IELTS Task 1 doesn’t have to be difficult. If you can master a few verb tenses, learn the appropriate verbs for describing change, and then group all the info into paragraphs you can pick up easy points.
Also here is the 80/20 of the whole post: Step 1: Identify the information, group it, build your body paragraph 1 and 2, write a rough plan.
Step 2: Write introduction (describe briefly what is the graph and the general idea).
Step 3: Write body paragraphs (FOLLOW the plan written before).
Step 4: Write summary, include the maximum and the minimums, and the exceptions.
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Welcome to this new episode.
I just finished recording.
This is a really good episode because we’re going to go into some great detail
how to describe a line graph for Academic Task 1.
And you’re going to get the instructions,
and some phrases to use
and of course, some tips.
First of all, I’ve got some information for you:
5 things you can do to increase your chances of passing the IELTS exam.
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So let’s get to it…
Now, part 1 is how to describe a line graph.
We’re going to look at what you need to do on the exam day,
how to group the information,
what to do for your introduction,
what to do for your summary,
and then the 5 tips.
Then the 2nd part, we’re going to look at what you need, which would be:
Good control of transferring from the active to the passive voice.
You need a good control of adverbs.
There’s a big list of verbs.
Then you’ve got some phrases for the introduction.
Some phrases for summaries.
And some phrases for describing change.
And you’ll also get an exercise, so if you don’t have a pen and paper with you go and grab one now. ‘Cause it’ll be definitely beneficial.
Let’s get crackin’.
Decide what will be in each paragraph.
This is what you need to do:
You need to group the information.
Now, you can’t see it (of course, ’cause you’re listening to the podcast). However, if you go to the website you’d be able to find the post.
Go to podcast number 66 and you’ll be able to see all the graphic information.
You’ll be able to see the whole presentation.
There’s a graph I’ll be using to describe as an example and it’s basically UK supermarket sales between 2001 and 2009, in million pounds sterling.
I’ll just briefly describe it.
There’s 5 lines. Each one representing a supermarket: Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrison’s, and the Co-op.
Now in this stage, when you see the graph, what you need to do is group it.
And I recommend doing 4 paragraphs in total.
One for your introduction.
One for your main body paragraph #1.
Then main body paragraph #2.
And then for the conclusion (final paragraph).
When you’re grouping the information…
I’m telling you about grouping the information first because when you’re in the exam room, what you need to do is get a solid plan together, and then follow the plan.
So I always recommend that you plan your essays.
You plan your body paragraphs,
get a rough idea about what you’re going to do,
and then when you start writing, you start off with your introduction (which I’ll tell you how to do in a second)
then you transfer your notes from your plan (body pragraph#1, body paragraph #2)
and then you stick in your conclusion.
So that’s why I’m trying to teach you now how to group the information.
With the graph, I can see (in front of me) the 2 companies that represent more or less similar evolution.
So in the first paragraph, I’m going to talk in detail about these 2 ’cause they’re the ones that have basically just increased all the way.
And then in the next paragraph, I’ll talk about the second grouping, which is the ones that haven’t done as well, which have levelled off and just remained stable.
For the second part, and I’ll mention one (which is the exception; the co-op, which rolls, stabilized, and then sank or levelled off).
So I get a rough plan in front of me.
Then you keep it apart and then go straight into the introduction.
So for the introduction, what I strongly recommend you do is:
You write 1 sentence that describes the graph and the general idea.
So in this case, if I’ll describe the graph I’ll say “The line graph shows the sales of 5 UK supermarkets between 2001 and 2009.”
Now, that’s one description. But what I recommend is that you do both.
Where you describe what the graph is and the general idea of what the graph is trying to communicate.
So this is another introduction you could use:
“From the line graph, it is clear that the majority of the UK supermarkets saw sales grow over the ten-year period.”
And that’s general; it’s almost like the summary. But also described what the actual graph is showing.
So just summarize, describe what the graph is (what it’s showing) and what it’s trying to describe as well.
Now, sometimes you won’t be as fortunate and you’ll get one that just has lots of different data, and there’s no clear pattern.
So you just basically say that. You can say:
“From the lie graph, it is clear that there is no constant pattern with regards to student enrollments in the United States, over the period shown (or over the 50-year period).”
