IELTS Writing Task 1: comparing pie charts

IELTS tips

pie chart


1) The pie charts show how many people listened to music in 2000 and 2010. ……

2) The pie charts show the proportion of songs played on different formats in 2000 and 2010. ……

3) More people listened to music on radio in 2010 than in 2000. ……

4) In 2000 nearly a third of songs were played on cassette tape but this amount decreased to about two per cent in 2010. ……

5) The proportion of people listened to music on CD was about the same in 2000 and 2010. ……

6) There was a slight increase in the number of people listening to music on MP3 player from 2000 to 2010. ……

7) In 2000 no one used the Internet to listen to music but in 2010 people used the Internet to listen to a quarter of the total songs. ……

8) In 2010 approximately half of the songs were played using two formats: MP3 player and CD. ……

9) From 2000 to 2010 the number of people listening to music on radio decreased by just over 25 percent. ……

10) From 2000 to 2010 the number of people listening to music on radio decreased to approximately half. ……

Test Tip

Note the way we use prepositions with numbers and dates:

2000   40%
2010   25%

In 2010 the number decreased to 25 per cent. (40 -> 25)
In 2010 the number decreased by 15 per cent. (40 – 15 = 25)
In 2010 the number decreased from 40 per cent. NOT in 40 per cent.
The number dropped to 25 per cent between 2000 and 2010. (40 -> 25)
By 2010 the number had fallen to 25 per cent.

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IELTS Writing Task 1: describing a line graph

IELTS tips

Test Tip

Useful introductory expressions:
The graph shows / indicates / depicts / illustrates
From the graph it is clear
It can be seen from the graph
As can be seen from the graph,
As is shown / illustrated by the graph,
Example: The graph shows the percentage of children using supplements in a place over a year.

Useful time expressions:
over the next… / for the following… (for the following two months… over the next six months…)
from … to / between … and (from June to August… between June and August…)
during (during the first three months…)

Per cent is the word form of the symbol %. We can write 10% or 10 per centPercentage is the noun form: The percentage of children using supplements. NOT The percent of children

You can use a combination of adjective + noun, or verb + adverb, to avoid repeating the same phrase.
Example: There was a sharp decrease in the numbers. The numbers decreased sharply.

Language for graphs

This exercise focuses on some basic language, which you need to describe graphs. Look at the graph below. Following the graph, there are 25 statements about the data.

remain (-ed, -ed)
unchanged, steady, stable, constant, plateau, fixed/static

From January to March the percentage of children using supplements remained fairly static at approximately 10%.
The percentage of children taking dietary supplements was relatively stable during the first two months of the year.
During the first two months, supplement use remained fairly unchanged.

fall (fell, fallen), decrease (-ed, -ed), drop (dropped, dropped), plunge (-ed, -ed), decline (-ed, -ed)
slight (slightly), steady (steadily), gradual (gradually), gentle (gently), slow (slowly)
downward trend

It then fell gradually in March.
There was a slight decrease in the use of dietary supplements in March.
The graph shows a slight decrease in March.
Supplement use experienced a steady decrease in March.
Supplement use decreased slightly in March.

fluctuate (-ed, -ed)

It went up and down widely over the next two months.
It fluctuated for the following two months.

rise (rose, risen), grow (grew, grown), climb (-ed, -ed), shoot up (shot up, shot up)
dramatic (dramatically), sharp (sharply), significant (significantly), rapid (rapidly)
upward trend

There was a significant increase in the percentage of children taking dietary supplements between June and August.
The period between June and August saw a dramatic growth in the use of dietary supplements.
Between June and August, the percentage of children taking dietary supplements shot up dramatically.
The greatest rise was from June to August when it rose by 22% for two consecutive months from June to August.

peak (-ed, -ed), reach (-ed, -ed)

The percentage of children taking dietary supplements was at its highest level in April.
Supplement use peaked at close to 25% in April.
It reached a peak of 25% in April.

fall (fell, fallen), decrease (-ed, -ed), drop (-ed, -ed)
dramatic (dramatically), sharp (sharply), significant (significantly), rapid (rapidly)

Between August and October, this figure dropped dramatically to 11%.
From August to October, there was a drop of 14% in the percentage of children taking dietary supplements.
Between August and October, There was a considerable fall in the percentage of children using supplements.
This was followed by a sharp drop of 14% over the next two months.
Supplement use experienced a dramatic fall between August and October.

fall (fell, fallen), decrease (-ed, -ed), drop (dropped, dropped), plunge (-ed, -ed), decline (-ed, -ed), reach (-ed, -ed) its lowest point
slight (slightly), steady (steadily), gradual (gradually), gentle (gently), slow (slowly)
downward trend

Between October and December, the decrease in the use of dietary supplements was at a much slower pace than in the previous two months.
Supplement use continued to fall steadily over the next two months until it reached its lowest point in December.
It fell to a low of only 5% in December.

