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Mastering IELTS Writing Requirements

Writing is one of two surprisingly tricky papers on the Academic IELTS test. For an overview of the test and its harder elements, read our article on succeeding on IELTS. You can also get some top tips on the essay task in the writing paper here. Today, let’s take a look at task 1 on the writing paper, the shortest element, but by no means the easiest.

Task 1 on the Academic IELTS test examines students on an authentic activity they may encounter at university. It provides a graphic representation of data and asks students to summarise it in words. The graphics used can be of many different types, and unfamiliar ones take time to interpret. The two below are fairly common – graphs and process diagrams, but even these are highly variable. Practice is important to build the confidence needed to interpret and write about different graphics in just twenty minutes.

The graphics divide into two broad categories, with each needing slightly different writing techniques. When writing about anything that resembles a graph (like the first image above), students need to focus on collecting and analysing trends. For example, in the line graph on languages spoken, there’s a constant decrease in everything except for non-official languages, which increases steadily before trending slightly downwards after 2006. When writing about anything that is a picture (e.g. a process diagram like the second graphic, or a map), the focus is on describing all the elements present and including directions and categories of movement, using synonyms for non-technical vocabulary where possible. For example, in the process diagram, the sulphurous feed is taken through an initial three stages of preheating or combustion, SO2 conversion, and cooling, during which superheated steam is vented off into a common collection system.


To gain plenty of practice with this and other IELTS tasks, there’s a great range of free resources at ieltsliz.com/. Although this website contains a wealth of information, it can be overwhelming for students to study alone, especially if you’re short of time. Our IELTS course covers all four papers and helps students get ready for success in just 12 lessons.