IELTS writing help

Essential Information for Writing Successful Task 1 Answers

Before you start studying the charts, you need to learn this essential information about task 1 writing.   

1.1. What does task 1 require you to write about?

1.2. What should you not write about?

1.3. What criteria is used to mark your essay?

1.4. How can you get a higher band score?

1.5. Why should you watch video lessons?

1.6. When should you do timed practice tests?

1.1. What does task 1 require you to write about?

Task 1 requires you to write a brief summary of some visual data, and the most common tasks on the test are bar charts, line graphs, pie charts, or tables.  There is approximately an 80% probability that one of these charts, or a combination of two of these charts, will appear on your test.  Alternatively, you could be asked to describe and compare maps, describe a process, or describe how something works from a diagram. 


What essential points should you not forget?

There are a number of essential things you should not forget for answering task 1. Almost all task 1 questions about data charts will instruct you to ''summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant'' . You are also advised to take no more than 20 minutes and write at least 150 words.  It is important therefore to remember these 6 key points:


1 - Write at least 150 words (if you write less, you could lose a band score or more).

2 - Complete the task in 20 minutes (or you will run out of time for task 2).

3 - Analyse the data and plan your answer (for 3 minutes - planning will save time).

4 - Write in clearly separated paragraphs.

5 - Summarise the key points (you don't have to write about every detail).

6 - Make comparisons and contrasts.  If you don't, you will get a low band score.


How many paragraphs should you write?

In this course, the sample tasks and video lessons follow a structured approach, which shows you how to write four paragraphs in 20 minutes including ...


- an introduction (including whatwhere and when the data refers to).

- an overview of the data that explains the general trends.

- body paragraph 1: comparing two or three key items of data.

- body paragraph 2: comparing  two or three other key items of data.


Should you write a conclusion?

No. Task 1 does not require a conclusion because you are not asked to discuss ideas and come to a conclusion or opinion.  You are only required to write about factual data.  


Should you write a summary paragraph?

This is also not necessary. In fact, your overview paragraph will already provide a summary of the information. Of course, there are different ways of writing a task 1 answer, so if you did not include an overview paragraph after the introduction, then you might provide a summary (overview) at the end of your essay. This may be useful if you have a low word count. 

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1.2. What should you not write about (and why not)?

Do not give your opinion. The question only asks you to 'summarise' and 'compare' data - nothing more.  Task 1 deals with facts, not opinions.  Task 2 will deal with opinion essays.

Do not infer anything - Even if you know it is a commonly known fact, inferring information takes you 'off task' and writing about things that are irrelevant because they are not included in the chart data.  Try to avoid doing this.

Do not predict the future trend.  Unless this is asked for in the question, this is not chart data that you can see.  Stick to describing and comparing only the data you can see in the chart or diagram.

Do not try to explain the reason a trend has gone up or fallen etc.  Again this would probably be giving your opinion or inferring something that is not clearly visible in the data.



1.3. What criteria is used to mark your essay?

The examiner will mark your test according to the IELTS official marking criteria, which is the criteria applied in every answer on this course, Obviously, it is useful to know what the examiner is looking for in your answer.  Your answer is marked out of 25% for each of the following...


a) Task Achievement


b) Cohesion and Coherence


c) Grammar


d) Vocabulary


For a detailed explanation about how your essay is marked and how your overall IELTS writing score is worked out, click here. 

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1.4. How can I get a higher band score faster?


1) Practice more.

The fastest way to improve at anything is to practice more. This website will provide you with lots of free practice tasks and interactive exercises to help you improve.  The more you practice, the better your writing will become.  You will learn a lot from watching a teacher complete writing tasks, but you will improve even more by practising your own writing. If you have any questions, I also host a blog on this website where you can post questions and join in the community debate.  


2) Subscribe to the videos lessons.

By watching the video lessons, you will learn how and why the models answers are constructed, which will enable you to reproduce many of the techniques used by the teacher in your own writing.  See below the many ways video lessons will be beneficial to you. 


3) Get teacher feedback.

Without feedback from an experienced IELTS teacher, you will not know why and where you are making mistakes in your IELTS essay writing. Therefore, you need to have an IELTS teacher marking your essays and giving you guidance on how to improve. This will help you to improve much faster, which will save you time and money, and enable you to get the band score you need faster. You can submit your essays for full correction, feedback, and an estimated band score assessment on this website.  Click here for more details.


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1.5. What are the advantages of watching video lessons?

a) Cheaper. Compared to traditional classroom-based lessons, video lessons are much cheaper, and you will save a lot of time and money by not travelling to class or buying food and drinks where you study.

b) More Convenient. With video lessons you will not need to travel to class at inconvenient times, so you don't have to worry about the schedule or being sick and missing class, nor do you need to organise someone picking you up to and from classes. 

c) More Flexible. With video lessons, you can watch them whenever you want according to your schedule - not the schedule of somebody else. This means you will never miss a lesson or have to attend when you are sick or not 'in the mood' for studying.



Video lessons provide real flexibility and convenience; you can watch them on your smartphone, or on your computer at home, at work, while travelling, or at any time you want to.  Personally, I study better in the privacy of my own home.  With video lessons, you can study anywhere, anytime that you want to, which gives you flexibility and control over your study schedule.  Click here to subscribe to video courses.

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1.6. When should you do practice tests under timed conditions?

Once you have developed an effective test writing technique, you can work on getting it 'up to speed' for test conditions. As soon as you know what technique you are using and you full understand how to plan your answer, I recommend you start timing yourself. Start with a time limit of 35 minutes, then reduce it by 5 minutes every third practice. This should get you writing answers in 20 minutes within a few weeks.


Get Your Essays Corrected and Graded & Get Teacher Feedback.


Once you have completed a timed essay, get some feedback to see how well you are doing. You need to get your mistakes corrected and feedback to tell you how you need to improve to improve your band score. 

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