IELTS Writing Task 1 – How to write the overview/summary paragraph

To recap (briefly summarize) the paragraph structure for your Task 1 essay:

  1. Introduction
  2. Overview/Summary of main trends/features
  3. Detail
  4. Detail

I’m going to talk about paragraph #2.

The second paragraph of your essay, the overview/summary paragraph is very important  because it shows the examiner that you can pull important, meaningful information from data in graphs and charts and clearly identify overall main trends from that data. This will give you a higher score if you nail this part (do this part right!).

This paragraph should have 2 sentences. Each sentence should be about a major trend or feature that stands out about the data in the chart. For example, major trends could be an overall increase/decrease in certain areas, similarities/differences in patterns, peaks/lows, or cross-overs/shifts.

Here’s an example:

Here’s my approach:

  • Identify an overall trend: Right away I notice the graph divided into 2 halves – the first 50 years and second 50 years. I see that early on the Agricultural and Manufacturing sectors were strong/dominant for the first half then declined rapidly by the end of the century.
  • Another overall trend: I see the growth of the business and financial sector in the second half and is stronger than the other 2 sectors by the end of the period.
  • Simply put, I see a big decline in Agricultural & Manufacturing and an increase in Business and Finance. They actually cross-over.

Here’s my overview paragraph:

It is clear that the Agricultural and Manufacturing sectors were the main contributors of the first half of the century. However, their contributions dropped dramatically in the second half, while the Business and Financial sector rose rapidly to become a major contributor.


My first sentence refers to Agricultural and Manufacturing sectors together. Vocabulary used: ” main contributors”. To sum up the time-frame I use “first half of the century”.

I do two things in my second sentence.

  1. I use the transitional word  “however” to introduce a contradictory event – their contributions declined (“dropped dramatically”) in the second half of the century (from 1950 onwards/ from 1950 to 2000).
  2. I use “while” to start the clause that states the second main trend/feature –  the Business & Financial sector grew rapidly.

I’ll post more examples later with other types of charts/graphs/tables and diagrams/maps. If you have any questions – please ask!!

(See another example with a full sample essay for Task 1)



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!

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2 comments on “IELTS Writing Task 1 – How to write the overview/summary paragraph
  1. Mahmoud Sultan Nafa says:

    Iam grateful to you for your site

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "IELTS Writing Task 1 – How to write the overview/summary paragraph"
  1. […] 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) […]

  2. […] 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, […]

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