IELTS academic writing task 1

Read the two essays answering the task 1 prompt below.  One essay is from an IELTS teacher.  The other essay is from a real student preparing to take IELTS. 

The teacher has already corrected the student's essay.  

Think you can do better?  Leave your essay in the comments.

ielts task 1 - animal adoptions

Teacher essay (band score 8.0-8.5)

The graph depicts figures for the adoption of dogs, cats, birds and reptiles from 1990 to 2000, from a Madison, Wisconsin animal rescue center. Overall, the number of dog adoptions declined, while cat adoptions steadily increased and the number of birds and reptiles adopted, which were by far the fewest, fluctuated slightly throughout the period.

Looking at the graph, in 1990 dogs were the most adopted animal from the rescue center, with approximately 570 adoptions. Dog adoptions then declined by around 100 adoptions, to around 470 by 1992, and continued to fall, reaching exactly 400 adoptions by 1998 and again in the year 2000.

By contrast, the number of cat adoptions, which stood at approximately 330 in 1990, increased steadily throughout the decade to reach almost double the amount of adoptions as in 1990, with nearly 650 adoptions by 2000.

Regarding birds and reptiles, which were the least adopted animals throughout the period, only around 110 were adopted in 1990. The figures for bird and reptile adoptions then fluctuated, declining to about 95 adoptions in 1992, and then going up to exactly 100 by 1994, before growing back to around 110 adoptions in 1996. In 1998 the figure dropped to around 95 adoptions, prior to rising to 100 adoptions by 2000.


Student essay (band score 5.5-6.0)

Crossed out = mistake, Red = correction, green = suggestion, blue = comment

The bar chart displays the trends of animal adoptions of for dogs, cats, birds and reptiles from a rescue center in Madison, Wisconsin between the 1990 and 2000. Overall, it can be seen that the dog adoptions witnessed a decline, while the cat adoptions rose steadily and the numbers number of birds and reptiles that were adopted experience experienced a stable flutuation fluctuation(a stable fluctuation is not natural or logical.  Use ‘fluctuated consistently’ instead of stable fluctuation.)

As for (‘for’ is unnecessary and incorrect) the graph shows, the dog adoption adoptions was were the highest and stood at around 580 in 1990. However, it they (the subject of this pronoun is ‘dog adoptions’.  Use the plural pronoun ‘they’.) then decreased gradually each and every (use ‘each’ or ‘every, NOT ‘each and every’.  ‘Each and every’ is only used when the object is special and very important.) year and ended the period at exactly 400 in 2000.

By contrast, cat adoptions began at approximately 320 at first, then went up (use ‘rose by’ instead of ‘went up’) a significant increase amount (You already used 'went up', so you don't need to use 'increase'.) to nearly 600 by 1996. Subsequently, it keeped kept going up and ended at almost 700 by 2000.

On an the other hand, the adoptions of birds and reptiles remained the lowest for 10 years. It started at about 110 but then dropped a slightly to under 100 over the next year. The rate was marginally more or less than 100 (use ‘hovered around 100’ instead of ‘marginally more or less than 100) for the next 6 years from 1994 to 2000.

Teachers comments:

Strengths: The student clearly understands the task.  They have clear and logical organization, and try to focus on the main features of the graph.


Weaknesses: There are mistakes in almost every sentence.  The most common mistake is that the student continually uses articles (a,an,the,etc..) incorrectly.  The student also makes some basic grammar errors with verb tense (experience à experienced, keeped à kept).  These mistakes can be fixed by carefully proofreading the essay.


Additionally, the student uses very unnatural word choice.  It shows that the student is not comfortable writing in English and is relying on memorized phrases.  For example, ‘stable fluctuation’ in paragraph 1 is very unnatural and not logical.  Stable is used for something that does not change, and fluctuation is used for something that constantly changes.  It seems the student wanted to use the word ‘fluctuation’ without considering whether the word was a good fit.


Overall, the clear and logical organization of this essay is the best part and saves the essay from a very low band score.  There are almost constant minor mistakes and frequent unnatural word choices.  To improve, the student should practice the common verbs (found at the bottom of this page) used in IELTS academic writing task 1.  Mastering this vocabulary will greatly improve their score in task 1.  Additionally, the student should read and rewrite some model essays to improve their use of articles.

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