Everything about IELTS Writing Task 1

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Everything about IELTS Writing Task 1 – Academic

In IELTS Writing, you must be able to finish Writing Task 1 20 minutes to ensure that you leave at least 40 minutes for IELTS Writing Task 2.

For Writing Task 1, most test papers ask you to write describe data in several forms including pie charts, bar charts, diagrams and so on.

There are many different ways to increase your IELTS Writing Task 1 score; as a result, many IELTS candidates get a good score in Task 1.

The process we have introduced here, consists of 5 major parts :

  1. Analyzing the Task and Data
    1. Static or dynamic data?
  2. Grouping the Data
    1. Identifying trends and key features
  3. Writing/ Starting an introduction
  4. Writing the main body paragraph
  5. Summary 🙂

Step 1 : Analyzing the data

Read the Task 1 introductions and focus on the data available. make sure you understand everything. Do not spend anymore than 1 minute to understand the data.

1.1 Static or Dynamic data? what are the differences?

Well, the difference between static and dynamic data is that “Static data” shows 1 timescale while dynamic data shows a numbers of different timescales.

For example, a static data chart may show the population of 5 different cities in 2002. In this case, you need to compare the numbers only.

The table below is an example of a “Static data” table :

And the table below, shows a dynamic data table :

It is essential to be clear about the difference because the way you write about the data will vary depending upon the type of data in the figures.In a Static chart you should only compare the numbers and proportions in the figures. But in a Dynamic chart, you should also compare the changes.

Remember that in IELTS Writing Task 1, you will face the following types of data :

  • Static data only
  • Dynamic Data only
  • A combination of static and dynamic data

What do the 2 axes show?

  • Is there a timescale on one axis?
  • Is there a timescale? Is the figure about the past?, now? or the future?
  • What units are shown? (eg: 000 of people, centigrade degrees or prices in $ and etc.)

To illustrate it, please look at the following table :


Electricity used (megawatts or mw) in a typical hospital

The table above, is a movement chart because the timescale show 7 different days.) No year (eg. 2012) is shown, so you should used the present simple to describe the information. The axes are days of the week and 5 different countries.The units shown are in megawatts. (not in million or thousand.)

Remember that the information about the timescales, the axes and the units may be located on the chart itself, or it may be in a caption, and/or in the Task description. Check everywhere !

Don’t be distracted by the fact that some Tasks have bar charts, graphs and some have pie charts while others have line graphs and other formats to show data. The way the data is presented could be in any of these formats and you need to practice analyzing the data from all formats.

Step 2 : Grouping the data: Identifying key features

Remember that in IELTS Writing Task 1, instruction always says “Summarize the information. Select and describe the main features, and make comparison where relevant. ” Main features in Task 1 means the key figures which demonstrate the groups, trends and exception that you have identified. It is impossible (and utterly unnecessary) to select more than a few features to use in your Writing Task 1.

You should use a red pen to highlight the figures on the chart which show the most noticeable figures in each group of data, because this will give you the trend. For example, in Chart 3 (Electricity in hospitals), you should not list ALL the figures for France and Japan. If you say “France and Japan fluctuate around 32 and 18 mv respectively” this shows you understand the trend and have selected a key figure in each country to demonstrate this.

It is very important to avoid the mistake of simply listing all the figures you see in the charts. You should never describe the figures in sequence from left to right, or from top to bottom. You must show that you can group data, identify trends/exceptions, and select the main features. If the examiner feels that you have done this in your IELTS Writing task 1, you will increase you Band score considerably, even if there are some mistakes in your English. Task completion is one of the things by which they measure your writing.

Step 3 : Writing/ Starting an introduction

For your introduction, the examiner wants to see a clear, single sentence that shows you have analyzed and understood the data, timescales and units involved. To do this, take the explanatory part of the Task introduction, and paraphrase it in your own words. We have written an article that teaches you how to paraphrase. This might help you.

How to paraphrase english sentences

Here are a few example to see how to write a paraphrase :

Information given by the IELTS :

“The first graph below shows the weight (in tonnes) of fruit produced by a farm during each month
in 2013, and also the amount (in tonnes) of fertiliser used. The second graph shows the volume of
rainfall in each month (in millimetres.)”

 You can paraphrase it as :

“The charts give data regarding the tonnage of fruit produced in a farm per month in 2013, the
fertiliser used and the monthly rainfall in that year.”

