For many students, Academic Task 1 is the most difficult part of the IELTS exam!

Today we share one of the trickiest topics.

We give you a strategy to make sure it doesn’t trip you up on test day.

IELTS will try to confuse you.

We’ll give you the tools you need so you don’t get thrown off

Why is Academic Task 1 so difficult?

You are often required to describe graphs or charts.

This is usually unfamiliar writing.

It can be difficult to know what to include.

You also need specific vocabulary and strategies.

Not only that, but sometimes the graphs are confusing!

You must look at it carefully to be certain you understand the information presented.

A very tricky graph

Aubrey recently gave email essay feedback to a student on an Academic Task 1 essay.

The graph was really tricky!

Unfortunately, this caused the student’s score to drop.

On the graph, there were lines representing types of birds.

There was also a line showing an average of all the species.

It was a change over time graph showing how all the information changed.

You could also see this with static graphs where you have columns of information and a final column with a total or average.

Where should you write about the average?

The Examiner needs to see that you can separate the information into two groups.

However, you can’t just leave vital information out.

In 3 Keys IELTS, we show you how to do this.

Students often make the mistake of trying to fit it into a body paragraph.

Unfortunately, if it’s in a paragraph with other unrelated information the organization is illogical.

Another mistake made is students will leave it out entirely.

Leaving out key information like this will cause you to score a 5 or lower on Task Response.

This total/average information should be separate.

Either include it in the overall trend or in a separate paragraph.

Strategies Created By a Former Examiner

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Overall trend

If you have questions about the overall trend, use our search bar here on the blog.

We have done several episodes with extremely valuable details.

For change over time essays, share the biggest increases and decrease.

For static, provide the highest and lowest.

Don’t include any numbers or statistics!

For this essay, this would be a good overall trend:

Overall, the number of both woodland and farmland birds dropped, while the quantity of coastal species surged over this period. Interestingly, the average of all species oscillated and rose only meagerly.

As you can see, the biggest increase and decrease are shared in the first line.

In the second line, the average is provided.

It is also full of impressive, less common vocabulary that is straight from 3 Keys IELTS.


An essay topic like this could be a huge roadblock on test day.

It is so devastating when a student spends so much time studying, only to have something like this ruin scores.

Don’t let this happen to you!

Be ready on test day!

Now that you know this is a possibility in your Task 1 graphs and charts, look out for it!

Use today’s strategies for a high Task Response score.

For all the strategies you need for IELTS Writing, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS.

Or if you only need help with the writing score, check out our Writing Only course.

What questions do you have about today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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