IELTS Task 1 – What are the criteria for marking?

According to the IELTS Handbook, Task 1 is assessed on:

  1. Task achievement
  2. Coherence and Cohesion
  3. Lexical Resource
  4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy

In plain terms:

  1. Task Achievement: Did you answer the question? Did you understand what the graph shows? Did you present the information shown in the graph/chart/diagram accurately and does your essay reflect that you fully understood the information?
  2. Coherence refers to the linking of ideas in a logical sequence or order.  Cohesion refers to the organization of sentences and ideas in your essay working together as a whole within their paragraphs.  They hold together by cohesive devices (transitional words and expressions – see my post on cohesive devices). This makes it very easy for the reader to follow your presentation of  information in the essay. They don’t get lost or confused. Did you write in clear paragraphs that are organized around central ideas? (see sample IELTS Task 1 essay with paragraph organization) It’s like listening to a story that’s smooth and easy to follow.
  3. Lexical Resource – This means vocabulary. They look at the topical vocabulary that you use – words that are specific to the topic of the Task, i.e. if the chart shows economic growth, you would try to use words appropriate words that describe business, finance and economics. They are assessing the variety and appropriate usage.
  4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy – This refers to accuracy of sentence structure and variety of structures. The more variety of sentence structures that are appropriately used and work well together, the higher your mark will be.

Here is the public version of the Writing Band Descriptors from

I will go into more detail about each of these criteria in later posts.  Stay tuned!


I'm an English teacher specializing in IELTS preparation - especially writing and reading. If you have any questions, please ask! You can also sign up for weekly tips and lessons for IELTS and English!

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