IELTS Writing Task 1 

General Explanation

The IELTS Writing section is made up of two tasks: The Writing Task and the Essay Task. In this post, you will learn all about the Writing Task along with how to do it and the best strategies to complete this task well!

Remember that for the writing section you have 60 minutes to complete both tasks, so you will want to keep an eye on how much time you give to each of the tasks. It depends on your strengths and weaknesses, but most people prefer to spend the majority of their time on the Essay Task and less time on the Writing Task. An example of this may be 40 minutes on the Essay Task and 20 minutes on the Writing Task.  For this task, you will be given some type of diagram, a pie chart, bar chart, table, map, or line graph and you will be asked to describe it in at least 150 words

Diagram Model

The diagram model is sometimes also known as a process model since it is describing the process something goes through. At the top of the diagram you may be given a very brief overall description of what is being shown in the picture, but it is your job to focus on the details to describe the process so it is easy to understand! The first thing you want to do before you start writing is to understand the process. Take a minute to study the diagram – if you do not understand it yourself then you will find it very difficult to complete the task. Once you have an understanding of it, start by giving an introduction and a general overview of what is being shown followed by step by step descriptions of the different phases. In most diagrams, there will be vocabulary words to describe the materials or objects so make sure to use these in your description.

Pie Chart

When you are describing a pie chart you want to have an introduction, an overview, and then one or two paragraphs with further information. There will be a title and short description at the top of the chart to explain what the chart illustrates. Make sure that you introduce the chart in your own words and do not copy directly from this! Since most pie charts will include numbers, make sure you understand what each number represents. Instead of just listing what each number means, emphasize the differences by comparing and contrasts the different amounts.

Bar Chart

Describing a bar chart is best done by giving a short introduction and then an overview of the important figures. The bar chart given to you will already have a title, so you want to make sure you use this title to explain further what the bar chart shows. Some of the key things to point out when describing the bar chart are the largest and smallest increases or decreases that you can see illustrated. It is important that you explain briefly what each axis measures as well!


Even though the table might be considered simple to understand, you have to do some critical analysis of the information you see so that your answers show your understanding of it. Start off with a sentence that gives a general introduction of what the table describes, give an overall description of the most important statistics, and then you can walk through the table step by step as if you were explaining it to someone in a simple way while still pointing out some of the important differences that you see. Focus on comparing the similarities and differences between the different measurements!


The map is considered to be the most abstract option for the writing task and usually asks you to compare a few different maps of the same area in order to describe the changes you see. Start by looking for the differences that you see and look carefully for some of the less obvious ones. Since it is a map, consider some of the reasons for these changes. An example of this might be that a new road was built in order to provide easier access to a city. Think about the benefits and disadvantages that these changes have brought and note some of the substantial changes that have been made. 

Bar Chart and Pie Chart

Sometimes you will be given two different charts together, so it is crucial that you understand how to go about understanding how these charts relate to each other and describing them. The most common is encountering a bar and pie chart together. Take your time to understand what you see! Normally the pie chart will give a general overview of the statistics and the bar chart will go into further details. You must make sure that you talk about the details you see in both of the charts, otherwise, you will lose points for not describing both of them. Other than an introduction and an overview, you will want to dedicate a paragraph to the pie chart and another paragraph to the bar chart, but you can make connections to the charts together if you would like. 

Line Graph

Line graphs tend to be seen as quite easy to understand, which means you will need less time studying the graph and have more time to write! Start by giving a good and detailed explanation of what the line graph is about, but make sure that you don’t copy exactly what the title says – use your own words! When describing the line graph you want to focus on the major increases and decreases as well as the highest and lowest points of data. Put emphasis on what exactly is being measured since the line graph itself will not provide you with a lot of words, it will mainly have numbers. 


      • Make sure your answer has at least an introduction and an overview! The introduction is where you will give a general description of what the table shows while the overview allows you to talk about the most important things that the reader needs to know. Depending on what you are describing you may need to have one or two more paragraphs to go into further detail. 
  • Do not copy the title! When you write your introduction paragraph you need to do your best to paraphrase the title or change it to your own words
  • You do not need to write a conclusion! While we normally try to include a conclusion in our writings, all of the information that belongs in a conclusion is already written in the overview paragraph so don’t worry about the conclusion.
  • Think about what verb tense you need to use! Before you start writing think about whether or not you are describing something in the past, present, or future and decide what verb tense is most appropriate. 
  • Know a variety of comparison phrases! No matter what you are describing, you will need to compare the differences that you see. Make sure you have some comparison phrases in your mind so you can easily point out the differences while demonstrating your vocabulary.
  • Imagine that the person who is reading your description cannot see what you see! Ask yourself if your description would make sense to someone on its own. If the answer is “no” then you probably need to go into more detail.

To Summarize…

This writing task is a great way to demonstrate your ability to understand a complex image and explain it to someone in a thorough and simple way. Because there are so many different possibilities for this task, you must practice each one so that you are prepared on the day of the exam!


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