IELTS Writing Task 1 Overviews and basics

task-1-basics-and-overviews

IELTS Writing Task 1 Overviews and Basics

Watch the video lesson here!

Hi this is IELTS7.guru and I am Ben Adams.

Today I am going to talk to you about IELTS Writing Task 1 Overviews, basics and introductions. Yes we are going to talk about graphs!

I’ve had lots of questions about Task 1, so for the next four weeks we are going to just focus on this!

Right, so today we going to focus on some basic Task 1 skills that you need to master in IELTS.

Now we could look at language, organization, understanding data, but today we are going to focus on just two important aspects of task achievement.

  1. I will help you understand what many graphs/charts are actually doing. This is to make sure you don’t misunderstand a graph.
  2. I will look at writing overviews based on what is generally happening in the graph.

Now, before we start, we need take a look at what you need to do to get a 7 in Task achievement in IELTS Task 1 writing.

Task 1 Academic Band Descriptors

1. Presents a clear overview of main trends, differences, or stages
2. Clearly presents and highlights key features/bullet points but could be more fully extended Task Achievement (7) - Task 1 Public Band Descriptors

The first one talks about “main trends, differences, or stages.” And the second one talks about identifying the “key features” of the diagram.

This means that the first you need to do is understand what a graph/chart is actually doing. Today we are NOT going to worry about processes.

But you can’t do any of this if you don’t understand what a graph/chart is actually doing.

Here are several graphs and charts. For each one, take a look, and decide what each one is doing.
Each one is either:

  • comparing times
  • comparing change over time
  • comparing a thing/people/groups/places

2. The Example

Now, this bar chart is comparing change over time but it also comparing something about 5 countries. This is different from comparing only two times. This means you can use language of change such as “increase rapidly” or “fall slowly” to describe it.

The easiest way to find out what is happening is to try to use the numbers on the vertical axis (the one on the left) in a simple sentence.

Q. What sentence could we make with the number 40, Australia, and the red bar?

Answer
40 thousand British people emigrated (or moved) to Australia in 2004.

It is really good to practice this just about any graph, table, or chart. Anyway, so if we put all this together we can create a fairly accurate introduction sentence. (We actually talk about introductions more another time).

Introduction
The table compares the number of British people (in thousands) that moved to five countries to live from 2004 and 2007.

3. Your turn!

For each one of these graphs, think about the above questions, and think about how you could write an introduction.

When you think you know the answer, click on “show answer” to see if you were close. Or, watch the video!

What is the graph doing?
= comparing groups in different places
The bar chart compares men and women in six places.

Introduction:
The bar chart compares the percentage of men and women who can read and write in six regions in 2000.

What is the graph doing?
= Comparing places
The pie chart compares three things in three countries

Introduction:
The pie charts compare how trash is dealt with in three countries.
OR
The pie charts compare the percentage of trash that is put in landfill, recycled, or disposed of in three countries.

What is the graph doing?
= compares different age groups, and different things
The table compares three age groups.

Introduction:
The table compares the percentage of people employed in different sectors for three age groups.

OR
The table compares how many people work in different kinds of areas for three age groups.

OR
The table compares how popular different kinds of work are for three age groups.

What is the graph doing?
= Compares change over time and 5 countries.
The line shows change over time, and the bar chart compares five countries.

Introduction:
The line chart shows how visits to and from the UK changed from 1979 to 1999, while the bar chart gives a breakdown of where UK visitors went in 1999.

OR
The line chart shows how visits to and from the UK changed from 1979 to 1999, and the bar chart gives more information about where UK visitors went in 1999.

4. Overviews

OK, so these four charts should give you an idea of the range of things you may see. Of course, you may see other combinations too.

Now let’s take moment to talk about “overviews” for a moment.

Now a lot of information on the Internet is not very accurate about “overviews”. Take a look at the following ideas and see if you can spot which ones are True and which are False.

  • The overview and the conclusion are different
  • The overview must go immediately after the introduction
  • Overviews should include detailed information
  • You must have an overview that is in a different paragraph from the rest of your answer.
The answer is ALL are FALSE!

Here is why. Generally, your overview is like a summary. So, it should summarize the key trends, differences that you see. The key word here is SUMMARIZE. If you try to add a lot of details, you will basically be repeating yourself.

OK, so how can you write a clear overview without details?

The best thing to do here is with an example. Look at this graph again.

5. Example overview 1

There are a number of simple things we could say about this:

  • both the number of visitors to and from the UK increased over the period.
  • the latter increased much faster and was around twice as large as the former by the end.
  • although both groups of visitors increased steadily, they suddenly began to increase much faster after 1986.

If we generally put these ideas together, we could write:

Overview:
Both the number of visitors to and from the UK increased over the period, but the latter increased much faster and was around twice as large as the former by the end. Also, they suddenly began to increase much faster after 1986.

(Usually, it is best to try to include two or three pieces of information. Imagine, you should be able to draw a very simple graph based on your overview that is still correct.)

So to some extent, a clear overview means a complete overview.

Lets try one more example:

6. Example overview 2

We could just say:

  • The percentage of illiterate women was larger than that of men.

This is true – but it doesn’t not give an accurate picture of the graph.

So, we could make a little more specific:

  • The percentage of illiterate women was much larger than that of men.

This is better, but it still misses out some critical information. We need to include some other key information.

  • The less developed a country is, the greater the amount of illiteracy
  • The less developed a country is, the greater the gender gap

So, if we put it all together in one overview we get something like:

Overview:
The percentage of illiterate women was much larger than that of men. Also, the less developed a country is, the greater the illiteracy gap and the greater the gender gap.

While the percentage of illiterate women was larger than that of men, this is connected to development. Not only does the gap between both sexes rise as countries become less developed, the gap between men and women also rises.

7. Summary

Right, so to summarize task achievement

  • practice deciding what graphs are doing and what is changing or being compared
  • this will make it fairly easy to write an introduction and to write your overview

Regarding overviews

  • try to include two or three pieces of information.
  • you should be able to draw a very simple graph based on your overview that is still correct.

Next time we will look at some language for writing introductions and organizing your answer!

8. What about you?

Do you find overviews easy or difficult?
What kind of graph do you think is the most difficult for writing overviews?

Write in the comments and tell us your problems. Tell us how you solved them, or what you need help with!

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