IELTS Writing Task 1 - Line Graph (Material, Sample Writing and Exercise)

IELTS Writing Task 1 is one of the two writing tasks in IELTS. You will be asked to describe a graph and write at least 150 words. I have written an article on IELTS Writing Task 1 before, as well as some revised versions of that article. But the explanation is way too general. I just explained the writing structure and gave a sample writing. 

From now on, I will breakdown that article into several posts that explain how each graph (bar graph, line graph, pie chart, map, process, and combined graphs) is done. There will be a lot of posts following this initial post, because each graph, or the combination of two graphs, may vary in terms of level of difficulty and trend. We are going to start this long discussion by describing a line graph. Take a look at a sample graph below.


Line Graph

Before describing the line graph, you should remember that writing task 1 structure is described as follows:

Paragraph 1

Overview

- Giving a general introduction
- Explaining the variables
- Explaining the general trend

Paragraph 2 (first trend)

- Giving detailed information (percentage, increase, decrease, lowest/highest percentage, etc)

Paragraph 3 (second trend)

- Giving detailed information (percentage, increase, decrease, lowest/highest percentage, etc)


Now, let's discuss the whole writing step by step.


Paragraph 1

Introduction

In IELTS Writing Task 1, the first thing that you always have to do is introducing the graph. The main purpose of the introduction is to explain what the graph is about, which is pretty easy to do anyway. You just have to re-write the original title with your own words. In the sample graph above, the original title is:

The sales of six essential products on WeBuy in the first half of 2020

Suppose that we want to paraphrase most of the words and keep the sentence structure as it is, then we can re-write the title like this:




The line graph shows the number of six basic necessities being sold on WeBuy from January until June 2020.



Here is how some words in the original title are paraphrased:

  Words in the Original Title
 Paraphrase
 Sales
 Being sold
 Essential products
 Basic necessities
 In the first half of 2020
 From January until June 2020

Note: Other than paraphrasing the words in the original title, you can also change the structure of the sentence. For example, you can turn an active voice into a passive voice, or replace a gerund phrase with an infinitive phrase. 


Explaining all variables

After giving an introduction, you have to explain all variables in the graph. In the line graph above, you have to explain the months and year, the quantity, and the six basic products. Since we have explained the months and the year in the first sentence of paragraph 1, and the quantity of the six commodities will be explained in the next two paragraphs, we can just skip this part and jump to the general trend.

Explaining the general trend

General trend will help you arrange your ideas better and split the writing into three separate paragraphs. From the line graph, we can see that the sales of four main commodities (books and movies, food and beverages, cleaning supplies and toiletries, and medical supplies) increased while the other two commodities show a different trend. Hence, we can simply explain the trend as follows: 


The data indicates that the sales of electronics decreased and the sales of clothing was fluctuating, while the sales other four commodities experienced a growth.



We are going to use the idea above as a guideline for writing paragraph 2 and paragraph 3.


Paragraph 2

In this paragraph, we need to give a very detailed information. Since we have categorized the data based on the trends, we can focus on explaining the first trend (increasing) in this paragraph. Take a look at this example.


To begin, it can be seen that the number of books and movies being sold on WeBuy continuously increased. From a little below 10.000 in January, the number increased by around 5000 in the first three months, tripled in April and still slightly increased in May and June. Likewise, the sales of cleaning supplies and toiletries gradually increased from 5000 in January to nearly 30.000 in May. The number skyrocketed in the last month and reached 50.000. There was a moderate growth in the sales of food and beverages throughout the first half of 2020, with the exception of the sales between February and March which seemed to experience a sharp increase. Medical supplies is the only basic commodity which experienced high and stable growth from around 10.000 to 50.000. 



As we can see, the detailed information in paragraph 2 must explain the sales of each commodity as well as the increase. The first thing that we have to pay attention to is how several words are used to explain the increase, such as increase, experience a growth, skyrocketed, tripled etc. 

Note: Do not use the same words over and over again because you will get a low score in vocabulary range and accuracy if you do so.

Note: We also need to avoid several words that are not supposed to be used in writing task 1, such as seem, look like, or probably. These words are less academic. Take a look at this sentence:

There was a moderate growth in the sales of food and beverages throughout the first half of 2020, with the exception of the sales between February and March which seemed to experience a sharp increase. 

I wrote it that way on purpose, just to give an illustration of how the word seemed needs to be avoided. Instead, I should have written that sentence like this:

There was a moderate growth in the sales of food and beverages throughout the first half of 2020, with the exception of the sales between February and March which experience a sharp increase. 


