IELTS Examination Jakarta
IELTS Writing Section Academic Task 1 – Tips and Tricks
This task receives an overall band score between 0 (no answer) and 9 (Non-native proficiency and above). That score is derived from 4 criteria which are also banded like that. This article is intended to help you achieve at least 6.5 overall, and be able to apply to many universities around the world safely.
The first criterion, Task Achievement (TA) measures how accurately, fully, appropriately and relevantly your response fulfills the task. It is an information transfer exercise with a defined, non-opinion based answer requiring test takers to comment on a diagram’s factual content. Many of the questions use graphs or tables, but others use bar and pie charts, maps or processes.
Formal language is necessary and the word limit must be between 150 and 170 (anything below 140 will cost you one TA band, a count below 100 will result in a 2 band deduction. A below 76 word-count causes a 3 band TA score deduction. The examiner will stop marking as close as possible to 150 and anything after that will cost you time in the exam for no benefit).
This task should be done before task 2 and is 20 minutes long which must be structured formally (eg. 3 to 4 minutes for analysis and planning. 14 minutes for writing, and the last 2 minutes for checking).
You should identify the key words of the question and notice the data measurements used. (Vagueness affects accuracy and your TA score). You should know how many words to a line to make your word count easier (by multiplying by the number of lines).
Your introduction paragraph should start with a paraphrase of words in the question as plagiarizing them will result in them being subtracted for a lower word count. A suitable signposting phrase (e.g. “The graph shows….”) should be used and this paragraph can be just one sentence long, but it is useful to include an overview in the form of an extra clause or its own sentence to contribute to TA band 6. This will briefly express the largest 2 or 3 trends in the data which will be the basis of at least 2 main body paragraphs. These can be started with sentences relating to when a trend change happened (e.g. “Up to 2000 it could be seen that…..” “After 2000, however…..” )
Final paragraphs are conclusions starting with appropriate words or phrases (e.g. Overall) followed by a paraphrase of the overview and possibly, your concluding remarks.
The beginning (topic) sentence for each paragraph can be put together into an outline plan, with an example of back up data for each and an idea of timing for each paragraph. Just essay writing quickly can result in overlong introduction and first main body paragraphs and then a hasty finish lowering your score.
If a pie chart is also used you should link both diagrams to corroborate trends. If a table is used the planning minutes could be used to convert it into a graph to help you. For process questions a first sentence like “The diagram shows the steps in the process of…” is appropriate.
Following these suggestions should guarantee at least a TA band 6 while benefiting coherence and grammar.
Coherence and Cohesion (CC) refers to how information is linked throughout the whole response and also within and between sentences. Planning for TA has benefits for coherence as it ensures an appropriate number of paragraphs, then you must make sure they all start with an indentation space and a topic sentence with a signposting phrase leading into the information and a data example.
Cohesion features include logical connectors (e.g. “first” in a process essay), conjunctions (e.g.and etc also important for the GRA mark), pronouns, such as “it” referring to a trend (referencing) or other words used to replace pronouns (e.g. tendency instead of “it” for a trend. This is substituting and also reinforces the Lexical Resource (LR) mark). If both aspects are worked on with these themes in mind, CC band 7 should be achievable.
The third criterion, Lexical Resource (LR) refers to the range and accuracy of vocabulary use. The main parts of vocabulary assessed include single and multi- word examples of nouns used with adjectives (eg. A slight rise), verbs used with adverbs (eg. rose slightly) prepositions of location (eg. from a peak to a trough) , and time references including prepositional phrases (eg .In 2010)
Also seen are noun phrases and their synonyms (eg product sales or product purchases), general introductory nouns (eg information, graphs, or changes) and conjunctions (eg. and, or so,)
Other multi- word terms include collocations (eg. related to) and idioms (eg. “bull run” for a rising graph limb).
When preparing, tabulate the word types in relation to each other and also for all the other lexis types mentioned because exam markers regard varied use of vocabulary as positive risk taking and even with many mistakes they will award a 6. With a few idioms and collocations, even with mistakes you can get 7.
Grammatical Accuracy (GRA) is slightly unexpected. Tense choice should be appropriate but there is actually a focus on syntax. To summarize for tense, this is reinforced by reading the question and looking at the timescale given in the data. (If all the data was recorded in years before this one the tense is past simple. If its up to the present day, then present perfect can be used for that part of the timeframe. If a graph interpolates to a time after the present then future tense for predicting will have to be used for that timescale. Process based tasks will require present simple tense as it’s a fact, and the formal nature of the essay tends to require passive voice here as the performer of an action is not referred to.)
Syntax concerns making compound, complex or compound-complex sentences out of clauses with conjunctions, or punctuation marks. Compound sentences use co-ordinating conjunctions (eg. and, but or, nor, so) ,just a colon or a combination of semi-colon, conjunctive adverb (eg however instead of but) and a comma to link two independent clauses. Complex sentences link independent clauses with subordinate ones (e.g. relative clauses using relative pronouns like which, that, who, whose where or adverbial ones using words or phrases like because, after, as soon as etc) . This needs practice but tense appropriacy with some inconsistency combined with flexible use and non-systemic mistakes when using syntax earns GRA band 7.
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