Category Archives: IELTS Writing Academic Task 1 (lessons)

IELTS Task 1 describing trends

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IELTS Task 1 describing trends

In IELTS Task 1, a trend is the general direction or movement that can be seen in the graph. It is essential to use a range of vocabulary when describing trends in order to get a good result, so here are some of the important language you can use.

Practice by deciding whether these phrases below mean an upward, downward or even trend.

Describing trends

Describing trends

Expanding your sentences

IELTS Task 1 describing trendsAs well as using the vocabulary above to describe the direction of the trend, you should also use adjectives and adverbs to describe amount or degree of change.

For example:

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Sales increased from 2007 to 2009. GOOD

Sales increased moderately from 2007 to 2009. BETTER

Put the words below in the correct column. Some can go in more than one column.

Describing trends #2

Describing trends #2

 

Create complete, expanded sentences

Now put it together by matching the phrases / sentences with the matching image. You will need to drag the phrases / sentences down to the correct area matching the image.

Describing trends #3

Describing trends #3

 

Remember that in the Academic IELTS test, one of the areas you are being assessed on is your ability to accurately describe the information given in the illustration, and in the majority of cases this will involve describing trends.

Percentages in Task 1 (Academic)

When describing data in Task 1 (Academic Module), you will need to show the examiner that you can use a range of different expressions rather than just repeatedly copying percentages. Having other ways to express percentages in Task 1 will give you a much better report.

Percentages in Task 1For example, writing this in your Task 1 report would not get a good result (NOTE: there is no graph for this – it is only an example).

In 2012, UK sales rose by 10% to 32% of the total, but by the following year this trend had reversed, with sales falling by 12% to reach a low of only 20% of all sales.

However, you could express the same information like this:

In 2012, UK sales rose by 10% to almost one third of the total, but by the following year this trend had reversed, with sales falling by over one tenth to reach a low of only one fifth of all sales.

IMPORTANT NOTE: what we are looking at here is using a RANGE of constructions. You should use SOME exact data in your description.

Use the table below to help avoid repeating the same constructions:

5% One twentieth
 8-9%  Just under a tenth / slightly below one tenth
 10% One tenth / a tenth
 20% One fifth  / a fifth
 25%  One quarter / a quarter
 30-32%  Just under one third / slightly below a third
 33% One third/a third
 34-35% Just over one third / slightly more than a third
 40% Two fifths
48-49% Nearly half / almost a half / slightly below one half
50% One half / a half / half
51-53% Just over one half/ slightly more than a half
60% Three fifths
64-65% Almost two thirds / Just under two thirds
66% Two thirds
73-74% Nearly three quarters / almost three quarters
75% Three quarters
80% Four fifths
98-99% Nearly all

Writing an introduction to Task 1 (Academic)

Writing an introduction to Task 1 (Academic)

Getting the introduction right in Task 1 is very important, as it is the first thing the examiner will see of your writing and they will start forming decisions about your level from your opening words. However, there are some common errors that IELTS candidates make when writing their introduction to Task 1.

Look at the example introduction below and the graph that follows. What is wrong with the introduction?

According to the graph, I can see a rising trend in the number of reported cases of sports related injuries. It’s really interesting. It can be divided into three distinct periods as I will now explain.

There are a number of points in the introduction above that are NOT GOOD.

  • Some of the vocabulary is not sufficiently formal  (‘I can see’ for example, would be better as ‘as can be seen’).
  • A lot of words have been copied directly from the graph title (‘Reported cases of sports-related injuries’ could have been expressed as ‘injuries connected to sport which have been announced’).
  • Some information from the graph has been missed. Ideally, the perfect introduction will capture ALL details of the graph in one or two sentences, but in the introduction given there is no mention of the UK, that cases are in there 1000s and that it is over a ten year period from 1990 to 2000.

However, there are some aspects of the introduction above that ARE good:

  • A general overview has been given (the writer has identified that there are ‘three main periods‘)
  • A clear indication of the following structure of the report has been given (‘as I will now explain.‘)

 

Important note about Task 1 introductions:

One of the most common errors we see with Task 1 reports issues with using the word ‘that’. Look at the introductory sentences below and note how the words in italics have been used. There is no graph for this exercise.

