Academic Writing task 1 | How to write about key features


academic writing task 1

To get a 7 or more for Task Achievement in Academic Writing task 1, you must clearly present the key features in the task. The key features are the most important things that you notice when you look at the task.

On top of this, you must also include the other details in the task. These are all the other things you notice. You do not need to write about these in as much detail as the key features.

To identify the key features and the other details, do the following:

  1. Look at the graph/maps/process and use a pen to highlight everything you notice.

  2. Decide which things seem the most important. These are the key features.

  3. Everything else is another detail.

Let's try this with the question below.


Look at the graph/maps/process and use a pen to highlight everything you notice.

graph sample

This is what I noticed.

graph sample with annotation

For each category (e.g. heating, refrigeration), I looked at (1) the size of the percentage difference, (2) the direction of the percentage difference (up or down), and (3) the category's order in each pie chart (the biggest, second biggest, etc.).


Decide which things are the most important.

  1. Heating is the only category that has a lower percentage in the second pie chart.

  2. Heating has the biggest difference between the two pie charts.

  3. Other appliances also has a big difference (3rd in pie chart one but nearly 1st in pie chart two).

  4. Heating is 1st in pie chart one but 3rd in pie chart two.

  5. Water heating is 2nd in pie chart one but 1st in pie chart two.

These are the key features.


Everything else is another detail.


How to write about the key features and other details

You must write about everything you notice (the key features AND the other details).

The key features:

  • Each key feature should be presented clearly (say what it is) and described fully.

  • Each key feature will usually require a full sentence or half a sentence.

  • In a data question, you MUST use numbers (e.g. percentages) when you describe the key features.

The other details:

  • You must also mention all the other details.

  • You don’t need to describe each one fully.

  • You can use one sentence to mention many other details.

Before you write, you should decide what you will say in each body paragraph.

Here's an example of how to write about the key features and other details for the pie charts question above. The key features are numbered in green, and the other details are highlighted in grey.



[Key feature 1] We can see from the graph that heating is the only category responsible for a lower proportion of household greenhouse gas emissions than energy use. [2] It also exhibits the biggest difference between the two pie charts, accounting for 42% of energy use but only 15% of emissions. [3] The other appliances category also has a big difference, being responsible for just 15% of energy use but 28% of emissions.

[4 and 5] While heating accounts for most energy use as a proportion, water heating accounts for most emissions, with 32%. [4 and 5] The second biggest category in terms of emissions is other appliances (28%), followed by heating (15%), refrigeration (14%), lighting (8%) and cooling (3%). [4 and 5] Regarding energy use, after heating the biggest categories are water heating with 30%, and other appliances with 15%. Refrigeration, lighting and cooling use 7%, 4% and 2%, respectively.


*In order to get a 7 or more for Task Achievement, the numbers you provide (e.g. the percentages) must be correct.

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