IELTS Writing Task 1 approach – graphs and charts

Juhan's 2008 Career GraphCreative Commons License Juhan Sonin via Compfight

It can certainly be daunting (intimidating) looking at a graph you’ve never seen before, interpret the data, then write a clear overview and explanation of the data at an academic level… all within 20 minutes.

You don’t need to feel intimidated though – not when you’ve got a solid plan of attack and lots of practice.

Here’s your approach to the task:

  1. Look at the graph carefully and take note of the title, all the labels, and any details given. Make sure you clearly understand what you’re looking at.
  2. Identify the main patterns or trends – find 2 important ones you will focus on in your essay. You are often comparing data with each other. Look for similarities or differences, peaks/jumps, lows/drops,  or shifts/cross-overs.  Is there a significant increase in one area whereas another area drops sharply?

Once you have interpreted the data by identifying an OVERVIEW of trends/patterns, you can start to write your essay. Your essay will have 4 pagaraphs.

Paragraph 1: Introduction – This is really one or two sentences that paraphrases the title of the chart, graph or map. (See post on How to Write the Introduction Quickly)

Paragraph 2: Overview/Summary – This should be 2 – 4 sentences that clearly identify overall trends or patterns. This shows the examiner that you have taken raw data and interpreted it into some meaningful information. (See post on How to Write the Overview/Summary Paragraph)

Paragraph 3: Details for first trend/pattern. Describe the trend using descriptive and accurate details. (See post on How to describe and compare data in a detail paragraph)

Paragraph 4: Details for second trend/pattern. Describe the trend using descriptive and accurate details.

**To look through full sample model essays for both Task 1 and 2, click here. (These are posts tagged with “sample essay”)**



I'm an English teacher specializing in IELTS preparation - especially writing and reading. If you have any questions, please ask! You can also sign up for weekly tips and lessons for IELTS and English!

Posted in IELTS Writing, Writing Task 1 Tagged with: ,
9 comments on “IELTS Writing Task 1 approach – graphs and charts
  1. minhaj mahmud says:

    dear sir

    i have very much problem in writing . in topic i can,t make essay help me for improving that problem.

    • Pearl says:

      Hi Minhaj,

      I hope you have read my other posts about how to organize and write your essays for Task 1 and Task 2. I’m still working on putting up more posts. Do you have any specific questions? If you want me to look at your writing, register with the essay correction/feedback service on this website and I can give you a full assessment and give you advice and tips on what to improve and how.

      Thanks for reading and good luck!

      Cheers, Pearl

  2. Ruqia says:

    Dear Pearl
    I learnt alot from your lectures, they are very good. Can i send to you my written essays for marking? As i always need to improve my writting skills , but need a judgement for it. And you are a good teacher, i learnt how to find minute mistakes,and solutions for it. I was very much confused about graphs, but the vocabulary about it helped me alot. Thank u

    • Pearl says:

      Thanks Ruquia! I’m glad my posts are helpful. I can definitely look over your essays and give feedback. It is one of the services I provide – if you register on the essay correction & feedback service page, you can choose how many essays you’d like me to check. I correct errors and provide detailed feedback and advice based on the criteria that’s used to assess IELTS tasks.

      Make sure you subscribe to this website, so that you’ll receive new lessons & tips straight to your email. I always welcome comments and questions, so feel free to ask me more questions as well – I may write a post about your questions!

      Thanks for reading and good luck! – Pearl

  3. Shahed says:

    I am your new student for IELTS preparation. Thanks .

  4. jakir says:

    mam,with due respect,we want to have more examples,and their solving.please help us.Is there any opportunity for a scorer more than 6.00 to get a job in British Council/any sub offices of UNO?If yes,Can i have some examples?thank u mam.

    • Pearl says:

      Hi Jakir,

      Thanks for your questions! I’ve added a link at the bottom of the post that will take you to all my full sample model essays that I’ve posted so far on this blog. They are essay samples for both Task 1 and Task 2. I haven’t written too many yet, but will definitely try to add more. Hopefully some of those examples with the explanations given will help. I think there are 3 sample essays for Task 1.

      As for getting a job with British Council – I don’t know exactly, but here is the link for their job page: “Work with us” There is a pdf you can download that lists all the traits they want in an employee. They do not say anything about an IELTS score.

      And as for a suboffice of UNO, I’m sorry – I don’t know what that is.

      Hope some of my answers help you. Any more specific questions about writing, let me know!
      Cheers, Pearl

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