IELTS Writing Task 1: The Essential Study Guide

Welcome to my complete guide to IELTS Writing Task 1. In this guide you will find out what you have to do, the different question types, and how to write a great piece of writing for Task 1.

IELTS Writing Task 1

IELTS Writing Academic Task 1

In IELTS Academic Writing Task 1, you need to write a short report about some information presented in a visual form. In other words, you need to turn visual information into a text.

How is IELTS Writing Task 1 assessed?

IELTS examiners will assess you in four different areas, each of which make up 25%of the total mark.

  • Task Achievement
  • Coherence and Cohesion
  • Lexical Resource
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy

Here are some of the most common types of visual information given in task 1 of the IELTS writing test.

Bar Chart

IELTS Writing Task 1 Bar Chart

In a bar chart, you will often be asked to  write a report which compares 2 things. In the above graph, you should describe differences at 2 different times (1992 and 2000) and also differences between the IT and service industries.

Read my sample answer for this bar graph question.

Line Graph

IELTS Writing Task 1 Line Graph

A line graph is similar to a bar chart, except you should describe trends (changes over a period of time). In the above line graph you should compare the changing trends between 1975 and 2000, and the differences between the three types of fast food.

Pie Chart

IELTS Writing Task 1 Pie Chart

In a pie chart you may be given 2, 3 or 4 things to compare. In the above example you should compare revenue sources and expenditure types.


IELTS Writing Task 1 Data Table

In a table you will again compare at least 2 different things. Sometimes, a table will not include changes over time. In the above example you should compare the changes over time in different types of school.


IELTS Writing Task 1 Map

In a map question, you also have to describe some visual information, but it might not involve comparing different things. In the above example you have to compare the locations of different sites for a proposed shopping centre, in relation to different map features.

Process Diagram

IELTS Writing Task 1 Process

A process diagram is a completely different type of Task 1 question. You describe a process rather than change. In the above example you should describe the brick manufacturing process.

IELTS Writing General Training Task 1

In the General Training IELTS, you write a letter in response to a certain situation. For example, you might have to write:

  • a request for information
  • a complaint

In Task 1 you must write at least 150 words. Ideally, try to write between 170 and 180 words. Read what happens if you go below the word count.

Here is some vocabulary you should try to use in your Task 1 letter.

How do I write an Academic IELTS Writing Task 1?

There are 3 things you need to include in your report:

  1. An introduction to the graph
  2. An overview of the graph
  3. The main details in the graph


In your introduction, you describe the subject of the graph, chart or diagram. You should do this by writing, in your own words, the information in the question, title and x/y axes of the graph. When you write something in your own words, you are paraphrasing. IELTS examiners love good paraphrasing!


In the overview you describe the big picture – the main trends, or patterns in the data. But don’t refer to actual data.

Main Details

Then you describe the main details of the graph, chart or diagram in 2 to 3 paragraphs. You need to refer to the data here, but not every single item of data- just the ones that support the overview you gave in the previous chapter.

Read how I use this structure to answer a question about a bar chart.

IELTS Writing Walkthroughs

In the videos below, I write an IELTS Writing Task 1 report in real-time. I take you through the thought process behind writing a good IELTS report, so you can see how I do it.

About the author

Charlie is a former IELTS Examiner with 25 years' teaching experience all over the world. His courses, for both English language learners and teachers, have been taken by over 100,000 students in over 160 countries around the world.

4 thoughts on “IELTS Writing Task 1: The Essential Study Guide”

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