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IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 – Video Lesson

by Gina Mares on 28 June, 2018 , Comments Off on IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 – Video Lesson

In this lesson, you can learn how to answer IELTS academic writing task one questions.

In task one of the academic IELTS writing exam, you have to summarise and describe the information given to you in some kind of chart.

You might have to summarise and describe a pie chart, a line graph, a bar chart, a table, a diagram, or even a map.

In this lesson, you’ll see a sample IELTS academic writing task 1 question. You can learn how to approach these questions and write your own answer. You’ll also see some useful tips to help you improve your IELTS writing score.

[add chart–image is already uploaded]

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The graph below shows the percentage of women and men in different employment situations who described themselves as ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their work situation.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Write at least 150 words.

The graph shows how happy people are in different employment situations, by gender.

Self-employed women are significantly more satisfied (70%) with their work than women in other categories. However, the majority of women in part-time or office work also described themselves as satisfied with their work. Satisfaction levels for these categories (office/managerial, office/administrative, and part-time work) were similar, at around 55%. Women in manual or unskilled jobs and women who were not working reported the lowest satisfaction levels: just over 30% in both categories.

Self-employed men also have the highest level of job satisfaction: slightly under 80%. Men in managerial roles, manual or unskilled jobs and part-time jobs also reported reasonable levels of job satisfaction: around 50-60%. By contrast, men in administrative positions are mostly unhappy with their jobs, with just 30% describing themselves as satisfied with their work situation. The lowest satisfaction rates were found among men who were unemployed or not working, at just under 10%.

Satisfaction rates for men and women were similar among part-time workers, self-employed people and those in managerial roles. Men were more likely to be happy working in a manual or unskilled job, while women were more likely to be satisfied with an administrative position. Not working has a more pronounced negative effect on men than on women.

Let’s start by looking at our sample question:

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 - Job satisfaction chart

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The graph below shows the percentage of women and men in different employment situations who described themselves as ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their work situation.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Write at least 150 words.

So, what should you do first?

1. Connect the Information in the Task

With academic IELTS task 1 questions, you’re often given large amounts of information.

Many students try to present every piece of information in a big list, but this is a mistake. Do you know why?

First, and most importantly, the task specifically tells you to ‘select the main features’ and ‘make comparisons’. This means you need to connect and group the data you’re given.

Secondly, if you try to present every piece of data in a list, your writing will probably be too long and also repetitive.

So, you need to connect and group the data, but how?

Think about two questions:

One: can you connect different pieces of information which are either very similar or very different?

Two: can you find any trends or overall patterns in the information which connect several pieces of data?

Ideally, you want to put the data into either two or three groups. These will be separate paragraphs when you write.

Look at the chart again. Can you find any good ways to connect and group the data?

Any ideas?

First of all, there isn’t one right answer here. There are many ways to connect and group the data, and one way might seem more logical to you.

Here are some suggestions:

Paragraph 1: women’s levels of satisfaction in different employment situations.
Paragraph 2: men’s levels of satisfaction in different employment situations.
Paragraph 3: similarities and differences between men and women’s satisfaction levels.

Or:

Paragraph 1: areas where men and women had similar satisfaction levels (that means: working part time, working in managerial jobs, and being self-employed).
Paragraph 2: areas where men and women had different satisfaction levels (that means: being unemployed or not working, working in administrative jobs, and working in manual or unskilled jobs).

Or:

Paragraph 1: employment categories which had a higher average level of satisfaction (working part-time, being self-employed, managerial work).
Paragraph 2: employment categories which had a lower average level of satisfaction (being unemployed or not working, administrative work, manual or unskilled work).

Which should you choose? Which is better?

Remember that there isn’t one right answer. You should choose the structure that makes more sense to you.

It doesn’t matter how many paragraphs you have, but you do need to have a clear focus in each paragraph.

Even though you don’t have much time, you still need to spend one or two minutes planning and thinking about this.