Sentences in BLUE are correct; sentences in RED are incorrect.

The graph shows the population of America.
The graph shows that the population of America.
The graph shows the population of America increased.
The graph shows that the population of America increased.
As can be seen from the graph, the population of America increased.
As can be seen from the graph, that the population of America increased.

 

Practice. Select ALL of the endings that can complete the sentence. Again, there is no graph for this exercise.

 

A The graph shows…

1 …the falling number of people who own a second home in the USA.
2 …there has been a falling trend in the number of people who own a second home in the USA since 2010.
3 …that the number of people who own a second home in the USA has fallen since 2010.
Show answer All 3 endings would suit here.

B It is clear from the graph …
1 …the falling number of people who own a second home in the USA.
2 …there has been a falling trend in the number of people who own a second home in the USA since 2010.
3 …that the number of people who own a second home in the USA has fallen since 2010.Show answer Only ending number 3 is correct here.

C It can be seen from the graph …
1 …the falling number of people who own a second home in the USA.
2 …there has been a falling trend in the number of people who own a second home in the USA since 2010.
3 …that the number of people who own a second home in the USA has fallen since 2010.
Show answer Only ending number 3 is correct here.

D As is shown by the graph,…
1 …the falling number of people who own a second home in the USA.
2 …there has been a falling trend in the number of people who own a second home in the USA since 2010.
3 …that the number of people who own a second home in the USA has fallen since 2010.
Show answer Only ending number 2 is correct here

E As is illustrated by the graph,…
1 …the falling number of people who own a second home in the USA.
2 …there has been a falling trend in the number of people who own a second home in the USA since 2010.
3 …that the number of people who own a second home in the USA has fallen since 2010.Show answer Only ending number 2 is correct here

F From the graph it is clear…
1 …the falling number of people who own a second home in the USA.
2 …there has been a falling trend in the number of people who own a second home in the USA since 2010.
3 …that the number of people who own a second home in the USA has fallen since 2010.
Show answer Only ending number 3 is correct here

G As the graph shows, …
1 …the falling number of people who own a second home in the USA.
2 …there has been a falling trend in the number of people who own a second home in the USA since 2010.
3 …that the number of people who own a second home in the USA has fallen since 2010.
Show answer Only ending number 2 is correct here

Show All correct answers

IELTS Task 1 graphs

IELTS Task 1 graphs

Before you can begin Task I, you have to look carefully at what is being represented. Remember that not every graph is talking about percentages!

It is very common for points to be lost for simply not understanding the information given in the graph, table or chart, so make sure you are sure what it being measured.

Look at the sentences  below and the graph that follows. Only one sentence is correct. Which one? What is wrong with the other sentences?

  1. In China, slightly more than 61% of men live longer than women
  2. According to the graph, all women live longer than men.
  3. There are more men in Thailand than in Myanmar.
  4. The graph shows that in these six countries, women generally live longer than men.

ielts-task-1-graphs

Click here to see the correct answer.

The only accurate sentence is Number 4 – women generally live longer than men.

In sentence 1, the average life expectancy of men is 61 years of age – there are no percentages in the graph

In sentence 2, the statement says that ALL women live longer than men, but this is not necessarily true – it is only the average life expectancy, not every woman.

Sentence 3 refers to more men in Thailand compared to Myanmar , but no information is given in the graph about the number of people in any of the countries.

Step 1: Look at the graph and make sure you understand what is being presented

Look at the graph below and answer the three questions below

a Is the graph about people or houses? Click here to see the correct answer.

The graph refers to people
b What do the numbers along the horizontal axis represent? Click here to see the correct answer.
Years over a 20 year period
c What do the numbers along the vertical axis represent? Click here to see the correct answer.
Number of people (homeowners) in 1000s

In the next post, we will be looking at describing trends and the range of vocabulary you need to use to get a good result.

 

Prepositions in Task 1 graphs

 

Prepositions in Task 1 graphs (Academic Module)

In the majority of Task 1 questions for the Academic Module, you will need to describe data using the correct prepositions. However, prepositions in Task 1 graphs can be quite tricky!

