We continue our series of articles on IELTS. Here we are going to talk about the format and assessment criteria of the academic IELTS writing, Part 1. Also, we are going to touch on key points to be taken into consideration while preparing for this part.
At the exam you need to write a report that summarizes the information in the figure. You are supposed to compare or describe a table, a map, a process or a chart. You have only 20 minutes to write at least 150 words. Tasks can look like that (all the examples and samples are taken from Cambridge IELTS Practice Tests 9):
Your summary is assessed according to 4 criteria and the result is transferred into the so-called bands. On the official IELTS website you can download the teacher’s guide on IELTS preparation. The booklet describes in detail the correlation of the criteria and bands.
Bands 6-9 prove a good level of the writing skill within the IELTS criteria - Task Achievement, Coherence and cohesion, Lexical Resource, Grammatical range and accuracy.
Task achievement controls if the task is covered, all the stages are described and the number of words meets the requirements.
Coherence and cohesion tests the logical development of the test and paragraphing.
Lexical resource и grammatical range and accuracy do not need a detailed explanation – use appropriately a lot of words and grammatical constructions to do the task (task achievement).
Below you can see 3 summaries of the map and 2 graphs given above, and the examiner’s comments. Yellow underlines key words and structures used for coherence and cohesion, blue – lexical resource and accuracy.
Текст 1 – a description of the map, Band 7.
You can see that it is possible to make grammatical and vocabulary mistakes and still get Band 7 as long as these mistakes do not impede communication and the text reads well.
Text 2 is a description of the bar chart given as a very good example. Although the author’s modesty might not have allowed them to write the band, it is obvious that the band is at least 8.5. We do not have to comment this piece of writing. All we can do is set a goal and learn to write in the same fashion.
Тext 3 – a description of the pie cart, Band 6.
In this sample various mistakes slightly influence the communication of the message.
Such an analysis helps to determine the quality of your own texts. In this case you can benefit from the site ielts-blog.com, where there are a lot of samples with comments. When you rely on samples, it will be easier for you to do your own writing.
The choice of words and grammatical constructions depends on the type of task. For example, while describing graphs, tables and charts we always comment on the rising and falling tendencies and compare the data, which implies using certain verbs, nouns and comparative expressions. The phrases from this list can be really useful for analyzing figures (from IELTS Express Upper-intermediate, Thompson):
Maps and processes require a different approach – only describe and compare, do not write about tendencies. That is why the following verbs are vital: enlarge, cut down, redevelop, convert, industrialize, remove, transform, construct, demolish, erect, expand, extend, knock down, replace, etc.
Please remember that it is important to learn words in chunks which can be easily reproduced while writing. This website can help. It will provide you with useful phrases and examples of their use in the exam format.
Your summary should be precise and succinct, to the point, without your opinion on a tendency or speculations about the reasons for constructing a block of flats instead of premises 10 years later. If you do it, you will lose points for task achievement.
The last thing that is worth mentioning is feedback
No doubt, it is necessary to be aware of the complexity of your text when your target is a particular band. But there are very few people who can give feedback to themselves, especially when they have seen their text many times. Therefore, it is vital that you receive the assistance of a teacher who can help you with the preparation, which will save a lot of precious time.