IELTS Writing Task 1: Line graphs (Academic)

Describing line graph is one of the most frequent tasks in IELTS Writing task 1 test. Actually, it seems to be the easiest type of charts because it presents changes and tendency which are extremely clear to identify and write about. However, if you do not prepare for it, you may be in trouble with this graph.

In this post, I will show you how to write a single line graph successfully within 20 minutes.

To help you feel convenient to understand my post, I will take an example and illustrate it by words.

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Step 1: Brainstorm and plan you essay

In this step, what you should do is reading and analyzing the question, the graph and then making a plan for your essay.

Reading question and look throughout the graph

You should read the question and graph carefully to make sure you won’t miss any important information. In fact, it’s crucial to mention all information given in the question to your introduction. For example, with the graph above, you should notice the unit of CO2 emissions  (metric tons) and remember to include it in your introduction.

Analyzing graph

Next, let’s make some analysis for the graph.

Firstly, it’s vital to identify the overall trend for each item (country in this case). By doing this, I can group these 4 countries into 2 categories. The first is the upward group comprising Italy and Portugal with the recorded decrease in CO2 level while the remaining nations are in the downward group.

Secondly, try to spot the highest (UK) and lowest (Portugal) items. In addition, you should also seek for special points when the items reach the peak or the bottom. Moreover, special points could also be the point of time when changes in trend happen (from increase to decrease and vice versa) or when a fluctuating period begins. These special points will help you divide a long period to the shorter ones. However, I recommend that you should identify maximum 2 points only.

Plan your essay’s structure

Finally, you should make a plan of how you want your essay to be. This can be done by asking yourself:

  • what you will write about the overview
  • what points you will make in 2 detailed paragraphs: this is about allocating detailed information for each paragraph

After done this step, let’s move to step 2: write an introduction

Step 2: Write an Introduction for line graphs

It is a fact that you can apply one formula of introduction to all types of charts/diagrams. Specifically, you could read the effective way to write an Introduction for IELTS writing task 1 in the post Fundamental method to write all types of charts/diagrams. Generally, the easiest way to write an effective introduction for IELTS writing test is paraphrasing the question (paraphrasing technique).

Now I will use paraphrasing technique to write an introduction

The graph below gives information about the amount of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) per person on the average basis in four European countries over a 40-year period. Units are measured in metric tonnes.

Or you can write:

Given is the graph concerning the average greenhouse gas emissions (CO2) per person in four European countries over the period from 1967 to 2007. Units are measured in metric tonnes.

This seems to be higher-level structure and if you do not sure about it, you should write according to the first way.

Step 3: Write an Overview for line graphs

In line graph, what you should describe in the Overview paragraph is the overall trend (any common trend among items) – trend method or the highest and lowest points/items – high-low method.

As noted in step 1, there are two main trends of CO2 emissions per person: the downward tendency for UK and Sweden and upward for the other countries. Therefore, my Overview sentence will be something like this:

It is apparent that while Britain and Sweden witnessed a decline in the average amount of CO2 emissions per capita, the figures for Italy and Portugal increased considerably over the period in question.

=> In this sentence, I use the Overall trend method and divide the trends of these items into 2 groups: increase and decrease.

Or you could make an overview like this:

Overall, among 4 countries in the survey, UK stood at the first position with the highest average volume of  CO2 emitted per person while Portugal was the nation with the lowest CO2 level over the period in question.

=> I apply the high-low method to write this overview. In fact, I choose to write about the countries with lowest and highest CO2 emissions level.

Step 4: Write Body paragraphs for line graphs

A standard writing task 1 essay should contain 2 body paragraphs, so my basic strategy to them is:

(1) Compare all items in the first year of the graph

(2) Describe changes of upward group from the first to the last year

(3) Describe changes of downward group from the first to the last year

Depending on the number of important you identified for each group, you may choose to write (1)and (2) or (1) and (3) in the first paragraph. For example, I noted that the downward group experienced more changes than the upward one so I will write the downward group separately in the second paragraph.

Here are my sample body paragraphs:

In 1967, it is clear that the average level of CO2 emissions per person was lowest in Portugal (just over 1.5 metric tonnes), which was nearly one-tenth of the one in the UK. Likewise, the CO2 emissions level in Sweden and Italy remain high at about 9 and 4 metric tonnes respectively. In fact, on the average basis, the CO2 level per person in Italy and Portugal accelerated sharply, increasing to approximately 8 and 6 metric tonnes in 2007 respectively.

In contrast, the amount of CO2 emissions per person recorded in Britain reduced gradually by nearly 2 metric tonnes over the 40-year period. Similarly, Sweden experienced a significant rise in CO2 level, with the amount of CO2 emissions reaching the peak at about 10 metric tonnes in 1977 before decreasing to the lowest point in 2007 at below 6 metric tonnes

Step 5: Read your essay again and revise if necessary.

I highly recommend you to read your essay once you finished writing. However, you should only do it when you also complete task 2 too. So make sure that you reserve at least 5 minutes to check both essays.

By doing this, you could check your grammatical and spelling errors which help you avoid losing mark because of these mistakes. If you write only one word wrongly, we will lose mark for the whole question.


By checking my essay I note that the number of words is 207 which exceeds the minimum word requirement of 150 words => good

I read through my essay to find any spelling or grammatical errors and found none.

After that, I check whether all information in question was included and my essay described all significant features.

That’s the end of my post.

For vocabulary to describe changes, please read TREND VOCABULARY

Thank you for reading my blog.

See you in my next posts.










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