NOTE: this lesson only applies to the ACADEMIC MODULE, not the General Training Module.

In Task 1, you will need to be able to describe data using appropriate  prepositions. Here are some of the most common prepositions used when describing data:

FROM / TO / IN  / AT  / ON / BY / OVER / UNDER / WITHIN

Prepositions in Task 1 graphs

Let’s look at the each one for meaning as it is most commonly used in Task 1. For more on prepositions in general situations (not necessarily Task 1) take a look at the grammar section.

FROM: this is the beginning point of a trend. Often this is a point in time such as a year or month.

Sales increased from September.

TO: this is the end point of trend. Again, this is often a point in time such as a year or month.

Sales increased from September to November.

IN: this refers to a specific point in time.

Sales fell in December.

AT: this often refers to a specific time (not necessarily a beginning or end). It is also used to describe a specific amount,

There was a peak at 3am. / In 2012, sales peaked at $4000.

ON: this refers to a specific day or date.

The largest number of visitors was on Monday.

BY: in Task 1 IELTS, this is often to describe an amount of change between two different periods.

From 2013 to 2014, sales fell by 20%

OVER: this is used for something happening continuously in a longer period of time rather than a specific time. There is little difference here between OVER and DURING, except that OVER refers to the entire period, whereas one might use “during the weekend” to DURING refers more to one particular moment, not necessarily the whole period.

Over the next year, sales fell to their lowest level.

UNDER: this is used to talk about amounts that were less than something.

Over 2011, sales remained under $20,000 per month.

WITHIN: this is used to talk about something that has been completed before the end of a given time.

Sales rose to $100,000 but had fallen to $50,000 within two weeks. [meaning the fall took less than two weeks]

Test your skills by completing the description below using the correct preposition. THERE IS NO GRAPH FOR THIS EXERCISE!

(1)StartingJanuary, ABC’s production costs stood (2)$20 000. (3)the same time, net profits were $25 000 higher, (4)$45 000. (5)March, profits had risen (6)just over $120,000, the difference between cost and profits now being slightly above $45 000. However, costs increased (7)$10 000 a month over the following three months whereas profits decreased gradually (8)$11 000 over the quarter. (9)July, this had resulted in only a $5000 difference between cost and profit.

However, (10)three months this trend had reversed, with production costs falling back (11)$45 000 . Profits steadily increased to meet the March level (12)October. An extreme slump (13)the next month brought profit down to $75 000, a figure which remained until the end of the year. This was accompanied by an accelerating rise in production costs (14)October (15)December, finishing the year (16)just under $60 000.

 

Click here to read the answers

Answers:

  1. IN
  2. AT
  3. AT
  4. AT
  5. BY
  6. TO
  7. BY
  8. TO
  9. BY
  10. WITHIN
  11. TO
  12. IN
  13. OVER
  14. FROM
  15. TO
  16. AT

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Facts about the IELTS writing test

Facts about the IELTS writing test

Facts about the IELTS writing testHere’s a collection of some of the most common questions we are asked about the IELTS writing test. If your have a question that isn’t answered here, post it in the comments section at the bottom of the page and we’ll add it to the page with an answer.

Q: Do I write in pen or pencil during the test?

Most exam centres now only allow candidates to write with a pencil.

Q: Can I bring my own writing equipment?

No – you will not be allowed into the test room with your own pen, pencil or eraser.

Q: What should I do if I make a mistake?

Just put a single line through the word or words you want to remove and then continue writing. Don’t waste time with trying to erase anything.

Q: What does the IELTS writing answer sheet look like?

Click a thumbnail below to see a larger image of the writing test answer pages (note that these pages are white, but recent changes in the test mean that you could also have yellow, blue or green pages).

Q: What if I need more paper?

No problem – simply raise your hand until the invigilator approaches, then request more paper. There is no limit to the amount of paper you request, but ALL pages will be collected at the end of the test, even if they were only used for making notes (see below).

Q: Can I get any paper for writing notes / preparing a plan?

