Writing Task 1
You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.
The illustration below shows the process of tying a bow tie.
Write a report explaining to a university lecturer how to tie his bow tie.
Write at least 150 words.
The diagram illustrates how to knot a bow tie in eight stages.
To begin with, the tie should be placed around the neck, with one end slightly longer than the other. Then place the longer end over the other and pass it upwards and behind the point where the two ends cross.
Next, take the other end of the tie and bend it twice to form an ‘S’ shape. Bring the longer end down and in front, so that it holds the ‘S’ curve in place. Now comes the trickiest part of the process. Take the long end of the tie and form a similar ‘S’ shape before passing it through the narrow gap behind the other end. This creates a knot and the bow should now be held securely in place.
Finally, adjust both sides of the bow to make it symmetrical and prepare to be the envy of your friends.
(152 words, IELTS 9.0)
Why does this Task 1 answer get an IELTS Band 9 score?
Task achievement: The model answer fully satisfies all requirements of the task by describing each stage in the process.
Introducing a practice version of the official IELTS Writing answer sheets modified for teacher/student use and available as a free PDF download!
Some of the features that make the practice version superior for both teachers and students:
Keep track of student work with fields for name, class, teacher and date
12-point double-spaced lines for easier correction and annotation
Full scoring rubric and space for marker feedback
See below for an easy-to-follow guide to planning, organising and paragraphing an essay in IELTS Writing Task 2. This advice applies to both General Training and Academic Writing modules, but there are different ways of organising an answer depending on the question type.
First paragraph: Introduction
Key technique: Don’t begin with your thesis statement.
Never begin an essay with I believe, I agree, or In my opinion. These indicate your thesis statement and should go at the END of your introduction, after you have introduced the topic and problem to be discussed. As a rule, start generally and take several sentences to build to your main idea. Note that the style of thesis statement will vary depending on the question type. Study the question carefully first to determine if you should give your opinion in the introduction or in the conclusion.
- Introductory sentence: What topic is to be discussed? Recently, there have been…
- Narrow the focus: What issue concerning the topic is to be resolved? However, some people argue that…
- Thesis statement (opinion essay): What is your opinion on this issue? This essay will argue that…
- Thesis statement (argument essay): What will happen in this essay? This essay will look at both sides of the argument before stating my own opinion.
- Thesis statement (problem/solution essay): What are you going to write about? The main problems are X and Y and I will propose solutions to both in this essay.
Hint: You can choose either to write in the first person (I believe...) or third person (This essay will…). The third person sounds more objective and academic.
Hint: Don’t include your main reasons or arguments in the introduction, these should go in each of the body paragraphs.
Here’s a quick guide on how to organise an IELTS Writing Task 1 answer into paragraphs. This applies only to the Academic module. Note that the organisation of the answer may change depending on the question type.
First paragraph: Introduction
Key technique: Be direct.
When writing an introduction to Task 1, get straight to the point as you only have 20 minutes to write your answer. One or two sentences are often sufficient. Two things you should try to include in the introduction are:
- Paraphrase of the question: What does the diagram show? (Don’t describe the results yet!)
- General description: Are the differences great or small, many or few? Is there one very obvious trend or feature that stands out?
Hint: Many people make the mistake of continuing with all the details. Stop here and begin your first body paragraph.
Task 1 Question
The diagram below illustrates the carbon cycle in nature.
Write a 150-word description of this diagram for a university lecturer.
The diagram shows how carbon moves through various stages to form a complete cycle. This report will give a brief description of the main stages in this cycle.
First, we can see that energy from the sun is transformed into organic carbon through a process in plants known as photosynthesis. This organic carbon is then transferred underground when plants, and the animals that feed on them, die and decay. Some of this carbon is trapped underground in the form of fossils and fossil fuels.
Carbon is also released back into the atmosphere, however, through various means. One is when animals and plants respire, and another is when humans burn fossil fuels in cars and factories. All this carbon enters the atmosphere as CO2. It is then reabsorbed by plants, and the cycle begins again.
