At least once a week I get a student who emails me saying that they got a 6.5 yet again and they are stuck on this score. When we look at the main reason for this result, one common thing comes up again and again- they didn’t prepare for Task 1 properly.
In the IELTS Writing test you will have to write two essays- Task 1 and Task 2. There is a lot of confusion and lots of misleading advice about whether Task 1 is important or not.
Some of the misleading things I have heard are:
- You don’t need to write a good Task 1. Just focus on Task 2.
- Task 2 is worth more marks, so you should focus on it.
- You can write a very good Task 2 essay and a bad Task 1 essay and still get a good mark.
- Task 1 is very short, so spend most of your time on Task 2.
This is all very bad advice. Why? One of the main differences between students who get Band 5.5-6.5 and students who get 7.0 + is that 7.0 + students are equally good at both Task 1 and Task 2.
Most students spend between 80-90% of their time making sure they get Task 2 correct and mostly ignore Task 1.
How Much is Task 1 Worth?
Task 1 is worth a third of your total marks and Task 2 is worth two thirds. This is very significant.
Task 1 and Task 2 are marked separately. These two marks are then put together and a final score is reached.
A very common scenario is when a student writes a very good Task 2 essay and gets a 7 for that essay, but they only gets a 6 for Task 1. This reduces their overall score to 6.5.
So how much time should you spend preparing for Task 1? You should spend at least a third of the time you are spending on writing preparation on Task 1. So if you are practicing your writing for 3 hours per day, you should spend at least one of them on just Task 1.
Task 1 Academic is very difficult for most people, because they are not used to analysing data and it requires a completely new set of skills that take time to master.
There is also very specific grammar and vocabulary that you need to learn in order to be able to cope with Task 1 Academic.
Finally, there are 7 different types of Task 1 Academic question and each of them requires a different approach. If you learn a good method for each of them, you are more likely to do well. If you don’t, you are likely to get a shock on exam day and fail to get the score you need.
For those of your doing General Training, you don’t have to analyse data; instead you have to write a letter. However, many GT students get complacent because they think they know how to write a letter. This may be true, but IELTS wants you to write the letter their way, so there are lots of things that you must learn before you can get a high score.
Task 2 is very important. You should fully prepare for that part of the test, but you should not ignore Task 1.
You should make sure that you are familiar with the following things for Task 1 Academic:
- Each of the 7 types of question.
- How to pick out key features and include them in an overview.
- How to support key features with accurate data.
- Paragraph structure.
- Grammar and vocabulary needed to describe data and processes.
You should make sure that you are familiar with the following things for Task 1 General Training:
- Different types of letter i.e. formal and informal.
- Paragraph structure.
- How to develop main points.
- Formal and informal language.
For more information please visit our Task 1 page.