Planning how you’re going to connect and group the data will make it easier to write a clear, well-structured answer that can get high scores for task achievement and coherence/cohesion.

So, you have a plan. What next?

2. How to Write an Overview

Start your answer by writing an overview of what the chart shows.

Many IELTS students struggle with this. If this is difficult for you, here are two simple tips:

One: imagine you want to tell someone about the chart, but you can only say one sentence. How would you do it?

Two: don’t get stuck looking for words, trying to find complex synonyms, or thinking too hard about what to say.

The overview is necessary, but it’s not that important. You can write something very simple, so long as it’s clear.

Here’s a good overview for our sample question:

  • The graph shows how happy people are in different employment situations, broken down by gender.

This is an effective overview, because it includes all of the key information which the graph presents.

It includes the idea of satisfaction.

It includes the idea of different types of work.

And, it includes the idea that the information is given for men and women separately.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Easy for you, but how can I write something like that?”

First, there’s no complex language in this sentence. For an intermediate student, the only phrase which might not be obvious is broken down by gender.

So, you probably can write something like this!

Also, even if you can’t, write something very simple. For example:

  • The graph tells us about satisfaction levels at work.
  • The graph shows how happy men and women are in their jobs.

Are these perfect? No, they aren’t. But, they’re good enough.

Remember that the overview isn’t very important. It’s better to write something simple and fast, and then move on to your body paragraphs.

Let’s move on to see how you can write effective body paragraphs.

3. How to Write Body Paragraphs

To write an effective, clear body paragraph, you need to have a clear plan.

You need to know exactly what you’re going to put in your paragraph, and what you’re going to leave out.

Let’s take one of the plans you saw earlier:

Paragraph 1: women’s levels of satisfaction in different employment situations.
Paragraph 2: men’s levels of satisfaction in different employment situations.
Paragraph 3: similarities and differences between men and women’s satisfaction. levels

Let’s look at paragraph one.

To write paragraph 1, you need to include and compare six different pieces of information: women’s satisfaction levels in each of the six employment situations.

Remember that you don’t just need to include the information in a list; you also need to make connections and comparisons.

Look at the chart again:

Can you think of three ideas you could put in your paragraph, which include connections or comparisons between the data?

Here are some suggestions. Again, there aren’t right or wrong answers here, so there are other possibilities which are equally good.

One: you could highlight that satisfaction levels among self-employed women are higher than in any other category.

Two: you could mention that there are three categories where satisfaction levels are quite similar: office/managerial, office/administrative and part-time work.

Three: you could talk about the similarity between the two categories with the lowest satisfaction rates: manual or unskilled work, and unemployed or not working.

If you have three ideas like this, then you already have enough for your paragraph.

You just need to think about one more thing:

In your paragraph, you need to balance general ideas with specific ideas.

For every general point you make, make sure you support it with a figure or a specific example.

On the other hand, if you include figures and examples, make sure they’re attached to a general point. It’s not enough just to list data. That won’t get you a high score, and it’s a common mistake which students make in IELTS academic writing task 1.

Let’s see an example of this.

Here’s a general point:

  • Self-employed women are significantly more satisfied with their work than women in other categories.

Add a specific point to support it:

  • …with a satisfaction rate of 70%.

Here’s a general point:

  • The majority of women in part-time or office work also described themselves as satisfied with their work.

Add a specific point:

  • Satisfaction levels for these categories (office/managerial, office/administrative, and part-time work) were similar, at around 55%.

Here’s our final general point:

  • Women in manual or unskilled jobs and women who were not working reported the lowest satisfaction levels.

Can you think how to add a supporting idea here? What would you do?

Here’s one suggestion:

  • … just over 30% in both categories.

Put all of this together, make some small adjustments, and you have a very good paragraph.

  • Self-employed women are significantly more satisfied (70%) with their work than women in other categories. However, the majority of women in part-time or office work also described themselves as satisfied with their work. Satisfaction levels for these categories (office/managerial, office/administrative, and part-time work) were similar, at around 55%. Women in manual or unskilled jobs and women who were not working reported the lowest satisfaction levels: just over 30% in both categories.

