Create the Perfect First Paragraph in IELTS Writing Task 1 (Academic) for Graphs Which Describe a Trend

The words you use in Writing Task 1 will be the first words the IELTS examiner sees you use. This is the first impression you give the examiner, so it needs to be good! 

This is actually quite an easy thing to do. The key? Don’t overcomplicate. Simply re-write the description in the question in your own words. 

There is a simple trick to this. First of all, decide whether your graph is a graph which describes a trend (these graphs usually show dates or years or a period of time), or a graph which compares data (there are usually no dates or years in these graphs). You usually do not even need to look at the graph, only the description of the graph! Today, we will look at graphs which describe a trend.

For graphs/charts which describe a trend
  • The first thing you should write is either The graph/chart shows information about… OR The graph/chart illustrates data about… It is up to you which of these you use, they are both good (I prefer the second as it sounds more academic!)


  • Next, highlight the key words in the question and find out what it is the graph is describing (e.g. energy consumption, meat production, televisions sold, jobs lost).


  • After that, separate the key words to create a past passive structure (e.g. energy consumption = energy was consumed, meat production = meat was produced, televisions sold = televisions were sold, jobs lost = jobs were lostIMPORTANT: You will not always need to use a passive structure. Make sure you  are comfortable with when and how to use passive structures before the exam.


  • Finally, rewrite the information in the question using how much (for uncountable nouns e.g. meat – how much meat was produced) or how many (for countable nouns e.g. people – how many people visited)…. OR…. the amount of (for uncountable nouns) or the number of (for countable nouns). Here, you should choose the phrase that is NOT used in the description. IMPORTANT: for the phrases the amount of and the number of you should follow these with an appropriate relative pronoun. The number of people who visited Denmark, The amount of meat which was produced. Finish with over a __-year period between ___ and ___ (as per the dates in the question).


How does this look in a question? First of all, highlight they key words. Then re-write!

The graph below shows information about coffee production in Brazil, from 1990-2001.

The graph illustrates data about how much coffee was produced in Brazil over an eleven year period between 1990 and 2001.


The chart below shows the number of minutes spent online by people in the UK, from 2000-2003.

The chart shows information about how many minutes were spent online by people in the UK over a three-year period between 2000 and 2003.


The graph below gives information about water consumption in three different countries from 1994-2004.

The graph highlights data about the amount of water which was consumed by three different countries, in a decade-long period between 1994 and 2004.


Sometimes, you’ll even have to describe ‘the future’ as well as the past. But this is not too difficult.

The graph below gives information from a 2008 report about consumption of energy in the USA since 1980 with projections until 2030.

The graph, using information from a 2008 report, illustrates data about the amount of energy which was consumed by the USA since 1980, and the projected consumption to 2030.


IMPORTANT: Of course, in the IELTS exam, you should look very carefully at the graph itself for an extra information that may be relevant to the introduction. But this tutorial goes to show that a great introduction can be made just from the words on the page, modified to become your own.