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Understand the different stages of the process

The next point is to try and understand how the process works. Typically, there will be some problem in understanding the diagram: it is not always the case that everything is in a natural order. The key is to stop and think and look. This is a visual task and you need to look at all the visual clues. What you are looking for are normally simple things. It is often a good idea to ask yourself the WH questions.

In the diagram above, we see the following details:

  • there are 5 parties involved (the pictures) (WHO)
  • there are 7 stages in the process (the numbers) (HOW MANY)
  • some of the arrows point in two different directions – this needs to be explained
  • item 4 seems to be out of order as it is next to 1

Find a way of organising your description

This is another thinking task. Before you start writing, you want to see if there is some way to organise your report into paragraphs. This is not absolutely essential but it can help the organisation of your writing. In the diagram above, there does seem to be a logical solution, as the process falls in to two parts:

  1. the customer receives his goods
  2. the merchant gets his money

As this is the case, I am going to do the logical thing and divide my description into two main paragraphs. One to describe the authorisation process until the customer gets his/her money and one for the payment process until the merchant is paid.

The introduction and conclusion

This is a key part of your description. What you need to do here is to give the examiner an overall view of the process. Again, you want to ask yourself questions, such as:

  • what happens as a result of this process?
  • is there any change involved?
  • how many stages are there in this process?
  • is there one simple process or are there variations within the process?

Typically, you will either write a longer introduction or add a conclusion. You will not normally need both an extended introduction and conclusion.

The language of the description

Topic language

The process will normally be an everyday event that everyone is familiar with, you should not need any specialised language. Sometimes, as in this example, you will be given some topic vocabulary. If you are, be careful of two points:

  1. try to vary the language if you can, but don’t worry too much if you can’t. It may be that the language you are given is the correct topic language and there are no, or few, variations
  2. don’t copy language incorrectly. If you are given a verb, you may need to change it into a noun

Sequencing language

Some of the most important language you need is vocabulary to say in what order things happen. It is important to have some variation here. Some very basic options are:

  • next
  • then
  • after
  • before
  • once


A key grammatical area is very often the passive. We use this when it is not important who “does” the action. So, if you have a process diagram showing the making of wine, you may choose to write:

the grapes are crushed and their stems are removed

Date: 2014-12-21; view: 1202

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IELTS writing task 1 – process diagrams – an introduction | Sample description with detailed notes
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