Academic IELTS Writing Task 1

Graph Questions

Academic IELTS Writing Task 1 Graphs Questions

How to Write an IELTS Writing Task 1 Graph Question

As in any task there are different steps to take:

To analyse this more closely, we’ll look at the following example:

The line graph below shows changes in the amount and type of fast food consumed by Australian teenagers from 1975 to 2000.

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

Write at least 150 words.

Fast food consumed by Australian teenagers

Read the question

When reading the question underline the keywords and immediately write down some synonyms for the key words. You will need those synonyms to paraphrase your question in the introduction as well as throughout the rest of the essay.

Looking at the example:

The line graph below shows changes in the amount and type of fast food consumed by Australian teenagers from 1975 to 2000.

This is the main part of the question, which is always different from question to question. It provides information on the graph itself. This is the sentence you will have to paraphrase as your introduction.

Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant. Write at least 150 words.

This part is always the same for any Academic writing task 1 graph question, you need to:

    • Summarize the information: this means you do not need to write about everything, you only have 150 to 200 words to write about this. It will be impossible to write about everything. Just focus on the things that you notice at first glance.
    • Make comparison: This is extremely important, as may students just write down what they see, but do not actual compare the data. This comparison is important for your Task Achievement, without it you will score very low. It will also be an essential part of your grammatical range, as you will need to demonstrate your knowledge of comparative and superlative structure.
    • Write at least 150 words: This is the minimum of words you need to write, anything below 150 words will get your a lower grade.

Synonyms for the key words:

  • The line graph: the chart, the graph
  • Shows: illustrates, depicts, represents, describes
  • Amount: quantity, the number of, a total of
  • Type: class, kind, variety, category
  • Fast food: junk food
  • Consume: eaten
  • Teenagers: teens, young people, youth, youngsters, adolescents

If you now use these synonyms to rewrite the first part of the question, you have your introduction and first paragraph to the task. If you have some issues with vocabulary have a look at our vocabulary lessons.

Analyse the graph

When analysing/examining the graph, do not spend too much time on it, about 2 minutes max if you are not so good at analysing, or haven’t practiced a lot. With some good practice you should be able to do this under a minute. You only need to write about the obvious things you see at first glance. Going back to the example:

Fast food consumed by Australian teenagers

At first glance we can see that:

  • Fish and Chips go down
  • Pizza and hamburgers go up

Yes there are other minor differences and pizza and hamburger do not go up at the same rate and dates, but generally speaking they follow the same trend. Fish and chips follows to opposite trend and are going down. If you now put these 2 ideas together and compare them you have the second paragraph of the task, the general overview.

If you want to go into more detail, you have reached the 3rd part/body of the task the in-depth analysis. 

Take some notes

You already started taking notes when you read the question, those are the synonyms you need for later. When you analyse the task you also take some notes or circle the import things you see. At this point don’t worry about your writing or any of your notes. The examiner will never see them, he/she will only see your final writing. So, use your test paper as you see fit, draw on it, scribble things on it, take notes, as long as it helps you and makes sense to you.

You have written some synonyms down for the question. You have written down, or circled and taken some notes on the things you noticed at first glance. You are now ready to start writing. 

Write the answer

To write down the answer to the question, the structure is important. Since you already know you need to paraphrase the question as your introduction, describe the general trends in your 2nd paragraph and do an in-depth analysis in the last, you should understand the basic structure:

There are three basic things you need to structure an Academic IELTS writing task 1.

We’ll look at each of these in turn.

1) Write the introduction for the graph

You need to begin with one or two sentences that state what the IELTS writing task 1 shows. To do this, paraphrase the title of the graph, making sure you put in a time frame if there is one. For this you just use the synonyms from your notes and rearrange some of the words to get a sentence which has the same meaning, but with different words.

Again the same example:

Above the text:

The line graph below shows changes in the amount and type of fast food consumed by Australian teenagers from 1975 to 2000.

Paraphrased introduction:

The graph compares the consumption of junk food for teens in Australia over a 25 year period, between 1975 and 2000.

As you can see it says exactly the same thing as the title of the graph, but with different words and some words in a different order.

