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How to Brainstorm the Right Content for IELTS Writing Task 1?


IELTS writing task 1 for the academic module is challenging. It involves brainstorming for at least 5 minutes in order to find the right content, the key features, from the question. In IELTS writing task 1, you may get a bar chart, line graph, table, map or process chart. There can also be complex questions including the combination of either of these two. Thinking for a while on the question is essential to write effectively for a good band score.

Let us see how to brainstorm for the right content for the IELTS writing task 1 question.

Read the Question Properly

Whether the IELTS writing task 1 question is in the form of bar graph or map, you should read it carefully. By reading, you actually select the important information, an overview, which you can use for writing introduction. Without gaining familiarity with the question, it is not advisable to start writing since it may lead to a lot of errors. So, it is important to carefully read the IELTS writing task 1 question to understand it well and be familiar with it.
What to read?

Read question statement (for paraphrasing, to be used in writing the introduction) in all the questions
For the following question:

Bar Chart/Line Graph: Read x-axis, y-axis and labels (given at the right/top)

Table: Read row heading/column heading/figures

Map: Read labels/check sites

Process: Read heading/sub-heading

Analyse the Question

Apart from reading the overview of IELTS writing task 1 question, analysing it thoroughly for drawing out its important highlights of the question is another important key task to do before you start writing. You should do this analysis as quickly as possible because if you go slow, you may run out of time. Making use of pencil to write down the important features that you have noticed in the diagram is also a good strategy. In this way, you will not forget to include any key feature while writing.
What to Analyse?
Bar Chart/Line Graph:

  • X-axis/Y-axis difference of points (e.g. 1990, 1995, 2000 with difference of 5 years)
  • Check heading or title of the graph
  • Check labels given at the top/bottom/right of the diagram

Table: Read the headings of rows and columns

Map: Check labels/directions/sites mentioned

Process chart: Check out picture of every step in the process chart to get overall understanding

Go into Details

For good analysis of IELTS writing task 1 diagram, you may figure out important features in two ways; going into details and making comparisons. By going into details means checking out each aspect of the diagram and if you do it in order, it would be easier. Secondly, after you know the full details, you can compare and contrast for finding something significant in the diagram.

Bar Chart/Line Graph:

  • Check for increasing/decreasing/stable/fluctuation trend of every line graph
  • Compare and find out differences of one graph with the other graph of every label in terms of quantitative analysis (e.g. one is twice/thrice/two-fold than the other, one is 20% more or 50% less than the other)
  • Check out similarities of one graph line with the other graph line of every label (e.g. both are showing increasing trend)
  • Find out if there are joining points where two or more than two graphs join

Table: Analyse every figure row-wise and column-wise to look for maximum value/minimum value/increasing/decreasing/stable/fluctuation trend

Map: According to the label, try to make out inferences of every site in the map and find out its location using compass.

Process Chart:

  • Understand each and every step of the diagram
  • Do not forget to check out the textual information along with every diagram

Check for Main Conclusion

At the end of IELTS writing task 1 analysis, try to look into the diagram again for finding the general overview of the question, which is nothing but conclusion and you may notice this at the time of you are doing analysis as mentioned above. Some suggest to notice and main conclusion at the start while others find it appropriate to search it out at the end, after gaining complete familiarity of the question.

Structure your Body Paragraphs

After brainstorming itself, when you are finished with everything and want to start writing, you can structure your body paragraphs. For writing body paragraphs, apart from introduction and conclusion, people adopt different approaches for IELTS writing task 1. You can divide the diagram into two parts and then write two respective body paragraphs, for the key features. Otherwise, you may list out main trends in one paragraph and points of comparison or contrast in the other paragraph.

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