7 Skills to Acquire for IELTS Writing Task 1
1. Read instructions:
Read instructions before you do anything. Instructions include the number of words your essay should exceed and the amount of time you should spend on describing the graph.
Learn more about the importance of reading instructions here.
2. Highlight main points:
On the question paper, identify and write down main points that represent the graph. This step should not take you more than 3 minutes. Main points can include:
- Overall trend (when there are changes over years): Increase, decrease, fluctuate or stay unchanged.
- Peaks (highest values) and smallest values.
- Intersection (when two lines cross each other or when values of two bars, pies, columns are equal).
- Changes in order (for example, which line was dominant in year X and which line had the highest value in year Y).
- Comparisons (for example, which lines were higher than line X in 2009, how larger the peak of line A than the peak of line B or differences in the overall trend of bar A and bar B).
- Striking features (for example, a rapid increase or a wide difference between two figures).
3. Express statistics in an academic way:
- When exact figures are smaller than your estimates: Approximately, Nearly, (Just) below, Fewer/ less than.
For example: Canada exported approximately 20 million tonnes of wheat in 1985.
- When exact figures are larger than your estimates: More than, Higher than, (Just) above.
For example: Just above 30 thousand male students who had a non-British origin studied in the UK in 2010.
- When you just want to give an estimate as stating an exact figure is difficult: About, around.
For example: The amount of wheat exports of the European Community was about 17 million tonnes in 1985.
- When you have percentage, you can use words and phrases listed above. An alternative is to express percentage as a combination of individual words.
Example 1: 12% of students can be written as more than one tenth of students or more than one in ten students. (12% is close to 10% which is equal to one tenth or a tenth)
Example 2: 65% of households can be written as nearly two thirds of households or nearly two in three households. (65% is close to 66% which is equal to two thirds)
4. Describe subjects using your own words:
The population of China can be written as The number of people who live in China or The number of people who call China home.
The amount of water consumption per person in Japan can be written as How much water a person consumes in Japan or The quantity of water that an average Japanese consumes.
The number of times a Canadian eats pizza per year can be written as The number of times pizza is eaten by an average Canadian every year or The annual consumption figure for pizza by an average Canadian.
The means of transport in London can be written as The main ways to travel around London or How people in London go to different parts of this city.
5. Write a good introduction:
The only thing you need to write a good introduction is to rephrase words given in the topic. The desirable length of an introduction is 1-2 sentences.
The pie chart below shows the main reasons why agricultural land worldwide becomes less productive can be written as The pie chart gives information about the main causes of global land degradation.
The line graph below shows the pollution levels in London between 1600 and 2000 can be written as The line graph describes how polluted London was over the period from 1600 to 2000.
6. Write a good conclusion or sentence representing main points:
Again, the desirable length of these is 1-2 sentences each.
Sample conclusion or sentence representing main points: In general, the bar chart shows that from 2010 to 2012, the number of British students remained greater than that of international students of both sexes.
7. Comprehend academic grammar and vocabulary:
Find a list of common and useful grammar, sentence structures and vocabulary here.
Find more IELTS Writing Task 1 and Task 2 sample essays here.