How to prepare for your IELTS Writing Task 1

How to prepare for your IELTS Writing Task 1

How to prepare for your IELTS exam

Writing paper- Task 1

You’re preparing for your IELTS exam and you want to pass with impressive results. Whether it's for university, a nursing job, immigration purposes, or just because you want to be the most proficient at English as you possibly can- preparing for your ielts exam with specific strategies in place is how you will climb to the top tier levels.

This article will focus on how you can prepare for the writing exam.

Having taught ielts online to students on Preply, it has become clearer over time that this is where students struggle the most. The difficulty lies in articulating yourself in a formal, structured, and concise manner. When speaking, we can take pauses and use fillers; there is more room for natural hesitation, but writing requires a more perfect version of what you may otherwise talk about.

What you need to know for the writing paper

  1. You have one hour to complete two tasks
  2. Task 1 involves summarising information, this is typically in the form of a graph or visual data
  3. Task 1 needs at least 150 words
  4. Task 2 is an opinion piece, you are given a statement (social status, the environment, schooling, etc) to which you write a response to based on your opinion
  5. Task 2 needs at least 250 words

How can I get better at answering both questions in the time frame?

This is perhaps one of the hardest parts of the exam. Timing. There is a lot to fit into an hour but it's entirely possible at the same time.

Practice doing as many papers as you can and strictly stick to the time limit, not a second over. It’s likely you will go over the time limit at first, by quite a lot, that’s ok (to start with). Make notes after you finish each time about where you got stuck and do this each time. You should notice a pattern. Once that’s identified, you can tackle it and ultimately, remove it.

For example, if you have a habit of spending too much time on note taking, cut this down. If you are focusing on the details and not getting an overview, remember task 1 is summarizing, not analysing- get into the practice of moving on so you gather more information.

Try it audibly. Try recording yourself talking about what you see and listening back, see how much you observe in the time it took. Try to beat your time each time, with the objective of packing more in. Compete against yourself.

Below is an example of how to prepare for Task 1 in the writing paper. Try my WNIC method and see how it works for you.

My method for task 1


  1. What do you see?
  2. Note it down (tip; include connectives in a column that you can insert later)
  3. Identify the main features (you do not need to site everything about the graph, it's about what’s most telling and interesting)
  4. Compare

My planning sheet

Emma’s method- WNIC

1.What do you see?

2.Note it down

3.Identify the main features (be more specific)


What do you see

•Indonesia lowest increase, slow climb that peters to a steady line; lack of growth

•Russia- biggest initial increase, steadies in the middle, slower but steady increase in latter years

•Iran slow increase to start, sharp increase from 2005, finishing with biggest growth

Identify the man features

•Indonesia- Indonesia has a relatively unchangeable pattern with a gradual climb, until it peaks in 2020 and remains here at 30 million people

•Russia- begins with the highest number of people, in 2010, it has the biggest number of moving people, in the next five-year period there is a 30% increase, the final stage presented shows a steady course with the suggestion that this line is on a continuing increasing path

•Iran has the most complex journeys. see’s two distinct increases; 2005-2010 and 2015-2025. In the latter, Iran see’s the biggest growth where almost 100 million have moved


•2000-2005- Indonesia and Iran sit closer together, creating more of a similar relationship in people moving from rural to urban. Both countries met around 2007 with the same number of people; roughly 18 million. Contrastingly, Russia starts at a higher number of people and races past both Iran and Indonesia.

•2008- Indonesia is catching up with Iran, though comparatively Iran is ahead. Russia continues to exceed both and is almost double that of Iran

•2010-2015- Indonesia takes on a much slower flight path in comparison, climbing to its peak though dramatically less so than its counterparts. Iran begins to have a similar trajectory to Russia, with 5 million less than Russia. Though Iran continues an upward trajectory, by 2015 it is 20 million less than Russia but twice that of Indonesia. Russia soars to 70 million by 2015.

•2015-2020- Indonesia takes its final climb, before flat lining. Around 2018, Iran and Russia seem to be edging closer together, both on the increase.

•2020-2025- Indonesia flattens and is far behind its counterparts. Iran and Russia meet around 2020 at 80 million, thereafter, Iran has more of a vertical incline giving the impression it will continue to grow, whereas Russia’s increase is present but depreciates in comparison to Iran.

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