Remember that some of the numbers above are just an estimation because we cannot always be sure as to how many items are sold. You can use the words nearly, almost, around, estimated, a little below, and a little above, like some examples below:

The sales was just a little below 10.000 in January.

or this:

The number increased by around 5000 in the first three months [...]

or this:

[...] the sales of cleaning supplies and toiletries gradually increased from 5000 in January to nearly 30.000 in May

Lastly, we also have to pay attention to the smooth transition of ideas and sentences, by using connecting words. Take a look at how I transitioned from one idea to another using some cohesive devices:




To begin, it can be seen that the number of books and movies being sold on WeBuy continuously increased. From a little below 10.000 in January, the number increased by around 5000 in the first three months, tripled in April and still slightly increased in May and June. Likewise, the sales of cleaning supplies and toiletries gradually increased from 5000 in January to nearly 30.000 in May. The number skyrocketed in the last month and reached 50.000. There was a moderate growth in the sales of food and beverages throughout the first half of 2020, with the exception of the sales between February and March which seemed to experience a sharp increase. Medical supplies is the only basic commodity which experienced high and stable growth from around 10.000 to 50.000.



Paragraph 3

Okay now, let's move on to paragraph 3. The basic idea of paragraph 3 is pretty much the same with that of paragraph 2, only now we're dealing with different trend(s). Since the sales of electronics decreased throughout the first half of 2020, and the sales of clothing is somewhat fluctuating, paragraph 3 will probably look like this.



Unlike the other four commodities, the sales of electronics continuously decreased. It only made up 40.000 in January, and then slightly decreased to around 39.000. The number then plummeted. The sales of clothing exhibits a fluctuating trend in which the number increased from around 21.000 in January to around 45.000 three months later. There was a significant decline from May until June.



In this paragraph, I use some more new words such as plummeted, estimated, and decline, but the idea is similar to the previous paragraph. One thing that is important to note here is the use of connector unlike at the beginning of the paragraph. This connector marks the different trend between this paragraph and the preceding paragraph. So, not only do we have to jump from one sentence to another using the right connector, we also have to transition from one paragraph to another paragraph using a connecting sentence. There are some more examples of connectors that can be seen below.



Unlike the other four commodities, the sales of electronics continuously decreased. It only made up 40.000 in January, and then slightly decreased to around 39.000. The number then plummeted. The sales of clothing exhibits a fluctuating trend in which the number increased from around 21.000 in January to around 45.000 three months later. There was a significant decline from May until June.




That's it. That's how we describe a line graph in IELTS Writing Task 1. To wrap things up, I will write the whole task 1 so that we can get a better understanding of what we have discussed earlier.





The line graph shows the number of six basic necessities being sold on WeBuy from January until June 2020. 

To begin, it can be seen that the number of books and movies being sold on WeBuy continuously increased. From a little below 10.000 in January, the number increased by around 5000 in the first three months, tripled in April, and still slightly increased in May and June. Likewise, the sales of cleaning supplies and toiletries gradually increased from 5000 in January to nearly 30.000 in May. The number skyrocketed in the last month and reached 50.000. There was a moderate growth in the sales of food and beverages throughout the first half of 2020, with the exception of the sales between February and March which seemed to experience a sharp increase. Medical supplies is the only basic commodity which experienced high and stable growth from around 10.000 to 50.000. 

Unlike the other four commodities, the sales of electronics continuously decreased. It only made up 40.000 in January, and then slightly decreased to around 39.000. The number then plummeted. The sales of clothing exhibits a fluctuating trend in which the number increased from around 21.000 in January to around 45.000 three months later. There was a significant decline from May until June.

Word count: 211



Okay, so the sample writing above already looks neat, and it seems like it has met all marking criteria. But, it's not perfect, which means that there are still some issues that need to be addressed. Now, can you guess what the biggest problems are? Here are some of those problems:

1. It's too long

The recommended word count for writing task 1 is 150-190 words. You best not write 150 words because it is too risky. You will get a penalty if your writing turns out to be less than 150 words, so let's not do that. You are not supposed to write too many words either, because you still need some energy and concentration to do the writing task 2. You need to conserve your energy and manage your time, for the sake of efficiency.

2. Time management

Since you have to do both task 1 and task 2 in a timely manner, you need a very good time management. Writing 211 words for writing task 1 wouldn't be a good idea because you still have writing task 2, in which you will have to write at least 250 words. If we have one hour for the whole writing section, and the word count of writing task 1 and task 2 are 150 words and 250 words respectively, then we should spend only 20 minutes (maximum) on writing task 1. 

3. It's not just the writing (worst case scenario)

You also need to review your writing (or worse, you have to revise it) which means that some extra time needs to be allocated.



Exercise

We have learned how to describe a line graph. Now, let's do a little practice. Describe the line graph below and write at least 150 words.


Update

You can read other articles on IELTS Writing Task 1 by following these links:





 

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