This article will give you some essential IELTS exam tips, especially for IELTS writing task 1.

In order to get a get a top score (like an IELTS 8.0) for IELTS Writing Task 1, there is a formula that you need to follow. This formula can be applied to any graph description no matter if it is a table, pie chart, bar graph, line graph or diagram (but diagram is a little different!). If you don’t use a formula you will only get an IELTS 5.0 or maybe an IELTS 6.0 but no more.

Before we look at the formula, and before you begin writing, you need to understand what you’re looking at. If you don’t understand what you’re looking at, you won’t be able to describe it. Logical, right? It is. And don’t neglect the importance of understanding of what you’re looking at. Spend a minute looking at it. Understand it. Comprehend it. Get it.

Pre-Writing: Understand what you’re looking at

Spend a minute looking at this IELTS line graph:

IELTS Writing taks 1

Read the title. What’s ‘sweetener’? Sugars, syrups and sweeteners.

IELTS Writing task 1

Read the sub-title. It means how much sweetener was available, on average, to each person..

IELTS writing task 1

Look at the y-axis. This gives the specific number of pounds available to each person.

 IELTS Writing Task 1

Look at the x-axis. It starts in 1966 and moves in increments of five years ending in 2011.

 IELTS Writing Task 1

Now look at the different sweeteners. Let’s look at the ‘Total’ first. What does the line do? Would you say that there is a noticeable increase before it drops off? I would!

 IELTS Writing Task 1

Look at ‘Refined cane and beet sugars’. Would you say that it starts our relatively high and then decreases before stabilizing? I would! Okay, now we’re getting up to IELTS 7.5!

 IELTS Writing Task 1

Look at ‘Corn sweeteners’. It increases quite dramatically, then steadies, then peaks, then decreases, right?!

 IELTS Writing Task 1

Now look at ‘Honey’ and ‘Edible syrups’. They remain relatively stable and quite low, don’t they?!

 IELTS Writing Task 1

The Task Description

Every IELTS Writing Task 1 will come with a brief description of the graph and a set of instructions as to what you must do, which will look like this:

The graph below shows the availability of various sweeteners in the USA from 1966 to 2012.
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Step 1: Re-write the Task Description

The first step is simple and does not require and creative thinking. You just need to re-write the first part of the Task Description IN YOUR OWN WORDS:

You could write something like:

The given line graph represents how much sweetener was available in the United States over a 45 year period.

Compare this to the original:

The graph below shows the availability of various sweeteners in the USA from 1966 to 2012.

I’ve written the same thing but in different words… This is the first sentence and the introduction of your IELTS Writing Task 1!

Easy 😉

Step 2: Describe the main trends

The next step is to describe the main trends. You might need an IELTS vocabulary list. You can use years but stay away from the y-axis. We don’t want to use numbers just yet… What do you see? Let’s look at the graph again.

IELTS Writing taks 1

Here’s a general overview of the trends… Follow along with each sentence.

In total, sweetener availability increased until around the year 2000 before it receded. The amount of refined cane and beet sugars decreased and then plateaued. Corn sweeteners increase consistently until 1982 and then steadied before beginning to fall from around 1999. The availability of honey and edible syrups remained relatively low and stable over the period.

Step 3: Compare the data (in detail)

Now we can get into the numbers… And now we have to compare the trends. We want to know what sweeteners are doing compared to sugars. We want to compare honey and syrup versus the other sweeteners. Now we can get into the y-axis to support our comparisons. Read along and follow these comparisons:

IELTS Writing taks 1

From 1966 to 1985, refined cane and beet sugars and corn sweeteners followed a very different trend. The sugars started at around 100 pounds per person while corn sweetener started at around 18 pounds per person. By 1985, however, the two sweeteners met at approximately 62 pounds. From there they diverged again before meeting meeting again in 2007 at around 63 pounds. In contrast to sugars and sweeteners, honey and syrups barely changed. They started at around 15 pounds each and by the end of the period were almost the same.

Step 4: Summarize in a single sentence

Okay, now we have introduced the graph, described the general trends, compared the data and now we have to write a single concluding sentence to summarize what’s happening in the graph. We want to say the simplest possible description of the graph.

Look at the ‘total’. This will help us.

IELTS Writing taks 1

How about: Sweetener availability in the United States increased until around 1998 before decreasing.

Post-writing: Check your work!

Okay, you’re nearly done. You need to quickly check your work though for silly grammar mistakes or accidental spelling mistakes.

This method works. And once you practice it a few times you will be able to memorize it. The steps are memorable, easily implementable and they satisfy the IELTS examiners. In fact, the IELTS examiners will LOVE this. If you do it right, you might even get an IELTS 9.

But you will need IELTS writing task 1 practice. You should check out the video for this method on Jay or Jamal will explain it to you step by step and give you HEAPS of practice so by the date of your IELTS exam comes you will be absolutely ready to rock n’ roll!

Are you ready for IELTS writing task 1? Sign up for FREE for our newly launched IELTS course and get started on your journey to IELTS success! 


Written by Jay Merlo.


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