How a good 'Overview' can get you a High IELTS Band Score in Task 1

Another Strategy towards IELTS Writing Success!

This post provides practical tips for creating effective Overviews and suggests focusing on practicing them as a key strategy for success in the IELTS exam.

Why Overviews are a big deal in IELTS Task 1 Academic:

Even though the Overview is literally just one or two sentences, it is a big factor in an Examiner’s decision as to what IELTS Band they are going to give you for your Task Achievement score. Why? Well, the actual word “Overview” is mentioned for Bands 5.0 ,6.0, and 7.0 in the Task Achievement Criteria. So basically, to do well in IELTS Task 1 Academic, you need to be able to consistently write appropriate Overviews no matter what the image is: a graph, a map or a process. However, if you need a band 7.0 or higher, you need to have mastered the Overview. 

How the Overview can make Task 1 easy:

Do you know that if you can master the Overview, you’re about halfway there?  Here’s another thing to think about… if your Overview is spot on, it means you have understood the graph and vice versa. You can also use your wonderful Overview as a guide to organizing your body paragraphs. Looking at the Overview in this way will save you precious time and relieve stress for the entire Writing Task.

Tips to ensure you have a good Overview:

Tip 1: The way you look at the visual image depends on the type of visual information you are presented with. This means that before you start your analysis, and definitely before you write anything, know exactly what you are looking at – and it’s not always a graph. I like to categorize them as follows:

  • Graphs with dates (or ‘Dynamic Graphs’)
  • Graphs without dates (or ‘Static Graphs’)
  • Two graphs: 2 Dynamic OR 2 Static, OR one of each
  • Maps / Plans
  • Processes

I recommend you learn about them in this order, but do spend most of your study time on the Dynamic and Static Graphs. Even though you may not always get a graph, more often than not, it will be a graph. They come up in IELTS Exams a lot more often than Maps, Plans or Processes. 

Tip 2: Depending on what type of image it is, you should have a set of questions to ask yourself to make sure you are keeping things general. These “questions” never need to change. It not only makes things easier for you, but it can ensure that you don’t accidentally include specific information. The way to kill your Overview – and end up with a Band 5 for Task Achievement – is to get specific. Save that part for the body paragraphs. 

Tip 3: No matter what the image is or how you are going to answer it, always start with the word “Overall…”. This way you are telling the examiner ‘Hey, I have my Overview! Here it is!’ This is one of the rare times it is good to memorize vocab. 

Tip 4: Never ever add data. In other words, do not include numbers or figures. That is pretty much all the Examiner needs to see to start looking at the lower bands for your Task Achievement score. Remember, your Overview is supposed to be a summary which means if you add data, it is no longer a summary. 

My final tip… Practice Wisely:

The key to success in IELTS is practice, but it needs to be done intelligently or you are just wasting your time. One way to practice intelligently is to write Overviews by themselves. Write lots and lots of Overviews of many different types until you can write them in your sleep! Don’t worry about the Introduction or Body Paragraph for now. Master the Overview and you will see, the rest will take care of itself.

Next time you practice an IELTS Task 1 Graph with Dates (Dynamic Graphs), why not try out my ‘Checklist for IELTS Overviews: Graphs with Dates’ to help you write the perfect Overview. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *