IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 - Charts And Graphs

In writing task 1, you may be asked to write about a chart, line graph, table or proportional bar chart. 

There is a number of practice questions out there for you to try and perfect your answers in preparation for the Academic IELTS test. In this post, we will be looking at line graphs, bar charts, pie charts, useful vocabulary and describing changes over time. 

Here are a few examples below of the graphs or charts you may see >>

You need to able to report neutrally on the visual information presented to you. You should not include any opinion on the data, only report the data and trends that you can see.  

It is a good idea to spend a minute or two looking at your chart/graph and circling/highlighting any information that is important.

For example, think about the following questions >> 

  • What is being measured and how?
  • Is it in percentages? Millions? Degrees? (for the temperature)
  • Then think about the timing - is it over the period of one year? Five? or Ten?
  • Can you make any comparisons

The Essay Structure >>

Paragraph 1 - Paraphrase the question

When writing your own introduction of one or two sentences paraphrase the question and add detail. 

Paragraph 2 - Overview of the main features

You need to be able to give a broad summary of the information. This is best started with - Overall....... then giving details of the main features you can see. You can write this in one or two sentences, which describe the main features of the information that is presented in the chart or graph.

Paragraph 3 - Specific details of first main feature

Write about the specific details that you can see - looking closely at the first main feature and including data/stats and trends. Make any comparisons if relevant. 

Paragraph 4 - Specific details of second main feature

Write about the specific details that you can see - looking closely at the second main feature and including data/stats and trends. Make any comparisons if relevant.

TIP >> You will be marked on the type of information you write about, as well as the language you use. You need to make sure the information you write down is accurate. If it is not, then your score will be lower. 

TIP >> Leave time at the end to check your work - you need to make sure there are minimal errors in the writing (the language) and that you have accurate data.


Here are some words and phrases that you can use in task 1 >>

These words and phrases can be used to describe the information in a formal academic way. Here are some examples of how they might be used >>

  • The number of people who have higher-level qualifications is the same as the number who have no qualifications.
  • While students read every type of textbook, no students read any magazines.
  • With regards to medical journals, there is no significant difference between the reading habits of nurses and doctors. 
  • The number of nurses (30) who read medical journals is much smaller than the number of doctors (70).
  • There is only a slight difference in the number of nurses and doctors who read monthly medical journals.

Here is a list of words and phrases that you can use in your essay, to show intensity, reporting phrases and categorising words >>

TIP >> During the exam, students can make notes on the question paper, which is separate from the answer sheet. The examiner does not see these notes. You can circle words or make notes to help you write your essay.

TIP>> Using the word respectively can be useful when writing your task 1 essay. This is a high-level vocabulary word, used to indicate the order in which information is given.


Describing Changes Over Time >>

The list of verbs and adjectives below are useful for describing changes over time, they should be used objectively to describe obvious changes that you can see. For example;

  • The number of people who read medical journals decreased in 1999.
  • The number of people who applied to medical school fluctuated from 2005 - 2007.
  • The number of people who graduated medical school peaked in 2010.
  • The number of students attending biology class remained steady during the period of 1999, with a sudden decline in 2001.

These adverbs and periods of time can also help you to describe the information you are writing about, for example;

  • The number of students who attended medical courses in 1999 gradually increased from 20,000 to 60,000.
  • Over the period of the study from 1990 to 1999 there was suddenly a sharp decline in the number of library books returned by students. 

Writing Task 1 Charts and Graphs Sample Essays >>

Here are three sample essay questions and answers for you to look at. Review the language used, the essay structure, the information gathered and how they were written. In all of these questions, the minimum word count is 150 words.              


Sample Line Graph Essay 

The graph illustrates comparative statistics on the number of burglaries in four countries (Great Britain, Greece, Spain and Norway) over a 10-year period (2000-2009).  The units of thefts were measured in thousands.

Overall, the highest recurrence of burglary was in Great Britain, which was fairly high from 2000-2009 in comparison to the other countries, while the lowest incidence when the study began in 2000 was in Spain. It can be seen that in 2009 Spain reported slightly lower figures than the other four countries.  

The graph shows that Great Britain’s burglaries were consistently high, never below the 20,000 mark, though the trend fluctuates over the 10-year period.  According to the data, the country experienced the highest number of thefts during 2002 (20,000) and 2006 (20,000). However, it experienced its lowest amount stolen in 2009 at approximately 15,000. 

Similarly, Spain experienced fluctuating trends, but on the opposite side of the spectrum as it reported the least amount of burglaries in 2000 (6,000) with frequency varying over the years and finally reporting a decline in 2009 (4,000). However, other notable statistics are Greece’s upward trend in the number of burglaries, which started in 2000 (8,000) and finally peaked at 14,000 during 2009.  Norway is also noteworthy for having considerably low thefts over the course of 10 years compared to the other countries, dropping sharply in 2003, but increasing slightly from there, finally peaking at 6,000 slightly higher than Spain.

