Such a general vision about 7 common types of questions in the IELTS Writing Task 1 will be delivered to you in this article, so do not miss it in case you do not want to improve your band!


Most of us all know that IELTS is sort of a test that assesses our English ability in terms of four skills which are Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. Therefore, there is no way you can beat this exam until you have worked your butt off and actually put as much effort into it as possible.

Out of 4 skills, Writing is considered to be the hardest test for Vietnamese candidates due to the difference in the way we think, expose, or prioritize our ideas and thoughts. Anyhow, the IELTS Academic Writing test is divided into 2 sections, IELTS Writing task 1 and 2. In order to do well in task 1, you will need to be aware of some common types of questions in this section. No more beating around the bush, let’s get right into this article to find out which types they are.


 1. Basic requirements in task 1

  •         In IELTS WRITING task 1, you will be given images of a chart(s), diagram(s), graph(s) or a table(s) and asked to write a least 150 word-paragraph to describe it. Writing too short will cause you to lose your points.
  •         On the other hand, writing more than 150 words is fine, your score will not be decreased. However, you had better not do that in case you might run out of time to finish task 2 which is much longer. Notably, task 2 will be double in point so you have to balance and manage time efficiently.
  •         You are asked to describe and compare the data. There can be more than just one chart, nevertheless, they are related with each other to some extent.
  •         Besides chart or table, sometimes in the exam, you will see a process, the diagram of an object’s structure and you have to describe them as well.

2. Important notes while doing task 1

  •         If you digress from what you are required to write about then your mark will be negatively affected.
  •         Your answer must be displayed in the format of essays or paragraphs, not bullet points.
  •         The words used in your answer should be formal and academic.
  •         Rather than trying to list out all the details that you are able to see, focus on the special ones, the changes, the differences or the important data.
  •         The total time you get for Writing section is 60 minutes so you should spend maximally 20 minutes for task 1.
  •         Plagiarism will be taken into account as cheating, if you do that then your mark will be decreased or you will be punished.

3. Marking criteria

  •         Task achievement: Your ability to complete the task (25%)
  •         Coherence and Cohesion: How the sentences are connected and related to each other (25%)
  •         Lexical resource: Your vocabulary usage (25%)
  •         Grammatical range and Accuracy: Your ability in using different tenses and how exactly they are (25%)

Your answer will be marked based  on 4 criteria above so try to swot up on it and optimize your talent while taking the test. Another thing for you to do better is to be aware of all the types of questions you may see in the exam as to figure out how do deal with them.


1. Line graph

In this type of question, you will be given one or more than one graph. Line graph is a graphical presentation of objects. For each object, there will be a line that connect points and represents its changes over time. If there is one line only then it will be easier to describe. However, when the number of line increases, it will be more complex since you both have to describe and compare lines with each other.  Line chart is kind of versatile and common in IELTS Writing. You will be asked to write at least 150 words paragraph to describe, compare or point out the trend of the graph.

Exampleline graph

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 11 – Test 3 – Writing Task 1

2. Bar chart

Bar chart is the question that there will be one or few charts meanwhile the data is demonstrated in vertical or horizontal bars. It is usually used to emphasize the comparison between objects. Depends on each bar chart, either the vertical or horizontal bar will indicate the data and compare objects. Still the same requirements, you will have to write at least 150 words paragraph to describe, compare or point out the changes or the trend on the bar chart.


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 12 – Test 5 – Writing Task 1

3. Pie chart

The pie chart is usually divided into many parts and each part represents statistic (in percentage) for a factor.  All these parts together indicate components of a general and bigger object. For example, the dietary ratio of Vietnamese people in February 2016 in different age groups which are 15 – 20, 20 – 25, 25 – 30, 30 – 35. Therefore, this kind of chart is used to analyze and compare objects in general, determine how many percents each factor occupies in the general object. As a result, you will be able to assess the importance or the domination of these factors.

Each factor is displayed in different colors. Name and color will be listed out in the note beside or below the chart

You will be asked to describe, compare and contrast the data in a 150 word-paragraph

Examplepie chart

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 11 – Test 2 – Writing Task 1

4. Table

There will be one or more than one table containing data about a topic. Your job is to write at least 150 words paragraph to analyze and compare the statistic given in the tables (or describe trend and changes toward time, …)


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 10 – Test 2 – Writing Task 1

5. Map

Compares to other types of the question above, map tends to appear with lower frequency. However, just because it is not very common does not mean you will not see it on the test. Be cautious.

In this type, you will write a 150 word-paragraph to describe the map. There are 2 main formats:

  •         One map: You are asked to illustrate a map of a random place, usually in present. Actually, this format rarely shows up in the IELTS Writing task 1 since there is one map only so there is hardly anything to compare and contrast.
  •         Two maps: This format likely to be more popular. In detail, you will be given two maps about the same place but maybe in two different timelines or projects. For example:

“You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.
The maps below show the city of Amsterdam in 2006 and 2010.
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.”

Since the time is not identical, you should be able to use the tenses flexibly and point out the changes of the given place in different timelines.


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 12 – Test 6 – Writing Task 1

6. Process

The image of a process will be given in the exam, this process could be a natural process such as the lifespan of an animal, or an artificial process like manufacturing or nourishing. You are responsible for writing a 150 word-paragraph to describe that process. In detail, you have to mention all the steps or phases in order without missing one, the steps will be displayed using arrows.


Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 12 – Test 8 – Writing Task 1

7. Multiple charts

In IELTS Writing task 1, sometimes you will encounter the test that tells you to write a paragraph with at least 150 words describing two or more different types of chart and graph. For instance, pie chart and bar chart, line graph and pie chart. In some cases, test takers might feel very confused and nervous to deal with this task. However, there is no need to feel that way because the charts will be related to each other.

Examplemultiple chart

Cambridge Practice Tests for IELTS 11 – Test 4 – Writing Task 1

In conclusion, this article has shown you a pretty clear vision about common question types in IELTS Writing task 1. Do not forget to practice these 7 types and bear in mind that you should only do this task in 20 minutes.

Let’s practice IELTS Writing Task 1.

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