Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Are you satisfying the requirements to reach the highest scores in your Task 1 answers?

You may be surprised to learn that every examiner, all over the globe, is looking for the same exact things in your IELTS Task 1 essays. In fact, the examiners themselves are constantly checked and trained, to ensure that the score you receive is valid and correct.

IELTS is a serious exam, and they are very straightforward about what you have to do to score highly in Writing Task 1.

Today, we’ll break down EXACTLY what the examiner is looking for in your writing, and also how you should best prepare to meet those expectations.

Task Achievement

What does the examiner want?

  • The key points must be clearly covered.
    • Academic: Include the most important numbers, and say why they are included. (i.e. The highest/lowest/biggest/smallest numbers.)
    • General: Talk about each bullet point in a separate paragraph.
  • Academic: An overall trend. This is the sentence that sums up the biggest changes, or the highest numbers, on the graph or chart.

How can you prepare to succeed?

Of course, you need specific strategies to prepare for and be able to confidently tackle any of the 3 question types that IELTS might throw at you on exam day. These include Change Over Time, Static, and, that wonky third category, Process/Nature Diagram/Map.

I wish there were an easy, magic, one-step method I could give you for preparing. However, unlike other parts of the IELTS exam, Writing Task 1 is unique to IELTS. You must find a trusted IELTS professional, who knows the exam intimately, to teach you the strategies and give you feedback on your essay.

Cohesion and Coherence

What does the examiner want?

  • Clearly organized ideas. In the IELTS Academic Task 1, this means organizing the numbers into 2 simple groups, which then make 2 clear body paragraphs. In the IELTS General Training Task 1, write about each bullet point in a separate paragraph.
  • A lot of linking words!

How can I prepare to succeed?

The key to succeeding here, and showing the examiner that you can clearly organize the information you are given, is to practice the brainstorming, or planning, part of the writing process.

A great and easy way to do this is to simply do an image search for graphs and charts. Then, you can practice circling the most important numbers to put in your essay, finding an overall trend, and organizing the numbers into 2 clear groups.

Lexical Resource (a.k.a. Vocabulary)

What does the examiner want?

  • Interesting and appropriate vocabulary.
  • Not too many repeated words.

How can I prepare to succeed?

To prepare for IELTS graph questions, the best thing you can do is read the business or finance sections in an English language newspaper.

In the IELTS General Training Task 1, where you have to write a letter, you must be aware of the difference between informal and formal vocabulary, and also be prepared with interesting, native-speaker like phrases for both situations.

Grammatical Range and Accuracy

What does the examiner want?

  • A variety of sentence structures, including simple, compound and complex sentences.
  • Not too many mistakes. (You can still have quite a few mistakes but, as long as the examiner understands what you want to say, you can still get a 6.)

How can I prepare?

Again, having an IELTS teacher who knows the exam very well and can therefore give you specific sentence structures for IELTS Task 1 will greatly increase the efficiency and efficacy of your preparations.

Other than that, reading high-level writing that includes these sentence structures, such as in the business and finance sections of the newspaper, will start you on your way to being able to produce the structures correctly.

Do you have any questions about today’s advice?

Leave us a comment below!


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