Writing Task 1 | Tips Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

This is a lesson from our Academic Writing Task 1 Preparation course. If you find it useful, join the course!

Many IELTS candidates struggle to both analyse graphs and use the correct language to describe the statistics contained in them. In this class you will…
  • Analyse a line graph so you can pick out the most important details to include in your report.
  • Learn how to use a range of language in order to effectively describe data.
  • Practice using prepositions to complete a band 9 sample IELTS task 1 essay.

First we will study a line graph and pick out the important features.

Exercise 1

​Study the IELTS task 1 below and answer the questions which follow.

You should spend about twenty minutes on this task.

The graph below shows the income of four restaurants in Cambridge in 2016.

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

Write at least 150 words.

1. Which restaurants had a successful year?
The Grosvenor, The Taj Mahal
The Pizza House, The Old Hall, The Taj Mahal
The Old Hall, The Grosvenor
2. Which café had an unsuccessful year?
The Grosvenor
The Pizza House
The Old Hall
3. What are the main trends in the data?
One of the restaurants’ profits rose dramatically towards the end of the year. The other restaurants experienced a fluctuation in income.
Three of the restaurants significantly increased the profit they made over the period. One of the restaurants performed poorly and its profits decreased over the period.
All of the restaurants had a very successful year.
4. Which restaurant was the most profitable in January?
The Old Hall
The Taj Mahal
The Grosvenor
5. Which restaurant was the least profitable in January?
The Old Hall
The Taj Mahal
The Pizza House
6. Which restaurant was the most profitable by the end of the year?
The Pizza House
The Old Hall
The Taj Mahal
7. Which restaurant was the least profitable by the end of the year?
The Pizza House
The Old Hall
The Grosvenor
8. What important feature can be seen in September?
From September to October the profits of three of the restaurants stopped falling and started rising.
From September to October the profits of two of the restaurants fell dramatically.
In the month of September all four of the restaurants experienced an increase in income.
9. What important feature can be seen in October?
In October the profits of two of the restaurants started to fall dramatically.
In October the profits of all of the restaurants improved.
In October the profits of one of the restaurants started to fall dramatically.



Language for Statistics

Before you see a sample answer, read the language information about prepositions, verbs and noun phrases used for discussing statistics.

1. at

Indonesia had the highest sales of scooters in the region in 2013 at 1,771,014 units sold.
Oz-Telkom had the largest share of the market at 31%.

​Use the preposition ‘at to state a percentage or number.

2. to

The percentage of adults who own their own homes increased to 37% by the end of the period.
There was a drop in the number of campus staff to 6341 over the summer.

​As you can see in these examples, ‘to’ is used before a percentage or number and it shows that a change occurred before that figure was reached. In the first sentence the change was an increase, in the second it was a decrease.
‘To’ can be used after a verb or noun. Use of ‘to’ does not mean the change has finished. For example, the percentage of home owners may continue increasing in the next period, and the university may need to hire more staff in the autumn term.

3. from…to

The percentage of adults who own their own homes increased from 32% to 37% by the end of the period.
There was a decrease in the number of campus staff from 8212 in the spring to 6341 over the summer.

​As you can see, we have modified the sentences in example 2. Now the sentences include more information. ‘From’ is used to show a value at an earlier time and ‘to’ is used for the value after a change has occurred. 

4. by

In Canada, sales increased by 9%.
The number of people working in the agricultural sector rose by 340,000 over the period.

​We use the preposition ‘by after a verb such as rise or fall to show how big or small a change is.

5. by…from…to

The number of people working in the agricultural sector rose by 340,000, from 820,000 to 111,600.
or…
The number of people working in the agricultural sector rose from 820,000, by 340,000, to 111,600.
 

Using ‘by’, ‘from’ and ‘to’, a lot of information about changes in statistics can be given.

6. of

The project requires an increase of 300 staff over the next year.
There was a decrease of 3% in the price of domestic cooking gas in the final year.

​We use ‘of’ after a noun such as ‘an increase’ or ‘a decrease’. It shows how much a figure changes by. We can use ‘from’ and ‘to’ to give extra information. See the example below.

​There was a drop in the price of $2.50, from $10 to $7.50, in the final quarter of the year.

7. in

In 70% of cases, customers complain to the provider but money is not refunded.

We can use the prepositional phrase ‘in …% of + noun’ to give a value. Let’s have a look at a few more examples.

​People reported it to the police in 37% of cases.

In 99% of households in the UK there is a TV and in 72% of households there is also a computer.

8. Percentages in noun phrases

30% of sales in the South East Asia region were in Vietnam.
7.9% of school leavers in 2004 joined modern apprenticeship courses directly after graduation

​In these examples, the percentage forms part of the subject of the sentence. Notice that the percentage is followed by the preposition ‘of’.

9. verb phrases

Vietnam accounts for 30% of all sales in the SE Asia region.
The final figure stood at $34 a kilo.

​Both of these verb phrases, ‘account for’ and ‘stand at’, are useful for reporting what a value is. Remember ‘account’ and ‘stand’ are verbs and so change depending on tense.

Exercise 2

​Complete the example Academic Task 1 essay with the correct words from the box. The Task is shown again before the sample essay.

You should spend about twenty minutes on this task.

The graph below shows the income of four restaurants in Cambridge in 2016.

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

Write at least 150 words.

from   at   by   to  
Click or touch a word above

The graph illustrates the earnings made by 4 restaurants in 2016 in Cambridge. The Pizza House, Old Hall and Taj Mahal saw increased profits by the end of the year, whereas the Grosvenor saw its profits greatly reduced.

The Pizza House, Old Hall and Taj Mahal, increased their profits over the year. The Pizza House started the period 1) only £50,000 but profits doubled by July. Over the next two months profits declined 2) £100,000 3) £60,000. From September profits rose very rapidly so that in December they stood 4) £190,000. The Taj Mahal, which started the year as the weakest performing café of the group 5) only £30,000 earnings in January, also saw a rapid increase in profits from September onwards 6) £120,000 by the end of the year. The Old Hall started and finished the year as the second most successful restaurant of the group despite its profits increasing overall. Profits in January were £100,000 and this increased 7) £20,000 8) £120,000 by the last month of the year.

The Grosvenor started the year with the highest income of the four restaurants 9) £160,000 a month but by the end of the year this figure had dropped 10) £110,000 11) around 50,000 pounds a month so that the Grosvenor was the worst performing café at the year’s end.

Exercise 3

​Study the IELTS writing task 1 below and then complete the statements about the data from 1-8 with no more than 2 words or a number.

You should spend about twenty minutes on this task.

The data below shows the percentage of university students who were in part-time employment at five British universities between 1998 and 2008.

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

Write at least 150 words.

1. The line graph illustrates data concerning the percentage of students who worked while at university at a number of British universities.
2. At of the universities, the percentage of students who were in part-time employment increased.
3. At of the universities, the percentage of students who did part-time work either decreased or remained roughly stable.
4. The most dramatic increase in the percentage of students who were employed part-time was at University.
5. After , there was a dramatic increase in the percentage of students in part-time work at 3 of the universities.
6. At the end of the period, the same percentage of students at University and
7. University were in part-time employment.
8. The percentage of students who worked on a part time basis decreased at University.



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