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IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

Summarising facts or figures from graphic information

If you are doing the Academic test, your first job may be to compose a report identifying the most important and relevant information and trends using the facts or figures presented in a chart, graph, table or a combination of such graphics.

Other graphics that can sometimes appear on the test are two maps or structural drawings of an area from different times showing changes that have occurred. You will need to summarise the major changes or differences between them.

The key to responding successfully to any of these Task 1 visuals is to show that you understand the big picture by identifying the main trends, major parts or stages and/or important differences that are evident in the graphic. So, rather than mechanically describing all the data, select and report on the most important and the most relevant aspects that appear.

As you can probably guess, there are specific kinds of details you should be looking for in the different graphics that appear on the test. Here is a more detailed breakdown of question types with some tips for how to interpret and complete each of them.

Charts, graphs or tables

Generally, the charts, graphs and tables can either show comparisons of data at one moment in time or compare data over a fixed period of time.

Showing comparisons of data at one moment in time

When you are reporting on a graphic you will need to show that you understand exactly what data is about. Using this example, you can see a comparison between the percentage of men and women living in poverty in 10 different age groups in the USA in 2008.

Besides giving a general summary of what the data shows about men and women in poverty at this time and in this place (more females were in poverty than men at all ages with lower rates for men and women in the mid ages), you should note any outstanding highs (highest rates were under the age of 5, for both males and females at 20% and 21% respectively) and lows for each (lowest poverty rate for men were those aged 75 and over at just over 5%, and for women it was between the ages of 45-54 at about 9%).

Look also at similarities (the higher rates of poverty for both men and women were under the age of 24) and/or differences (females had higher rates of poverty throughout, especially those over 75) and data that stands out as exceptional (higher rates of poverty in women aged 18-24 and 75-up).