IELTS Writing Task 1 Comparing: types of volcanoes

IELTS Task 1 Writing Comparing

How to describe a diagram in IELTS Task 1 Writing comparing things with almost no words?


This can be tough.


I’m not kidding. When you have very few words, it is often hard to decide what to do and where to start.

However, remember what you need to do with any IELTS Task 1 Writing. Whatever you are doing you need to describe:

  • the differences,
  • the trends,
  • or the main stages

So, for the above diagram of the volcanoes we are need to focus on differences.

First of all, it we need to establish what aspects of the volcanoes we can compare. Looking at the pictures we can compare:

  • the height, size, and shape of the ash cloud
  • the amount of ash
  • the amount of lava or mud
  • the direction of the eruption
  • the existence of “magma bombs”
  • the height and shape of the volcano that is formed

Just by starting with this we can see that three of them have a typical volcano “cone” shape, while two are different. We can also see how this seems to be related to the height of the ash cloud. This is probably a good place to start for our overview.

IELTS Writing Task 1 Example Answer


The diagram compares six different kinds of volcanic eruptions.

To start with, it clearly shows that Plinian, Vulcanian, and Strombolian eruptions are to some extent all fairly similar.

Firstly, all involve ash eruptions, though the Plinian ash cloud is several times higher than that of the next largest (the Vulcanian). Despite this difference, the shape of the eruption in both cases is almost identical, though the Vulcanian also involves magma bombs that rain down on the side of the volcano.

Secondly, the Strombolian eruption is very similar to the Vulcanian one: both have magma bombs, a similar cone shape and an ash-cloud. The main difference here is the size of the eruption and ash-cloud, which may be because the former has a smaller amount of magma.

In contrast, the other three volcano types are dramatically different. The Pelean eruption mainly differs from its cousins in the direction of the eruption, with the lava rolling down one side of mountain while the Hawaiian and Icelandic eruptions vary massively n size, shape, and in the eruption itself.. In the former, the magma tends to remain in the crater, while in the latter case the magma leaks to the surface without any eruption at all, spreading across the landscape to form lava fields.

In conclusion, the diagram clearly shows that the shape, size and volume of an eruption is directly connected to the shape and size of the volcanic cone. The more like a cone the volcano is shaped, the greater the force of the eruption.

Words: 253

Writing Feedback


Coherence and Cohesion: 9


The best thing to take away from this answer is the way it is organized.

It is clearly structured into:
1: Similarities
2: More similarities
3: Key differences

You can tell this just be looking at some key sentences and the main linkers:

The diagram compares six different kinds of volcanic eruptions.

To start with, it clearly shows that Plinian, Vulcanian, and Strombolian eruptions are to some extent all fairly similar.

Firstly, …
Secondly, ..

In contrast, the other three volcano types are dramatically different. …

In conclusion, …

IELTS Sample Answer 2: Short


Here is a shortened version of the above answer to more closely fit to 150 words

The diagram compares six different kinds of volcanic eruptions.

To start with, it clearly shows that Plinian, Vulcanian, and Strombolian eruptions are to some extent all fairly similar.

Firstly, all involve ash eruptions, and although the Plinian ash cloud is several times higher than the Vulcanian, the shape of the eruption in both cases is almost identical, though the Vulcanian also involves magma bombs.

Secondly, the Strombolian eruption is very similar to the Vulcanian one: both have magma bombs, a similar cone shape and an ash-cloud. The main difference here is the size of the eruption and ash-cloud.

In contrast, the other three volcano types are dramatically different. Unlike the others, the Pelean eruption erupts out of the side of the volcano, in the Hawaiian case the magma remains in the crater, and the Icelandic eruptions don’t erupt at all, the magma just leaks to the surface.

In conclusion, the diagram clearly shows that the more like a cone the volcano is, the greater the force of the eruption.

Words: 169

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