(Word Count = 237 / Band Score 9)


  • Task Achievement - The answer provides a paraphrased question, to begin with, followed by an overview that gives the reader key information.    
  • Coherence and Cohesion - The answer has been divided into clear logical paragraphs.      
  • Lexical Resource - There is evidence of paraphrasing, synonyms and some less common words (fluctuating, spectrum). 
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy - The answer has no grammatical errors. The sentences are mainly made up of multiple clauses and have a variety of structures. 

TIP >> Remember to identify two or three main features and write about those. You don't need to write about everything you see in order to gain a high band score.  


Sample Bar Chart Essay

The bar chart displays the estimated fuel consumption and cost per mile of some vehicles. Therefore, this report explains the relevant data of the diagram and the differences among the fuel costs for each type of vehicle.

Overall, there is a significant difference between the Range Rover and Smart Car fuel consumption; the chart also shows that the Smart Car is the lowest fuel consumer of all the vehicles. However, there is a common pattern in the increase of the cost and the miles travelled, from all of the vehicles. 

On the one hand, the cars with low fuel consumption include the following; Smart Car (approx. £5/10 miles), Ford KA (approx. £6/10 miles) and the Nissan Micra (approx. £7/10 miles). The Range Rover uses a high level of fuel in comparison to the Smart Car, using three times the amount at £20/10 miles.

On the other hand, the exception to this general trend is the variation of the cost of the Range Rover and Audi A6 from the rest of the vehicles at nearly £20/10 miles and £15/10 miles respectively. In addition, the BMW M3 also uses £15/ 10 miles, while the Mini Cooper consumes at least £5 less for travelling 10 miles at £10. 

Finally, this bar chart illustrates an exponential increase in the cost of fuel consumption of all the luxurious vehicles, with an exception for those, which are smaller, more environmentally friendly and essential for everyday use, such as the Smart Car, Ford KA and the Nissan Micra. 

(Word Count = 252 Band Score 9)


  • Task Achievement - The answer provides a paraphrased question, to begin with, followed by an overview that gives the reader key information. This shows a fully developed response.   
  • Coherence and Cohesion - The answer has been divided into clear logical paragraphs. Linking words have been used to skilfully guide the reader through the information given (overall, one the one hand, on the other hand, finally).      
  • Lexical Resource - There is evidence of paraphrasing, synonyms and some less common words. 
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy - The answer has no grammatical errors. The sentences are mainly made up of multiple clauses and have a variety of structures. 

TIP >> Remember to identify two or three main features and write about those. You don't need to write about everything you see in order to gain a high band score.  

TIP >> Look for the highs/lows /increases/decreases and any comparisons you can see. Write about one main idea in each main body paragraph


Pie Chart Sample Essay 

The pie charts illustrate the outcome of the survey conducted to a hundred visitors to Luton airport in order to evaluate their customer service, in 2010 and 2015.

Overall, it can be seen that a lot of people were satisfied by the services offered in 2010, but there was also a large number who thought the services given were poor. However, after 5 years, this trend changed. It shows that many found the services to be both good and excellent, with a decline in the number of people who were unsatisfied.

To begin with, in the year 2010, 45% of the respondents found the airport services satisfactory and exactly 14% rated it as good, while 5% considered the services excellent. Nevertheless, it also shows that the visitors rated it as poor and more so, very poor with 21% and 15%, respectively.

Over the 5-year period, the trend showed an improved airport service in 2015, wherein 39% of the visitors thought that services were good. Moreover, exactly 28% of the respondents answered that they received an excellent service while more than 15% said it was satisfactory. Lastly, we can observe that around 10% rated the services poor and very poor in comparison to the 2010 survey.  

(Word Count = 205 Band Score 9)


  • Task Achievement - The answer provides a paraphrased question, to begin with, followed by an overview that gives the reader key information.  The information selected is relevant.  
  • Coherence and Cohesion - The answer has been divided into clear logical paragraphs.      
  • Lexical Resource - There is evidence of paraphrasing, synonyms and some less common words.
  • Grammatical Range and Accuracy - The answer has no grammatical errors. The sentences are mainly made up of multiple clauses and have a variety of structures. 

TIP >> Remember to identify two or three main features and write about those. You don't need to write about everything you see in order to gain a high band score.

TIP >> When comparing two charts, look for the key trends


Writing Task 1 Band Score 9 Criteria >>


We hope you found this post useful in helping you to study for the IELTS Test. If you have any questions please let us know in the comments below or on the Facebook page.

The best way to keep up to date with posts like this is to like us on Facebook, then follow us on Instagram and Pinterest

If you need help preparing for the IELTS Test, join the IELTS Achieve Academy and see how we can assist you to achieve your desired band score. We offer an essay correction service, mock exams and online courses.