Quick IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 Activity

I was reading something EFL-related today and thought of an IELTS writing activity that would be quick to prepare, with minimal materials and useful for the learners too. With the Academic Part 1, one of the biggest problems candidates can face (and I know this from my experience as an IELTS examiner) comes when they have to analyse the data. They have to pick out salient features and avoid writing irrelevant information like their opinion. In describing the features of the given information, they also need some quite specific lexis for describing trends, etc. This activity should help with both of these things.  So here it is…


  • To help learners prepare for Academic Writing Task 1 by developing their  skills for analysing the input material

  • To raise learners’ awareness of some common lexis for describing graphs, charts, etc

Sample IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

(Task taken from ielts-exam.net)


  • Prepare a list of 10 statements about the chart, some true and some false (see below for examples)

  • Give the learners the chart and let them look at it for 30 seconds so they can get a feel for what it’s about and start mentally processing it

  • Now dictate the statements without the learners seeing the chart

  1. In general, Australian household spending was higher in 2001 than in 1991, though by a small margin

  2. Average expenditure on transport decreased by almost a third

  3. Average expenditure on transport increased sharply from $75 in 1991 to $120 in 2001

  4. The spending decrease on clothing can be explained by cheap imports from China

  • The learners now compare together what they’ve written down, thinking particularly about spelling and punctuation. You could hand out the printed statements here, display them or simply write them up yourself so the students can see the correct versions

  • They  now look back at the chart and decide which statements are correct, incorrect or inappropriate (see no.4, for example)

  • You can now do some language work by having the students analyse the dictated statements for collocations, fixed phrases, topic-specific lexis, etc, which they can use when they write their own version.

Brief Analysis and Variation

This is done as a dictation for the listening practice, which may well help them with the types of texts that might appear in the listening exam. That said, you could easily get the learners to do this for each other, either dictating their own statements or simply writing them before swapping with another group and repeating the above. It would be more difficult to do follow on language work from this, but it would give them great practice in analysing data. You’d also have to monitor quite closely here to make sure their analysis was along the right lines.

2 thoughts on “Quick IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 Activity

  1. Hi Chris!

    Great article! I’m glad I found this guide on how to interpret chart well. I’ve heard that most part of the exam includes charts and pies. Well explained and detailed. I have to study hard for my IELTS too. Keep it up

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