IELTS Writing Task 1 – Describing a table

IELTS Writing Task 1 - Describing a table

How to describe a table in IELTS Task 1 Writing

There are many ways to describe a table in IELTS Writing Task 1. This table is comparing three different things:

  1. time
  2. banana sales vs coffee sales
  3. five countries

This means there are many ways you could organize your answer. Remember, in IELTS Task 1 Writing, one of the aims is to have an easy to read, natural organization.

In the two IELTS Task 1 Sample answers below, each approaches the organization in a different way.

Which way do you think is easiest for you?

Student Answer


The table shows the sales figures of Fairtrade-labelled coffee and banana in five countries,namely,U.K,Switzerland,Denmark, Belgium and Sweden in the years 1999 and 2004. The sales are represented in millions of euros.

Overall, the sales increased in all the countries except for Bananas in Belgium and Sweden,after the five year period. While the U.K. had a leading market in the fairtrade-banana sales in both the years, that of coffee was led by Switzerland in 1999, but, in 2004,again theU.K. had its top figures. Also, the trades were less significant in Belgium and Sweden, in both the years.

In case of the fairtrade-coffee, an exponential increase in sales occurred in the U.K.,that is, from 1.5 million euros in 1999,it reached 20 million euros in 2004.Also, in Switzerland,the sales figures doubled from a top selling figureof 3 million euros in 1999 to 6 million euros in 2004. However, the sales remained under 2 million euros in both the years ,in Denmark, Belgium and Sweden.

When considering the fairtrade-banana ,the sellings were the highest in the U.K. in both the years. Also, it met with more than a two-fold increase in 2004, to reach 47 million euros. Nevertheless, a surge in sales also exhibited in the figure of sales of Switzerland and Denmark ( from 1 and 0.6 million euros to 5.5 and 4 million euros respecively). In contrast, there was a dwindling in sales in Belgium and Sweden,which accounted for 1.8 and 2 million euros in 1999 and 1 and 0.9 million euros in 2004 respectively.

Words: 273

Writing Feedback


Task Achievement: 7


This is very good answer.

  • + It describes all the key points.
  • + It selects information and doesn’t try to describe every number.
  • +/- While the overview attempts to capture the key changes and differences, it is a bit vague. (See examples for some ideas)
  • – It has some problems with listing information in the last paragraph. It would better to compare more directly.
  • – It is very long. This usually means that either there are uneccessary words or information.

Coherence and Cohesion: 7


This is very good answer.

  • + It uses linkers well with good spelling.
  • + The whole piece flows fairly logically. It isn’t hard to follow the information.
  • + It refers to previous information well, and there is very little repetition.
  • – It has some problems with listing information in the last paragraph. It would better to compare more directly.

Lexical Resource (Vocabulary): 7 ~ 8



This would probably get an 8 in this section if there wasn’t the repetition.

  • + Generally, good use of language. Few spelling and word form errors. Some may be typos e.g. “respecively”
  • + There is a good range of language to answer the question
  • – It has some problems with repeating phrases. E.g. “in both the years” is used 4 times.
  • – There is some clunky uses. E.g. “There was a dwindling in …” Generally, dwindle (gradually get smaller) isn’t used this way. Try “Something dwindled”

Grammatical range and accuracy : 7


If your examiner was kind, you might get an 8 here, but generally, it isn’t quite natural enough. Just a bit to clunky in places. Include more short sentences that will be easier to write and read.

  • + Generally, there is a wide range of sentence types.
  • + There is a range of complex sentences.
  • – Some very long sentences get lost. E.g ” While the U.K. had a leading market in the fairtrade-banana sales in both the years, that of coffee was led by Switzerland in 1999, but, in 2004,again theU.K. had its top figures.” Here, you should split the sentence before “but” and start a new sentence with a linker instead.

IELTS Sample Answer 1


The table shows the sales figures of Fairtrade-labelled coffee and bananas in five European countries in millions of euros. The figures are for 1999 and 2004.

To start with, in 1999, coffee sales were highest in Switzerland at 3 million Eur=os, while those in Denmark and Britain stood at 1.8 and 1.5 respectively. Sales in Belgium and Sweden were even lower at 1 and 0.8 million. In contrast, the UK dominated fairtrade banana sales. In fact, 15 million Euros worth were sold in Britain, which was more than seven times higher than that of Sweden and Belgium.

