IELTS Writing Task 1: How to Structure Your Essay and Follow the Trend
There are three basic tasks that you will need to perform in order to be successful on your IELTS writing task 1 essay. You will first need to structure your essay, you will then need to express what you observe, and finally you’ll need to put it all together into a well written essay.
Let’s start with the structure.
There are four basic types of graphs on the IELTS writing task 1 exam; pie, line, bar, and table. There are two basic structures that can cover these graphs. There are different structures for maps and diagrams that will be covered in a different post.
Each structure has an introduction, two body paragraphs, and a conclusion. In this post we will review structure 1. The easiest way to get a high score on the IELTS writing task 1 section is to have a plan as to what you will write.
Writing with the Trend
The easiest way to describe a graph is to describe the trend. That means which way the categories in the graph are going. Look at the graph above. It measures how many snacks were consumed (eaten) during a period of time. We know that because of the information around the graph( at the top and sometimes to the left or the right). We also know that we are measuring cake, chocolate, cookies, and pie (these are the categories). We know that, because it is outside of the graph to the right. There you can also see that each category has a color; red, blue, yellow, and green. These are the same colors in the graph.
Now let’s look at the trend. Blue (cake) is going up. Red (chocolate) is going down. Yellow (cookies) is going down. Green (pie) stays mostly the same. This is the trend. We will use the trend to write our essay.
IELTS Writing Task 1: Structure 1
There are two types of graphs on the IELTS writing task 1 section. There are graphs with time or age and graphs without time or age. You can use structure 1 for both types of graphs.
IELTS Writing Task 1:The Introduction
The introduction is going to explain what you are about to describe. It should include everything that is around the graph, most importantly the period of time, how things are measured, place if it is given, and the type of graph. In this case we have a line graph, the period of time is 1985 to 2010 and it is measured in grams per a person per a month, in America.
Here are some examples for how to write your introduction for IELTS writing task 1
” This line graph illustrates changes in the amounts of cake, chocolate, cookies, and pie consumed in America between 1985 and 2010.” Everything outside of the graph goes in the introduction.
You can give this information in any way that you like. Just make sure it’s all there.
“This graph demonstrates the differences in the amounts of cake, chocolate, cookies, and pie consumed during the period of 1985 to 2010 in America”
IELTS Writing Task 1:Body Paragraph 1
This is where we write about the trend. Remember earlier I said which way everything was going (up, down, or the same). The trend is the easiest thing to write about, and the easiest way to write about the trend is to talk about it from greatest to least (biggest to smallest). Start at the beginning of the time period (the earliest day) or if the graph has age start at the youngest. It’s ok to flip this (switch it). If you want to, you can start with the oldest and go to the youngest. With time, it makes the most sense to start with the earliest date. In this case 1985.
We start with the earliest date and and the largest amount. In other words start with whichever one was biggest in the beginning (at the earliest date). In our case chocolate was the largest in 1985. This is how we would write that in the IELTS writing task 1 essay. You should include the category (chocolate), the date (1985), the amount (about 200 grams), and which direction the trend is (up, down, most, least, same)
” In 1985 chocolate was the most consumed desert in America with about 200 grams being consumed per month, per a person.”
The next sentence should talk about what was next biggest. You can look at the left side of the graph and see the order. Chocolate, cookies and cake are the same, and then pie. Notice that everything in paragraph one talks about how things were in the beginning of the graph, it does not talk about anything else. In order to write about the trend you have to talk about where things started. That’s what body paragraph one is about in the IELTS writing task 1 section. In our case the entire paragraph will talk about how things were in 1985 (the beginning or earliest date).
“Cookies and cake were eaten in roughly equivalent (the same) quantities at about 150 grams per a month per, per a person. “
You should still mention the category (cookies and cake), the trend (the same) and the amount (150 grams per a month, per a person).
We keep going with the final category. Again, you’ll mention the category (pie), the trend (the least), and the amount (about 50 grams).
” Pie was consumed significantly less than the aforementioned (mentioned before) deserts, only 50 grams per person per a month were eaten.”
That’s it, that’s the first body paragraph of your IELTS writing task 1 answer.
IELTS Writing Task 1: Body Paragraph 2
The first body paragraph was general, and it only talked about what happened in the beginning (1985). In the second body paragraph we will go into detail. Remember we’re talking about trends. What goes up, what goes down, and what stays the same. We will also talk about time. How much time does the graph show? This graph goes from 1985 to 2010. That is 25 years. So these trends are over a 25 year time period. That’s how we’ll start the paragraph.
” Consequently (However, Although) over the span of 25 years the consumption of ……” you could also say
” Consequently (However, Although) during the 25 year time period that this graph shows the consumption of ….”
Now let’s talk about what went up, what went down, and what stayed the same. Chocolate went down. Cake went up. Cookies went down. Pies stayed about the same. One category went up. Two categories went down and one stayed the same. Talk about the trends (up or down) that are most common. You can either start with what went up or with what went down. I’m going to start with the two things (categories) that went down. I will include the names of the categories (chocolate and cookies), the amount ( about 200 grams per month per a person to 100 and 150 grams a month per a person to 70 grams), and the trend (down).
” Consequently over the span of 25 years the consumption of chocolate and cookies fell dramatically from approximately 200 grams per a month per a person to 100 grams, and from 150 grams to 70 grams respectively” Respectively just means in that order (chocolate and then cookies). I could have also said the amount of chocolate and cookies consumed was halved or that the amount consumed was cut in half.
Now we are left with the category that went up (cake) and the one that stayed the same (pie). Because up is the opposite of down we are going to talk about cake next. We are going to do this because this allows us the use nice vocabulary like contrast or on the other hand.
” In contrast the consumption of cake greatly increased from 150 grams to 250 grams over this time, bypassing all other desserts in popularity by the year 2000.”
Before we move on let’s ask on more question about the trend. We know how everything started and what category was the biggest (chocolate) at the beginning (1985). Was there a category that was always the most or always the least? If the answer is no, is there a category that was always second most or second least? In this case, pie was always the least popular desert. So when we talk about pie, we can mention that.
“While the popularity of the other deserts fluctuated greatly during this time period, pie remained not only the least favorite desert, but it’s popularity barely moved as consumers went from eating an estimated 50 grams in 1985 to 40 grams in 2010.
IELTS Writing Task 1: The Conclusion
The conclusion of the IELTS writing task 1 essay should just sum up the important points, who moved up and who moved down. Who gained and who lost. You do not need to include amounts in the conclusion.
” Overall (or in summary), the desert consumption in America changed dramatically with the popularity of cake rising significantly and the consumption of chocolate and cookies being nearly halved over this 25 year time period.”
That’s it. That’s how you write a great essay for the IELTS writing task 1 section. Make sure you count your words and use nice vocabulary.