How to do IELTS academic writing task 1

Welcome to an Introduction to Writing Task 1. The purpose of this article is to provide you with essential information about how to do IELTS academic writing task 1 and to explain what is expected in this part of the writing module.

In this article we will look at the following aspects:

  1. Task Requirement
  2. Structure of Report
  3. Timing
  4. Assessment Criteria
  5. Types of Question

Task Requirement

In this part of the writing module you have to write a report describing and summarising an infographic which is normally some form of chart or graph. The main focus is to describe what you see, so you should not include opinions or ideas about why something happened.

You will have to write at least 150 words. This is the minimum word count and if you write less than this it will affect your score. An ideal amount would be 170-190 words so you are comfortably over the word count.

Structure of Report

My preferred structure for Writing Task 1 is to write 4 paragraphs.

The paragraphs for the report are:

  • Introduction
  • Overview
  • Details 1
  • Details 2

In the introduction of task 1 writing, all you need to do is paraphrase the question. You want to show that you understand the question and write the same information in your own words.

The second paragraph is the overview or summary. This paragraph highlights the key features or trends of the diagram. You are looking at the overall trends rather than specific details. This is an important paragraph and you need to have it somewhere in your answer. You could put it at the end of the report, but I would advise you to put it after the introduction because we are writing a report not an essay.

Paragraphs 3 and 4 are the details paragraphs. In these paragraphs you describe and compare specific pieces of information. It is better to split the data into two paragraphs as it gives you the opportunity to group the data in a logical way. 

How many words in each paragraph?

If we were to write a report that was approximately 180 words long we might aim for something like this.

  • Introduction (25 words approx.)
  • Overview (35 words approx.)
  • Details 1 (60 words approx.)
  • Details (60 words approx.)

Exact amounts will vary depending on each question and groupings in details paragraphs.


It is recommended that students spend 20 minutes on Task 1. This is because it is shorter than Task 2.

Time management is essential to make sure that you complete the report and answer all parts of the question, but also to make sure you write a sufficient number of words.

How should you use your time?

  • 5 Minutes – Analyse the data and write the introduction
  • 3 Minutes – Write an overview paragraph
  • 5 Minutes – Write Details 1
  • 5 Minutes – Write Details 2
  • 2 Minutes – Read through report to check and correct any mistakes

You should aim to finish writing after about 18 minutes, so you can allow 2 minutes to read through the whole report to check it and correct any spelling and grammar mistakes that you notice.

Assessment Criteria

The examiner will score your Writing Task 2 essay according to four criteria, and each of those is worth 25% of your score. These are:

  • Task Achievement
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammar Range and Accuracy

Task Achievement looks at how well you have answered the question and if you have addressed the question. Is there an appropriate overview?

Coherence and Cohesion is assessing if there is good organisation of ideas and appropriate use of connecting and referencing language.

Lexical Resource means vocabulary. The examiner will be looking at your range of vocabulary and your accuracy (avoid spelling mistakes).

In terms of grammar the examiner is looking for accuracy and also for you to use a range of structures (simple sentences and complex sentences)

Types of questions

There are seven main types of IELTS Writing Task 1 questions. These can be categorised as:

  1. Line Graphs
  2. Bar Charts
  3. Tables
  4. Pie Charts
  5. Map Diagrams
  6. Process Diagrams
  7. Mixed Questions

Question types 1-4 are similar in the sense that they all show data or numbers. So in these types of question we might need to:

  • Describe the data
  • Use comparison vocabulary (in contrast, whereas)
  • Use change vocabulary (sharply increased, fluctuated)
  • One thing to remember is that Line Graphs always show change over time so we will use always use change vocabulary, whereas Bar Charts, Tables and Pie Charts sometimes show change over time, other times we are just comparing and contrasting.
  • Map Diagrams and Process Diagrams also require some special vocabulary.

Now you have a better understanding of how to do IELTS academic writing task 1. We also looked at what paragraphs to write and the different kinds of tasks you may get during this section of the IELTS test.

Knowing how to do IELTS academic writing task 1 is the first step. You also need to know how to complete each of the different task types. If you would like lessons on completing each of the different IELTS academic writing task 1 questions you could be given, you should check out our online course by clicking on the button below.

IELTS Whiz online course


Joe Nicholson
Joe Nicholson

Joe is one of the co-founders of IELTS Whiz and has extensive IELTS teaching experience. He is originally from the UK, but has lived and worked in Europe, Latin America and Asia. He has helped numerous students around the world exceed their target IELTS scores and pursue their academic and professional goals.

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