How to answer a process question in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1
Writing
How to answer a process question in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

Many of the tasks you are asked to write for IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 include graphs and charts, but what do you need to remember if you are faced with describing a process? In this blog post, we will look at how to organise your answer to a process question as well as some key grammar and vocabulary.  What is a process task? (Click image to enlarge) For this post, we’re going to look at the latter form, but the organisation, grammar and vocabulary needed remain the same for a natural process.  We’re going to use the process of manufacturing instant noodles as an example, which can be found in IELTS 15 Academic.  Look at the image below, what do you notice about the process? (Click image to enlarge) The things to notice about this process are: It has a clear beginning and ending (it is linear rather than cyclical) It has eight stages (or steps) It describes how to manufacture instant noodles There are labels to help you describe the process Where to start? You may want to begin with an overview of the process. Remember, an overview (one or two sentences about the overall and general idea of the task you are describing) is a very important part of your answer – if you don’t write an overview, you may lose points with the examiner. You can see a bit more about the overview in another of my blog posts, Describing the main features on charts in Academic IELTS Writing Task 1.  Example: The given process illustrates how instant noodles are manufactured. The process consists of eight separate, linear stages from storage of ingredients to sealing and delivery.  Remember! Don’t write a conclusion for Writing Task 1 – the task does not require an opinion so save that for Writing Task 2. Grammar Once you have written your overview (or introduction), then you need to describe each stage of the process. But what grammar should you use? In a process, it is not especially important who does the action, but the action itself is important. For this, we need to use the passive voice. Look at these examples for stage two of the process: The manufacturers mix a combination of flour, water and oil in a mixer.  A combination of flour, water and oil is mixed in a mixer.  Note: For a process which happens regularly, we need to use the present simple passive.  Over to you! Now have a go at putting this sentence into the passive: (Click image to enlarge) Some of the verbs you should use are in the diagram (cooking, drying, labelling, sealing) but will need changing to the passive. (You can see an example answer at the end of this blog post.) For other stages, you need to look at what is happening and choose an appropriate verb – for example, we could say that the flour is transported from storage to the mixer or the dough sheets are cut or formed into strips of dough. Organisation and vocabulary (Click image to enlarge) Here are some examples of sequencing vocabulary: First, / Firstly, / First of all, / The first step Initially, / The initial stage Following that/this, Subsequently,  Then, After, / Before, / After that, / Before that, Once [this] have/has been [completed],  The next step Now have a look at some example sentences using the instant noodles process as an example: Before the dough is cut into strips, it is rolled into sheets. Following that, the strips of dough are then formed into noodle discs. Once the dough has been formed into noodle discs, they are then cooked in oil and subsequently dried.  Note: For more help on sequencing vocabulary and organisation, check out IELTS Vocabulary Up to Band 6.0.  Over to you! Why don’t you have a go at using sequencing vocabulary and the correct grammar for the final two stages of the process? You can find some possible answers to below. I hope this has helped with answering a process question for IELTS Academic Writing Task 1. Let me know how you get on! Peter (Click image to enlarge)

Peter Fullagar

3 August, 2021

How to answer a process question in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

How to answer a process question in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

Many of the tasks you are asked to write for IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 include graphs and charts, but what do you need to remember if you are faced with describing a process? In this blog post, we will look at how to organise your answer to a process question as well as some key grammar and vocabulary.

What is a process task?

What is a process

(Click image to enlarge)

For this post, we’re going to look at the latter form, but the organisation, grammar and vocabulary needed remain the same for a natural process.

We’re going to use the process of manufacturing instant noodles as an example, which can be found in IELTS 15 Academic.

Look at the image below, what do you notice about the process?

Process example taken from IELTS 15

(Click image to enlarge)

The things to notice about this process are:

  • It has a clear beginning and ending (it is linear rather than cyclical)
  • It has eight stages (or steps)
  • It describes how to manufacture instant noodles
  • There are labels to help you describe the process

Where to start?

You may want to begin with an overview of the process. Remember, an overview (one or two sentences about the overall and general idea of the task you are describing) is a very important part of your answer – if you don’t write an overview, you may lose points with the examiner. You can see a bit more about the overview in another of my blog posts, Describing the main features on charts in Academic IELTS Writing Task 1.

Example:

  • The given process illustrates how instant noodles are manufactured. The process consists of eight separate, linear stages from storage of ingredients to sealing and delivery.

Remember! Don’t write a conclusion for Writing Task 1 – the task does not require an opinion so save that for Writing Task 2.

Grammar

Once you have written your overview (or introduction), then you need to describe each stage of the process. But what grammar should you use?

In a process, it is not especially important who does the action, but the action itself is important. For this, we need to use the passive voice. Look at these examples for stage two of the process:

  • The manufacturers mix a combination of flour, water and oil in a mixer.
  • A combination of flour, water and oil is mixed in a mixer.

Note: For a process which happens regularly, we need to use the present simple passive.

Over to you!

Now have a go at putting this sentence into the passive:

People add vegetables and spices to the cups containing the noodles.

(Click image to enlarge)

Some of the verbs you should use are in the diagram (cooking, drying, labelling, sealing) but will need changing to the passive. (You can see an example answer at the end of this blog post.)

For other stages, you need to look at what is happening and choose an appropriate verb – for example, we could say that the flour is transported from storage to the mixer or the dough sheets are cut or formed into strips of dough.


Organisation and vocabulary

You need to order the process using sequencing vocabulary and this is one thing the examiner will look for.

(Click image to enlarge)

Here are some examples of sequencing vocabulary:

  • First, / Firstly, / First of all, / The first step
  • Initially, / The initial stage
  • Following that/this,
  • Subsequently,
  • Then,
  • After, / Before, / After that, / Before that,
  • Once [this] have/has been [completed],
  • The next step

Now have a look at some example sentences using the instant noodles process as an example:

  • Before the dough is cut into strips, it is rolled into sheets.
  • Following that, the strips of dough are then formed into noodle discs.
  • Once the dough has been formed into noodle discs, they are then cooked in oil and subsequently dried.

Note: For more help on sequencing vocabulary and organisation, check out IELTS Vocabulary Up to Band 6.0.

Over to you!

Why don’t you have a go at using sequencing vocabulary and the correct grammar for the final two stages of the process? You can find some possible answers to below.

I hope this has helped with answering a process question for IELTS Academic Writing Task 1.

Let me know how you get on!

Peter

Possible answers to Over to you section

(Click image to enlarge)

Peter Fullagar

Peter has been teaching English and IELTS for over 17 years, has examined for IELTS and writes IELTS practice material.

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