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10 Tips for learning languages

learning langauges

The following 10 tips will help you to learn a foreign language and keep motivated along the way:

  1.  If you really want to learn a foreign language, visit another country and immerse yourself with the language for a while.
  2. Learning a language is a marathon, not a sprint so take your time and create your own learning routine.
  3. Set yourself goals: try to read an article every day, watch a TV series or when you have advanced, you can try reading a book in the other language.
  4. Talk as much as you can, so you also learn from the people around you.
  5. You can make mistakes: talk and write as much as possible to learn from your mistakes. It will help you to continuously improve.
  6. The perfect requirement to learn a foreign language is immersing yourself in another culture.
  7. Try this: choose a piece of text that you understand well and read it out loud so that you can get used to speaking the language.
  8. Figure out your own style for learning the language –  there are many options to choose, like a language course or a conversation group.
  9. Let someone correct you while you are speaking, so you can learn grammar rules along the way.
  10. Relax and take your time, learning a language is a process!
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IELTS Writing Task 1: introduction

IELTS tips

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.


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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IELTS Exam Tip 6

IELTS tips

Listening Tip

In IELTS Listening exam, when you have to complete sentences, make sure that the word or phrase you write is correct both in terms of meaning and in terms of its grammar.

If it doesn’t fit grammatically, it’s the wrong answer.

Reading Tip

It is easy to forget the meaning of new words. Try to work with new words you come across: look at the different related meanings, look up the different word forms and use them in a sentence about yourself.

The more you do with a word when you first come across it, the more likely you are to remember its meaning later.

Writing Tip

In Writing Task 2, if the question asks you to “discuss both views” then you need a balanced argument, so make a list of ideas for and against the issue, and then give your opinion (I believe; I think).

Note that Task 2 counts for twice the marks of Task 1 so spend twice the amount of time on it. It is important to write at least 150 words for Task 1 and 250 words for Task 2.

Speaking Tip

In IELTS Speaking exam, when you have to answer questions in Part 1, don’t just give one-word answers. You have to show that you can communicate in English. Try to say several sentences for each answer.

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IELTS Exam Tip 5

IELTS tips

Listening Tip

In Section 1 of the IELTS listening exam, you may have to complete a form. Normally, each answer is one or two words.

In Section 1, the information is factual; for example, datestelephone numbers and places.

Reading Tip

In IELTS Reading exam, follow the instructions carefully. In tasks that ask you to summarize, the following instructions apply:

1) You are told how many words you can use in your answer.

2) Numbers can be written using words or figures. A number or symbol counts as one word.

3) Hyphenated words count as single words.

Writing Tip

In Academic Writing Task 1, don’t forget that you are not expected to give your opinion on the information you are given.

You should merely describe the information factually.

Speaking Tip

In IELTS Speaking exam, when you have to answer questions in Part 1, think for a moment before you respond.

You can use conversation fillers such as, “Let me think for a moment” or “What an interesting question!”.

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IELTS Exam Tip 4

IELTS tips

Listening Tip

You will have time at the start of each listening section to Look at the questions. Read all of the information carefully.

For notes completion questions you should check how many words you need to write.

You should also use the information in the questions to help you predict the type of word you need to listen for (e.g. a number, a date, or a name).

Reading Tip

When you have to match paragraph headings to paragraphs, skim each paragraph in turn.

Decide what the main point of the paragraph is, then find a heading that means the same things.

Writing Tip

In IELTS Writing tasks, don’t copy information from the question paper, use your own words. Make sure that you describe the most important information and that your figures are accurate.

Check your spelling when you have finished and make sure you have written at least 150 words for Task 1 and at least 250 words for Task 2.

Speaking Tip

The correct intonation that reflects accurately how you feel, will improve your marks.

If you are telling an exciting story, but your intonation makes you sound bored, the examiner will probably find your story less interesting.

We use different intonation to express different emotions. The best way to improve your intonation is to listen to how English-speakers say something, as well as what they say.

You could watch a film and listen carefully to how the characters sound when they are sad, happy, frightened, and so on. Pause the film and imitate them.

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IELTS Exam Tip 3

IELTS tips

Listening Tip

When you have to complete a flow chart, remember to listen for sequencing words such as then andnext as they help you understand the stages of the process.

Reading Tip

True, False, Not Given questions

False means that the information in the question is factually wrong.

Not Given means that the information in the statement is impossible to check because it is not mentioned in the text.

Use the questions to help guide you through the reading passage. Look for clues in the questions to find the correct part of the passage then read this section carefully.

