IELTS - International English Language Testing System - writing tips and hints

Are you studying for IELTS (International English Language Testing System), one of the more internationally recognised English tests?

IELTS is jointly managed by The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES), The British Council and IDP Education Australia: IELTS Australia. IELTS tests reading, writing, listening and speaking. It is recognised worldwide. There are two modules of the IELTS Test - Academic module and the General Training module.

IELTS - Academic writing tips and Information
The IELTS Academic writing module of the IELTS test consists of two activities: Task 1 and Task 2.

IELTS candidates are given 60 minutes to complete both tasks. The writing tasks are on a variety of subjects and are chosen for their suitability for candidates entering university, as are all our Reuters news article topics.
In Writing Task 1, IELTS candidates are asked to describe information that is usually presented in the form of a graph, table or diagram. They must write at least 150 words and the writing task should be done in 20 minutes. We have many model IELTS task 1 graph reports that can help your IELTS preparation.

Task 1 test students' ability to interpret graphic data - diagrams and graphs - and describe and explain. Students are given graphic or pictorial information and have to write a description of this information. Usually bar charts, line graphs, pie charts and tables are given for this task. However, an object, or series of pictures or diagrams, or a flow chart which needs to be described may also be presented. Students may also need to describe a process or explain how something works.

IELTS examiners are looking for the following things:
Being able to follow the instructions properly.
Being able to write a clear, accurate and relevant description of the information.
Being able to focus on the important trends presented or show comparisons and differences.
Being able to organize writing using a suitable structure.
Using connective words to link sentences and paragraphs logically.
Vocabulary and Sentence Structure
Using a range of appropriate vocabulary.
Using a variety of sentence structures.

Helpful IELTS writing hints and tips:

  • Spend about 5 minutes reading the graph(s) or chart(s) and preparing your answer.
  • Do not copy the question or from the instructions as they will not be marked. Use your imagination and write in your own words what the data is about.
  • When writing about bar and line graphs, pie charts and tables, make sure you understand what the axis on the graph(s) or the percentages in the pie chart(s) represent. Again spend time preparing yourself before you being writing.
  • When describing a chart or diagram, make sure you understand what the important stages of the flowchart or diagram are, and that you know what order they all come in.
  • There will usually be too much information for you to describe every detail, so you will need to focus on the key information or important trends.
  • Look for ways to compare data.
    Academic task writing
  • Avoid repeating the same words in your writing by using synonyms.
  • When describing a process or flow chart you need to show a logical order; therefore guide the reader with sequence expressions such as ‘first of all’, ‘after that’, ‘at the same time’, ‘next’, 'finally' etc.
  • Think about tenses and time, particularly when comparing data. If you are describing a process, you will probably need the present simple passive and present simple.
  • Organize your information clearly. You will need an introduction, body and conclusion or summary of some sort. When describing a process, the final paragraph may be the a brief summary of the overall function of what you have just described. When describing an object however, you do not need a conclusion as you are not being asked your opinion on why the thing was invented, or whether it is useful, or whether your auntie has one. An opinion would be considered irrelevant for this task and could lose you marks.
  • Do not include information that is not on the graph, diagram or chart.
  • You are not being asked for your opinion, just to describe and report information. Giving opinions may even cause you to get a lower mark.
  • Do not spend longer than 20 minutes on this task.
  • Leave a couple of minutes to read through what you have written.

How can Selfaccess.com help your IELTS exam preparation?

Describing a pie graphWe can help you to:

  • become familiar with the graph types by providing lots of practice exercises describing graphs
  • practise identifying key information in graphs and charts
  • practise rephrasing sentences so you can think of another way of describing an object if you don’t know the precise word
  • express percentages, numbers and statistical data though our many online exercises.
  • become skilled at understanding what graph axes represent
  • become proficient at using language to describe trends and make comparisons between data
  • become proficient at expressing the key points in a graph
  • think about and become familiar with the vocabulary in the topics that could be used for this task. For example, information on births, crime, deaths, education, environment, heath, leisure, old age, populations, science & technology, transport, tourism, employment, retirement.

Our online English lessons will help you pass IELTS! We offer a large selection of interactive ESL lessons for students preparing for IELTS.

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Try our lessons and IELTS tips to help you study IELTS!

Remember, reading not only helps your vocabulary increase, but will also help with your writing. Practise as much as you can! Selfaccess.com makes IELTS preparation easy and convenient. You can do it in your own time - all you need is a computer, the Internet and headphones or speakers so you can hear the online listening exercises.

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