Writing Task 1 | Tips Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

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Earlier we looked at how to reference data. In this class we will look at how to describe trends.
In the IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 you need to be comfortable writing about statistics and trends in data. If you can’t do this effectively, your Task Achievement will be low. People often struggle to find the right vocabulary to accurately describe trends in data so we thought we’d help you with this post. 

On this page you can:

  1. Learn useful verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs for discussing trends.
  2. Practice using this vocabulary to write individual sentences.
  3. Practice writing a Task 1 style report about statistics and check it against one prepared by us.
Verbs and Nouns
It will boost your vocabulary band score if you use both verb and noun phrases to describe statistics. so first of all let’s have a look at some examples of vocabulary you could use.
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In order to give more precise information about trends and statistics we can use adjectives to modify nouns and adverbs to modify verbs.
​These adjectives can be used with noun phrases to show a big change.
dramatic / vast / impressive / huge

For example, ‘there was a dramatic increase in the number of cars sold between 2001 and 2003’.

​Notice the form of the sentence ‘There was… (noun phrase) in…’ – this is a good way to start the sentence – later on we’ll practice this type of sentence.

​These adjectives can be used with noun phrases to show a small change.
slight / small / gradual

For example, ‘there was a gradual rise in the number of electric cars sold over the period‘.
These adverbs can be used with verb phrases to show a big change.
dramatically /  impressively / sharply

For example, ‘sales of cars increased dramatically between 2001 and 2003’.
​These adverbs can be used with verb phrases to show a small change
Slightly / slowly / gradually

For example, ‘sales of motorbikes declined slowly through the year’.

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Common Errors
Watch out for the following common mistakes that people make.
  1. People often make mistakes with verb tense. If the data is about the past, such as the sale of cars between 2000 and 2005, then you must use the past tense of the verb. E.g. decline becomes declined
  2. All of the noun phrases above are countable and need the indefinite article ‘a’. Forgetting the article could affect your grammar band score. 

Practice Task 1
Look at the following sentences. Some are correct whilst others contain mistakes. Can you tell which ones are wrong and why?
  1. There was a slight rising in the cost of fuel at the beginning of winter.
  2. In October the number of tourists was a plummet .
  3. The proportion of people using the bus in June increased slightly, whereas, those travelling by car fell impressively.
  4. There was huge increase in the production of tea in the 19th century.
  5. Next year it is projected that the numbers of people using social media will fall gradual.

Answers

1.

Wrong
There was a slight rise in the cost of fuel at the beginning of winter.
The wrong form of the verb ‘rise’ is used.
2.

Wrong
‘In October the number of tourists plummeted’ .
or
‘There was a plummet in the number of tourists in October’.

3.

Correct
4.

Wrong
There was a huge increase in the production of tea in the 19th century.
The article ‘a’ should be used before ‘huge increase’.
5.

Wrong
Next year it is projected that the numbers of people using social media will fall gradually.
The adverb ‘gradually’ should be used to describe the verb ‘fall



Practice Task 2

The following sentences contain verb phrases to describe statistics. Rewrite them with noun phrases.
                  For example – The number rose. / There was a rise in the number.

  1. The price of cat food surged from $1.50 to $2.00 a can in late 2010
  2. The price of oil dropped steadily towards the end of the decade.
  3. The number of people moving to the city remained steady during the period.
  4. The government reduced subsidies and prices fluctuated wildly for the rest of the year.
  5. The percentage of people travelling to work by bus increased dramatically from 11% to 23% while the percentage using cars dropped slightly to 18%.


Answers

1.

There was a surge in the price of cat food from $1.50 to $2.00 per can in late 2010.
2.

There was a steady drop in the price of oil towards the end of the decade.
3.

There was a steady number of people moving to the city during the period.
4.

There was a reduction in subsidies by the government and a wild fluctuation in prices for the rest of the year.
5.

There was a dramatic increase in the percentage of people travelling to work by bus from 11% to 23% while there was a slight drop in the percentage of people using cars to 18%.


Practice Task 3
The graph below shows the price of apples and oranges between 1999 and 2003. Write a short report about the change in the price of apples and oranges shown in the graph. Make sure you use both verb and noun phrases in your description. When you have finished check the IELTSTutors example found below the graph.
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Example Report

​The graph shows the price of Apples and Oranges per Kilo over a 4-year period from 1999 to 2003. Despite the price fluctuating quite a lot, apples finished the period costing much more than at the beginning, while oranges finished just a little more expensive than their initial price.

In 1999 apples cost $5 per kilo, however, in the following year there was a drastic decrease in the price to only $1, the lowest price for apples over the whole period. Between 2000 and 2002 the price recovered to an extent, climbing from $1 to $3. In the last year of the period there was a sharp increase in the cost to $7, $2 more than at the start of the period.

On the other hand, the price of oranges more or less followed the opposite trend. The price was low in 1999 at only $2. However, the following year it rose impressively to $5. Between 2000 and 2001 there was a steady increase in the cost to $6. This was the highest price that oranges achieved over the whole period. The following year the cost declined sharply to $3 and in the final year oranges lost another 50 cents in value to finish the period at $2.50.

Now move on to our Series of Line Graph Lessons.
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