Analysis of My Sample IELTS Writing Task One

IELTS Writing T1

Introduction

For a quick overview of ‘my system’ as outlined in my IELTS Writing One book (shown), we can look at a sample Writing Task One Answer which I wrote in the year 2012. We can then use this answer in order to illustrate my structure and approach. This Task-One Item is interesting, in that it seems very simple – basically two upward-moving graph lines. It would thus seem very difficult to write over 150 words on it – yet, as I say in my IELTS Task One book, there is actually a lot of information on any Task-One Item, and good writer can easily surpass the 150-word limit.

Here is the Task-One Item. Click on this for a larger (and clearer) view.

W1 question-page-001

Sample Answer

The charts show how the number of Japanese international travellers varied over the period 1985 to 1995, including those who chose Australia as their holiday destination.

In general, there are two trends, the first being a steadily increasing inclination* to travel abroad, particularly towards the end. The second is that Australia was increasingly favoured for recreational purposes, apart from one distinct mid-period fall from grace*, but otherwise showing Australia’s eminently* successful cultivation* of the Japanese tourist market.

Regarding the numbers traveling internationally, originally, the figure was five million. By the end of the period in question, this had increased three-fold to the highest level of over 15 million, the only noticeable anomaly* being in 1991, where the figure decreased, but only marginally*, although it did struggle over the following three years to regain momentum*.

As for the numbers Australia-bound, the profile* (perhaps surprisingly) began with no travelers at all. The first four years saw this climb healthily to over 5%, only to fall slightly in the following year. However, there was then a resurgence* of interest in this southern continent*, seeing growth resume* at the same gradient*, to peak at over 8% in 1993. Apparently* overheating*, the number slackened* somewhat over the last two years.

(205 words)

Analysis

General

This answer is very different from what many other IELTS sources teach, because it …

  • has no memorised passages whatsoever,
  • is concisely written, eliminating absolutely all repetition or needless phrasing,
  • mentions the ‘chart’ once only,
  • has clear paragraphs, with one single theme given at the beginning of each,
  • is written honestly, with real belief in any stylistic phrasing.

These features are also what make the answer VERY good. Unfortunately, the previous attributes are very rare among learners of English, who are mostly taught to do the opposite.

 

Specific

Here are some paragraph-by-paragraph observations. All reference to tips are from my IELTS Writing One book.

  1. This is the introduction, using a different grammar (to the question) [Tip 10]. Notice that the ‘chart’ is never mentioned again.
  2. This is the ‘forest view’ [Tip 7], identifying two trend, signposting them logically. Figures and specific dates are avoided, and a more ‘real-world’ perspective is attempted (where possible) [Tip 5, Part One].
  3. This is the first ‘tree’ or detailed view, introduced with a topic phrase [Tip 9, Part One]. Key features and figures are given here (highs and lows; interesting points, and points of comparison) [Tip 13].
  4. This is the second ‘tree view’, looking at the second chart, with features and figures given as appropriate. There is a ‘natural reaction’ (‘surprisingly’) [Tip 5, Part Two]. There is also a small piece of speculation (‘Apparently ….’), but closely linked to the facts.

 

Can I mention again that there is no ‘conclusion’, since …

  • a ‘forest view’ is already given in the second paragraph, leaving nothing to conclude,
  • a ‘conclusion’ does not match the nature of the task, which is a summary (and summaries do not conclude),
  • an ‘overview’ is not the same as a conclusion – and they sometimes need different wording, thus writing ‘To sum up, [overview]’ can lead to logical errors.

I know that many IELTS sources teach the opposite – that you must have a conclusion – but they teach this mechanically and conventionally. My book makes two points on Page 14.

1Conclusions often lead students to write meaningless sentences, …. or irrelevant essay-style additions, such as: To conclude, although Dandenong is good, it needs to work harder to  maintain that success, while the other clubs should see how they can improve.
2AIf students have already given an ‘overview’ earlier in the answer, writing, ‘To conclude, …’ at the end often leads them to repeating this. This could suggest an IELTS Five for Coherence & Cohesion (‘lack of overall progress’ and ‘may be repetititve’).
BIf student have not already written this ‘overview’, then writing, ‘To conclude, [Overview]’ at the end is necessary – but it is at the end … and this is dangerous since you may run out of time, and not write it, or be so rushed that you will not write it well.

Moving on, my IELTS Writing Task One book mentions ‘Final thoughts’ [Tip 18] could be given as a paragraph at the end. ‘Final thoughts’ could be some short speculation, prediction, or wider analysis (for example: here, a comment about the logical correlation that probably exists between the two factors). However, ‘final thoughts’ do not add to Task Achievement, only to vocabulary/grammar. Thus, they should not be attempted unless the task is fully described, in which case time becomes a factor (look at the word count!). Thus, I only recommend final thoughts for advanced writers (who write, and think, fast), and final thoughts are not included in this answer.

 

Vocabulary

Another feature of this answer is its high-level vocabulary. I have put an asterisk (*) alongside these difficult words, and now it’s time for you to learn them. Match the words on the left (* in the sample answer) with their meaning on the right. The answers are given at the bottom of the table.

1inclination(n)the ability to keep increasing or developing
2to fall from grace(v)the deliberate development of a particular relationship, quality, or skill
3eminently(adv)a feeling that makes you want to do something.
4cultivation(n)becoming stronger or more popular again
5anomaly(n)in a small and not important way
6marginally(adv)to take up or go on with again after interruption; to continue
7momentum(n)according to the way something appears, but which may be wrong
8profile(n)a deviation from the common rule, type, arrangement, or form
9resurgence(n)the degree of steepness of a hill or incline
10continent(n)the outline or contours of something
11resume(v)to be too active, such that problems may occur
12gradient(n)to gradually become slower or less active
13apparently(adv)in an unusual or excellent way
14to overheat(v)to lose the trust or respect that people have
15to slacken(v)one of the great landmasses of the world

 

 

Answers: 7, 4, 1, 9, 6, 11, 13, 5, 12, 8, 14, 15, 3, 2, 10