Academic Writing Task 1
Main Features & Comparisons

Watch the video on how to describe and compare the main features and make comparisons for descriptions of diagrams.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The instructions are the same for all Academic writing tasks 1...

Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Main Features

You need to select the main features of the diagram and make comparisons where relevant. The main features differ according to the type of diagram. When selecting and reporting the main features, there are some things you need to do to avoid a minimum score according to the Task achievement criterion...

Band 5: recounts details mechanically...

This is when the student attempts to describe (or list) all or as many of the main features as possible. You should spend 20 minutes on task 1, so trying to describe as many main features as possible (for certain diagrams) simply isn’t possible in the time frame and it would mean writing over 200 words, which is poor time management and not necessary.

In some diagrams it would be impossible to list all the features as there is too much information. You need to select the main ones only, according to the instructions.

Band 5: no data to support the description...

Compare sentences A and B that describe the main features for the Olympic medal table...

A. China was placed second with 38 gold medals, which was eight less than the USA, achieving 88 medals in total. Additionally, Great Britain and Russia took the third and fourth places with 29 and 24 gold medals, respectively.

B. China was placed second and Great Britain and Russia took the third and fourth places, respectively.

Sentence A has a description with data (numbers) whereas B has no data to support the description. Sentence B would receive an automatic band 5 for Task achievement.

When describing diagrams, ALWAYS include the data (the numbers) along with the description of the main features. 

Band 5: inadequately covers the key features

“Inadequately covers” means the student did not describe the main features but instead described lesser features and/or did not describe all the key features for certain types of diagrams.

 

Band 4: parts may be irrelevant
 

This happens when students give their opinion or reasons/explanations about the information in the diagram.

Example:

The USA won the highest number of gold medals with a total of 46 because they have the best athletes and training programs. 

DON’T give your opinion or reasons/explanations for the information in the diagram. Task 1 is an objective report and not an essay. State the facts only.

Band 4: parts may be inaccurate

 

This happens when students give inaccurate data from the diagram. Read the diagram carefully and make sure the data you describe is accurate according to the figures.

Comparisons

The instructions also include “make comparisons where relevant”. This means you should compare the main features of the diagram. 

Example:

Great Britain and Russia took the third and fourth places with 29 and 24 gold medals, respectively. Russia, however, surpassed Great Britain by 17 in the total number of medals won as well as gaining the greatest number of bronze medals with 32.

When making comparisons, use a range of cohesive devices and use them accurately. This will have a positive impact on the Coherence and Cohesion score.

Coherence and Cohesion Band 7uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately

Follow the link for a list of the main cohesive devices.

IELTS Writing: Cohesive Devices

 

For samples of main features and comparisons for each task type, click on the link for sample answers. 

Sample Answers Academic Writing Task 1