Yes, but all the paper you are given is collected and given to the examiner when they are marking your work. We recommend writing your plan or making any notes on the question paper, not the answer sheet. Although the question paper is also collected at the end of the test, it is not submitted to the examiner.

Q: So what counts as a ‘word’ in the writing test?

Take a look at this page: https://ieltsforfree.com/word-count-ielts-writing/

Q: My handwriting is not very good. Will I lose points?

Your writing would have to illegible (can’t be read) before you lose points, but if you are concerned then get in the habit of writing in print (single letters) instead of cursive (joined letters).

Q: Can I write all of my test in CAPITAL LETTERS?

Surprisingly, yes! We recommend it as it avoids you needing to worry about capitalisation of particular words. For confirmation of this, take a look at the official IELTS website here: http://takeielts.britishcouncil.org/prepare-your-test/test-day-advice/writing-test-advice

Got a question we haven’t answered? Post it below!

Reading graphs in IELTS Task 1

Reading graphs in IELTS Task 1

NOTE: This lesson is for the ACADEMIC module only.

To get a good result in your Academic Task 1 IELTS writing test, it is essential that you clearly understand what the data you are writing about refers to. Misunderstanding the graph can cost points, so practice with this exercise.

Look at the four charts below. What do the numbers that follow represent? NB The numbers are approximate values. NOTE: Click or tap a graph for a larger picture

Example:   62          The percentage of Indian residents in New Zealand in 2001 that speak their native language.

80           
Show answer The percentage of Korean residents in New Zealand in 2001 that speak their native language

120         
Show answer The number of people in thousands with no educational qualifications that are somewhat interested in buying books by New Zealand authors

2,300      
Show answerHousehold spending in millions of NZ dollars on cultural goods and services in the year 1998

38           
Show answer The percentage of people aged 65 and over that visited museums or art galleries in the previous 12 months

220         
Show answer The number of people in thousands with tertiary educational qualifications that are very interested in buying books by New Zealand authors

54           
Show answer The percentage of people aged between 35 and 44 who visited museums or art galleries in the previous 12 months

4,850      
Show answerHousehold spending in millions of NZ dollars on mortgage repayments in 1998

72           
Show answer The percentage of Chinese residents in New Zealand in 2001 that speak English

Show All correct answers

IELTS writing Task 1 table gap fill

IELTS writing Task 1 table gap fill

Complete the Task 1 report below by using words from the drop down boxes.

IELTS writing Task 1 table gap fillYou should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The table below shows information on participation in various leisure activities in the U.K.

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

Write at least 150 words.

The tablethe percentages of people taking part incategories of leisure pursuits, in  selected  brackets.

the figures, the single  leisure activity in the UK is watching television and video, which has a 99%across all given sections of the population. Visiting friends and relations is almost  with 95% or more of all age ranges socializing on a regular basis.

Next, listening to music is most popular with the twogroups, at 98% and 93%, while the figure is approximatelylower for older people, at. In contrast, gardening is more popular with 60-69 year-olds. Almostolder people enjoy gardening25-29 year-olds, at and even lower for the youngest age range. Finally, it isthat DIY appeals most to people in their twenties.

Overall, it can be seen that the figures for the most popular activities areacross the age groups. However, there are considerablewhen looking at the minority interests.

 


Show the answers

The table SHOWS  the percentages of people taking part in 8 DIFFERENT categories of leisure pursuits, in THREE selected AGE brackets.

ACCORDING TO the figures, the single MOST POPULAR leisure activity in the UK is watching television and video, which has a 99% PARTICIPATION RATE across all given sections of the population. Visiting friends and relations is almost AS POPULAR with 95% or more of all age ranges socializing on a regular basis.

Next, listening to music is most popular with the two YOUNGER (AGE) groups, at 98% and 93%, while the figure is approximately ONE THIRD lower for older people, at 65%. In contrast, gardening is more popular with 60-69 year-olds. Almost TWICE AS MANY older people enjoy gardening COMPARED WITH 25-29 year-olds, at 35% and even lower for the youngest age range. Finally, it is EVIDENT that DIY appeals most to people in their twenties.