Writing Tip

One of the most useful strategies for linking points between sentences is to use the demonstrative this or these.

This or these can be used either on its own or followed by a summary word which captures the main point of the preceding sentence.

Study the example bellow:

In the past, many people believed that people over the age of sixty-five were too old to work. Thisview is no longer widely held.

Speaking Tip

You can always exploit the vocabulary in the questions.

For example, you might be asked about a time when you won a game, and then you can use the vocabulary to talk about how you played and won a match.

Or you may be asked to describe a famous person you admire. Then you could describe a sporting hero and talk about their skill in their sport and a time when they an opponent.

Always think about how you can transfer vocabulary you have learnt to other exam questions.

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IELTS Exam Tip 1

IELTS tips

Listening Tip

When you have to answer multiple choice questions, remember that the information might be expressed in different ways in the recording.

Listen for ideas, not particular words and phrases.

Reading Tip

Remember that skimming and scanning are important exam skills. Skimming is the quickest way of finding out what a text, or part of a text is about, and once you know the general subject, it’s easier to read for detail. Scanning is the most efficient way of locating the information you need to answer exam questions.

It’s important to underline or highlight key words or phrases in the questions. This helps you to focus on the Information you need to find in the text.

Writing Tip

Make good use of modal verbs to frame your ideas.


1) “will” to state your intentionIn this essay I will outline three measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of violent behavior.

2) emphatic modal verbs such as “must” and “should” to express a necessityIn my view, the government must bear some of this responsibility.

3) “can” and “could” to make suggestionsFirstly, the government can ensure that its policies take the interests of children into account.

4) “would” to indicate the consequences of implementing a suggestionThis would ensure that the particular circumstances of each case are properly identified and taken into account.

Speaking Tip

In the IELTS Speaking exam you will be judged on your use of vocabulary. Having a good vocabulary is not just about knowing lots of words and phrases. You have to know how to use them. If you use slang in the exam, it might sound inappropriate.

Equally, some words that are extremely formal or old-fashioned are not often used in speaking, and might also sound inappropriate.

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Tips for Managing Your Time in IELTS

manage your time

There are two training formats of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). You can choose either the General Training or Academic version. The IELTS is the only English language test accepted for immigration purposes by all countries that require one and by taking this test you can open the doors to education and career opportunities across the world.

IELTS General Training is for those who wish to migrate to an English speaking country while IELTS Academic is for those who wish to:

• Study or train at a university or college as an undergraduate
• Study or train at a university or college as a postgraduate
• Join a professional association
• Gain registration in a professional organisation (e.g. medical, nursing, accounting, engineering)

The IELTS is a time driven exam. The following points may help you to manage your time effectively in the IELTS test:

•  Start with the text that’s easiest for you. One way to manage your time in the IELTS Reading test is to start with the easiest passage. If you start with one of the more difficult text or sections, you may end up spending more than 20 minutes on it, leaving you with inadequate time to complete the others. In the IELTS Academic reading test, three passages are given for reading and the total time-limit is 60 minutes.

•  Don’t get stuck on the difficult questions. Remember, each question carries equal points. It is important that you spend most of your time answering the questions you do understand – this will help you to score more points.

•  Speed Matters: In a time driven exam speed is crucial. Many students are very slow in reading and they read the passages more than once without keeping the note of time. As a result, they are not able to finish the reading            section on time and will get a huge deduction in marks. So, make sure you read quickly with maximum  concentration. This will help you to attempt the questions after the first reading itself.

•  Write exactly what is asked: Writing long answers if you are very well versed with the subject is natural. But in an      IELTS test, what you are doing is wasting your time and making your position tough. No extra words will fetch you    any extra marks. So, write exactly what has been asked for.

•  Read Instructions carefully: Take a few minutes at the beginning of the exam to read instructions carefully. Sometimes, you may get confused in between and will go back to the instructions once again. Reading the                instructions thoroughly will help you to complete your exam smoothly.

•  Follow a straight line approach: Start from first and move to the last. Trying to attempt the easy question first is  not advisable because you may lose a lot of time while judging between easy and difficult questions. Always follow    a disciplined approach.

• Do not panic: Getting anxious will lead to distraction and eventually it will waste a lot of time. Don’t get nervous  when you encounter an unknown or difficult word or phrase. Skip difficult words which are not essential for your         understanding of the text. Understanding the overall context of the text and sentences is important.

• Skimming and scanning: This method involves reading at a quicker pace. With regular practice, you can develop  and improve the skill. Get a key word and look for the next.

• Underline & highlight: Skim reading may not help you to remember much information. Underlining and highlighting are important to remember information. Make sure you highlight the important text so you can come back to it later.

And of course, please keep an eye on your watch! Make sure that you are taking only the required time to complete each passage.

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