Top tips for writing a great IELTS Task 1 essay
Swotting for your IELTS exam? Not sure if you’re prepping for Task 1 in the right way? We’ve asked INTO Manchester’s Diarmuid Fogharty to share his expert advice with you…
Here are 5 things to remember before tackling IELTS Task 1 (where you’ll be shown a chart or diagram and have to write about it in your own words):
1. Know what you’re being tested on
Lots of students think that this is an exam to test vocabulary. They learn words like “fluctuate”, “rise”, “fall”, “plummet” or “soar”. Don’t bother – it’s not about vocabulary, it’s about organisation. Make sure that you can write in clearly structured paragraphs.
2. Don’t copy the rubric
The “rubric” is the text that’s already on the question paper. Usually in Task 1, this says something like, “The diagram shows…” Lots of students waste their time by copying out the rubric. Some waste even more time by trying to change all of the words. Don’t do this. Begin with the words, “It can be seen from the diagram that…” Write in that first sentence about the most general trend that you can see.
3. Hold back with the data
Make it a rule to avoid writing numbers or percentages in the first sentence of any paragraph. Instead, tell the reader at the start of each paragraph what you’re going to write about. This will help them to understand what you’re saying. Say something like, “The population of China rose considerably over the fifty years between 1950 and 2000.” Once you’ve done this, you can begin to describe the details.
4. Don’t write a conclusion
You don’t need to think of clever ways of ending your writing. If you’ve written about the general trend at the beginning, then, as soon as you’ve described the last bit of data, finish it and start looking at Task 2. It’s always a good idea to describe the general trend at the start because you don’t know whether you’re going to have enough time to do all of Task 1.
5. Practise every week
You need to get used to writing quickly before you go into the exam, so set yourself twenty minutes to write a practice IELTS essay. Ask your teacher to look at it and give you feedback, then spend the rest of the week working on it. Make it as good as possible, then ask your teacher for more feedback. Keep this up every week for as long as you can – it won’t be long before you can write a really good answer in less than twenty minutes.
Watch our video below of Diarmuid’s tips for writing a great IELTS Task 2 essay.
Diarmuid Fogharty is Director of Studies for English Language programmes at INTO Manchester.
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