The 10 most common mistakes in Task 1 data essays
- Including personal opinion, knowledge or suggestions in the essay.
Task 1 is completely different from Task 2 in this respect. In Task 1, you should never talk about the background to the situation or try to give reasons for it.
- Putting figures in the introduction sentence or the summary.
The introduction should only be a paraphrase of the Task information, and the summary should only sum up key groups/trends/exceptions, not figures.
- Having an introduction or summary that is too long.
1 sentence is always enough for the introduction; 1 or 2 (or very occasionally 3) sentences for the summary.
- Using contractions (eg ‘don’t for ‘do not.’)
Never use contractions in Task 1 or Academic Task 2. They are acceptable in General Training Task 2 for informal letters.
- Listing the data in the order that you see it in the chart (eg from left to right, or top to
bottom.) Examiners say that this is one of the most frequent reasons for a low score. You have to analyse and group the data to achieve a high mark.
- Failing to describe the trends and exceptions.
Again, you will not achieve a high mark (eg Band 7 or over) unless you show that you can do this. If you are struggling to do this in the test, you can use the phrases “The main trend is . . . the exception is . . .” and simply describe the most noticeable features that you can see.
- Using too many figures from the data.
It is important to select key figures, not lists of figures. In Tasks with a lot of data (eg Models 9 and 12 in this book) try to describe the figures of groups (eg “They are all around 100”) rather than report each individual figure in a large group. Our model essays show you many different ways to do this.
- Not writing enough words
The examiner will notice if you write much less than 150 words. Keep counting the words as you write the main body to make sure you have enough. Most high quality Task 1 essays are between 150 and about 220 words, depending on the complexity of the Task.
- Not using the data units correctly, or misunderstanding the zeros.
Make sure that you identify the terms on both axes of the charts, including any information that tells you if this is in hundreds/thousands/millions etc.
- Using the wrong tense. If there is no past time specified, use the present simple. If the time is definitely in the past, use the past simple. If there is an estimate for the future, say “X is predicted/forecast/estimated to grow/decline etc.”
Source: Cambridge Ielts Consultant