Writing Task 1 | Processes Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

Task 1 of the IELTS Academic writing test will sometimes ask us to describe a process. This process can be industrial (for example, the production of cement) or natural (for example, the life-cycle of an animal).

In this lesson you will learn some important vocabulary to describe industrial processes and you will learn how to sequence the stages in an IELTS writing task 1 process essay.

Exercise 1

It is very important that you know academic vocabulary for industrial processes. The vocabulary in this exercise is useful to describe a number of different processes.
Choose the correct definition for each vocabulary item below based on the example sentence.
1. Natural gas is extracted from below the ground.
to extract (verb)
to give
to become gas
to take
to become liquid



Note: The noun is extraction​.
2. The engineers who work at the oil refinery make sure that the oil becomes good quality petrol.
an oil refinery (countable noun)
a place where oil is made into petrol or other products.
a place where oil is taken from the ground.
a place where oil is sold.
a place where oil cannot be found.



3. Sugar is refined by boiling it to remove any unwanted chemicals or material.
to refine (verb)
to improve the quality by adding something.
to improve the quality by using heat in order to remove something.
to reduce the quality in order to make it cheaper.
to improve the quality by mixing it well.



4. The gold is heated in the furnace until it melts and becomes a liquid.
a furnace (countable noun)
a place where engineers and scientists make sure the temperature never changes.
a place where something is made very cool.
a scientific building where many people work.
a place where something is heated until it is very hot.



5. Milk is processed by heating it to kill any unwanted bacteria and adding chemicals such as preservatives. Then it is ready to be consumed without any worry about safety.
to process (verb)
to prepare something by following a number of steps/stages.
to make something become a liquid.
to add something in order to make it less dangerous.
to remove something in order to improve safety.



Note: To process is a verb and a process is a noun.
To consume (verb) means to a) eat or b) use until it is gone.
6. Water rises from the sea as tiny drops (vapour), as it cools, it condenses and then falls as rain.
to condense (verb)
to change from a gas (or vapour) to a liquid.
to heat up.
to change from a liquid to a solid.
to become lost.



Note: The noun is condensation​.

​The task that you will study next shows the process of oil distillation (noun). Distillation is when a liquid is made very hot, in order to turn some parts of it into a gas. Many things are distilled (passive verb), such as oil, alcohol and sometimes even water.


Exercise 2

Study the academic writing task 1 and answer the questions which follow.
You should 20 minutes on this task.
 
The diagram below shows how oil is refined and supplied for use as fuel for cars, planes and ships.
 
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.
 
You should write 150 words.
Picture
Think about what you already know about writing task 1 to answer these True/False questions.
1. You should spend as much time as you need to complete the task.
2. If you spend more than 20 minutes on this task you will probably run out of time on task 2.
3. You must paraphrase the topic of the diagram in the first sentence of your answer.
4. The diagram shows a natural process.
5. The process is cyclical (repeats itself).
6. The process is linear (doesn't repeat itself).
7. It is a good idea to include a general overview of the process in the introduction.
8. There are roughly four or five main steps in the process.
9. There are roughly eight or nine main steps in the process.
10. The essay should contain more than one paragraph.
11. You can’t use the vocabulary on the diagram in your essay.
12. You should give a detailed explanation of each stage of the process in the correct order.
13. You should use the passive voice to describe a man-made process.
14. You should give your opinion about the oil industry in your essay.
15. You do not need to write a conclusion paragraph.




Exercise 3

The words and phrases which sequence the stages of the process have been removed from the text. Click on a word or phrase from the box to fill each gap in the text.
Picture
Click or touch a word above
The diagram illustrates the process of refining oil for use as fuel in the transportation industry. , this linear process has four main steps, starting with the extraction of the oil from the ground and finishing with distillation.
, oil is extracted from beneath the ocean by workers on an oil rig. , the oil is kept in storage tanks. , it is transported on a tanker to a refinery.
At the refinery, the crude oil is processed in order to make it suitable as fuel for transport. , crude oil is passed through a furnace, where it is heated to around 600 degrees Celsius. , it becomes a gas and then is passed into the distillation tower. , the gas rises and cools. At different temperatures different types of fuel condense and become liquid. At 450, 200 and 60 degrees, boat, plane and car fuel condense. process is complete, the fuel can be transported by truck or pipeline to the place of sale.
178 words
IELTSTutors essay feedback:
The writer fully and accurately describes the process in the diagram. The writer uses a good range of grammar and lots of specific vocabulary. The text is divided into logical paragraphs, including an introduction containing an overview, and two body paragraphs. Sequencing words and phrases make the text more cohesive and show the relationship between the different stages of the process. This essay would receive a perfect band score.


Exercise 4

The writer uses two excellent adverbs – subsequently and consequently. These are high band linking words but many candidates confuse these words. See the examples below and then complete the description of each word.
Oil is extracted from beneath the ocean by workers on an oil rig. Subsequently, the oil is kept in storage tanks

I
t is heated with to 600 degrees Celsius. Consequently, it becomes a gas. 

Click or touch a word above
1. Subsequently is an academic synonym of . When it is used at the beginning of a sentence it is followed by a comma. Only use this word once per essay.
2. Consequently is a synonym of . When it is used at the beginning of a sentence it is followed by a comma. Only use this word once per essay.

Study note: When you see a word that you don't understand in a text, try to guess the word type and meaning before you look in a dictionary. This will improve your ability to learn words from their context, and will help you understand texts when a dictionary is not available (as in the real test).


​The Model Answer and Notes

Let's read our model answer again and look at the words and phrases used to link ideas.
You should 20 minutes on this task.
 
The diagram below shows how oil is refined and supplied for use as fuel for cars, planes and ships.
 
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.
 
You should write 150 words.
Picture
The diagram illustrates the process of refining oil for use as fuel in the transportation industry. Overall, this linear process has four main steps, starting with the extraction of the oil from the ground and finishing with distillation.

In the first stage, oil is extracted from beneath the ocean by workers on an oil rig. Subsequently, the oil is kept in storage tanks. When enough oil has been collected, it is transported on a tanker to a refinery.

At the refinery, the crude oil is processed in order to make it suitable as fuel for transport. First, crude oil is passed through a furnace, where it is heated to around 600 degrees Celsius. Consequently, it becomes a gas and then is passed into the distillation tower. Following the heating process, the gas rises and cools. At different temperatures different types of fuel condense and become liquid. At 450, 200 and 60 degrees, boat, plane and car fuel respectively condense. After the process is complete, the fuel can be transported by truck or pipeline to the place of sale.
Linking Words and Phrases Note

Note that you can use ordinals such as first, second and third to organise the stages of the process. However, if you use many ordinals your writing might seem quite simple.

Notice that you can use an ordinal in a phrase to add some variety. For example, ‘In the first stage’.

Following is another good word to use to say the second action happens after the first. You can use it in phrases such as ‘following this’ or ‘following the heating process’.

Time clauses are also good for sequencing. They also help you to improve your grammatical range score since they are classed as complex sentences. For example, ‘When enough oil has been collected, it is transported on a tanker to a refinery’ – notice that the time clause needs to have a subject and verb and be followed by a comma.

Respectively is used to link two lists of data. For example, ‘At 450, 200 and 60 degrees, boat, plane and car fuel respectively condense’. Therefore, boat fuel condenses at 450 degrees, plane fuel condenses at 200, and car fuel at 60.
If you have any questions, let us know.