Academic writing task 1 – Writing an overview

In my free book, The Key to IELTS Success, I explained how important it is to write an overview statement in academic writing task 1.  This post shows a task 1 question I created for my Facebook page as well as my sample answer. 

Here is the task:


If you look through the photos on my Facebook page you will find more samples (and corrections) provided by followers of my page. As you will see, many of the problems relate to vocabulary – so it is important to remember that writing task 1 is not only about describing figures and data. 

Here is my sample answer showing the overview statement.  Read chapter 6 of my free book to understand why this is so important if you want to score band 7 in IELTS.

Recent Comments

  • Thomas Chen
    15th March 2020 - 3:17 am · Reply

    Hi, Pauline. Thank you for your sample. I wonder if there is a standard answer in Task 1 since most people have different interpretations of charts and diagrams. For example, you might focus on the item three countries spend most on while I might focus on the item they spend least on. Does this disagreement lead to my lower score?

    • Pauline
      16th March 2020 - 8:17 am · Reply

      As with task 2, there is no single standard answer. However, there are key pieces of data that should be standard in a band 9 answer. Those are the most obvious (the main patterns and trends) rather than the minor details. The way that you express these can differ a lot. But if you ignore or leave out key details then that would reduce your TA score.

      • Anonymous
        19th March 2020 - 2:59 am · Reply

        In other words, I need to report all the key features required without including any details the examiner considers minor or irrelevant. Am I correct?

        • Pauline
          19th March 2020 - 7:30 am · Reply

          Yes, but examiners are given guidelines for this. Also, you won’t be penalised for including one or two minor details, you will only be penalised for not making any attempt to select the most important information and just listing all of the information that you see.

          • Anonymous
            20th March 2020 - 2:12 am ·

            That’s a very important piece of information to me. I am really grateful for your prompt reply. Thank you.

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