The Writing Component of IELTS is divided in two separate tasks.
Task I deals with report writing on information provided to you in the form of diagram, flow chart or graphs.
Task II is like an essay writing either in form of argument or opinion.
Total duration of the writing component is 60 minutes and because the Task II carries more weightage, it is always advisable to break up your allotted time accordingly.
Its always advised that you break up the total allotted 60 minutes in 20 : 40 proportion, i.e. 20 minutes for the Task I and 40 minutes for Task II.
However, its always wise to 1st practice over this and see if this suits you or you need some modification in the same.
Again, because Task II is more time consuming and has more impact on your final score, its advisable to start with the Task II 1st and come to Task I later. However, again tailor this advise according to what suits you the best.
In Task I, data or information is provided to you in the form of diagram, flow chart, graphs or just tables.
You are supposed to write a report on the data provided in about 150 words.
Remember that you are not supposed to give your view, but to only narrate what the given diagram/graph says.
In Task I you will be specifically checked on the following points :
a)it will negatively impact your score if you go away from the main given topic.
b)you should maintain the fluency of thoughts without repetition of words or ideas.
c)your word bank
d)it will negatively impact your score if you write less than 150 words.
e)You wont be given marks if you copy the words or sentence form from the question. They specifically judge your efficiency in paraphrasing.
f)Your ability organize your writing using a suitable structure.
g)Using connective words to link sentences and paragraphs logically ,i.e.. Coherence and Cohesion.
Types of Questions :
1)Line Graphs :
These can be single line graphs or double line.
Single line graphs usually show a trend of events depicted.
Double line graphs usually compare 2 separate variables or the effect of one variable over another.
2)Bar graphs :
Again, u can be given information in the form of one or more bar graphs and your task will be write report from the information provided in the graph without giving your opinion.
3)Pie Charts :
You can be given a single pie chart or more than one. Always remember to read the information carefully before jumping in writing report.
Make sure you observe any trend, if suggested by the graph. Your inability to mention an important trend in the graph may not give you desired scores.
Pie charts are usually provided with color codes or design codes. Make sure you read them well and not confuse on code with another. You might just land up giving a completely different report than what is expected.
The information provided to you may be in the form of tables. Read the table carefully and note the headings of all the rows and columns. use your pencil to mark the highest and the lowest numbers (or the like, as required in the question), for each table.
This will help you in formatting your report efficiently with least time consumption.
This can come in simple diagrams with arrows showing how one process follows another. Note carefully the direction of arrows and any extra information given at each step.
Look from the starting point and follow it till the end. Start writing only after the process/ steps depicted in the flow chart is clear in your mind.
Sometimes they can just simply give you one labeled diagram and ask you to describe it in terms of information given in picture.
All all points, remember that all these graphs/ diagrams or flow charts show information which is of general public interest and can be understood by a non specialist population.
So be relaxed on these aspects. They wont ask you anything which you are not supposed to know. They will provide you with all information and your task is to present it beautifully to them.
The Cambridge Books and How to Prepare for IELTS give good writing practice tests for Task 1. Practice on those tests, for the real test is very much similar.
Although its very much tempting to look at the Practice Task and quietly think in your mind what you will write. This habit satisfies us till the extent that we tend to ‘PRACTICE’ these tasks mentally.
I seriously abhor this attitude/ practice.
Practice means you should take it as a real test.
For the first practice, jot down your thoughts on a piece of paper and start the timer.
At the end of the test, note how much time you took for it and do you need to improve.Ideally you should not spend more than 20 minutes for Task I.
Also note, the following points once you go through your report .
How structured is your essay? Is it organized in different paragraphs?
Ideally, a report should be organized in 3 paragraphs.
In the 1st para should be introduction. Say what the graph is about. This information is generally given in the question line, but remember YOU SHOULD NOT COPY THE QUESTION AS IT IS.
You need to develop your paraphrasing skill here, or you wont be given marks. Along with this also mention a line or two about the GROSS trend shown in the graph.
Don’t go to the minute details at this stage.
Remember that you are only reading what the graph/ picture is showing you. You should refrain from using such words which show your opinion, like, "I think," etc. Rather, always carefully use begineers like, " The graph suggests...",or the like!
