How to Answer a Process Diagram Question for IELTS Writing Task 1

Process diagram is a very common question for IELTS Writing Task 1. In this question, you will be given a picture or a drawing that will show the production steps of a final product, or the working procedure of a machine etc. Most of the students are afraid of this question not because the question is difficult, but because of their confusion how to address this question. We are going to demonstrate you step by step how you can answer this question confidently.

If you start discussing the whole picture in this question, you are in trouble. All you need is just look at the big picture, that means take the summary what is the picture all about, and note down the major stages that it comes across. 

On this page, you will find a complete discussion on IELTS Task 1 Process Diagram question. The discussion will proceed under the following 7 major steps:

  1. Analyse the question

  2. Identify the major features

  3. Remember the 4 paragraph structure

  4. Paraphrase the question sentence

  5. Write an Overview paragraph

  6. Write the Body paragraph 1

  7. Write the Body paragraph 2

In fact, we are going to use this 7 Step Strategy for all the question types for Academic IELTS Writing Task 1. Remember this 7 Step Strategy. It's quite simple. Start applying this method in your writing. You will see the benefit for sure. However, if you need our help with a guaranteed 7+ band score in Writing, just click here

Let's go through the example question below, and see how we prepare the answer applying our 7 Step Strategy.

Example

IELTS Writing Task 1 Process Diagram Question Example

Source: Cambridge English IELTS Past Papers

1. Analysing the Question

We need to find three major areas in the question sentence: 

  • Topic Words / Keywords (General area of the question topic)

  • Micro Keywords (It helps us prepare a specific answer, rather than being general)

  • Action Words (The words that tell you what you need to do)

Topic Words: university enrollment procedure

Micro Keywords: high school graduates

Action Words: Write a report to a lecturer describing the information

After completing the question analysis part, we need to find the major features in the diagrams.

2. Identifying the Major Features

Three major possibilities:

  1. Acceptance

  2. Provisional Acceptance (additional documents required)

  3. Rejection

If rejected:

  • Either cancel the application or continue it for an alternative course.

3. Remembering the Essay Structure

We can complete the essay using only 11 sentences! Yes, it is that much simple! Take a look how we place the 11 sentences in our 4 paragraph essay structure.

 

1. Paraphrasing the Question Sentence

Paraphrase the question statement using just one or two sentences. 

 

2. Overview Paragraph

Sentence 1: summary statement 1(preview of the essay without presenting data)

Sentence 2: summary statement 2 (more preview without presenting data)

Sentence 3: outline sentence (State how the discussion will proceed.)

 

3. Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1: first major point

Sentence 2: second major point

Sentence 3: extension sentence 1 (compare/combine the major points stated above)

Sentence 4: extension sentence 2 (extension of the previous sentence, or adding an exceptional feature).

4. Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1: exceptional feature 

Sentence 2: extension of the exceptional feature

Sentence 3: final sentence (wrapping-up the whole essay, completely based on the discussion above, nothing new)

Let's develop the answer step by step applying the above-stated 4 paragraph essay structure.

4. Paraphrasing the Question Sentence

This is the first paragraph of our IELTS Task 1 essay. This paragraph is all about paraphrasing the question statement. That means you will restate the question sentence in your language without changing the meaning of the original sentence. If you want to write this paragraph perfectly, you need to have a good grip on paraphrasing techniques. We have a full article on how to paraphrase. We suggest you take a look in case you need.

 

This paragraph conveys an impression to the examiner how well you have understood the question.

Let's look at the actual question statement that we are using on this page:

"The diagram shows the procedure for university entry for high school graduates.

Write a report for a university or college lecturer describing the information."

We can paraphrase the statement above as:

"The diagram illustrates step by step approaches how a high school graduate can enroll into a university."

That's it, quite simple. Our first paragraph is complete, and you have already used 17 out of 150 words. Let's move to the next part of the essay, the Overview Paragraph.

5. Overview Paragraph

Overview is the second paragraph of our IELTS Writing Task 1 essay. This is the most important paragraph as well. Because without an overview paragraph in Task 1, you cannot expect more than band 5 in IELTS Writing section. Therefore, you need to take a very special care for this paragraph. We suggest you take a tour through our detailed discussion on how to write an Overview paragraph.

An Overview simply means a summary of the main features that you are going to discuss in the body paragraphs. Don't use any data in this paragraph, just state the obvious feature that you see in the diagrams. You are writing this paragraph to convey a general idea about your essay to the readers.

 

Overview Paragraph Structure

Remember our Overview paragraph structure:

Sentence 1: summary statement 1(preview of the essay without presenting data)

Sentence 2: summary statement 2 (more preview without presenting data)

Sentence 3: outline sentence (State how the discussion will proceed.)

Let's form the paragraph:

Sentence 1(Summary Statement 1)

"Overall, any high school graduate can apply for a university admission, though they need to go through the admin who will decide whether to accept straight, accept provisionally, or reject the application."

Sentence 2(Summary Statement 2)

"However, in case of both rejection and  provisional acceptance, applicants have options to continue further with the application."

Sentence 3(Outline Sentence)

"Detailed enrollment procedure is discussed in the following paragraphs."

