IELTS Exam Preparation Tips: Academic Writing Paper Part 1
By Ian Nock
About The IELTS Examination
The IELTS English Examination (International English Language Testing System) is the most widely used English test in the world. There are two streams: Academic and General Training consisting of four papers each: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing.
The Academic Module is used as an entrance test for boarding school, college and university admission worldwide. It is also used by employers and the Government in Hong Kong for job application screening. The General Training module is used mostly for immigration purposes.
Both are designed to test the actual English skills that will be used by the candidate in real life situations and hence the exam tasks reflect this. In the Academic module Writing Paper I tests the ability to describe graphical data – a skill that will be needed for successful completion of most university courses. In contrast, the General Training module tests the letter writing skills of the candidate. Here I will concentrate on the Academic module Part 1.
Academic Writing Paper Part I Tips
Part One of the IELTS writing paper (academic module) deals with describing graphical information, a table, a map or a process. Nine out of ten times the question will be on graphs. This article focuses on describing graphs and tables.
The whole IELTS Writing Paper takes 1 hour, but you should only spend 20 minutes on this part. It is easier than part two and marks are allocated accordingly.
It is important to read and understand the question, as well as follow the instructions carefully. You usually have to write a report for a university lecturer so your style should be formal. Remember to use proper paragraphing as well as you will get higher marks for this. Leave a line between paragraphs to clearly show the breaks. Proper paragraphing will push your IELTS band score up.
You must write at least 150 words, so make sure you count the number you have written as less than this will carry a penalty.
Start by writing a one sentence description of the chart or table. Use different words than those used in the actual title printed on the graph i.e thoroughly paraphrase, Do not copy the title or axis descriptions or just change a few words
The examiner will assess your ability to:
1. Describe the change or trend (i.e. whether it is a rise or fall, an increase or decrease)
2. Write about the interval of time depicted in the chart or graph
3. Compare and contrast the groups of information presented.
Sometimes the graph or table will contain very detailed with complex information, which makes it impossible to describe everything in detail. You should therefore concentrate only on the major trends and most significant information. Group data together whenever possible.
Write about the changes seen in trends and include actual data: quantitative as well as time intervals. Include the highs and lows with specific numbers as well as similarities and differences between the shown data.
Finally, should also write a one sentence conclusion explaining an overview of the data but don’t give your opinion or explain why the data changed: only describe what you see.
Ian Nock is CEO, Director of Studies and Senior Business Coach at HKEnglish.com who have unique vision for the future of language services and communication skills training in Hong Kong, China.
HKEnglish.Com provide high quality private English tuition, business English skills training and editing services as well as company training in Hong Kong, HK, China. They run regular IELTS Courses in Hong Kong.
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