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5 top tips for IELTS Writing Task 1

Updated: Apr 9

If you’re studying for an IELTS exam, or are planning to in the future, you may already have read last weeks blog: ‘5 top tips for IELTS Writing Task 2’. To be honest, some of those tips also apply to task 1, so..  

man reading

  1. Read last week’s blog!  

Here’s the most relevant tips from the blog I wrote on the 11th March:  

  1. Enrol on an IELTS course at UKCE: if you’ve not done this already, think seriously about it. You’ll get great support and focused attention.  

  1. Manage your time: you should plan to write for about 40 minutes in task 2, which leaves 20 minutes for task 1. Decide whether to start with the one you find easier, or the one you find a challenge.  

  1. Write. A lot: you should be taking every opportunity to write. Check out last week’s blog for ideas on how to do this.  


  1. Have a structure ready for each type of question 

This was tip number 3 last week, but you need to make sure you are familiar with each type of question. The website has loads of useful information, examples and lessons. She lists the task 1 question types as follows:  

ielts 1

Remember that the vocabulary and grammar you use will depend on the question type. For bar charts, pie charts and tables, you will need to be able to compare amounts (comparative adjectives). For line graphs (and in some bar charts) you will need to describe trends using words like increase, decrease, decline, soar and so on. When you describe a process or diagram, you will frequently need to use passive voice (first the milk is boiled). When describing a map, you will need to revise locations like north, south etc as well as top left and bottom right and so on. Sometimes you are asked to compare two maps, one being more recent. You will need to compare the maps and use present perfect passive tense often to describe the changes.  

  1. Buy an IELTS book  

writing for ielts book

If you’re on an IELTS course already, materials will be provided, but I’d strongly recommend having a  self-study resource at home as well. Make sure you check with your teacher before you buy anything: this will mean you aren’t purchasing something you don’t need to, but also because the teacher can verify your choices (there’s a lot of questionable material out there!)  

Good IELTS writing books have lots of structured writing exercises that will help you prepare for each type of writing task. By the time you sit your exam, you should have a plan for every type of question.  


I’ve put this in capitals because it’s so important. It’s critical that you plan out your task 1 and task 2 answer before you start to write. I know time is short and you’re in a rush to get started, but you’ll save time in the long run. Here’s a sample plan for a bar or pie chart from

ielts task1

You might want to plan out your sentences in note form under each heading. If you’ve practiced each question type enough, you should know how to express your ideas in an appropriate way.  

  1. Use real-world materials as practice  

If you look around you, there are charts and diagrams everywhere. Take a look in a free newspaper in your area: there may well be something you can use for practice. You don’t need to use formal language necessarily, but make sure you are using correct language to compare information. Have you bought some flatpack furniture from IKEA recently? Try writing out the instructions in order, and if you need to look up some words in the dictionary, don’t worry!  



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