Writing Task 1 | Line Graphs Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

One of the things we get asked about the most by our students is prepositions for dealing with writing task 1. Our first class on describing data provides some rules about how to use prepositions in writing task 1.

This class provides an exercise to help you analyse data and structure your report and a practice activity which will test your ability to use prepositions. As always, let us know what you think and leave your ideas in the comments section at the end.

Below is a typical IELTS Academic Task 1 graph that we are expected to summarise. 
The line graph illustrates the number of magazine sales by a publisher in 4 European countries between 1999 and 2002.

Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and making comparisons where relevant.

Picture


We will look at a model answer for this task in Exercise 2. First, let’s look at what you already know about how to answer a task like this.

 
Exercise 1 | What do you already know?

Are the following statements about Writing Task 1 true or false?

True of False?

1. I have 40 minutes to write my response.
True
False
2. It’s a good idea to write around 3 paragraphs.
True
False
3. The introduction must include information about the topic.
True
False
4. The introduction must include an overview of the data.
True
False
5. The overview must report the main trends and features of the data.
True
False
6. The introduction should be at least 5 sentences long.
True
False
7. I should report the statistics in the introduction.
True
False
8. The two body paragraphs must contain the statistics to support what I said in the overview.
True
False
9. I should write about ALL the statistics in the chart/graph.
True
False
10. It is important to provide a conclusion at the end of the report.
True
False
11. I should only write about what is shown in the graph.
True
False
12. I must write 200 words.
True
False

Want to know more about these answers? Open our Answer Explanations below.

Answer Explanations

1

You have 20 minutes to write your response. Don’t write for longer than 20 minutes or you will be wasting time you should spend on writing task 2.
2

We find it is a good idea to write an introduction paragraph and two body paragraphs.
3

The first sentence must provide the topic of the data. Don’t copy the information from the question paper. You must paraphrase (use different words) this information.
4

The overview is one of the most important parts of your answer. Don’t forget it.
5

In the overview we advise to communicate around 2 of the main features/trends of the data.

​What are main features and trends of the data? Look for values that increase or decrease over time. Or the largest and smallest values. Try to group the data into sets. For example, 3 restaurants increased sales, while the sales of one restaurant decreased. Introduce the overview with the word ‘Overall,’.

6

A good introduction should be 2 or maximum 3 sentences long.
7

The introduction should give general information. Specific details will be mentioned in the body paragraphs. A good rule with academic writing in English is that we move from general to specific information.
8

The body paragraphs should always support the overview.
9

If there are many data points, don’t write about all of them. This will lose you points. Only report interesting and relevant details. Make sure that you compare and contrast the data where it is possible.
10

Don’t worry about writing a conclusion at the end of the task. It is unnecessary as the overview provides a conclusion at the beginning and because the time for this task is limited.
11

Don’t guess or use your knowledge of the topic to write about anything not shown in the data itself.
12

Make sure you write over 150 words. If you write over 200 words, you are probably wasting precious time you could be spending on task 2.

Lets now look at an example model answer for the previous Task 1 task. Select the correct prepositions from the drop down menu. 


Exercise 2 | Model Answer and Prepositions Practice

The line graph illustrates the number of magazine sales by a publisher in 4 European countries between 1999 and 2002.

Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and making comparisons where relevant.

Picture

The line graph shows magazine sales by a single publisher from 1999 to 2002 in the four countries France, Holland, Belgium and Germany. Overall, sales in Belgium and France increased while they fell substantially in Germany.

Magazine Sales in Belgium experienced a dramatic rise the 4-year period. They started the period just under 200,000 and then rose steadily over the next two years around 300,000. In the final year of the period, sales in Belgium rocketed 300,000 500,000. Sales in France also experienced a rise over the period, however, it was much less pronounced than in Belgium. The figure sales in France started the period roughly 420,000 and finished the period the same rate as in Belgium.

The other two countries shown in the data experienced less positive sales. While 1999 to 2000 saw a slight increase sales in Holland 300,000 approximately 350,000, the next year saw a decrease the same level as 1999 and this didn’t change in the final year of the period. Sales in Germany started the period as the highest out of all of the four countries 450,000 but this number fell steadily around 250,000, the lowest of all four countries, by the end of the period.



Exercise 3 | Understand the Answer

Let’s analyse this answer to see how it is organised.
How is the Introduction Paragraph organised?

First is the task paraphrase:
The line graph shows magazine sales by a single publisher from 1999 to 2002 in the four countries France, Holland, Belgium and Germany. 

Then we find the overview: 
Overall, sales in Belgium and France increased while they fell substantially in Germany.

What data is included in the Overview?

The overview here looks at two main trends from the data – rising and falling sales. Notice that no data values are used. 

Overall, sales in Belgium and France increased while they fell substantially in Germany.​ 

What Data is included in the First Body Paragraph?

This paragraph looks at the countries with increasing sales, starting first with Belgium (the greatest increase) then making comparisons with France:

Magazine Sales in Belgium experienced a dramatic rise [over] the 4-year period. They started the period [at] just under 200,000 and then rose steadily over the next two years [to] around 300,000. In the final year of the period, sales in Belgium rocketed [from] 300,000 [to] 500,000. Sales in France also experienced a rise over the period, however, it was much less pronounced than in Belgium. The figure [for] sales in France started the period [at] roughly 420,000 and finished the period [at] the same rate as in Belgium.

What data is included in the second body paragraph?

This paragraph contains information about the other two countries. Notice the topic
sentence helps the reader understand what will come later: 

The other two countries shown in the data experienced less positive sales. 

The paragraph begins with Holland (little change in sales) then finishes with Germany (falling sales). 

The other two countries shown in the data experienced less positive sales. While 1999 to 2000 saw a slight increase [in] sales in Holland [from] 300,000 [to] approximately 350,000, the next year saw a decrease [to] the same level as 1999 and this didn’t change in the final year of the period. Sales in Germany started the period as the highest out of all of the four countries [at] 450,000 but this number fell steadily [to] around 250,000, the lowest of all four countries, by the end of the period.

Which 3 adverbs are used by the writer because he doesn’t know the exact numbers on the graph?

The writer uses roughly, approximately and around.
Which linking words are used by the writer to show contrast?

There are two: while and however
​Which phrase in body paragraph one shows that the trend in sales in one country was less dramatic than in another?

The phrase less pronounced means ​less dramatic.
Are there Any Criticisms of this model answer?

This answer would get a very high band, however, because the word count is 220, it would be difficult to produce an answer of this length in only 20 minutes.  If you can make this writing more concise, let us know your suggestion in the comments below. 

We hope you have found this lesson useful. For more writing task 1 exercises, visit our Academic Writing Task 1 page.