How I got 8.5 on the writing task
Just spend 15 minutes on task 1, as this will allow you to have an extra 5 minutes on IELTS task 2.
The first sentence of your introduction in contrast to task 2, which used a hook sentence to gain attention, can simply be a paraphrase of the topic for the reader to understand what you are talking about.
Below I will share two of the videos in my course, that will show you exactly how to do this for the different types of information that you receive.
Summarising a diagram
This type of information is summarized differently to charts, so we will start with this one first.
When presented with multiple pieces of information, it is easy to move from object to object in no particular order, all the while trying to display a use of large vocabulary words that you have memorized for the test. Unfortunately, this is a method that will result in a score that fails to meet the expectations that you set prior to the exam, as it disorients the reader.
Two Strategies for Diagrams
Two strategies that guarantee a much better result are a top down approach or a walk through approach. By doing this, it is not necessary for your reader to see your the data that you were provided with, because they can use your skillfully crafted words to draw a picture in their own heads. We will start with the top down approach as it is considered my many of my student as the easiest to master.
IELTS – Top Down Approach
Imagine that you are flying an aerial drone and and that you are flying over the island that you have to summarize for the reader. Where does your eye naturally move to? If you answered that it starts at the biggest objects first before taking in more of the smaller detail, then you are 100% correct.
The tricky bit is that, to really get a top result you need to make sure that you are comparing all of the information that you have been given and breaking it up into paragraphs. This can be done using things like before and after, big and small, cheap and expensive, outdated and modern, and process position. In this example we will use before and after. Early in your writing you can tell the reader how the object started out, before describing the renovations that were made.
IELTS – Walk though
The second technique is to walk the reader through the diagram that you have been provided with. As in all diagrams and with all maps, there is a logical starting point. This will be the position where you would commence if you were using your own legs to wander around. Now I say use your own legs on purpose as, I want you to think this way of relation to your descriptions of any data that you are trying to explain. This is the best way to avoid jumping from location to location disorienting the person responsible for giving you your result. Again, don’t forget to compare all the diagrams that you have been given.
IELTS Chart Summaries
Whether you are given a number of line graphs, a bar charts or several pie charts, you can use the same technique to answer them. After watching the video, go back to a piece of writing that you have dome before and see if you can structure it differently.
When writing task 1, the trick to getting a top score is to group the data or the trends, so you are working with 3 – 4 pieces of information at the most. This means that you have to put data with a similar trend together in the one paragraph. Sure, you still need to point out the major movements, highs and lows or peeks and troughs, but the grouping will both assist you to develop a strong structure and give you the most logical place to add the things that you want to highlight.
When you are practicing, I want you to think like a computer programmer. What they do is break up a program into pieces, whereby they repeat the same steps over and over again until they complete one section.
Start by getting a heap of chart questions. Look at the information and try to create groups with it. At first it will be slow, but with time you will pick up your speed.
Once you get good at this, practice writing one paragraph only. Then write it again using different words. If you really want to push yourself, write it for a third time with different words. This will build up your vocabulary, sentence patterns and create logical flow.
Write a complete answer. If you are writing complete answers at the beginning of your IELTS training, then you are wasting time, as you are no doubt making many different mistakes throughout an essay. If you are then lucky enough to get feedback, you will see a sea of RED that can be very disheartening, and there is no way that you will remember all the suggestions that have been given to you. Doing it again is not likely to help….. as it is a learning method that will simply keep you studying for longer than you have to.
When my students present writing to me, I ask for only one paragraph…. once they get good as one skill they can move on to the next. The other thing is that they can receive a little bit of feedback at a time, and go and overcome roadblocks one at a time.
I hope this advise was helpful. If you follow it, you will get a much higher score or result on the test that you currently think is possible.
Now that you have mastered task 1…. you can move onto task 2. Again, the techniques that I suggest are extremely different from what you will have learned and will find in text books.
Analysing bar charts
For bar charts you need to use the same principle. You have to look at the trends and group together the pieces of data that share the same trend. Then think about what these trends mean….is it a good thing or a bad thing. Give your trend a name. Essentially this will be the theme of your paragraph, and will make it easier for you to write.
In bar chart analysis, you still have to use a similar structure to what you used when you were doing the pie chart analysis, an introduction to tell the reader that you are going to talk about. Of course you need to paraphrase this. This will be followed by paragraph two, normally talking about the most significant trend first, highlighting high and low points. Then paragraph 3 and 4. As it is only 150 words, you really don’t need more than this.
Remember to name your paragraph
Have a look at the video, and see how the author has been able to name the paragraphs and use these ideas to assist him to structure the essay.
By the time you finish watching these three videos, it is simply a matter of applying these skills to other pieces of writing that you have.
Tip – one more time
I will mention the best tip I have one more time…. when practicing, don’t write the whole essay, practice instead writing a single paragraph in 3 – 4 different ways, as this will force you to use different vocabulary, sentence patterns and structure. Once you get good at this, move on to writing a complete essay. Best of luck.
Some of my students have asked me to do a quick line graph, so I wrote it in about 10 minutes in response to a student’s question while sitting in a night market after work at about 10pm at night.
Sure the answer is wonderful, but what you really need to learn from this is how to group the information and then to present those groups in separate paragraphs. It astounds me still, that most teachers don’t teach this way.
Look for the two lines that have the same pattern and group them together. Sure they will not have the same volumes, but they will be similar… state this and then point out where they are different.
So now for the answer…
Look at it in terms of
- high points and lot points
- showing all the information
- comparing the data… the examiners will look for this.
The line graph illustrates the increase in people aged above 100 in the UK, the USA and Canada since 2008 with projected until growth through to 2058.
It is clear that both the USA and the UK show a similar pattern in growth from….(add more here) to….. (add more here) . Although the volume of citizens above the age of 100 is consistently higher in the USA by about….. . In 2048, it is projected growth in the US is expected.to…. while the growth in Canada will likely…. (add more here)
In contrast the the other two nations the growth in Canadian citizens surpassing 100 is somewhat stagnant with only very slight growth over half a century. Although it is expected that some of the population will age beyond 100, the volumes preduced are likely to be far less than the United States and the UK.
This answer will give you about 150 words and the structure is good.
I hope this helps 🙂
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