1. Writing the introduction

When you write a Task 1 introduction there is one very important thing to remember:

The examiner does not want to see an introduction that has been mainly copied from the original.

This means that you have to use different techniques to not only change but also improve the Task 1 introduction. A good introduction is usually going to be at least 20 to 25 words long.

There are three simple ways to do this and developing these skills will help you write a very good introduction.


You can always find extra information from the chart.
For example:

  • Time period – over a 5-year period from 2000 to 2004
    NOTE: This is 5 years NOT 4 – 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004
  • Number of categories – 5 different forms of entertainment
    NOTE: You can also list the number of categories if there are not too many of them. It is suggested that no more than four categories can be listed.


NOTE: A common mistake is to replace a word with one that is not really a synonym.
For example:

  • United Kingdom – Britain (the United Kingdom includes Northern Ireland but Britain  doesn’t)
  • teenagers – young people (you are a young person when you are 12 but you are not a


  • Australian teenagers – teenagers in Australia
  • the quarterly revenue – the revenue per quarter
  • 3 bookshops in London – 3 of London’s bookshops
  • the production of chocolate – chocolate production

NOTE: It might not be possible to do all of these every time you write an introduction.

Look at an example of a Task 1 introduction before it has been changed:

The tables below give information about sales of Fairtrade* – labelled coffee and bananas in 1999 and 2004 in 5 European countries.

Now look at three introductions written by students:

1. The two tables below present information about sales of Fairtrade* – labelled coffee and bananas in 1999 and 2004 in 5 different European countries.

NOTE: This is almost exactly the same as the original. Also, there is no need to write – below – because the tables are on the question paper not the paper you write on.

2. The two charts give data regarding Fairtrade* – labelled sales of coffee and bananas in 5 different European countries in 1999 and 2004.

NOTE: This version is much better and uses the techniques of using synonyms and changing the order of different phrases.

2. MAIN BODY – 10 Top Tips

Here are 10 of the more common mistakes that students make. Avoid them and you are well on the way to getting a better grade for your Task 1 Writing.

1. It is essential to include figures from the chart in the main body. A much lower grade will be given if this is not done. Many students put in 2 or 3 figures in the whole main body but this is not enough.

2. Students also write things like:

In the following year figures remained constant at 280 millions.

No! No! No! You NEVER make the word ‘million’ plural when it follows a figure.

3. Sales rose the following year by US$ 17,000.

It can be a good idea to mention by how much a category has risen or fallen but it is even better if you state the actual figure it has risen / fallen to. For example:

Sales increased to US$35,000 in 2012 from US$18,000 in 2011, a total rise of US$17,000.

4. Expenditure on household goods rose to a peak of US$15,000 in the final year.

A peak can NOT be the last figure in a chart. A peak needs to have a figure before and after it.

5. While most Task 1 charts with a time period are based on years, some charts can show months, days and even hours. Make sure that the years, months, days, hours you are giving are accurate. Learn to read a chart accurately.

6. It is important to learn how to add figures into a sentence by using the correct preposition. It is
not a good idea to use brackets to replace prepositions –

The highest sales for any category were in 2012 ($16,500).

by – from – to – of are often used and you need to learn how to use them.

7. Every Task 1 needs an overview of the chart information. This is often in the form of a trend when there is a time period or stating the largest figures when there is no time period.

This can be put at the end of the introduction or become the second paragraph. Avoid putting the overview into the main body and NEVER put figures into the overview.

8. Sentence length is not so important but if ALL of your sentences are short – 10 to 12 words in each sentence – then this suggests to the examiner that your grammar skills are quite weak. Practice joining sentences together.

9. It is important to try and vary sentence style so that they do not all look the same. One style in a Main Body of 100 words will not impress the examiner.

10.  This piece of information can not be repeated enough. You MUST write at least 150 words or your final grade will suffer. Writing about 100 words for the main body will help you to achieve this target.

3. Time order words

When writing a process, flow chart, or cycle, know that time is a part of each of them. Unlike charts like bar charts and tables you are not usually given any time period to work with but it is a good idea to let the examiner know that you are aware that time is important.

You can do this by using what are known as – time order words.

As you begin to practice writing these types of Task 1 reports try to use a different time order word each time you move from one stage to the next. Using the same word again and again will not impress the examiner!

Time Order Words

– Initially
– At first
– Next
– Then
– After this
– Subsequently
– Following this
– Finally

NOTE: Try to avoid using the words – Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly – because, while not wrong, they tend to show the examiner that you are not very creative in your use of time order phrases. You have missed an opportunity to show the examiner something more impressive.

4. A Map

Like all of the processes, cycles and flow charts, maps are very descriptive.
This means you simply write about what you see and do not need to analyse in the way you do with other Task 1 charts like bar charts and tables.

A good understanding of how to describe the location of various things is very important and so a good knowledge of prepositions is required.

Prepositions of location


Also, because you are describing a map you can also use map directions


How you write these directions can vary depending on whether you are using American English or British English.

NOTE: In the IELTS test you can use either spelling but it is important to maintain one style throughout. This means if you start by using the American style – southwest – you must not use the British English style later on – south-west.

 American EnglishBritish EnglishAlternatives
Wwestwestto the left of
Eeasteastto the right of

NOTE: These words are not usually capitalized because they are simply being used to show location within a specific region.

Try to complete the sentences in the following two exercises to help you develop these important skills.

Exercise 1


1. The beach is to the …………… of the tower.
2. The tower is ……………….. of the church
3. The mine is ……………….. of the tower.
4. The quay is to the ……………….. of the tower.
5. The lighthouse is ……………….. of the tower.


Exercise 2


1. The rowboats are ____________ of the campfire.
2. The camping trailers are ____________ of the tents.
3. The cabins are ____________ of the tents.
4. The campfire is ____________ of the camping trailers.
5. The island is ____________ of the cabins.


Introduction / General Statement

Like all Task 1 reports you need to write an introduction when writing maps. This is very easy and it is possible for you to use a standard phrase to start like:

The maps show the changes that occurred in ___ (the place) ___

The maps illustrate how ___ (the place) ___ has changed

The time period can then be added to the end of the introduction.


The overview simply states what the overall effect of these changes has been. For example:

Overall, the island has seen significant changes in infrastructure over the given time period.

Main Body

When writing the main body it is important to remember that we do not usually know when any changes happened other than sometime within the stated time period. You do, however, need to make sure that certain changes are placed in the correct order. For example:

A hotel was built on an open space just below the golf course. The 5 trees were cut down to make room for a new hotel.

It seems more logical to write:

The 5 trees, located just below the golf course, were cut down in order to make room for a new hotel.
The selection of good verbs to describe what has happened is essential. Look at the map bellow and the various phrases next to it.


Task material – Task 1 Academic (Downloads)