And I described what’s roughly on both axis, what the graph is showing, the actual subject of the graph (in this case the companies, or in here the case of students, the enrollments) and what it’s trying to describe.
Now, for your summary, they do pretty much the same but you don’t have to describe (or course) the graph.
But you can go into a little bit more detail.
Now, in this case what I would say is, I would go in and mention the major players.
Not all the major players but it depends on the graph here (if I only go about 5 so I can mention them all).
If I had more I would probably just group them and say “The northern countries…” or let’s say, “The majority of the western suppliers…” or whatever.
In this case (because I’ve got 5), I can go into a little bit of detail.
And basically summarize each one.
So here, I’ll say:
“Overall, it is clear that Tesco and Sainsbury’s increased sales the most, followed by Asda and Morrison’s, the Co-op undoubtedly performed the worst.”
So just to quickly summarize, this is the process:
Step 1: Identify the information, group it, and start planning your body paragraph 1 and 2, write a rough plan for each one.
Step 2: Write your introduction (describe briefly what the graph is and the general idea).
Step 3: Write your body paragraphs, following very closely the plan you wrote before.
Step 4: Write your summary. If you can, include the maximums, the minimums and even the exceptions.
But what I’m trying to say is in the summary, go into a little bit more detail than in the introduction.
Now, some 5 tips:
1. Your opinion is not necessary.
Maybe you know the reason why the sales failed or why gold prices increased, but do not mention it; it’s not necessary.
Because what you have to do is a purely objective task (which is describe the bar chart in front of you).
2. Check to make sure the subject and verb agree.
That’s a very common problem.
3. Avoid basic words (big, small, good, bad… words like these).
You can usually use more sophisticated vocabulary.
4. Unlike your IELTS Task 2 essay, you do not need a topic sentence in the introduction.
You just need to do it like I said before.
5. In the final paragraph (this is your summary paragraph, not your conclusion). Do not use “To conclude…”
Use “In summary…” or “Overall, we can see… blah blah blah.”
Now then, let’s have a look at the grammar you would need, and verbs and the nouns and all the rest of it.
First of all, a good skill to have to show the examiner you know a variety of structures, is to transform the words and the sentences from active to passive.
Let’s go through 3 examples here, and I want you to try and transform them before I do:
Sales crashed to new levels.
How would we transform that to the passive?
We would say, “There was a crash to new levels in sales.”
Now, if we wanted to change, “The sales rose quickly,” how would we change that?
We would say, “There was a quick rise in the sales.” or “… quick rise in sales.)
Another one, “Employment failed drastically.”
We could say, “There was a drastic fall in employment.”
Some more. Let’s go from passive to active. And this is basically doing the same but in reverse.
Here’s the first one for you to transform, “There was an incredible decrease in output.”
“There was an incredible decrease in output.”
How would we transform that?
We would say, “Output decreased incredibly.”
I’ll say a few more. Write them down and then try and change them.
“In 2010 there was a plunge in turnover.” Transform that.
“In 2010 there was a plunge in turnover.”
Of course, “Turnover plunged in 2010.”
“After the crisis there was a crash in profit.”
Transformation, “Profit crashed after the crisis.”
Now, let’s have a look at adverbs…
If we have an “It is…” sentence, for example
“It is clear the trend is downward.”
We can transform that and we can say,
Clearly the trend is downward.”
Another way; I’ll give you another example.
“It is evident that sales dropped in the first quarter.”
Here we could say, “Evidently sales in the first quarter dropped.”
What I’m doing is I’m showing you a variety of different structures that you can use in the exam, to increase your grammatical range and pick up some points.
Now, here’s some useful expressions. Hopefully, you’ve got a pen in front of you and you can write these down because:
1. Not only is it going to increase the chances that you’ll remember them.
2. You also got a handy list in front of you.
“Over a five-year period…” (Of course you can adapt that) “Over a ten-year period…” “Over a five-day period…”
Here’s another one: “Throughout the 1980s…” or “Throughout the 1990s…” “Throughout the 1810s…” It just shows the actual duration.
“Throughout the 1980s sales were climbing consistently.” For example.
Here’s another one:
“The period from 1944 to 1999 witnessed… (“a spectacular growth,” for example)”
“The period from 1950 to 1960 witnessed explosive growth.”
And then another one:
“… from that time on…”
So we could have said, “In July, sales failed. And from that time on they continued to fall until May.”
