Lesson One: Band Descriptor


In IELTS Writing Task 1, we must know the features of a good compositions. That is why IELTS Writing Band Descriptor for Task 1 is useful. It helps us to find out how our composition is going to be assessed by the trained examiner. By taking a deep look into the band descriptor, we can realize what kind of language skill s we need to ace this part of the test. In writing task 1, based on what module we are taking, we need to know what elements are significant. Our composition is going to be assessed based on the following criteria:

1. Task Achievement

2. Cohesion and Coherence

3. Lexical Resource

4. Grammatical Range and Accuracy


IELTS writing task 1 wants us to provide a factual report. In general training, we are asked to write a letter to a friend, a company, a teacher, a manager, and etc. so as a candidate, we should consider the person we are writing to and for what purpose we are writing. In academic module, we are asked to give a summary, select and report the key features and also make comparisons where relevant. This means we introduce our topic, then write an overview and get into the details. Now let us take a look at this criterion:

AnalysisDescriptorBand score
Everything about a band-9 is full and completefully satisfies all the requirements of the task

clearly presents a fully developed response
Task is completely covered

Overview is clear like band-7

Key features are clearly and appropriately extended
covers all requirements of the task sufficiently

presents, highlights and illustrates key features/ bullet points clearly and appropriately
The requirements of the task are covered.

In academic module, there is a clear overview of main trends, differences or stages. It is important to know by writing a simple and clear overview, we can get 7 in this criterion.

For general training, the purpose of our letter is clear and tone is both appropriate and consistent

Details are chosen clearly, yet, they are not sufficiently extended
covers the requirements of the task

Academic– presents a clear overview of main trends, differences or stages

General Training– presents a clear purpose, with the tone consistent and appropriate

clearly presents and highlights key features/bullet points but could be more fully extended
In an academic band-6 essay, we can see there is an overview which is neither clear nor accurate enough as a band-7 essay.

However, this key point is what that makes the difference between a band- 5 and a band-6.

In General training, the purpose is generally clear; however, we can see some inconsistencies in tone Key features are highlighted, but the details are not selected accurately.
addresses the requirements of the task

Academic- presents an overview with information appropriately selected ·

General Training– presents a purpose that is generally clear; there may be inconsistencies in tone

presents and adequately highlights key features/ bullet points but details may be irrelevant, inappropriate or inaccurate
Most important point about a band-5 academic essay is the presence of overview.

By simply writing an overview we can expect a 6 band score for this part. However, in general training, the purpose of writing is unclear, and also the tone may be inappropriate

Also, key features are not sufficiently covered, or there is/are one/some key feature(s) which are focused more than the other on
Generally, addresses the task; the format may be inappropriate in places

Academic– recounts detail mechanically with no clear overview; there may be no data to support the description

General Training-
may present a purpose for the letter that is unclear at times; the tone may be variable and sometimes inappropriate

Presents, but inadequately covers, key features/ bullet points; there may be a tendency to focus on details

So, what we need in order to take our score from 5 to 7, is writing a clear overview. This is the most important piece of our composition.


Cohesion and coherence are two important factors that an IELTS candidate should consider. These two factors focus on how an idea is linked to other ideas(cohesion) and how they precede each other(coherence). In another word, how they are sequenced and linked is important.

Let us take a look at this criterion again for task 1:

AnalysisDescriptorBand score
The way that a band-9 essay writer writes does not attract any attention. The writer doesn’t show off the big words. He/she uses the language the way it should be used.uses cohesion in such a way that it attracts no attention

skillfully manages paragraphing
The sequence of information and ideas is logical

Cohesion is well managed

Paragraphing is good, unlike the lower band scores which it wasn’t a factor.
sequences information and ideas logically

manages all aspects of cohesion well

uses paragraphing sufficiently and appropriately
Organization of ideas and information is logical and clear.

The range of cohesive devices are used appropriately, and there are some under-/over-use of them. Unlike band 5 and 6 that this is a common problem
logically organizes information and ideas; there is clear progression throughout

uses a range of cohesive devices appropriately although there may be some under-/over-use
Unlike band-5, the ideas and information are arranged coherently and there is a clear overall progression

Cohesive devices are a bit wider than band-5, yet there are some faulty and mechanical uses of them in the text.

Referencing is not always true unlike band-5 that has no referencing
arranges information and ideas coherently and there is a clear overall progression

uses cohesive devices effectively, but cohesion within and/or between sentences may be faulty or mechanical

may not always use referencing clearly or appropriately
Organization of the information is not always good, and a lack of progression is seen.