2) Write a General Overview

You also need to state what the main trend or trends in the graph are. Don’t give detail such as data here. You are just looking for something that describes what is happening overall. Here we have the notes you scribbled on the graph and the circles you drew to help you understand:

  • Fish and Chips go down
  • Pizza and hamburgers go up

Again looking at the example:

Overall, the consumption of fish and chips declined over the provided period, whereas the amount of pizza and hamburgers that were eaten increased.

This simple, but to the point sentence covers the main changes that took place over the whole period. So, this sentence will be your 2nd paragraph. You can also attach your general overview to your introduction to form one paragraph, especially since here both parts are very short.

The graph compares the consumption of junk food for teens in Australia over a 25 year period, between 1975 and 2000.Overall, the consumption of fish and chips declined over provided the period, whereas the amount of pizza and hamburgers that were eaten increased.

3) Write the in-depth analysis

Here you write about more specific details in the body paragraphs. When you give the detail in your body paragraphs in your IELTS writing task 1, you must make reference to the data! This means you need to start using the numbers on the axises or the other numbers provided in the graph.

For this question, the x-axis talks about the years, the y-axis provides information on how many times they ate the different kinds of food.

The most sensible way to organizing your body paragraphs for an IELTS writing task 1 is to group data together where there are patterns, by identifying similarities and differences .These were the patterns you discovered before and wrote about in your general overview.

The example identified in the overview that the consumption of fish and chips declined over the period, whereas the amount of pizza and hamburgers that were eaten increased. So, it is clear that pizza and hamburgers were following a similar pattern, but fish and chips are different. This means that the easiest way to organise your 2 body paragraphs is:

  • 1 paragraph in depth analysis of fish and chips
  • 1 paragraph in-depth analysis of pizza and hamburgers

Here is an example of the first body paragraph:

In 1975, the most popular junk food with Australian adolescents was fish and chips, being eaten 100 times a year. This was far higher than Pizza and hamburgers, which were consumed approximately 5 times a year. However, apart from a brief rise again from 1980 to 1985, the consumption of fish and chips gradually declined over the 25 year timescale to finish at just under 40 in 2000.

As you can see, the focus is on fish and chips, but we are not just listing the information we see, we are also comparing this with the other information (pizza and hamburgers). As said before your comparisons of the data is an essential part of the task.

Next, the second body focuses on the other foods:

In sharp contrast to this, teenagers ate the other two fast foods at much higher levels. Pizza consumption increased gradually until it overtook the consumption of fish and chips in 1990. It then levelled off from 1995 to 2000. The biggest rise was seen in hamburgers as the occasions they were eaten increased sharply throughout the 70’s and 80’s, exceeding that of fish and chips in 1985. It finished at the same level as fish and chips began, with a  consumption of 100 times a year. 

Putting it all together we get the full model answer:

Fast food consumed by Australian teenagers

The graph compares the consumption of junk food for teens in Australia over a 25 year period, between 1975 and 2000.Overall, the consumption of fish and chips declined over provided the period, whereas the amount of pizza and hamburgers that were eaten increased.

In 1975, the most popular junk food with Australian adolescents was fish and chips, being eaten 100 times a year. This was far higher than Pizza and hamburgers, which were consumed approximately 5 times a year. However, apart from a brief rise again from 1980 to 1985, the consumption of fish and chips gradually declined over the 25 year timescale to finish at just under 40 in 2000.

In sharp contrast to this, teenagers ate the other two fast foods at much higher levels. Pizza consumption increased gradually until it overtook the consumption of fish and chips in 1990. It then levelled off from 1995 to 2000. The biggest rise was seen in hamburgers as the occasions they were eaten increased sharply throughout the 70’s and 80’s, exceeding that of fish and chips in 1985. It finished at the same level as fish and chips began, with a  consumption of 100 times a year.

(198 words)

Now you have a good idea about how to write an Academic IELTS task 1 graph question, but you might still have some issues with the grammar or the vocabulary. If you need some help with this have a look at our grammar lesson. For vocabulary you can have a look at the general vocabulary or vocabulary to describe changes.If you still need more help have a look at our tips and tricks for Academic writing task 1.

If this doesn’t help you enough, ask us a question in the comments and we’ll help you.

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