So hopefully you’ve wrote those down and you’ve got a nice list of time expressions.
Here are some useful verbs… Here’s a tip as well:
Get used to using these verbs and learn the past of these verbs (the “past” form).
For example: “Sink,” “Sank,” “Sunk,” and “Fall,” “Fell,” “Fallen.”
For the ones that describe a downfall or negative reaction, we’ve got:
And once again, we’re just improving the lexical resource.
So write them down and try to incorporate them in the next essay you write.
“Plunge,” “crash,” “tumble,” “sink,” “fall,” “drop,” and “decline.”
And then some verbs that describe a stabilization. We’ve got:
When it describes the opposite:
And we can also say, “Fluctuate violently.” That’s a nice little collocation there.
And then we’ve got the positive verbs. The verbs that describe upward trends. That would be:
“Rocket” (Sales rocketed in the first quarter.)
(Population levels) “Leapt” (in the second quarter.
Just to put it in the infinitive:
Now, if you’re using a strong verb like “rocket,” “soar,” or “surge,” or “leap,” we do not need to modify it.
We do not need to say, “sky-rocketed,” or “rocketed upwards.”
It’s sufficiently clear by just using these verbs.
Let’s have a look at some phrases to use for the introduction. Also write these down and start incorporating them in your essays.
“From the graph it is clear…”
“As can be seen from the line graph…”
“As is shown by the table…”
“As is illustrated by the pie chart…”
So 4 quite generic sentences that we can use in the introduction,
and we can use them in the exam room,
and we start writing,
and we do not get of the mind block (or mind goes blank because you start writing straight away).
Here’s a list of phrases to describe the change. Write these down as well; it’ll help you remember them:
“The number of consumers decreased ten fold…”
“Sales doubled to reach 55% of the total in 1923…”
“Production stood at the same level in the following century…”
“The influx of the new competitors remained constant…”
“The steady decline was maintained throughout the 1980s…”
“Internet traffic practically doubled…”
So what I’m hoping you are doing is writing these down and hopefully you’ll be able to see how you can link them with the time phrases.
“Internet traffic practically doubled throughout the 1950s.”
“Internet traffic practically doubled from 1980 to the year 2000.”
Now, here’s a very good exercise to do which will help you improve your listening,
and will help you get the grips with some advanced vocabulary and sentence structure.
Now, instead of writing (well, you can write as well; it might help you) I want you to draw the actual line graph that I describe.
It’s only a small graph; maybe about 5cm x 5cm. Pretty simple.
And you can go to the website:
Put “ieltspodcast 66” into Google. Find the blogpost, and then check your drawings with the drawings of the blog post.
So here’s the first one:
1. The price reached a peak before falling a little and then maintaining the same level.
Here’s a good tip: Draw it as you hear it.
“The price reached a peak before falling a little then maintaining the same level.”
2. The sales of our products fell slightly in the final quarter.
3. The value of the shares has shown a steady decline.
4. Sales fluctuated violently then levelled out towards the end of the period.
5. The investment levels rose suddenly, after an initially flat period.
6. The Research and Development budget grew sharply, then steadied briefly only to resume climbing in the final quarter.
7. The sudden collapse in share prices came shortly after June.
8. There has been a steady increase in costs over several years.
So hopefully you wrote out every single description.
If you didn’t, maybe you could go back, listen to those again, and write it out, and then try and draw the description which corresponds to your written description.
So try and draw the graph which corresponds to your written description.
Here are the answers (This is the video; you can see the answers. If not, you can just go to the blog post. Sorry about that.).
I’m not gonna try to describe it.
By the way, you probably noticed that all of these descriptions and exercises that I’m talking about today is all financial vocabulary.
The reason I decided to do the whole podcast using financial vocabulary is because there is an increased chance that you’re going to hear the same words once, twice, three times.
So that’ll help you remember it and you’ll get some topic-specific vocabulary related to finance and economics.
So that’s the end of this podcast and video.
There’s just 5 more things you can do to increase your chances of scoring high (I said them at the beginning).
1. Go to the podcast, sign up and you get a free PDF there (20 Band 9 IELTS Task 2 essays and about 250 IELTS Task 2 questions).
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I hope everything keeps going well.
If you didn’t get the results you’ve aimed for, send me an email. I can help you out.
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All the best.