Writing task 1: Process diagram about recycling aluminum

ielts process diagramModel answer for a process diagram about recycling.

Updated: February 2023.

Process diagrams are some of the easiest tasks in IELTS Academic writing task 1 as you are logically explaining a process using sequencers and passive grammar. The data is static so there are no trends to report on, it is pretty straightforward with enough practice.

Key Points:

  • Aim for under 190 words and be concise. Between 160 and 180 words is enough.
  • Analyse the task first and check how many stages there are and what each stage consists of.
  • Underline keywords and circle key steps in the process. Make notes in this stage
  • Plan your answer and what you will write in each main body paragraph. Group the information.
  • You need to paraphrase the task for an introduction and include an overview covering key stages.
  • The overview summarises the main stages. Leave the details to the body paragraphs.

Common Structure for Writing Task 1

  • Introduction

  • Overview

  • Main body one

  • Main body two

In writing task 1 academic you can have a third main body paragraph but I prefer two main body paragraphs to keep it simple. If your introduction is very short you can combine the overview with that to form one paragraph, as in my model answer below.

No conclusion is needed, do not write your opinion either, write factually and logically. It must be easy to read too so don’t try to impress the examiner with complicated language.

The Task


IELTS recycling aluminium diagram

Model Answer

The diagram illustrates the steps involved in how aluminium drinks cans are recycled. Overall there are six stages in the process, from the cans being sorted at the collection centre to the melting down process at the recycling plant where new aluminium is formed, and finally where new cans are produced and ready for sale again.

To begin with, in the collection centre used drinks cans are put into a recycling bin and then separated into aluminium and steel. Following this, the sorted cans are transported to a recycling facility where they are crushed into cubes ready for melting down. Regarding the recycling process, the cubes of old aluminium are melted down at high temperatures and turned into bars of new aluminium.

As soon as these bars have been created, they are formed into thin sheets and rolled up. Subsequently, this rolled up aluminium is used to create new drinks cans. Once they are made, they are ready to be filled with beverages and distributed to vending machines for consumption. After that, the whole process is repeated all over again.

179 words

Click below for an Analysis


You will notice that I have combined the introduction and the overview. This is because the introduction was very short, so it was more logical to connect the overview to that. If you have a longer introduction and a longer overview then you would need to skip a line between them.

The overview just summarises the stages, in this case, 7 stages. I wrote 2 main body paragraphs where I go into the details.

The passive is used in process diagrams in writing task 1 such as:

  • ‘used drinks cans are put into a recycling bin…’
  • ‘the sorted cans are transported to a recycling facility….’
  • ‘they are then made into thin sheets and rolled up

For a lesson about the passive Click this link here on Milk Production

For more detail, click here for the rules around using active and passive grammar

You should use sequencers in process diagrams such as: ‘ To begin with, following this, next, after that, in the next stage, subsequently, finally’

You can also use specific phrases with the passive such as:  As soon as and Once.. see examples below:

  • As soon as these bars have been created, they are formed into thin sheets and rolled up.’
  • Once the cans are formed, they are ready to be filled with beverages and distributed to drinks machines where the process is repeated all over again.’

Leave a comment below if you have any questions.

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