Cohesive devices are very limited that they are overused

Some sentences, phrases, and nouns are repeated because of lack of referencing and substitution.
presents information with some organization but there may be a lack of overall progression

makes inadequate, inaccurate or over-use of cohesive devices

may be repetitive because of lack of referencing and substitution

As you can see, what is important is a clear overall progression. You shouldn’t repeat one idea on and on.


This criterion focuses on the vocabulary range, use and precision of words in conveying the meaning. The general point is that you should not think that the bigger words you use, the better you band score gets. No! in fact, in order to get a higher band score in this criterion we should consider that if we are using a word, are we using it right and in the correct context? Less common words are not exactly what we think. For example, studying books like “۵۰۴ Essential Vocabulary” or “۱۱۰۰ Essential Words to Know” is not helpful. Of course, knowing a lot of words is crucial in any language. But if you do not have the time to improve your vocabulary knowledge, do not worry. Try to use whatever you have been learning. Using a word correctly, surely has got a better impact on the reader. So you should use the language as a tool to convey whatever your message is, nothing more and nothing less.

AnalysisDescriptorBand score
The lexical resource used in a band-9 essay is natural and sophisticated.

There are rare minor errors that are considered to be ‘slips’
uses a wide range of vocabulary with very natural and sophisticated control of lexical features; rare minor errors occur only as ‘slips9
Range of vocabulary is wide, flexible, and precise.

Uncommon vocabulary is used skillfully. But there are still occasional inaccuracies in word choice and collocation.

Spelling and/or word formation is rarely wrong.
uses a wide range of vocabulary fluently and flexibly to convey precise meanings

skillfully uses uncommon lexical items but there may be occasional inaccuracies in word choice and collocation

produces rare errors in spelling and/or word formation
The range of vocabulary is sufficient to cover various topics and also it is flexible and precise

Using less common vocabulary is obvious. Also, the writer shows some awareness of style and collocation

A band-7 essay still has occasional errors in word choice and spelling.
uses a sufficient range of vocabulary to allow some flexibility and precision

uses less common lexical items with some awareness of style and collocation

may produce occasional errors in word choice, spelling and/or word formation
The candidate who gets 6, he/she tries hard to use less common vocabulary and they have got some inaccuracies.

The spelling or word choice mistakes do not impede communication unlike band-5 essays.
uses an adequate range of vocabulary for the task

attempts to use less common vocabulary but with some inaccuracy

makes some errors in spelling and/or word formation, but they do not impede communication
A band-5 essay has got limited range of vocabulary

And mistakes in spelling or word formation may cause difficulty for the reader to understand
uses a limited range of vocabulary, but this is minimally adequate for the task

may make noticeable errors in spelling and/or word formation that may cause some difficulty for the reader

To sum up the whole story, if you want to get a high score, you should be able to use less common vocabulary, those that most candidates do not usually use, and try to choose precise words.


In this criterion, we also need to increase the range and flexibility of our grammatical knowledge. As you can understand from the title of this criterion, range and accuracy are focused. So, we need to think of the most accurate structures that we have learned and improve those items that we think we have difficulty with.

AnalysisDescriptorBand score
Rare minor errors are considered to be as ‘slips’uses a wide range of structures with full flexibility and accuracy; rare minor errors occur only as ‘slips’9
The range of structures is wide and extended.

Majority of sentences are error-free and makes very occasional errors.
uses a wide range of structures

the majority of sentences are error-free

makes only very occasional errors or inappropriacies
Can use various complex structures and produces frequent error-free sentences

Just makes a few errors in grammar and punctuation
uses a variety of complex structures

produces frequent error-free sentences

has good control of grammar and punctuation but may make a few errors
Unlike band-5 essays, a band-6 essay has got some errors, not frequent errors.

And errors do not reduce communication
uses a mix of simple and complex sentence forms

makes some errors in grammar and punctuation but they rarely reduce communication
Range of grammatical items is limited.

The candidate tries hard to make complex sentences while making simple sentences is easier.

Errors can cause difficulty for the reader
uses only a limited range of structures

attempts complex sentences but these tend to be less accurate than simple sentences

may make frequent grammatical errors and punctuation may be faulty; errors can cause some difficulty for the reader

As a conclusion, you should be careful about your punctuation and structures. Start learning some more complicated structures and master them.

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