question is if I want to write more should I continue on subsequent pages given for task 2 or should I ask for separate sheets meant for task 1.

    Please reply soon as I my exam is approaching very near.

    Thanking you in advance,

    • At no time you should write more on any page for task 1. You should never write over 200 words and that will easily fit onto the page given to you.
      All the best

  24. Good day Liz! Is it possible to get a bandscore of 7 even if one was’t able to finish task 1? Is it true that examiners are turned off to see so many less common words in essays?

    • Any writing which is under the word count will get a lower band score. These are the rules set by IELTS.
      All the best

  25. Hello Mam,

    A big Thank You! 🙂 for all your efforts, a very good blog for ilets preparation with all information at one place.
    It help me improved a lot and i could score an overall band 7 (L:7, R:7, W:6, S:7) which i think, wouldn’t have been possible without all your tips and videos and samples.

    Thank You!!! 🙂

  26. Awesome website for Ielts prep
    Thanks Liz for your dedication and simplicity in L R W S
    Just 2days before I checked ur writing topics and videos
    Which boosted my score to 7band in writing thanks a ton

    overall, I got 6.5 (L:7,R:6.5,w:7,S:6) lost 7band just by .5 band
    it could have been not possible without ur brainstormed ideas ur website provides

  27. Dear Liz,

    Great website, keep the good work going on.

    Please give a link to clear instruction for how to prepare for TASK 1 & 2 GT writing,


  28. Hy Liz,

    I have observed many candidates asking about getting exhausted by the time they have to do writing and I have also felt the same by the time we come to writing. Its just that we cannot brainstorm effectively and also we are trying hard to write something but we may turn away from the topic and realize it later

    Can you please provide advice of how we can keep ourselves active by the time we reach writing. Thanks

    • I wish there were special tips but it’s a long test and all students will feel tired by the time they arrive at writing task 2. The only way to avoid making mistakes with your essay is to plan properly. Most students read the essay question and start writing which is why they make mistakes and go off topic when they are tired. But if you spend 5 minutes (at least) analysing the essay question and planning your ideas, how to present them and supporting points, you’ll be fine. Here’s a page to read about planning:

      • Thanks Liz.That’s an amazing tip. I can remember myself in a similar situation, where I started writing and than later realized I have been writing away from the topic.

        I will make sure that the essays I am going to practice further should include brainstorming and than following the plan to write essay. I believe in this way we will not go back and forth and can keep our focus towards given topic only.

  29. Hi Liz…I have a question about conclusion in task -1.You said that conclusion should not be given but in official IELTS Cambridge model answers they have conclusion or overview in final passage of task -1.Please state your view on this.


    • There is an overview paragraph not a conclusion. The overview can be after the introduction or at the end of the report. Please watch my free video lessons to learn about the overview and the possible locations.

  30. Hi liz, There is no word to say because you’ve done perfect. Thanks a lot.

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