Sunday, September 22, 2013

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 - How do I start?

In my IELTS lessons, I always start with Writing Task 1.  The reason behind that is that is unlike anything any English student has ever written before.  Also, it’s short, at 150-200 words and very formulaic.  So, if you know how to tackle it from early on, when you get to practice tests it will be smooth sailing. 

Task 1 typically features one or two diagrams.  The diagrams can be tables, bar charts, pie charts, line graphs or a combination of two.  If there are two diagrams there will be some relation between them. 

Most students have no idea where to start.  Where to start is simply an issue of paraphrasing.  That is, you explain what the diagram shows in your own words. 

The pie charts below give information about world population in 1900 and 2000.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.
Write at least 150 words.

The first sentence, or introduction is just a restatement of what the diagrams show.

Information is provided regarding the the change in the world population by region in the years 1900 and 2000.  

What I’ve done is I have mentioned 1. world population 2. by region 3. the years in question.  What you don’t want to do is copy the prompt word for word. 

 The next sentence describes the most obvious feature or the biggest trend.  For me, two things really stick out in these diagrams:  1. that the population went from 1.6 to 6 billion in 100 years and 2. the greatest percentage was found in Asia for both years.   So, how should we write this in one to two sentences?

 While the world population nearly quadrupled between 1900 and 2000, Asia consistently accounted for over 50% of the world population. 

If you can get these two sentences done, the rest of task one just becomes analyzing the details more specifically.  That is where editing comes in.  As I like to say, in task one what you DON’T write is almost as important as what you DO write.  You can’t and shouldn’t describe EVERY single detail of the diagram.  I’ll discuss more of that in my next post.  

No comments:

Post a Comment