Writing Task 1 | Tables Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

Sometimes data is presented in the form of a table containing numbers. The same data could be presented in a bar chart, pie chart or sometimes a line graph and so the vocabulary and structures that you use will be the same. However, tables can be more difficult to understand for people who are not used to them as the data is not represented in such an easily understood, visual way.
​In this class you will learn to understand tables and how to paraphrase the topic of the table. 

Exercise 1

Let’s begin by studying the table task below.
The table below gives information about the average percentage of money per month spent by consumers on fashion/clothing, entertainment/leisure and transport in 5 different countries. 

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.
Picture
*These statistics are fabricated for use as learning materials

​Are the following statements about the table true or false?
1. The table shows the percentage of people who bought fashion/clothing items, entertainment/leisure products, and transport.
2. The table shows the number of people who bought fashion/clothing items, entertainment/leisure products, and transport.
3. The table shows the average percentage of spending on fashion/clothing, entertainment/leisure, and transport by consumers.
4. There is data about 5 different countries.
5. The countries are on 2 different continents.
6. The continents are North America and Asia.

Note: Knowing what continents the countries are on can help us organise our answer. We will see this later in the tables series of lessons.


Understand the Task

​Many IELTS candidates receive a poor band score as they fail to understand the topic of the data. There are two very common mistakes.
  1. A common mistake is that the candidate writes about numbers whereas the data presents percentages or vice versa.
  2. Another common error is that the candidate tries to simplify the topic of the data. In the task above the topic is ‘the average percentage of money per month spent on…’. A candidate may simplify this by writing ‘spending’ but this doesn’t fully explain the data. 

​Be careful and always check your writing for these common mistakes.


Exercise 2

​The first sentence of the essay should always explain the topic of the graph. You should  paraphrase the information that is given above the table.

​Which of the following introduction sentences is the best?


The table below gives information about the average percentage of money per month spent by consumers on fashion/clothing, entertainment/leisure and transport in 5 different countries.
The data illustrates the average percentage of money spent on 3 types of consumer goods and services by people in 5 countries.
The data in the table reveals the manner in which on average money is spent per month on fashion/clothing, entertainment/leisure and transport in three European countries – the UK, France, Germany – and 2 Asian countries Hong Kong and Singapore.

Answer Explanations

Sentence 1

​This sentence is directly copied and so not paraphrased. This is not acceptable.
Sentence 2

This sentence correctly conveys the topic of the data without being too long.
Sentence 3

The information in this sentence is accurate but the sentence is too long (41 words) and detailed. 

In the next class you will learn to understand the data in more detail so you can write an accurate overview, one of the most important features of your task 1 essay.