IELTS Writing Task 1: How To Write A Task 1 Essay

Apr 9, 2020 | IELTS WRITING TASK 1

Analyze a Task 1 question

I would recommend you spend around 3 – 5 minutes analyzing the graphic(s) you receive before actually writing. A great many students jump to penning their essay without thoroughly examining the task for fear that they do not have sufficient time. However, this may cost you even more time as you get stuck while you are writing. Analyzing the question helps you figure out the main features as well as group the data. Once you have formed an overall picture, the rest comes easy.

Below is the checklist of to-do items before you write.

Step 1: Underline key words in the question title and think ahead of synonyms or paraphrases. You do not want to repeat the words since you will not get higher than 5.0 for Task Achievement if you use exactly the same words from the question in your Introduction.

Step 2: Circle/ highlight the highest/ lowest figures, or look for the major differences throughout the period shown. Not only does this help you identify the trends or patterns, but it also enables you to decide on which figures to include in Body paragraphs.

Step 3: Check the unit. The units of measurement vary from task to task. So if you fail to be well aware of this matter, it will not do any good for your score, especially when you even quote the wrong data (penalty is, again, maximum 5.0 for Task Achievement). For instance, the amount of carbon emitted is measured in kilograms in one question and metric tons in another. Besides, please check if there are any zeros, e.g., ’000 (thousands) or ’000,000 (millions) specified in the notes.

  • Time: minutes/ hours/ days/ months, etc
  • Distance: miles/ kilometers/ meters/ millimeters, etc
  • Currency: USD $/ Euro €/ Pound £, etc
  • Quantity: hundreds/ thousands/ millions/ billions, etc
  • Etc

Step 4: Check the years. See if there is any specific time period mentioned so that you know which tense(s) you are going to use.

  • Past year(s): past simple
  • No year given: present simple
  • Future year(s): future simple

Recommended structure

  1. Introduction
    • Paraphrase the question title as much as you can
    • 1 sentence
  1. Overview
    • Highlight outstanding features from the graph(s) without specific numbers
    • 1 – 2 sentences
  1. Body
  • Paragraph 1 (3 – 4 sentences): describe the graph(s) in details
  • Paragraph 2 (3 – 4 sentences): describe the graph(s) in details


  • Overview is often considered the most important part of your Task 1 response. If you do not pick out the key features and include them effectively in an overview, you will not be able to get a 7 or above.
  • Whether you should put the Overview after the Introduction or leave it at the end of your essay is totally up to you. The reason why the former option is generally preferred is that if you write the Overview as your last step and are short of time to have it done, you run the risk of getting no higher than 5.0 for Task Achievement. But if you are confident with your time management skill, it is perfectly fine to put the Overview at the end.
  • No conclusion in Writing Task 1. You will write a conclusion in Task 2; a conclusion is a summary of your main ideas/ opinions. Meanwhile, Task 1 does not ask for your personal opinions/ ideas. So technically you do not have a conclusion. An overview that captures noticeable features will suffice.
  • Write your essay in paragraphs. Try not to put everything in one big chunk.

Hope this helps!


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