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DOS in the IELTS Writing Task 1

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Here are some DOS in the Writing Task 1 that can help you to avoid unnecessary mistakes.


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Do read the instructions carefully

Although, it is a very obvious detail, it is one of the most common things students forget about in the IELTS Writing task 1.

Take your time and read the instructions properly to fully understand what you are asked to do. Constant practice can also help you to familiarise yourself with the different types of the Writing task 1 questions and to save your time in the exam.

Do spend time organising and planning your answer

Planning is the most important part to succeed in your Writing Task 1. It is never a waste of time to plan your answer as this will help you to achieve a higher score by giving a clear and coherent answer.

Familiarise yourself with the main task and spend at least a few minutes to plan your answer structure.  Below there is an example how the essay planning should look like:

Paragraph 1 – introduction – paraphrase the main question.

Paragraph 2 – overview – the main feature comparing given data.

Paragraph 3 – main body – describe and compare the most relevant features in detail.

Paragraph 4 – conclusion – conclude with relevant information.

Having a clear and organised structure in your head, will help you to deliver the task more efficiently.

Do paraphrase the main task

Paraphrasing plays a vital role in the Writing Task 1. The examiner is trained to look for paraphrases and your ability to use an adequate vocabulary. You will lose marks for copying the words in the answer. To paraphrase, simply use synonyms to change the keywords.

For example:

Question: The graph shows Internet Usage in Taiwan by Age Group, 1998-2000.

Paraphrased: The given data illustrates the information about the internet users in four age groups in Taiwan between the years 1998 to 2000. 

Do know how to describe a change

This is a very easy way to get some extra points. You will score higher if you know how to describe the change accurately. You will normally have to describe the change in your Writing task 1 essay and these are more advanced word pairs that will help you to gain some valuable marks:

Slight increase

Gradual growth

Moderate decline

Considerable expansion

Significant rise

Dramatic fall

Do practise writing overviews

What is an overview? An overview is a summary of the main features shown in the chart.

Your overview s probably the most important paragraph in the whole essay. It is the part which is designed to test your ability to recognise the main feature. 

It is very important to remember that the overview should not include any numbers or percentage. You are only describing the most significant aspects in general and the analysis in detail comes in the following paragraphs (main body of the essay).

Do consider which tense you are going to use

It is essential to decide which tense you are going to use for your Writing task 1. Many IELTS test candidates lose points by only writing in the present tense. Ask yourself if any of the data is about the past or the future. It is possible to identify this by given task information (year, month). Read the instructions carefully and change your tenses accordingly.

Do support your descriptions with accurate data

When focusing on your descriptions, you must use accurate factual information (numbers, percentage). Make sure you choose the correct data and that it is accurate. The examiner will also judge your ability to read the chart precisely.