Grouping Data in the IELTS Writing Task 1

What do you do when you have to describe a line graph or bar chart in the IELTS Writing Task 1 and you find it’s too difficult to describe? Well, you need to spend some time examining the data and figuring out how you can divide it into manageable chunks. Once you can do this, you can structure your essay. Remember, the IELTS Writing Task 1 is all about describing the main features and making comparisons. You don’t need to describe everything.

Recognizing Trends

Look at this line graph and think how you could describe the general trend:

Of course, there are different ways to do it, but for me the most obvious is that two lines go up and two go down. Simple!

Looking at this line graph, we can see the orange and grey lines end higher than the begin, while the yellow and blue lines end lower than the begin. Therefore, we have a very simple way to group our data. After we identify this, we can start to describe the changes in the different lines over the time period.

Structuring your Essay

Remember that for the IELTS Writing Task 1, there is always a simple way to structure your answer. Usually you want to do something very similar to this:

  • Introduction
  • Describe half the data
  • Describe the other half of the data

In the introduction you can start by paraphrasing the question, and then state the introduction. In your body paragraphs, you should be tackling the actual data in the graph. Remember not to describe everything. Just pick key features and important changes.

Sample Answer

The line graph gives information about tourists in England who visited four different landmarks in Brighton. It measures the popularity of each tourist attraction over a period of thirty years, and shows that these places varied in popularity during this time.

There were two attractions that generally rose in popularity over the thirty year period. The pavilion began as the second most popular attraction and rose to be the most popular by 2010. However, its dramatic rise in the early nineties was followed by a fall over the remaining period. The pier was the least popular attraction in the beginning, but ended up in the third place, more than doubling its percentage of visitors from ten to twenty-three percent.

On the other hand, two attractions fell in popularity. After a sudden rise in the early eighties, the art gallery fell in popularity, ultimately ending up as the least popular destination by 2010. The festival remained pretty steady in its percentage of the overall visits, but did drop slightly so that by 2010 it was less popular than in 1980.

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Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel.

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