Understanding and Describing Visual Information in Academic IELTS Writing Task 1.

depositphotos_7932028-Quill-pen-and-ink-well-with-paper-scrollIn this post, I’d like to look at a practice Academic IELTS Writing Task 1 which I have taken from the official IELTS website.

I will be discussing some of the key factors you need to consider when answering an Academic Task 1 question.

Writing Task 1

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The graph below shows the different modes of transport used to travel to and from work in one European city in 1960, 1980 and 2000.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.  Write at least 150 words.

So now let’s look at what you have to consider BEFORE you start writing.

What are the topic words?

Topic words are words in the question whic tell you the topic you should write about.  In this question they are: modes of transport, one European city,in 1960, 1980 and 2000.

What are the dimensions?

The dimensions refer to the way the material is presented, it might be as a graph, or a table, or a map.  The dimensions also refer to the amount of information given.  In this case there are three lines on the bar chart for each mode of transport, representing the different years.

What are the striking features /general trends?

You should look for the most obvious information.  In this case it is easy to see that car usage has increased over the years, travelling by bike and walking has decreased, while bus usage has stayed relatively similar, after a spike in 1980.

What are the task words?

The task words are words in the question which tell you how you should present the information.  In this question the key task words are report and make comparisons.

Final points

You must look for the most important things you can say about the diagram. If you click here to see the public version of IELTS Task 1 Band Descriptors, you will notice that having an overview is an important factor in Task Achievement.  In my experience, many candidates neglect to present an overview.  I think it’s a question of starting writing too quickly instead of spending a few moments planning what they’re going to say.

Make sure you know what any numbers on the graph are referring to.  Here the numbers on the vertical axis refer to the percentage of total travellers.

Here’s to the best IELTS score possible!

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