However, five years later it was a totally different situation. There was a large difference in how coffee and banana sales increased. First of all, coffee sales increased across the board. For example, in Switzerland and in Belgium, fairtrade coffee sales more or less doubled to 6 and 1.7 million respectively, while in Denmark and Sweden sales increased very little, rising only 0.2 million in both countries. Meanwhile, Britain’s consumption of coffee rocketed to 20 million, which meant it was now the largest consumer. In contrast, bananas sales only increased in the UK, Switzerland and in Denmark. In the UK they tripled to over 45 million, in Switzerland they rose by over 500% to 5.5, and in Denmark they rose even faster, growing to 4 million, which was an increase of more than 600%. While these countries experienced dramatic growth, in Belgium and Sweden, sales actually halved to 1 and 0.9 million respectively.

In conclusion, coffee sales increased in more countries than banana sales. It also shows that the sales of both rose much faster in the UK than any other countries, though Switzerland also did well.

Words: 292

IELTS Sample Answer 2


The table shows the sales figures of Fairtrade-labelled goods in five European countries in millions of euros in 1999 and 2004. The figures are for coffee and bananas.

First of all, although coffee sales increased over the period in all five countries, there was a large difference in how they increased. In Switzerland and in Belgium, fairtrade coffee sales more or less doubled to 6 and 1.7 million respectively, while in Denmark and Sweden sales increased very little, rising only 0.2 million in both countries. In contrast, Britain’s consumption of coffee rocketed from 1.5 to 20 million, which catapulted it from the third largest consumer in 1999, to first five years later.

It was a slightly different story with Bananas. The first key difference is that generally fairtrade Banana sales increased dramatically. For example, in the UK they tripled to over 45 million (from 15), in Switzerland they rose by over 500% to 5.5, and in Denmark they rose even faster, growing from 0.6 to 4 million, which was an increase of more than 600%. While these countries experienced dramatic growth, in Belgium and Sweden, sales actually halved to 1 and 0.9 million respectively. As a result, these countries fell to fourth and fifth.

In conclusion, coffee sales increased in more countries than banana sales. It also shows that the sales of both rose much faster in the UK than any other countries, though Switzerland also did well.

Words: 244

What do you think of this question?
Do you have your own sample answer you want to send me? Post in the comments, or JOIN our IELTS7 Newsletter!

Share this Post

Need to improve your IELTS Task 2 Writing?


Get our FREE 5-Day Introduction to IELTS Task 2 Writing Course in your Email today and find out:

Why your essay is NOT an IELTS Essay
The structure for an IELTS Essay
Key Topic Sentences for Task 2
And more!

4 Comments on “IELTS Writing Task 1 – Describing a table”

  1. The chart below gives information about science qualifications held by people in two countries.
    http://www.ielts-exam.net/academic_writing_samples_task_1/931/

    The bar chart compares percentage of qualifications achieved in science in Malaysia and Singapore.
    Overall,people who holds no qualifications in science is significantly higher than any other category.
    As can be seen from the picture, in both countries ,students who have gone for masters in science are remained same ,it accounted for around 2%.Interestingly,this is the lowest percentage of qualifications in science.There is a major difference in the proportion of people holding bachelors in the science between the two nations, while this is 10%in Malaysia ,this is doubled in Singapore to 20%.T he percentage of school leaving exams in science is much higher in Malaysia compared to Singapore, approximately 35% and 30% respectively.
    In contrast to three other criteria , people who have no qualifications are more than half in Singapore(60%) and Malaysia(well above 60%).

    1. Hi Neenu,

      It is best to do this kind of thing on the IELTS7 Community. Here, please write sentences, paragraphs, and essays that are directly about the blog post.

    1. Hi Nithya,

      There actually is no word limit. Most of the sample answers here are longer than normal since it gives people more language and examples to practice. Also, native speakers usually find it very hard to respond to the Task 1 Academic questions in less than 200 words – so that is another reason for them to be longer. The key thing to remember is that when YOU answer the question, you should write as much as you need to (as long as it longer than 150 words!).

Leave a Reply to neenu Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.