How to get a 7+ in Academic Task 1

Don’t make these mistakes!


In this lesson we look at the five most common mistakes that stop our students from getting a Band 7+ in IELTS Academic Task 1. 

1. The wrong overview

According to the public band descriptors, at Band 7 it is very important to have a “clear overview of main trends, differences, or stages”. If we choose the wrong overview, we cannot get a Band 7 for Task Achievement. 

Here are some tips for writing an overview:

  1. Spend 2-4 minutes analysing the graphic before you start writing. While you are doing this, think about what you will write in your overview and the order of your answer.
  2. Put your overview at the beginning of your answer. 
  3. Start with “Overall,”- this makes it very easy for the examiner to see that you have written an overview. 
  4.  Look at the general trends of all of the different categories. 
  5. Learn what to write in an overview for all of the different graphic types (table, process diagram, map diagram, graphics with future predictions). 

To learn more about how to write an overview check out our Academic Task 1 IELTS Writing Course

2. Missing out one of the categories

If the graphic has 8 countries, you should write about all 8 countries. Don’t miss out any of the categories. According to the public band descriptors, if you miss out any of the “key features” you will get a 5 for Task Achievement. 

Some tips:

  1. Check how many categories there are. 
  2. Look for superlatives (e.g. the greatest/smallest changes in data)
  3. Think about how you can group the categories. (e.g. which countries increased, decreased, etc.)
  4. Check if there are any predictions. If there are, make sure to mention these. 
  5. If the graphic is a process diagram, write about all of the different stages. 
  6. If the graphic is a map diagram, write about the differences between the two maps. 
3. Not using logical paragraphs

At band 7, you need to “logically organise information and ideas” .

Here are some tips on how to structure your answer: 

  1. Write at least two body paragraphs. 
  2. Look for ways to group categories when you analyse the graphic. 
  3. Avoid body paragraphs with only one sentence. 
4. Repeating the same sentence structure

In the public band descriptors, at Band 7 it says “uses a variety of  complex structures”. If you use the same grammar over and over again, you are unlikely to even score above Band 5. 

Here are some grammar structures that are very useful for Academic Task 1. 

  1. Non-defining relative clauses
  2. The passive structure
  3. Subordinate clauses with “before” and “after”
  4. The past perfect form
  5. Subordinate connectors

We go through all of these advanced structures in our Academic Task 1 IELTS Writing Course


5. Explaining the data

The question paper tells us to 

“Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.”

If you try to explain the reasons for the data then you will lose marks (see the video above for examples). Instead, you should focus on making comparisons between the data. 


I hope that this has helped you. If you are interested in learning about how to get a Band 7+ in IELTS writing then become a Free Member of English Pro Tips.

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