Complete Overview Paragraph

"Overall, any high school graduate can apply for a university admission, though they need to go through the admin who will decide whether to accept straight, accept provisionally, or reject the application. However, in case of both rejection and  provisional acceptance, applicants have options to continue further with the  application. Detailed enrollment procedure is discussed in the following paragraphs."

Quite simple. Previously we wrote 17 words for the first paragraph (paraphrasing the question sentence). And just now we have added 60 more words to write the 2nd paragraph (Overview paragraph). That means we've completed the 1st two of our 4 paragraph IELTS Task 1 essay. Therefore, we're already halfway through. It's time to  move to the Body Paragraph 1 and Body Paragraph 2 respectively.

6. Body Paragraph 1

In the overview paragraph, we have given just a general statement of significant features, we haven't discussed any detail. Now it's time to explain them in the two body paragraphs.

Body Paragraph 1 Structure

Remember our Body Paragraph 1 structure:

Sentence 1: first major point

Sentence 2: second major point

Sentence 3: extension sentence 1 (compare/combine the major points stated above)

Sentence 4: extension sentence 2 (extension of the previous sentence, or adding an exceptional feature).

Let's form the paragraph following the above-stated structure:

Sentence 1(First Major Point)

"Obtaining a high school graduation is the primary condition to apply for a university admission, but it might not be sufficient."

Sentence 2(Second Major Point)

"The applicant might need further documents to proceed through final enrollment."

Sentence 3(Extension Sentence 1)

"If the applicant is accepted without further requirements, he/she can enroll straight away."

Sentence 4(Extension Sentence 2)

"Otherwise the enrollment will depend on further documentations."

Complete Body Paragraph 1

"Obtaining a high school graduation is the primary condition to apply for a university admission, but it might not be sufficient. The applicant might need further documents  to proceed through final enrollment. If the applicant is accepted without further requirements, he/she can enroll straight away. Otherwise, the enrollment will depend on further documentations."

We have just added 60 more words in the essay to write the first body paragraph. That means we have already completed 75% of our IELTS Task 1 essay! See how simple it is! We are just describing the major features that are very obvious in the pictures.

We've written 17 for the first, 60 for the second and 60 words for the third paragraph. That means we have already used 137 words out of total 150 for an IELTS Task 1 essay question. Therefore, we need to write at least 13 more words in this essay, and we have one more paragraph to write. Awesome! Let's move to the final paragraph, the Body Paragraph 2. Remember, we have a complete discussion on how to write an IELTS Task 1 body paragraph. Feel free to check that article anytime.

7. Body Paragraph 2

Body paragraph 2 is the final paragraph of our IELTS Task 1 essay. This is the easiest paragraph in the whole essay. Because here we're just stating other features briefly in the first sentence, adding another overall comparison statement in the second sentence, and then writing a final sentence summarizing the whole essay. Lets's apply our structure for the second body paragraph:

 

Body Paragraph 2 Structure

Sentence 1: exceptional feature 

Sentence 2: extension of the exceptional feature

Sentence 3: final sentence (wrapping-up the whole essay, completely based on the discussion above, nothing new)

Let's form the paragraph following the above-stated structure:

Sentence 1(Exceptional Feature)

"Meanwhile, there is a possibility of rejection as well."

Sentence 2(Extension of the Exceptional Feature) 

"If it is rejected, applicants may continue the application for alternative courses, otherwise the application will be cancelled."

Sentence 3(Final Sentence)

"Finally, a high school graduation is the primary condition for a university admission, though there are possibilities of acceptance, provisional acceptance and rejection with alternative course options."

Complete Body Paragraph 2

"Meanwhile, there is a possibility of rejection as well. If it is rejected, applicants may continue the application for alternative courses, otherwise the application will be cancelled. Finally, a high school graduation is the primary condition for a university admission, though there are possibilities of acceptance, provisional acceptance and rejection with alternative course options."

We've added 60 more words to the previous 137, and just finished the final part of our 4 paragraph essay. That means we have completed an IELTS Task 1 essay with 197  words, which is absolutely okay. In fact, you should write somewhere between 150 and 200 words. Now let's see how the whole essay looks like:

A Complete Response to the Process Diagram Question

"The diagram illustrates step by step approaches how a high school graduate can enroll into a university.

Overall, any high school graduate can apply for a university admission, though they need to go through the admin who will decide whether to accept straight, accept provisionally, or reject the application. However, in case of both rejection and  provisional acceptance, applicants have options to continue further with the  application. Detailed enrollment procedure is discussed in the following paragraphs.

Obtaining a high school graduation is the primary condition to apply for a university admission, but it might not be sufficient. The applicant might need further documents  to proceed through final enrollment. If the applicant is accepted without further requirements, he/she can enroll straight away. Otherwise, the enrollment will depend on further documentations.

Meanwhile, there is a possibility of rejection as well. If it is rejected, applicants may continue the application for alternative courses, otherwise the application will be cancelled. Finally, a high school graduation is the primary condition for a university admission, though there are possibilities of acceptance, provisional acceptance and rejection with alternative course options."

197 words

Check our step by step solutions for all the important types of task 1 questions:

Multiple Graphs              Line Graph      

Pie Chart                        Bar Chart

Table Chart                    Maps Question

Don't forget to check the following resources: