How to describe an image that depicts a process on your IELTS Task 1 question response

(Before reading this blog post, please review my video regarding proper Task 1 response writing.)

Images that depict a process typically come in 1 of 2 types: (1) an image depicting a cyclical process and (2) and image depicting a linear process. Today, we are going to look at the linear variety. Let’s take a look at this sample question:

The image below shows a basic paper making process.

Write a report for a university lecturer describing the information shown below.


The first thing we should notice when looking at this image is that it depicts a linear, paper making process that commences with the addition of 2 wood sources and concludes with the production of 2 separate commodities: (1) rough paper for boxes and (2) refined paper for printing. Another thing we can see is that the process itself is quite long, which means we’re not going to describe every step in minute detail, as this would waste time and cause our IELTS Task 1 response to grow needlessly long.

So, as you are aware, the first step in writing our Task 1 response is to state the data type we have been given as well as the broad trend (or in this case process) it outlines. Thus, we’d probably start with:

This image outlines a linear paper-making process, from raw material to finished product.

Next, we must describe the process. Here we want to group minute steps together to help keep our description from becoming too long and too detailed. So our description would most likely resemble something like this (while reading this next section, please consciously try to pinpoint where I have included minute details among the minor details):

The beginning of the process is twofold, with raw logs of wood being chewed into pulp and mixed with other purchased wood chips in a digester to further refine their consistency. The resulting pulp is then washed and screened for purity before entering into either 1 of 2 finalizing processes. The first produces rough box paper by initially forming and drying wet pulp. After this, the pulp is rolled into reels and is cut. The finished product is stored as bales, ready to be shipped off and made into boxes. The second finalizing process produces refined printing paper, which requires the wet pulp receive additional cleaning and dying. The pulp undergoes 2 separate pressing methods before being dried and finally rolled for storage.

Now let’s take a second and review what we have done here. Firstly, we have grouped certain sections of the process together. For example, the entire first few steps have been grouped into a single sentence presenting a single thought: grinding wood into pulp. Secondly, we move on to talk about how the pulp is prepared before either being turned into box paper or printing paper by grouping these few steps. Finally, we describe the details of each finishing procedure separately.

When looking at the response as a whole, we can see it numbers at about 125 words, which is perfect and leaves us with a few words with which we can put together an interpreting paragraph to help conclude our passage strongly (we’re not going to focus on this section today, though).

So, in a nutshell, we took our process and broke it down into smaller minor details: (1) the creation of pulp from raw materials, (2) the finalizing process employed to create box paper and (3) the finalizing process employed to create printing paper.

The cohesion we use helps the reader to see how the ideas relate to one another and makes the piece overall easier to read.

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