Structuring IELTS Writing Task 1

IELTS Writing Task 1: Paragraph Structure

  • Paragraph 1: Introduce the visuals (1-2 sentences)
  • Paragraph 2: Summarize the visuals
  • Paragraphs 3 and (sometimes) 4: Use data/details to highlight a key feature of the visual(s)
  • Optional: Concluding sentence

Paragraph 1: Introduce the Visuals (1-2 sentences)

Introducing visuals is very straightforward, but it can present challenges because it tests your grammar and vocabulary. Basically, all you need to do in these introductory lines is explain, in very general terms, what the visuals contain. You should try to do this in just one or two sentences if possible.

Fortunately, you can find this information easily because it’s provided for you very clearly in the question prompt. In our example, this is the sentence just below the second chart above (“The graphs above give information about…”) The titles of your visuals also provide useful information for your IELTS Writing Task 1 introduction phrases.

Paragraph 1 requires a lot of practice because you have to paraphrase the language from the prompt and the titles. That means you need to put this information in your own words. Do your best to avoid using the same vocabulary and sentence structure as the prompt. Failing to do this will definitely lower your score! The IELTS is testing your vocabulary and grammar here. Please note, however, that you don’t always have to paraphrase key terms. In our example, the phrase “computer ownership” would be difficult to replace, for example. Everything else should be paraphrased!

Paragraph 2: Summarize the visuals (2-4 sentences)

In this paragraph, you will provide a summary of the visuals without going into too much detail. IELTS Writing Task 1 instructions tell you to, “summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features” of the visuals (Source: IELTS, Test format in detail). Paragraph 2 is your opportunity to do just that.

Avoiding details in this paragraph helps to focus your answer on the most important points contained in the visual(s). You don’t want your summary to get lost in numbers and figures. Save these details for your next paragraph(s). Instead, in Paragraph 2, you’ll need to provide an accurate overview, or summary, of the contents of the visuals.

In the previous paragraph (Paragraph 1), you explained what the visuals are about—the topic. Now, in Paragraph 2, you need to describe the main information contained in the visuals. You should select the information that stands out to you most. It might be a general trend in the data, or a striking or interesting overall pattern. In Paragraph 2, you should report in very general terms, whatever seems most noteworthy in the visuals.

Concluding Sentence (Optional)

Now that you know how to write body paragraphs in IELTS Task 1, you may include a concluding sentence, but this is optional. It can be very helpful to include one if you’re struggling to reach your word count minimum of 150 words. Otherwise, a concluding sentence won’t help your score significantly.

  • Review the following model concluding sentence:

The first decade of the 21st century saw steady gains in computer ownership among a variety of education levels.