BEST IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 Tips
ACADEMIC WRITING TASK 1 TIPS
FINDING MAIN FEATURES
The real challenge is identifying the main features; in fact, the main features vary from question to question. Still, it is very useful to pick up the following points:
1. The highest and the lowest figures
2. Beginnings and endings
3. Overall trends and patterns
4. Deviations from trends (exceptions)
SUMMARIZING IS DOING THREE THINGS
1. Selecting: Means choosing a few and leaving out a lot
2. Reporting: Saying what you see
3. Comparing: Not just about more or less
You get a number of figures but you cannot include all of them in your summary. You have to select a few and leave out the rest. Instead of writing the numbers again and again, you have to describe some of them in language. This means you have to combine numbers and words to convey the information in the data. Clearly, this will be a more effective strategy when you summarize information in the body paragraphs. But in the introduction and conclusions, it is better to avoid using numbers. These paragraphs are general descriptions and should be purely language based. The language here includes similarities/equalities; changes over time; changes in proportion; the most/the least; and so on.
DESCRIBING TRENDS IN GRAPHS
When you compare something across two or more points of time, you are able to describe a trend. You can use simple past tense because you are describing what happened between two points of time. For example, between 1995 and 2000, something changed or rose, or fell. The present perfect tense describes what has happened between a point of time and now. For example, from 1990 until now, something has changed, has risen or has fallen. The latter will be helpful when you have all the three time periods in the graph.
For example, consider the sentence
“The average income was $2,500 and then t rose t $3,500, and then it dropped slightly in 2008 and fell to around $2,800 at the end of 2011.
This sentence is correct but not something that will help you get a high band score; for scoring high you have to show your flair for writing good sentences with accuracy. The same sentence can be reproduced as”
“After it reached a peak of $3,500 in 2005, the average income dropped slightly in 2008 before finishing at $2,800 in 2011.
For indicating future trends or projections, you can simply use the simple future tense or a variation of it: will, expected to, etc.
Whenever you describe trends, rather than describing each and every specific point in the graph in detail, it would be wise to write only the main points, which can be included but are not limited to:
1. The starting point/the ending point
2. The main years/months/days (where you see a peak, a fall, a plateau or fluctuation)
MAKING LATERAL COMPARISONS IN GRAPHS
When you compare something across two or more entities, you are able to make a lateral comparison. You can use simple present tense because you are describing what is common and what is different between the two entities.
It would not be appropriate to write a separate paragraph for each set of data as the examiner wants to see how you compare, which is one of the requirements stated in the question. For example, while both companies A and B are……….., company A is more into……….than company B.
DESCRIBING COORDINATES BETWEEN TWO OE MORE GRAPH TYPES
Often, you get graphs that are a combination of two or more types. For example, one graph could be in the form of a pie chart, indicating the proportion of two or more entities in a ‘whole’, while another could be a bar chart indicating trends in the progression of such entities over a period of time. When you describe coordinates between two or more graph types, you are describing a lateral comparison as well as a trend. You can use simple present tense to describe the proportion and a simple present tense or a present perfect tense to describe what ha happened between a point of time and now.