IELTS Academic Writing Task 1



Try our fun, quick quiz to see how much you know about the IELTS Writing test.

Click on the links below for information on different aspects of writing task 1. I hope these will answer your questions but, if they haven’t, you can contact Total-IELTS via email. Just click on the email link below. 

IELTS Academic Writing: Sample Answers

The must-read page. Band 8.0 sample answers of different types of diagrams using real IELTS past papers.

Downloadable PDF copies for each diagram type.

IELTS Academic Writing: Grading

Essential information on Academic writing task 1 task requirements.

How your answer is graded according to the public band descriptors.

IELTS Academic Writing: Planning & Structure

Strategies & tips on how to plan your answer.

Organize your answer into clear paragraphs.

IELTS Academic Writing: Introduction - Paraphrase & Overview


How to write an effective introduction. The importance of paraphrasing and a clear overview. 

IELTS Academic Writing: Main Features & Comparisons


How to select and describe the main features of a diagram and compare them.


  • Will I be penalized if I write too much?

         No, you will not be penalized. There are no penalties in any IELTS writing task, either Academic or General training, for writing more than the required word court. 

       However, it is generally not a good strategy to write too much because it’s poor time management. You will find that writing too much on one task will take up too much time and the task you choose to write second will be rushed which will have a negative impact on your overall band score. 

     Generally, aim for a minimum of 160 words for task 1 and 260 for task 2. 

  • Should I do task 2 before task 1?

      There’s no IELTS regulation that states you must do task 1 first so, it’s up to you which one you decide to do first. Several sources recommend you start with task 2 because it accounts for 67% of you overall band score. However, task 1 should not be relegated to secondary importance because it still accounts for 33% of your final score. 

     The key strategy here is time management. Whatever task you decide to start with doesn’t really matter. You should always follow the recommended timings for each question... 20 minutes for task 1 and 40 minutes for task 2.

  • Can I write the overview as a separate paragraph after the introduction?

          Yes, you can. Several sources recommend that the introduction and overview should be separate paragraphs. 

          There is no IELTS regulation that states the introduction and overview for Academic task 1 must be separate paragraphs or 1 paragraph. 

  • Can I write the overview last as a type of conclusion?

        Yes, you can. The essential requirement for Academic task 1 is that your answer must have a clear overview otherwise you cannot score more than band 5 for Task achievement. You can put the overview after the introduction or include it as a separate paragraph at the end of the answer. Remember to begin the overview with “Overall,” and not “In conclusion” 

  • How can I select the main features when there is too much information?

       Some statistical information diagrams and others like flowcharts often have a lot of information included and it can appear difficult to select the main features. Remember that if you try to describe as many features as possible, you can be penalized in Task achievement for “recounts details mechanically”.

       Also, trying to describe too many features is poor time management. You simply don’t have time to do this. For advice and tips on selecting the main features for the main type of diagrams, click on the following link.


  • What does “make comparisons where relevant” mean?

      This instruction is included in all task 1 instructions. It means you should compare and contrast the information in the diagram(s) using appropriate and a variety of cohesive devices. For some diagrams it’s not always relevant, such as process and procedures. 

     For certain diagrams, such as statistical information and maps, it’s essential that you make comparisons

  • Is it better to write my answer in capitals or lower case?

     Writing in capitals is certainly easier for the examiner to read and there is no IELTS regulation that forbids capitals. However, if you write in caps, it’s impossible to assess your punctuation and it takes considerably longer than writing in lower case.

  • Counting the words takes so much time. Is there any way I can do it quicker?

     The simple solution is to take the Computer Delivered IELTS test which has an automatic word count displayed on screen. If you chose the paper option, count the number of words for each paragraph and note the number on the answer sheet and then total the number when you finish. 

  • My typing ability is very basic. Should I do the Computer Delivered test?

     Feedback from students who have taken the CD test is that only moderate and even (2 finger) typing ability is sufficient for the CD writing test. Practice answering on computer and make use of the test partners’ free CD test practice sites before deciding which version to take.