Another example Task is :

“The table shows data about the average length of time (in minutes) that people of different ages
spend in a consultation with family doctors in a number of countries.”

You can paraphrase it as :

“The chart gives information about the typical time that patients spend with doctors in various
countries, split by age group.”

In these 2 examples, the candidate has replaced as many words as possible from the Task with his
own words. For example :

data => information

average => typical

a number of => various

The candidate has also varied the structure of the sentences, condensing the first example into one sentence and making the sentences slightly shorter.


Doing this will be enough to start your essay successfully. Remember that in your introduction
sentence you must:

  • NOT include any figures or data (except the year(s) if given)
  • NOT give any background to the topic or add any knowledge, opinions or ideas of your own. Save
    that for Task 2, where it is needed!
  • NOT copy the complete Task instruction from the Test paper without changing/paraphrasing it.

If you practise this, you should be able to write a good introduction sentence in about 1 minute,
leaving enough time for the main body of the essay. Don’t spend longer than about 1 minute on this,
because you need plenty of time to write the main body.

Body Paragraph

3.1 :Writing the body paragraph !

Well, up to now, we have covered several different things related to analyzing the Task and focusing on main features. At this stage, we’re going to look at the most important part of our job : Writing the body paragraph.

You should spent about 5 minutes maximum on steps 1 and 2 in our process. By this stage you have 15 minutes to complete Writing Task 1. You should do it quickly and meticulously [= so carefully].

By this stage, you should have plently of notes made with your red pen on the Test paper itself. We strongly recommend that you don’t make a plan for Writing the body paragraph of Writing Task one because it takes so much time.

You can write your Writing Task 1 using your notes in about 10-12 minutes. Spend a minute or two to proofread the writing.

You will gain marks by having a very clearly structured essay. To achieve this, you should describe
each chart, table or graph in turn, explaining any trends or exceptions that you have seen between the
groups of data.

You should explain the trend at the beginning of each group, and then give your selected figures to
illustrate. A simple example is:

“Regarding x, the trend is a slow rise and then a fall, going from 100 to 110 and then down to 80.”

You should try to compare any trends and/or exceptions that exist between the different charts and/or
the groups. You should use the notes you have made on the Test paper to remind you what to write,
including the key figures you have selected.

Here is an example, based on the example chart 3 (hospital electricity) that we studied in Step 2.

“Regarding electricity, we see that consumption in the French and Japanese hospitals is roughly
stable during the week, fluctuating around 32 and 18 mw respectively. In Canada and Russia, electricity use climbs dramatically towards the end of the week, going from 26 to 38 mw and from 12 to 24 mw. In Argentina, however, the use actually declines by almost half.”

Your essay should then move on to discuss the next chart or the next group of data. A further example of a successful main body paragraph is this one, based on example Task 4 (the passenger numbers and ticket prices):

“Passenger numbers peak 3 times during the day. For example, the number at 6am is 480, rising to
690 by 8am before falling again. There is then a peak of 700 at midday, followed by an afternoon
decline to a low of 230 at 4pm. A third spike is at 6pm, reaching 670 before tailing off.”

Writing a summary

After about 15 minutes you should finish your Writing Task one and you should prepare to write a summary for it. 

This will usually be 1 sentence (a maximum of 3 sentences if there are several charts or groups in the Task.) The summary in a Task 1 essay is very different from the conclusion in a Task 2 essay. In Task 1, you must not give your opinion, or make any suggestions about the causes of the data in the Task. Instead, you should summarise the key trends and the key exceptions that you have described in the main body.

An example (based on the example chart 4) is :

“In summary, ticket prices increase broadly in line with passenger traffic, except during the
evening rush hour when they actually fall.”

This summary is simple, but it succeeds because it sums up the key groups, the trend and the exception
in the data. Notice that the summary does not include any figures. Neither your introduction nor your
summary should include figures.

Another example of a very good summary is :

“In summary, this farm generally employed the most fertiliser at seasons of high rainfall, and by contrast it produced the most fruit when both rainfall and fertiliser use were around their lowest.”

This summary uses the phrase “by contrast” to emphasise the exception which exists in the data.

When you have finished the Task 1 essay, you should have about 1 or 2 minutes remaining to check
your work for grammatical and spelling errors, before putting it on one side so that you can start on
Task 2. You need to make sure you finish Task 1 completely in 20 minutes so that you have enough
time for Task 2.

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