I have a student who has taken the IELTS test several times because she needs a 7 in all modules in order to get her RN (Registered Nurse) license accepted in New Zealand. Although she has gotten 7 and over on the Listening and Speaking modules, she now needs to focus on turning her steady results of 6.5 on the writing to a 7 or over. How to get that 7?
Here’s the main thing for Task 1:
You need to write a clear overview of the main features or trends of the graph/chart. In your overview paragraph (the 2nd paragraph – see my post on the 4-paragraph structure), identify 2 main patterns, features or trends that stand out. Do not simply describe what you see on the graph. That will not get you a 7.
Compare the following overview paragraphs for an essay about a survey at a new shopping mall:
Here is version A:
The top table shows four different categories of very satisfied, satisfied, dissatisfied and no comment about people’s opinion on shops and was divided between male and female shoppers. The second table shows the same four categories divided by males and females about the restaurants in the new mall. The pie chart also shows the same categories for both male and female shoppers with the design of the mall.
Here is version B:
Overall, the majority of shoppers were satisfied or very satisfied with the shops, restaurants and design of the new mall. In general, men and women felt similarly about the shops and design, while more males were satisfied with the restaurants compared to women.
Which one is better and why? Version B is better because:
- Although Version A has grammatically correct sentences and is accurate in its meaning, it only describes what the tables and pie chart show. It doesn’t give any meaningful information about the actual data. As an overview paragraph, it doesn’t identify any important trends or patterns.
- Version B, on the other hand, identifies the overall feature that the majority of shoppers (which implies both men and women) were satisfied/very satisfied in all 3 graphs regarding shops, restaurants and design. It also shows another important feature – and that is men and women had similar opinions about the shops, but there was a difference about how they felt with the restaurants – more men were satisfied compared to women. This is meaningful information that the reader can easily understand and gain a clear understanding of the data.
- Version A consists of 3 long sentences in this paragraph, without adding any new insight. Version B is shorter – only 2 sentences – but gives a lot of insight and useful ideas.
- The 2 paragraphs that follow this overview paragraph should give the details supporting these 2 main trends of how males and females had similar opinions and when they had differing opinions.
When organized this way:
- introduction paragraph
- overview paragraph
- detail paragraph
- detail paragraph,
it makes it very easy for the reader to understand the graphs and charts.
Please note, these are not the only features that you can focus on, but these are the ones that I chose straight away because they stood out to me. Part of your strategy is to choose two features that stand out to you straight away that you can identify and explain to your reader. You should only spend 20 minutes on this full essay.
So remember, don’t just describe what you see on the table or graph. Make the data meaningful for your reader and easy to understand.
Here is my full sample essay for this Task.