A Task 1 answer for the IELTS academic module is typically expected to contain:
- introduction – a paraphrase of the description of the graph/diagram/map in the question
- overview – a summary of the data (1-2 observations about the overall trend(s)/process/changes, with no numbers).
- body paragraph 1 – detail paragraph 1 (with numbers)
- body paragraph 2 – detail paragraph 2 (with numbers)
- (optional) coda – a final interesting comment about one or two data features that were not mentioned in the overview
As long as the overview is clear, you may choose to write it in the same paragraph as the introduction, or the end of your answer instead (as a final paragraph). I prefer to write it immediately after the introduction as I think it serves as an effective transition to the details, and Task 1 answers do not require a conclusion (unlike Task 2 essays).
Always keep in mind the following problems with content and how exactly they will limit your score:
- If you do not include all the key features (pertinent details) provided, then your Task Achievement (TA) score will be limited to 4.
- If you do not write an overview, your TA score will be limited to 5.
- If you include any details which are inaccurate, irrelevant or inappropriate (e.g. information not provided in the question or chart), your Task Achievement band score will be limited to 6.
Therefore, if you worry that you write too slowly to finish your answer, write the overview after the details to minimise your penalty.