Overall, we can see that carbon moves in a natural cycle, although human factors may now be affecting the balance.
(154 words, IELTS 8.0)
Why does this Task 1 answer get an IELTS Band 8 score?
Task achievement: The model answer selects and describes most components of the diagram except for waste products and ocean uptake. There is an overall description of the cycle followed by a clearly sequenced and divided description of the stages. The summary identifies something noteworthy about the diagram. The length is sufficient.
Task 2 Question
The internet has transformed the way information is shared and consumed, but it has also created problems that did not exist before.
What are the most serious problems associated with the internet and what solutions can you suggest?
There is no doubt that the internet has revolutionised communication and information-sharing in the same way that the telegraph and the television did before it. However, societies have had to cope with unanticipated new problems, including crimes which traditional laws are powerless to prevent. This essay will address some of the illegal acts enabled by the internet and propose solutions.
To begin with, the global scale of the internet means that national laws are no longer adequate to control what happens online. Take restrictions on legal reporting, for example. In some countries, the media is prohibited from revealing details of a defendant’s past in case this prejudices a fair trial. However, such restrictions are no longer enforceable now that information may be freely published in other countries and accessed by all. The only solution here, it seems, is to adopt global standards. Since the internet traverses national borders, the flow of information can only be controlled if all nations agree on what can and cannot be shared.
Another problem concerns anonymity, as internet users can easily conceal their identity and even impersonate others. Many crimes such as identity theft and child abuse result from the ease with which criminals can operate anonymously online. Some have proposed a system of online identification, similar to a passport, which would allow all internet users to be verified and traced. I believe this idea should be explored further, though there are clearly concerns about the security of those who use the internet to protest against oppressive regimes.
In conclusion, the only long-term solution to the problem of internet crime is greater international cooperation. Since the problem is global is scale, the solution must also be global. A new agency of the United Nations should be created to tackle the problems described here.
(298 words, IELTS 8.5)
Why does this Task 2 answer get an IELTS Band 8 score?
Task response: The model answer fully answers the question by stating two distinct problems caused by the internet together with relevant solutions to each problem. The serious nature of each problem is illustrated with examples. The style is appropriate to academic writing and the answer is at least 250 words in length.
With 25% of IELTS Writing scores determined by vocabulary, spelling is clearly a real concern for IELTS candidates. While a few spelling errors will be overlooked, too many will bring down the score for Lexical Resource. Spelling mistakes can also seriously affect IELTS Listening scores.
As it’s not possible to memorise the spelling of every English word, it makes more sense to identify the words most likely to be (a) used in IELTS and (b) misspelled.
There are already many lists of common spelling errors online, but here I’ve selected words likely to occur in the Academic modules of IELTS. Rather than simply list the most common mistakes, I’ve attempted to highlight errors by type, so you can pay more attention to the underlying rules.
Single and double consonants
Spelling mistakes are common when single or double consonants occur nearby in a word.
A single consonant is followed by a double consonant:
Across, Process, Harass, Disappoint, Recommend, Tomorrow, Professor, Necessary
A double consonant is followed by a single consonant:
Parallel, Apparent, Exaggerate, Occasion, Occur (but Occurred), Commit (but Committed)
Some common words with two pairs of consonants:
Success, Possess, Access, Assess, Address, Accommodation, Embarrass, Millennium
Weak vowel sounds
Some words are difficult to spell because they contain the schwa or [ə], a weak vowel sound. It is almost impossible to know how to spell such words from their sound alone.
Examples of words containing more than one schwa include:
Separate (adj.), Definite, Desperate, Temperature, Literature, General, Relevant, Category
Other problematic schwa words include:
Describe, Decline, Despite; but Dispute, Discrete, Display
Capable, Achievable, Understandable; but Possible, Visible, Accessible
Performance, Attendance, Ignorance; but Independence, Sentence, Existence
Sometimes the schwa sound conceals a barely-pronounced [r]:
Opportunity, Pursue, Persuade, Surprise
Task 2 Question
It is sometimes argued that too many students go to university, while others claim that a university education should be a universal right.
