IELTS Writing Task 1: FAQ

Below are frequently asked questions and answers for IELTS writing task 1. Click the question to see the answer.

  1. How many types of task 1 are there?
    There are many types for the academic IELTS paper. Here are the main types: diagrams, maps, building plans, bar charts, line graphs, pie charts and tables. Follow the link to see sample charts for IELTS academic paper. It is also possible to get more than one type in your task 1 test. However for the GT paper, you only need to write a letter.
  2. How much is writing task 1 worth?
    It is worth only one third of your marks for IELTS writing. Task 2 is worth twice as much. To learn how writing is calculated, see this page: IELTS Writing Scoring.
  3. What's the difference between the academic paper and the general training paper in task 1?
    In the general training paper you have to write a letter whereas in the academic paper you must write a report based on a chart.
  4.  Is the general training task 1 marked the same way as the academic task 1?
    No, there is a difference between the way one of the four criteria is marked. Task Achievement, which accounts for 25% of your marks, is assessed differently in the general paper and academic paper. Follow this link to see the difference between band scores 5 to 8.
  5.  Can I take more than 20 minutes to write my task 1?
    You must manage your own time in the writing test. However, it is highly recommended that you don’t take more than 20 minutes to write task 1.
  6.  How can I organise the information in my task 1?
    Always organise your information into the following paragraphs for task 1:
    1. Introduction
    2. Overview (key features)
    3. Body Paragraph A (accurate detail in a logical order)
    4. Body Paragraph B (accurate detail in a logical order)
    Task 1 is like a formula that you apply to all task 1 types. The more you get used to the formula, the quicker it will be to write your task 1 report. Also, the more you practice and develop a technique for each kind of task 1, the quicker you will write.
  7.  Do I need to compare and contrast data in each body paragraph?
    No, you don’t. The instructions say to compare and contrast where relevant. It is not always appropriate to compare and contrast everything. In fact, it can sometimes make your report very confusing to read. You must decide if the data should be reported only or compared and contrasted when you look at the chart and plan your writing.
  8.  How can I write the introduction?
     The introduction is quite formulaic and can be learned. You look at the information given by IELTS and paraphrase it. You also need to add the dates, countries etc. It is usually short and no more than two sentences. Here is an example introduction: “The graph illustrates the number of people travelling abroad from the UK over a ten year period from 2000 to 2010.” You can also add information about the units: “Units are measured in …..” 
  9. Should I write a conclusion?
     No, you don’t need a conclusion for writing task 1. Watch this video to learn about the difference between an overview and conclusion in writing task 1.
  10.   How can I score my own writing task 1?
    It’s not easy to grade your own writing. However, following the requirements for each band score will help you understand your score. Here’a a link to understand the difference between band score 5 and 8 for each of the 4 assessment criteria in writing task 1: Here are also some more tips:
    1. If you can’t find an IELTS teacher to mark your writing, get an English native speaker to check your vocabulary and grammar mistakes. If you have frequent errors, then you know you will get band score 5 or few errors you will get band 7 in each criteria for vocab and grammar. Of course there are other criteria involved for a total band score, but at least you will know your level for two out of four criteria.
    2. Practice writing charts that have models attached then compare your writing to the model.
    3. Learn and understand all the marking criteria on the link I provided above
  11.  Will the examiner check my spelling?
    Yes, the examiner will pay attention to your spelling. This is part of the criterion of vocabulary. If you have a lot of spelling mistakes, you will get a lower score in that criterion.
  12. Should I put only two key features in my overview?
    It depends on the chart, some charts have more than two key features so you will need include all of them in the overview. There is no fixed rule about how many key features to have. Take a look at this bar chart report, you will see more than two key features mentioned..

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