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IELTS Academic Writing Task 1: Total Guide

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: Introduction - Paraphrase & Overview

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


Try to aim for 150 – 170 words in Academic task 1 and keep in mind that even though there is no IELTS restriction on the number of words you can write (tasks 1 and 2), writing 200 + words on Task 1, it is really not necessary and is not effective time management.

However, answers under the word count are penalized in the Task Achievement criterion. 

IELTS Writing Word Count

 Click on the following link for how words are counted in IELTS writing...IELTS Word Count

You are graded in 4 criteria . IELTS Writing Band Descriptors

The criteria are equally weighted with 25% awarded for each category and the writing band score is the average of the four. For example…

IELTS Writing Band Score

Task Achievement

According to the IELTS public band descriptors, a band 7.0 in Task Achievement is...​​​

  • Covers requirements of the task.

This is an overall grade that reflects how well the task has been answered.

  • Content - relevant and accurate.

Relevant means that you should not give your opinions about or reasons for data. Only describe the facts. I addition, the data you describe in your answer should be accurate. You are allowed a few lapses with these.  

  • Key features are selected and clearly highlighted.

You should select  and describe the main (key) features

  • Clear overview.

Every diagram you describe must have a clear overview

  • Format appropriate.

You should use divide you answer into clear and separate paragraphs with no bullet points, numbered lists or paragraph headings.

Note: A band score of 5 will be given for task achievement when...  

  • Recounts details automatically.

This happens when students try to recount every detail in the diagram.

  • No overview.

The answer does not have an overview.

  • No data to support the description.

When describing information in numerical diagrams, you must always include the data - the figures.


Coherence and Cohesion

Click on the following link for detailed explanation of Coherence and cohesion...

IELTS Writing: Coherence & Cohesion

Click on the following link for a list of cohesive devices...

IELTS Writing: Cohesive Devices

Lexical Resource

Click on the link for an explanation of how your vocabulary is graded in IELTS Writing.

IELTS Vocabulary Grading: Writing

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Click on the link for an explanation of how your grammar is graded in IELTS Writing.

IELTS Grammatical Range & Accuracy



For all Academic Writing task 1 question types, organize your answer into 3 clear and separate paragraphs.


Paragraph 1: Introduction

The introduction begins with a paraphrase of the description and title of the diagram. This is given in the instructions for every task. It also includes a clear overview - a summary of the information included in the diagram.

 Follow the link for how to write an effective introduction.

Academic Writing Task 1: Introduction - Paraphrase & Overview

Paragraph 2: Main features & Comparisons

The main features depends on the type of diagram. For example, the main feature for map diagrams will be the greatest or most significant change according to the information. You should also make comparisons. 

Paragraph 3: Main features & Comparisons

After describing the main features in paragraph 2, describe the other features but do not try to describe every feature in the diagram. It is sufficient to describe and compare the main, most significant, ones only. 

Follow the link for how to describe and compare the main features for each type of diagram.

Academic Writing Task 1: Main Features & Comparisons

Academic writing task 1 does not need a conclusion. The overview already does this and it is not a requirement in the band descriptors to include a conclusion.


​Start by taking a few minutes to study the diagram to fully understand the task. Pay attention to the dates on the diagram and write your answer in the appropriate tense.

When studying the diagram, work out its function. Does it show trends or static information? Whatever one it is will determine the vocabulary and grammar needed to describe it. Note that line graphs, pie charts, bar charts and tables can all show trends.

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