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IELTS Academic Writing Test: Task 1 Questions and Prompts

The IELTS Academic writing test is composed of two sections, referred to as Task 1 and Task 2.

In Task 1, test takers are required to write a 150-word essay about a chart or illustration, highlighting its major areas and notable points, while the Task 2 the test taker is required to write a 250-word essay about a given topic.

For this post, let’s take a look at Task 1 and the different kinds of prompts that you can expect in this section of the writing test.

IELTS Academic Writing Test Task 1

To illustrate, the standard IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 question prompt would go something like the one below:


“You should spend no more than 20 minutes for this task.

The chart shows the total number of absences incurred by the employees of a certain BPO company for the year 2013.

Summarize the information for a university lecturer, highlighting the main points and making comparisons where relevant.

Write no less than 150 words.”

IELTS graph

The graph above is just one of the different types of charts or illustrations that you need to work on for this section of the writing test. However, you should expect and prepare for the other types of questions or prompts that you may meet during the test.

Kinds of Questions/Prompts

Basically there are six common charts and illustrations that you will see in the IELTS Academic Writing Task 1, and they are:

Line Graph

In general, the line graphs found in the IELTS Academic writing test show changes over time. Those changes are shown through one or more lines in the graph.

Thus, you need to familiarize yourself with vocabulary that depicts these changes, such as an increase in, decreased to, rose to and others, as well as time referring words such as before, after, during and so on.

Bar Graph

A bar graph can show two types of data: (a) changes over time or (b) order. If the bar graph shows the former, then it is safe to use the vocabularies mentioned in the above paragraphs. However, if it is the latter, then you will need to use ranking words like the highest number of, the lowest, second, third, and others.

Pie Graph

The pie chart is a circular graph divided into sectors which is generally used to show data in percentages and amounts. If you come across a pie graph in the test, using certain words or language of proportion like 50%, a quarter of, majority of and others will give you a higher mark.


Tables are probably one of the most difficult to answer when it comes to IELTS Academic Writing Task 1. This is because a table can show a lot of details and data, and it can be difficult to choose which of them to write about or mention in your essay.

Tip: You should learn to discern between the important and not so important data in the table. You cannot write about all the data in your report since this will take a lot of time and make your report pretty long.

Process diagram

Process diagrams are quite easy, since all you have to do is to discuss the steps in involved in the process. Thus, you will have to use vocabulary words that pertain to order like first, second, then, after that and so on.


Maps can be different things at different times. Sometimes, you will have to describe changes that happen to one place over time, while other times you have to answer situational questions about the map. Some useful vocabularies that you will need in order to get a good mark for this test would be those of placement and direction like adjacent to, opposite of, north, south, and others.

One comment

  1. Hi! Thank you for this article! Do you have any posts about some useful vocabulary for these graphs?