How to think like an Examiner in Task 1 Academic (and why you should)

Another Strategy towards IELTS Writing Success!

Many students struggle with IELTS Task 1 Academic. I found that learning it from an Examiner's perspective not only makes the writing task easier, but is key to achieving your desired band score.

Why you should think about the IELTS Examiner.

Even though you as the IELTS Test Candidate have enough to worry about, it’s a good idea to also worry about the Examiner who has to read what you write. Put yourself in their shoes. Whether it’s Task 1 or Task 2, Academic or General Training, they frequently have to read complicated, overly detailed, lengthy, and confusing writing. Would you like to read something like this? Probably not. Now, multiply this by 100 because that’s roughly the number of IELTS Writing Tasks they need to read and grade each day. I suggest that you try to make their job easy. Why, you may ask? Well the easier you make it for the Examiner to understand your writing, the better your result is going to be. So how do you achieve this? Read on and find out….

How you can help the IELTS Examiner.

The short answer is – writing something that’s easy for the reader (which is the IELTS Examiner) to follow and comprehend. This is done by organising your ideas really logically and actually saying it. It’s also done by using simple and appropriate language. This is the general rule no matter what the Writing Task is. However, if you are preparing for the Academic Paper, then the following Task 1 Test Tips are tailored just for you. 

TASK 1 – Tip 1 – Only write what you see. 

Believe it or not, writing about a visual image isn’t as complicated as it seems. This is because all that you’re required to do in Task 1 is write what you see – nothing more, nothing less. This means two things: 

  1. Don’t have an opinion about the reasons behind a particular trend. If you do, make sure you don’t express it. The moment you give an explanation for why a certain trend exists, your score is compromised. 
  2. Use appropriate vocabulary to translate a visual image into words. Through the right word choices the Examiner will be able to take your words and recreate the image without having to see the original image. And that’s exactly how you should approach the Task – pretend the Examiner has to assess your writing task without having the image in front of them to cross-check your writing with. This idea should help you in maintaining focus so that you describe the image really clearly enabling them to easily visualize the image through your writing.

TASK 1 – Tip 2 – Embrace the ‘Less is More’ concept. 

While it’s essential that your words help the Examiner in visualizing the data you’re describing, don’t fall into the trap of writing every detail you see. This takes you away from the task requirement of comparing and contrasting only the main features and summarising the data. This is key to getting a high score. So writing every single detail down is not just more work, but it won’t get you a high band. Plus, it will drive you crazy as well as the Examiner has to read it. The other issue with this approach is that you may exceed 200 words and spend more than 20 minutes on this Task. Doing either or both of these things will result in an IELTS Band Score that’s less promising than you think.  

TASK 1 – Tip 3 – Learn one strategy.

The bad news is that there are probably thousands of original Task 1 questions and you must be prepared for whichever one you encounter on IELTS test day. The good news is that there’s just one strategy that you need to learn and use for any question. This is because of the consistent IELTS marking criteria. Examiners don’t have a special marking criteria for Line Graphs, and a different one for Maps and so forth. They adhere to one set of IELTS criteria for Task 1, with slight adjustments in parts depending on whether they’re marking an Academic paper or a General Training paper.   

That being said, while there’s only one structure you should use for Task 1 Academic, during your IELTS test preparation, all IELTS practice questions should be categorised into one of these four question types:

  • Graphs with Dates (A ‘Time-Series’ Dynamic Graph)
  • Graphs without Dates (A ‘One Point in Time’ Static Graph)
  • Maps or Plans
  • Natural or Man-Made Processes 

If you learn to recognise which of the above four categories a Task 1 question falls into, you can then use a specific formula for analysing that particular question type. This means that you really just need to learn four ‘formuals’ and of course the typical language for that particular question type. See what I mean and get started with the first of these four categories by downloading my freebie: ‘Formula for IELTS Task 1 Graphs with Dates’

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