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IELTS Writing

IELTS Writing Task 1: How to describe a line graph

This article will help you get better at describing line graphs clearly and accurately in the IELTS Academic Writing task.

And these are what we're going to discuss:

  • High scoring IELTS Writing strategies
  • Sample task and an answer
  • IELTS exam tips

A line graph (chart) shows how the value of something changes over time. The horizontal axis usually illustrates different points in time, e.g. months or years, while the vertical axis illustrates quantities (e.g. numbers or percentages). One line graph can consist of 1 or several lines which can show a clear trend or fluctuations. You can receive one or several line graphs or a combination of a line graph with other charts, diagrams or tables.

Before you start writing:

  1. Pay attention to whether you have percentages (5%%, 10%) or numbers (hundreds, thousands, etc.)
  2. Look at the time period. It can refer to the present, past, future, or all three. Your choice of tenses should depend on that.
  3. Select what you should highlight and compare and what you can skip.

High scoring IELTS Writing strategies

A small line graph
  • Describe all key changes, otherwise you won’t get 150 words.
  • Use enough adjectives and adverbs to add details.
  • Use longer phrases, linkers and grammatical structures to make sure you have at least 150 words, for example use “...provides information about...” instead of “...illustrates...”.

Big line graph
Be selective. Focus on the:
  • Starting and end points (ranking)
  • Trend(s)
  • Peaks/lows
  • Fluctuations
  • Plateaus

Several line graphs
  • Decide how they relate to each other.
  • Describe key trends, peaks and lows, fluctuations and plateaus for each graph.

A line graph or several ones and a pie diagram/table/bar chart
Decide how they relate to each other. Be selective. If there are a lot of figures, focus on the:
  • Starting and end points (ranking)
  • Trend(s)
  • Peaks/lows
  • Fluctuations
  • Plateaus

IELTS Writing line graph task and an answer

In this task of the IELST Writing test you should:

  1. Summarise the information. That means describe the line graph.
  2. Select and report the main features/trends and support them by data.
  3. Make comparisons where relevant.
  4. Write at least 150 words.

Model answer prepared by the British Council:

The graph gives information about population growth in China and India from the year 2000 with predicted changes to 2050.

In 2000, China’s population stood at 1.25 billion and this number rose steadily to where it is currently at around 1.35 billion. It is projected to peak at 1.45 billion in 2025, when the number will level off and start to decline. It is expected that by 2050 the population will have dropped slightly to 1.4 billion.

In contrast, although the population of India started at just one billion in 2000, it has increased rapidly to just under 1.25 billion today. The data indicate it will continue its upward surge, overtaking China in 2030 and reaching a peak of 1.6 billion by 2050.

Overall, the major difference between the two population trends is that the number of people in China is forecast to start falling after 2030 whereas the population of India will continue to soar.

IELTS Academic band score: 9.0

Pay attention to the blue – topic-specific vocabulary, green – linkers, brown – grammatical structures.

You should have at least 3 paragraphs in your response: an introduction, a body paragraph, and a summary. Instead of a summary you can have an overview in the second paragraph which goes after an introduction. The aim of a summary or an overview is the same – to highlight the main features and/or trends.

However, in the model answer there are 4 paragraphs where the 1st paragraph is an introduction, the 2nd paragraph is the first body paragraph describing the population of China while the 3rd paragraph is the second body paragraph describing the population of India and comparing it with China and the 4th paragraph is a summary.

The number of paragraphs depends on the task and your analysis.

IELTS Writing Task 1 Tips

Use this structure to get a high score for task achievement at your IELTS Academic exam:

Paragraph 1. Introduction. (≈20 words)

  • Say what the graph shows
  • Paraphrase the task
  • Don’t add any statistics

Paragraph 2. Body paragraph.* (≈110 words)

  • Analyse the information given
  • Highlight the main features/trends
  • Make comparisons where relevant
  • Add exact percentages/numbers/years. Be as precise as possible.

Add words such as “about/approximately” or “just over (under)/almost/nearly” before the numbers if you don’t give precise figures.

* Add more paragraphs in the main body if necessary.

Paragraph 3. Summary. (≈20 words)

  • Shortly paraphrase key ideas from the body paragraph(s)
  • Don’t add any statistics

Read more:

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