IELTS Writing Task 1: introduction

One the hardest part of IELTS writing module is writing the introduction. If you have a good technique for this, then the rest of the task is easy.

The first thing to note is that writing about Tables, Graphs and Diagrams is not the same as writing an essay in IELTS writing task 2:

  • You are NOT asked to give your opinion on the information, but generally to write a report describing the information factually.
  • It is NOT necessary to write an introduction like in an essay for this writing task. You are writing a report, which means that you do NOT begin with a broad general statement about the topic.
  • You do NOT need to write a conclusion which gives any kind of opinion about the significance of the information.

Three steps to keep up

1. Identify the main idea behind the graph or table. This will be the focus of your first sentence.

2. Consider the details of what is being shown – the units of measurement and the time frame – and decide how much you need to include.

3. Consider the language to use – the introductory expressions, the tenses of the verbs, the correct expressions of time and I or measurement etc.

Three possible ways to start

1. Refer to the visual directly (e.g. This graph shows the population of Canada in from 1867 up to 2007.) However, this method is not advisable, since the instructions in the IELIS test will normally give you just this information. If you copy directly from the paper you are wasting time, since the examiner cannot assess your English from a copied sentence.

2. Refer directly to the main message conveyed by the visual (e.g. There was a sharp increase in the population of Canada from 1867 up to 2007.) This way is perfectly acceptable, and shows that you are able to recognise the main concept or message that the graph or table shows.

3. Combine the two (e.g. The graph shows that there was a sharp increase in the population of Canada from 1867 up to 2007.) This is also acceptable, and is often used as a convenient way to start. In order to use this method, it is necessary to use a few fixed expressions, which refer to the text itself, like those below.

Introductory Expression

  • The graph/table shows/indicates/illustrates/reveals/represents…
  • It is clear from the graph/table…
  • It can be seen from the graph/table…
  • As the graph/table shows,…
  • As can be seen from the graph/table,…
  • As is shown by the graph/table,…
  • As is illustrated by the graph/table,…
  • From the graph/table it is clear….

It is always best to avoid using personal pronouns. Instead of saying We can see from the graph…, it is better to use the passive or impersonal constructions.

Most of the above expressions can be followed by a clause starting with that.

Several of the above expressions can be followed by a noun or noun phrase.

Several of the above expressions must be followed by a main clause.

Warnings

1. Avoid using the phrase: according to the graph. This is because the phrase according togenerally means that the information comes from another person or source, and not from our own knowledge. (For example, According to Handbook, the Archaic Period started around 7000 BCE and ended around 1200 BCE.)
In the case of a graph or table that is shown, the information is there right in front of you, the writer, and also the reader, and so you know it does not come from another source.

2. The expressions as can be seen from the graph or as is shown/illustrated by the table do NOTcontain the dummy subject it. Avoid these expressions if you think you are going to forget this unusual grammar.

3. Avoid using the word presents. It requires a sophisticated summarising noun to follow. (For example: The graph presents an overview of the population growth of Canada between 1867 and 2007.)

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