Writing Task 1 | Bar Charts Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

​Bar charts are a common way to illustrate data. In this class you will learn the basics of how to analyse and write a task 1 essay about a bar chart.


Exercise 1 | Know the Information

It is always important to understand the information on the bar chart before you start writing. Study the bar chart below and answer the questions which follow with words or phrases from the box.
You should spend about twenty minutes on this task.

The graph below shows the contribution of tourism in billions of dollars to the Egyptian economy from 1982 to 2003.

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

Write at least 150 words.

Picture
Click or touch a word above
1. The data shows how much money was .
2. The bars represent .
3. The x-axis (the horizontal line on the graph) shows .
4. You must give an overview (summarise) the or trends in the data.
5. The main features are often numbers on the graph.
6. The main trends are usually values (numbers) over time
7. The income from tourism was in 2003 than in 1982.
8. The year with the highest contribution to the Egyptian economy from tourism was .
9. was the year with the lowest income generated from tourism in Egypt.
10. You must not write about why you think the numbers changed. This is not an task.
Answer Notes
If you correctly answered questions 7-9 then you have understood the main features and trends in the data - well done!

It is very important that you present the main features or trends in the data in an overview sentence or sentences. A good overview should allow the reader to understand what the graph generally shows without giving any detail (don't use numbers/values and specific descriptions in the overview - save this information for the body paragraphs).

IELTSTutors recommend that you include this information in the introduction so that you don’t forget it or run out of time to include it. You must include an overview in order to get a good score for academic writing task 1.


Exercise 2 | Analyse Introductions

Which of the following introduction paragraphs do you think is the best?
Introduction A
 
The bar chart illustrates the changing value in US dollars of tourism to the Egyptian economy between 1982 and 2003. Overall, it is clear that there were both increases and decreases in the amount of money generated by tourism over the period.
 
42 words
Introduction B
 
The graph shows the contribution of tourism in billions of dollars to the Egyptian economy from 1982 to 2003. Overall, there were higher amounts of money generated by tourism at the end of the period than at the beginning with the lowest in 1982 and the highest in 2000.
 
49 words
Introduction C
 
The bar chart illustrates the income generated by tourism in Egypt in certain years between 1982 and 2003. Overall, there was a higher income from tourism at the end of the period than at the beginning with an increase in income from 1982 to 2000 followed by a decline.

 
49 words
Introduction D
 
The bar chart illustrates the income generated by tourism in Egypt in certain years between 1982 and 2003. Overall, there was a higher income from tourism at the end of the period than at the beginning with an increase in income from 0.3 billion dollars in 1982 to a peak of 4.4 billion dollars in 2000 followed by a decline to around 1.7 billion dollars at the end of the period.
 
71 words 
The best introduction is .



Introduction A
The first sentence of the introduction accurately describes the topic of the bar chart. This is a good start. However, the overview is much too general and doesn’t really tell the reader anything meaningful about the graph. As the overview is incomplete, this introduction would receive a poor score for task achievement.
Introduction B
​The first sentence of the introduction is copied directly from the IELTS task. It is not paraphrased at all and so is unacceptable. The examiner would delete it from the text as it is copied material. This would reduce the word count and the coherence of the essay. On the other hand, the overview sentence is complete and accurate.
Introduction C
​This introduction paraphrases the topic of the data successfully and provides an accurate and complete overview. It is an excellent introduction paragraph.
Introduction D
​The first sentence successfully paraphrases the topic of the data. However, far too much information is given in the overview. The purpose of the overview is to provide a general description of main features and trends. However, in introduction D, a lot of specific detail is included. This is unnecessary and does not follow the format that IELTS requires.


Exercise 3

It is important that you accurately use prepositions to describe changes in data.
Study the example paragraph and complete the table below by selecting the appropriate word in the text.
Click or touch a word above
1. Use to state a number at one time. This preposition often follows the verb stand.
2. Use to present the amount or size of a change.
3. Use to present the number after a change or at the end of a period.
4. Use to present the number at the start of a change.


​Exercise 4

​The following band 9 sample essay has had the prepositions relating to data removed. Select the appropriate preposition, at, by, to or from in order to complete each sentence in the text.
to   by   at   from  
Click or touch a word above
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1. The bar chart illustrates the income generated by tourism in Egypt in certain years between 1982 and 2003. Overall, there was a higher income from tourism at the end of the period than at the beginning with an increase in income from 1982 to 2000 followed by a decline.
2. In 1982, income from tourism stood 1.) the lowest amount of the whole period 2) roughly 0.3 billion dollars. Between 1982 and the year 2000, income from tourism in Egypt increased significantly. In 1993 it increased 3) 1.5 billion dollars 4) approximately 1.8 billion. 2 years later the figure stood 5) 2.3 billion and in a further 2 years it was just below 3 billion dollars. Income from tourism reached a peak in 2000 6) around 4.3 billion dollars.
3. In 2001 income from tourism dropped slightly 7) 3.8 billion dollars and it remained stable at this level in the following year. In 2003 there was a significant drop in the contribution of tourism as it fell 8) 3.8 billion 9) the same level as in 1993 10) roughly 1.8 billion dollars.
4. 180 words
Vocabulary Note
Notice that when ‘increase’ is used as a noun, it is often followed by the preposition ‘in’.
Many candidates are worried that their score for lexis (vocabulary) will be poor if they repeat prepositions. However, there is no problem with repeating prepositions. In fact, you must repeat these words as there are no other words which can be used for this job in English.
Complete sample essaY
The bar chart illustrates the income generated by tourism in Egypt in certain years between 1982 and 2003. Overall, there was a higher income from tourism at the end of the period than at the beginning with an increase in income from 1982 to 2000 followed by a decline.

In 1982, income from tourism stood at the lowest amount of the whole period at roughly 0.3 billion dollars. Between 1982 and the year 2000, income from tourism in Egypt increased significantly. In 1993 it increased by 1.5 billion dollars to approximately 1.8 billion. 2 years later the figure stood at 2.3 billion and in a further 2 years it was just below 3 billion dollars. Income from tourism reached a peak in 2000 at around 4.3 billion dollars.

In 2001 income from tourism dropped slightly to 3.8 billion dollars and it remained stable at this level in the following year. In 2003 there was a significant drop in the contribution of tourism as it fell from 3.8 billion to the same level as in 1993 at roughly 1.8 billion dollars.

180 words
Well done for completing the lesson!