Let’s think about paragraph two, but this time you’re going to focus on something different.

4. Using Hedging and Approximation

An IELTS academic task 1 question can often contain a lot of numbers and data.

What’s one of the biggest mistakes IELTS students make in task 1?

We’ve mentioned it already: a very common mistake is to try to include every single piece of data. This makes your writing unclear, repetitive and possibly too long, as well. Answers which do this generally don’t get high scores.

So, what’s the solution?

You need to use hedging and approximation. That means you don’t include every single piece of data.

For example; look at a sentence:

  • Men in managerial roles, manual or unskilled jobs and part-time jobs also reported reasonable levels of job satisfaction: 57%, 53% and 55% respectively.

Good sentence? It’s not bad, but there’s a problem.

The biggest problem is that the graph isn’t clear enough to let you say that something is 57% and not 56% or 58%. IELTS task 1 questions are often like this.

This matters, by the way. If you make mistakes with the data, you’ll lose points for task achievement.

Also, you don’t need to include all three figures here. The three figures are very close together. You can group them together with an approximation, like this:

  • Men in managerial roles, manual or unskilled jobs and part-time jobs also reported reasonable levels of job satisfaction: around 50-60%.

Let’s do another example:

  • Self-employed men have the highest level of job satisfaction at 79%.

This has the same problem: the graph isn’t clear enough to say that it’s 79%.

Can you use an approximation here to solve this problem?

You could say:

  • Self-employed men have the highest level of job satisfaction: slightly under 80%.

It might not seem like a big difference, but it can affect your score, particularly your task achievement score.

If we add two more sentences, we can complete our second paragraph, with hedging and approximations where they’re needed:

  • Self-employed men also have the highest level of job satisfaction: slightly under 80%. Men in managerial roles, manual or unskilled jobs and part-time jobs also reported reasonable levels of job satisfaction: around 50-60%. By contrast, men in administrative positions are mostly unhappy with their jobs, with just 30% describing themselves as satisfied with their work situation. The lowest satisfaction rates were found among men who were unemployed or not working, at just under 10%.

IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 -happy working man image

Now, we need to write one more paragraph. Again, we’re going to focus on something different.

5. How to Compare and Contrast Ideas

Remember that in our third paragraph, we want to describe the similarities and differences between women and men.

Look at the chart again.

Imagine you want to find three points to include in this paragraph: either similarities or differences. What would you include? Think about it, and pause the video if you want extra time.

Let’s start with one idea:

Satisfaction rates for men and women were similar among part-time workers, self-employed people and those in managerial roles.

Here, you’re highlighting a similarity. You could also say:

  • Satisfaction rates for men and women were comparable…
  • Satisfaction rates for men and women were at roughly the same level…

When describing similarities, be clear if the things you’re talking about are the same, almost the same, or just similar. IELTS students sometimes mix these up, but this will hurt your score.

Next, let’s add another idea, showing a contrast:

  • Men were more likely to be happy working in a manual or unskilled job, while women were more likely to be satisfied with an administrative position.

Here, we joined two clauses with the conjunction while. You could also use whereas… or you could start a new sentence with a different conjunction like however… or by contrast.

Let’s add one more idea to our paragraph:

  • Not working has a more pronounced negative effect on men than on women.

Here, we’re highlighting a large difference. Can you think of some other language you could use to express the same idea?

You could say:

  • Not working has a significantly more negative effect on men than on women.
  • Not working has a much more negative effect on men than on women.

So now, your final paragraph is ready.

  • Satisfaction rates for men and women were similar among part-time workers, self-employed people and those in managerial roles. Men were more likely to be happy working in a manual or unskilled job, while women were more likely to be satisfied with an administrative position. Not working has a more pronounced negative effect on men than on women.

And that’s it! You don’t need to write a conclusion for task 1.

Thanks for watching!

Gina MaresIELTS Academic Writing Task 1 – Video Lesson