Overall, it can be seen that the figures for the most popular activities are FAIRLY SIMILAR across the age groups. However, there are considerable DIFFERENCES when looking at the minority interests.

Correlating data in Task 1

Correlating data in Task 1

NOTE: This page relates to the Academic Module, not the General Training Module.

In previous pages we have looked at some of the language needed to describe a graph, chart or table for Task 1. However, it is common in Task I to have more than one set of data to describe. However, it is not sufficient to simply describe each set in turn – you should show the examiner that you know how the information correlates (the connection or effect they have on each other).

Look at the two graphs below. What correlation do they show?

 

correlating-data-a correlating-data-b

You should have identified that attendance fell as costs increased.

Here’s another example of more than one graph or chart in one Task 1 question. What correlation do you see here?

Correlating data in Task 1

This is a little less clear, but in 1990 roughly one third of people had private healthcare, but as the cost of healthcare as a proportion of wages rose, this fell to close to one quarter in 2000.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Although writing about correlations is important when presented with different sets of data, do not feel that you have to think of an explanation as to why they might be correlated. For example, in the graph above, you could refer to a correlation between percentage cost of health insurance and the number of people who had private insurance, but you are not expected to say anything like ‘This could be a result of an economic recession’.

Here is some language that you can use to correlate data:

a (X) appears to have a direct impact on (Y).
b A rise in (X) causes an attendant increase in (Y).
c There is an inverse relationship between (X) and (Y).
d There is a direct relationship between (X) and (Y).
e There is a direct correlation between (X) and (Y).
f An increase in (X) resulted in a decrease in (Y).
g Closely linked to (X), it can be seen that (Y)…
h As a result of the decline in (X), (Y)..

Ending a Task 1 Academic report

There are lots of different advice about how to end a Task 1 report, so on this page we have presented some good and bad ideas for the last lines of your Task 1.

Keep these facts in mind when considering your report:

  1. Somewhere in the report you need to include an overview of the main trends / information being shown.
  2. You need to clearly show the examiner that your report is finished to make sure it doesn’t look as though you simply ran out of time.

Here are some recommendations for what to do or avoid when writing your ‘end statement’ for Task 1 (Academic).

DON’T: Use ‘In conclusion’. ‘In conclusion’ is another way of saying ‘after considering the facts and the opinions expressed, this is my overall point of view’. The problem is that in Task 1 Academic you are NOT presenting opinions, nor are you required to show a personal point of view. You are only supposed to transfer the information given in the graph / chart / table /diagram, not provide any personal insight or point of view.

DO: Use expressions like ‘Overall’ or ‘To sum up’. These expressions do not imply any personal point of view, but they indicate to the examiner that this is clearly the end of your report. You can also use more direct phrases such as ‘This ends the report….’ (this must be followed by some additional information relating to the Task – see the examples below).

DON’T: Add a personal point of view. Ending your Task with a reason or explanation not given in the Task is definitely something to avoid. For example, if the Task was about income earned by different occupations, with nurses earning less than bank managers, DO NOT say something like ‘Overall, it is clear that nurses earn less than those managing banks, which seems unfair as nurses perform a more essential duty than those in the finance field.’

DO: Present an overview of the main points. For example, if the graph referred to sales and 2012 was a good year, but since then sales have fallen, you could say ‘To sum up, 2012 saw a peak in sales, followed by a gradual decline thereafter’. The most common problem with ending with an overview is that you may have already stated this in the body of the report. Don;t panic – you can repeat the information, just try to do so using different vocabulary.

DON’T: Write ‘The end’. Hopefully it should be clear why you shouldn’t simply finish your report with ‘The end’ -this is not an old movie and you’re not being assessed on whether you would be a good movie director! You need to demonstrate a better level of language ability than writing to simple words.

Examples of good ‘end statements’ for Task 1 Academic:

  • ‘To sum up, it can be seen that sales were at their highest in 2012 and have fallen since that date’
  • ‘Overall, it can be seen that nurses had the longest working hours of all occupations given in the table’.
  • ‘This ends the report on the data provided in the chart, which clearly illustrates that studying in New Zealand and Australia are the least expensive options for international students.’