Writing Task 1 | Tables Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

In the previous class, you learnt how to start your task 1 table essay by stating the topic of the data. In this class you will learn how to analyse the data and produce a coherent (easy to understand) overview.

Exercise 1

​The overview is one of the most important parts of your answer. Without an overview you will be unable to achieve a higher band.
The instructions for task 1 state:
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant

​The overview should provide a summary of the data.
Read the following statements and decide if they are correct or incorrect.
1. The overview should be short, just one or two sentences.
2. The overview should be around 4 or 5 sentences.
3. The overview should start with an overview signal word such as ‘overall’.
4. The overview does not require a signal word such as ‘overall’.
5. The overview should provide specific details.
6. The overview should not provide specific details.
7. The overview should provide your opinion.
8. The overview should provide only facts.
9. The overview should be included in the introduction paragraph after a sentence explaining the topic of the data.
10. The overview should be included in the body of the essay.


​Exercise 2

​Read the following overviews. Which are acceptable and which are unacceptable?
1. Overall, it is clear that the most common form of transport was the car with 67% of people making at least one journey by car each week. This may be because people like to travel on their own rather than sharing space with others.
Acceptable
Unacceptable
2. Overall, the most commonly used form of transport is the car, whereas buses and trains are used by a much smaller percentage of people and only a very small percentage of people use bicycles.
Acceptable
Unacceptable
3. Overall, it is clear that the most commonly used form of transport is the car, whereas buses and trains are used by a much smaller percentage of people with the least popular being the bicycle, which is interesting because in my city people like commuting by bicycle.
Acceptable
Unacceptable

Answer Explanations

Sentence 1

There are numerous problems with overview 1.
Although it starts with the appropriate signal word, details are presented and opinions are given which make it a bad overview.
​It also only contains information about one set of data – car use – and so doesn’t give us an overview of the other important data. 
Sentence 2

This is a good overview.
​It starts with the appropriate signal word, it provides an overview of the most to the least popular forms of transportation, and it doesn’t give any specific details. 
Sentence 3

Overview 3 starts well but finishes poorly as the writer writes about his city. Do not write about anything that is not shown in the data.


​Exercise 3

​The table below provides data from one time. It does not show any change over time. In mathematics and academic research this is known as discrete data. It is like a photo providing an image of one specific time. 
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

​To write an overview of this data you need to summarise the most important features.
You should look for…
  • the highest and lowest values.
  • the most common/popular category.
  • similarities in the data.
  • major differences/exceptions in the data.

However, do not write about all of these things as it will make your overview too long. You must be selective so only summarise the most important features.

Which of the following overviews are acceptable and which are unacceptable?
1. Overall, consumer spending is highest on entertainment/leisure in all 5 countries at between 22% and 35%, and lowest on fashion/clothing with the one notable exception of Singapore, where transport receives the lowest consumer spending at 4%.
Acceptable
Unacceptable
2. Overall, consumer spending is highest on entertainment/leisure in all 5 countries and lowest on fashion/clothing with the one notable exception of Singapore.
Acceptable
Unacceptable
3. Overall, consumer spending is highest on entertainment/leisure in all 5 countries with the highest spending being in Singapore, the second highest consumer spending category is transport and the lowest consumer spending category is fashion/clothing with the one notable exception of Singapore.
Acceptable
Unacceptable
4. Overall, consumer spending is highest on entertainment/leisure in all 5 countries and lowest on fashion/clothing with the one notable exception of Singapore because transport is very cheap in Singapore.
Acceptable
Unacceptable

Sentence 1

This is unacceptable as the overview provides too much information, including details of the data.
Sentence 2

This is a good overview, as it contains the main feature of the table (high spending on entertainment/leisure) and briefly mentions the exception.
Sentence 3

Overview 3 contains too much detail so is overly long.
Sentence 4

This is a strong overview until it mentions the price of transport in Singapore. This should not be included as this information is not displayed in the table.

​Now you know how to paraphrase the topic of the data and pick out the main features in order to write the overview. In the next class,  you will learn how to organize the data and write body paragraphs.
Share This