Task 1 - TOOLS, part 2
Hey everyone. This post is Part 2 in a 4-part series about how to write your IELTS Writing Task 1 (Academic) answer.
Today I want to show you how to observe specific data like numbers, dates, percentages and other important information. After, we’ll get some practice.
How do I Write About Specific Information and Data?
If you want to get a good score on your IELTS Task 1 Academic, you will sometimes need to mention specific data from the graph or chart.
Your goal is to be able to write sentences like this:
“The average number of hours worked in 2007 was much higher than in 2004, at over 47.5 hours per workweek.”
“Both road and rail experienced slight dips after the year 1978, with roads reaching a low point of about 70 million tonnes in 1981, and rail descending to about 25 million tonnes a few years later.”
Let’s look at some advice on how to achieve this.
Use Approximation Words to Maintain Accuracy:
On Task 1, it’s often impossible to see the exact number for the data that you are referencing. In these cases it’s important to use words like about / around / approximately (which have the same meanings), or more than / over / less than / under / almost / nearly when you reference such numbers.
“The amount of goods transported by roads started out around 70 million tonnes in 1974, and rose to approximately 75 million just before 1978.”
Know Your Prepositions:
Prepositions are (usually short) words that describe relationships within a sentence. Certain prepositions are very useful for mentioning data! You should know the following ones:
- IN: An increase/decrease in some area (“A decrease in usage”, “An increase in the number of people”)
- OF: An increase/decrease of a specific number (“an increase of 65%”)
- BY: X increased/decreased by a specific number (the amount of difference; “The number of people decreased by over half”)
- TO: X increased/decreased to a specific number (the number it arrived at; “The number of people increased to 450”)
Reference Specific Data using “at”:
- The preposition “at” can be used to talk about an observation, and then give the specific data or information:
“The number of people who preferred University lectures was much higher in 2006 than in 2002, at just under 47%.”
“A much larger portion of people went straight to work after college, at 55%.”
“At around 70 billion in 1995, the numbers of minutes of local fixed line calling started higher than any other type.”
Reference Time Periods with “between/and” and “from/to”:
- There are two good ways to reference time periods, and both mean basically the same thing:
“The number of visitors peaked between July and September.”
“The number of visitors peaked from July to September.”
Reference Specific Data using brackets:
- The simplest way to reference data is of course just to use “be”:
“The total number of emissions in 2007 was 3.1 million.”
- BUT, if you want to include more information about an observation, and then mention the data, brackets are one way to do it:
“The total number of emissions in 2007 (3.1 million) was higher than in 2008 (2.7 million).”
“A much larger portion of people (55%) went straight to work after college than those who went on to more studies (17%).”
This allows you to write more complex sentences and still include the specific data or information.
- Don’t overuse brackets; they don’t show off your language abilities as well as the next two methods below!
Reference Specific Data using “with + noun phrase”:
- One sophisticated way to make an observation and then make a specific reference to data is to use the preposition “with” with a noun phrase:
“The number of people who preferred University lectures was much higher in 2006 than in 2002, with just under 47% of people preferring this method.”
“Both road and rail experienced slight dips after the year 1978, with roads reaching a low point around 1981 of about 70 million tonnes of transport, and…”
- This technique allows you to say something interesting about an observation, and then use “with” to add more specific details to a noun.
The key here is that we must follow “with” with a subject + gerund and noun phrase to explain more about that thing. A gerund is a verb with an -ing ending (like “reaching” in the above example).
*Note you must use a gerund! You cannot do:
“Both road and rail experienced slight dips after the year 1978, with roads reached a low point” (Incorrect!)
List Specific Data using “respectively”:
- One more technique you should know how to use on Task 1 is to list information using the adverb “respectively”:
“The three oldest underground railway systems – London, Paris, and Tokyo – are also the three longest, at 394, 199 and 155 km respectively.”
- Place the word “respectively” after a list of 2-4 data points, to show that they line up with the previous list of things they measure.
In the above example, “respectively” is saying that London is 394km, Paris is 199km, and Tokyo is 155km.
“Overgrazing represented 35% of total world land degradation, which is 5 and 7% higher than deforestation and over-cultivation, respectively.”
In this second example, “respectively” is saying that overgrazing’s value of 35% is 5% higher than deforestation, and 7% higher than over-cultivation.
Notice here that you can combine this technique with “at” or “with” as well.
Let’s Get Some Practice!
That was a lot of information! Let's get some practice using it to help you remember. We'll try some fill-in-the-blanks questions. These questions will combine all of the information from the lesson, so they may be a little difficult!