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IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 — Life cycle of a salmon

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The diagram below shows the life cycle of a salmon, from egg to adult fish.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.

Write at least 150 words.



Tips by Anna, the IELTS teacher:

1. Avoid common mistakes

  • salmon remains unchanged in its plural form, if in doubt, check definition of “salmon” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus
  • fish is actually the newer term and is now the more common plural form.
  • fishes is the older of the two plural forms, its use today is rare and idiomatic. sometimes used when referring to more than one species of fish. Learn more here

2. Use advanced vocabulary and synonyms

  • posterity = breed, future generations
  • spawning = laying eggs
  • estuary = the wide part of a river, where it meets the sea
  • hatching period = incubation period
  • procreate = spawn, reproduce
  • species =a group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding.

3. Write your description of the diagram by answering the following questions:

  • Where and in what form do salmon begin their lives?
  • When the young salmon emerge from eggs, where are they reared?
  • Before swimming to the ocean, where do the young fish migrate to?
  • What happens to salmon during their time in the ocean?
  • Where do the adult fish then travel to, and why?
  • What happens that completes the cycle?

4. Define

  •  the number of stages in the life cycle
  •  a beginning and an end point in the cycle

Model answer by Anna, the IELTS teacher

The provided diagram displays the life cycle of a salmon fish dividing it into different stages, from birth to maturity.

Overall, a salmon fish goes through six* main phases to mature adult from the hatching period. Salmon spend time in three distinct locations during the cycle, moving from river to estuary to ocean and then back upstream.

The initial stage of salmon’s growth cycle takes place in rivers, where the adult fish lay and incubate their eggs. After emerging from eggs, the infant salmon spend their next stage being reared in freshwater. Then, at some point in their development, the fish swim downstream to river estuaries where rearing continues.

Following the estuary rearing period, the maturing salmon migrate to the ocean. Eventually, they grow into fully mature adults who are then ready to procreate for the propagation of the species. Finally, grownup salmons move to spawning areas of rivers to lay eggs and the life cycle of the next generation begins anew.

* «six» main stages because these are the stages described in this model answer

(162 words, band 9)


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