Discuss both sides of the argument and give your own opinion.
In some advanced countries, it is not unusual for more than 50% of young adults to attend college or university. Critics, however, claim that many university courses are worthless and young people would be better off gaining skills in the workplace. In this essay, I will examine both sides of this argument and try to reach a conclusion.
There are several reasons why university has become a popular choice for young people. First, growing prosperity in many parts of the world has increased the number of families with money to invest in their children’s future. At the same time, falling birthrates mean that one- or two-child families have become common, increasing the level of investment in each child. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that young people are willing to let their families support them until the age of 21 or 22. Furthermore, millions of new jobs have been created in knowledge industries, and these jobs are typically open only to university graduates.
However, it often appears that graduates end up in occupations unrelated to their university studies. It is not uncommon for an English literature major to end up working in sales, or an engineering graduate to retrain as a teacher, for example. Some critics have suggested that young people are just delaying their entry into the workplace, rather than developing professional skills. A more serious problem is that the high cost of a university education will mean that many families are reluctant to have more than one child, exacerbating the falling birthrates in certain countries.
In conclusion, while it can be argued that too much emphasis is placed on a university education, my own opinion is that the university years are a crucial time for personal development. If people enter the workplace aged 18, their future options may be severely restricted. Attending university allows them time to learn more about themselves and make a more appropriate choice of career.
(320 words. IELTS 9.0)
Why does this Task 2 answer get an IELTS Band 9 score?
Task response: The model answer fully answers the question by stating several arguments both for and against the expansion of higher education. The candidate’s position is clearly expressed in the conclusion. The style is appropriate to academic writing and the answer is at least 250 words in length.
Task 1 Question
The diagram shows the skeletal systems of two ancestors of modern human beings.
Write a 150-word report for a university lecturer describing the diagram and making comparisons where relevant.
Variations in the skeletal systems of two early types of human are illustrated in this diagram. Overall, we can see that australopithecus afarensis had a heavier body and much longer arms, while homo erectus was slimmer and had more developed joints.
To begin with the upper half of the body, australopithecus afarensis had a much broader chest and waist than homo erectus, giving it a rounder appearance. The former had much longer arms and larger hands, which would have been useful for climbing trees.
As for the lower half of the body, we can see that homo erectus had proportionately longer legs and larger hip, knee and ankle joints. The feet of homo erectus were also smaller and more arched, with shorter toes. These differences meant that homo erectus was better suited to long-distance running.
In conclusion, we can see significant changes in the development of early humans from the diagram. Homo erectus is more similar to contemporary human beings with its long legs and arched feet. The physical differences are clearly related to differences in the lifestyles of tree climbers and endurance runners.
(183 words, IELTS 8.0)
Why does this Task 1 answer get an IELTS Band 8 score?
Task achievement: The model answer selects only the most important information from the diagram and uses this to make several direct comparisons. The physical differences are clearly connected to the description of each creatures’s lifestyle, providing a very rounded answer. The length is sufficient.
The world map above gives a breakdown by country of visits to ielts-academic.com in June 2012. By far the largest group of users comes from South Asia, with 3,124 from India and 1,885 from Pakistan over this one-month period.
Next is the South-East Asian region, with a surprisingly high number of users in Vietnam (1,155) followed by the Philippines (667), Malaysia (317) and Thailand (235).
The third-largest region consists of English-speaking destination countries where a lot of IELTS test-takers are already studying. There were 782 visitors from the United Kingdom in June 2012, followed by 622 from Australia and just 429 from the USA, where TOEFL is still the most popular test of English.
Perhaps the real surprise is the relatively tiny number of users in China (13), suggesting that authorities there do not want students to benefit from free IELTS advice! Hopefully, this situation is set to change in future.
(150 words, IELTS 7.5)