Writing on the IELTS- Task 1- A Complete Guide

Whether you are preparing for the general IELTS or the academic IELTS, in this article, you will find EVERYTHING you need to know regarding the writing portion, task 1. First, let’s go over the basics of the writing portion:

What? Writing Portion – 2 Tasks

How long? 60 minutes (20 minutes for Task 1)

  • During the exam, you will write your responses in an answer booklet. Do not open the booklet until you are told to do so.
  • Make sure you write your name and given number at the top of the page.
  • You may write in pen or pencil. If you write in pen and want to make alterations, make sure your answers are easy to read.


First, it is important to know that the writing section is broken into two different tasks. The first task will be different, depending on which test you are taking. The second task is the same for both tests. Make sure to pay attention to how long you spend on each task- Task 1 should only take about twenty minutes.

IELTS Writing Task 1

Task 1- Academic Test

For the academic writing test, task one, you will need to write a summary in response to a given graph, table or chart. You can look at example Task 1 questions, and responses here.

ielts academic writing task 1

The test may also ask you to write a summary in response to a process. Process questions are not as common as graph questions, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare for them! Many people make this mistake and then find themselves stuck on their test. On the test, you can think of a process as a “how-to” of something- either man made or natural. For example, “How does an ATM work?” This is an example of a man-made process question. You can read more about process questions here(link of future blog).

This academic task will test your ability to do the following:

  • Select & report main features
  • Describe Data
  • Compare Data
  • Identify Importance and Trends

Sometimes the questions can be worded in a way that sounds complicated. Don’t stress! Just break down the question using the words listed above.

An example of a task 1 question relating to a graph is:

The graph below gives information about the consumption of alcohol (in liters) of different age groups in the USA from 2000 to 2010.

Summarize the data by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where necessary.

The red sentence is simply recapping what the graph or table is giving information about. You will be able to tell this from the title and data on the graphic.

The blue is where the actual directions for your response are. The bolded words are what you need to do.

In this question, you will need to:

  • Summarize
  • Select & Report Main Features
  • Make Comparisons

Task 1- General Test

The general test, task 1 is quite different. In this question, you will be asked to respond to a given problem. You can be asked to respond in two different ways:

  1. With a letter requesting more information
  2. Explaining a situation

The general task 1 question will test your ability to:

  • Engage in personal correspondence
  • Elicit and provide general factual information
  • Express needs, wants or dislikes

OR – Express opinions

An example of a general test, task 1 question is as follows:

You are working at the university cafeteria with fellow students. However, there are many problems with a particular coworker and you are finding it difficult to work.

Write a letter to your supervisor. In the letter:

  • Describe the situation
  • Explain the problem and why the problem exists
  • Offer solutions to the problem

You do not need to put an address on the letter.
Begin your letter with Dear Sir/Madam….

In this example, the given situation is in green. It is a hypothetical situation you must imagine yourself in.

The directions are listed in blue. Here, you have three tasks to complete your response.

There may occasionally be additional instructions. In this example, the additional instructions are written in red.

Task 1- General & Academic Tests

Regardless of whether you are taking the general, or academic test, you should write at least 150 words.

When you are practicing for the writing portions of the test, you should time yourself and try to move from one page to another briskly to ensure you are having a realistic practice.

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