Thus your introduction is 1st paragraph which should contain minimum 2-3 sentences.
The 2nd paragraph is the main body of your report. Go to the minute details. Note the trends, If things changing with time or place, don’t forget to mention it. Use connective words to make your report flow smooth.
However, if the given table(say) contains just too many data, try to wrap it up among the highest and lowest values in each row/ column, instead of listing down everything separately.
In the 3rd paragraph conclude what the graph/ picture is suggesting. This can be similar to what you had mentioned in the 1st paragraph but always paraphrase it.
Your strong vocabulary will fetch you real good marks. However, refrain from using very complicated words. Be as simple and straight as possible.
Read as many newspapers and magazines as possible. Note how they organize their stories.
Keep a pencil and a dictionary handy while you read. Note down any interesting word /phrase and try to use it the next task you practice.
I found this link at BBC world quite useful for the purpose :
This gives a list of words used with their meanings at the end of each story. Quite useful to improve your vocabulary and to learn the correct use of it in sentences.
Grammar is very important of the writing part, especially the tense.Even though the graph describes an event in the past, the graph is read in the present tense.
So, its appropriate if u say that, ‘The graph shows..’ and ‘The number of cases decreased by the end of 1998’.
Note that the 1st sentence is present tense and the 2nd one is past. Hope you understood the difference between the tense utilization when you talk about the graph or when you talk about the information.
4)Connecting Words :
This is another important point you will be judged on. Try and use as many variety of connecting words and phrases possible.
It is always wise, when you practice on a task, to list down the connecting words you could use for that topic. Try and think and find out more from books and dictionaries and list it for every task you practice.
So that, by the time you are in your 5th or 6th practice task you will be rich in these connecting words and would no longer need to list them down as they will come spontaneously as you write.
A good list of connecting words is given at the dowload section:
Make sure you describe the graph completely. However, if the datas given are exhaustive, tailor it intelligently. Develop this skill as you practice.
Also note that you should not sway away from the topic.
6)Word and Time Limit :
Your Task should not be less than 150 words. Its always wise to target for 200 words. Don’t make it lengthy or you loose time for other tasks. Don’t make it shorter than 150 or u loose marks.
You don’t need to count word by word when you write, especially on the Test day. Practice on an average A4 paper and see how much of your lines make 150-200 words approximately.
If you stick to the Intro-Body-Conclusion pattern of the task, it is very unlikely that you will write less than 150 words. But then, practice is the key.
The Test Day
The Writing component usually comes only after listening and reading.
Both the Tasks (Task I and II) are given together and the total time allotted finish both is 60 minutes.
Answer sheet are also the same for both the tasks, however,note that there are separate space alotted for each task. Make sure you read carefully and answer in appropriate places. In case of any confusion, don’t hesitate to ask the invigilators.
It is always wise to start with the Task II first as it carries more weightage. However, if you are comfortable with finishing Task I, first there is absolutely no harm.
Start Task I with reading the question heading. The heading will read something like this :
“You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.
Write a report for a university lecturer describing the information in the graph below. You should write at least 150 words. “
Go to the graph/ picture. Note the important points quickly(in 2-3 minutes) -
-what it is about
-is it comparing any 2 (or more) datas
-are the dates mentioned in past or future (yes, sometimes they do give you graphs with date quoted ahead of your present time -note this carefully, for you will need to modify your tense from past to future).
-what gross idea you get after reading the graph. This will form your conclusion part.
-be comfortable with the vocabulary (you have pracitsed on most topics, so don’t worry).
-don’t try to use a new word without knowing its real meaning. You might be using it in an inaapropriate place and end up losing marks.
Organise your report cleanly in 3 paragraphs (Introduction- Body- Conclusion).
Make sure your report is not short of 150 words.
If you have taken additional sheets, make sure you attach them at appropriate places mentioned in the answer booklet.
Be clear and legible in your writing.
For the pen and pencil type exam, its always advisable to use a pencil as it will be easier to correct your mistakes and make your report look clean and tidy.
Always leave some time at the end to read what you have written. Read it as the invigilator would read. Make sure that your report gives the information clearly and legibly and that it says what you meant it to say. Correct spelling mistakes, if any.