Top Tips for IELTS

Describing numbers in task 1

A common difficulty is dealing with numbers in task 1. With a pie chart, line graph or table you need be able to summarise the key details: to do this you need the language of numbers, as you should not simply write out all the numbers – it is a summarising task. This can be surprisingly complex to do as the figures in most task 1 exercises are not “simple figures” but rather more complex.

numbers in task 1

How to describe differences accurately

40 is double is 20, but what about 42 and 20? Or 30 and 88?

These are the sort of “complex figures” you may need to describe in the exam and the examiner is looking for an accurate description of just this type of numbers. What you need to do is compare the numbers. Here is some helpful language for you: it is important that you have some variations here

numbers1

So 40 is exactly double 20

42 is approximately double 20

30 is just over a third of 88

More language of numbers

To do this well, you need some mathematical language too:

 

numbers2

A test

More task 1 help Exercises using numbers How to compare numbers

   

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16 Responses to Describing numbers in task 1

  1. Samen August 24, 2010 at 4:08 am #

    Thanks for your kindness and all you share

    Which is the correct form to write % in the report? “X per cent” or “X percent” or maybe “X Percent (with capital letter)”? Do we have to keep writing by letters or we can use of it’s sign (%) also?

    • Dominic Cole November 14, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

      Apparently “per cent” is the dictionary approved version. Personally, i think you would be unlucky to be penalised for “percent”. No capitals are needed and the best advice is to write it out and not use symbols.

  2. Name August 29, 2010 at 2:52 pm #

    Thank you for what you teach.
    could you please tell about spelling % also? which one is correct ? Percent or per cent ?

    • Dominic Cole November 14, 2010 at 4:07 pm #

      Ooh interesting. I use “percent” but Macmillan Dictionary will only allow “per cent” or “percentage”. So “per cent” it should be but most people I know use “percent” and you would be unlucky to be penalised.

  3. gias November 3, 2010 at 8:03 pm #

    useful

  4. AK June 20, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    very nice work , Thank you teacher It is very useful .

    hope for you all the best .

  5. Ray Jay July 25, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Thank you very much for this wonderful lessons. I find it very helpful 🙂
    You’re my idol now hehe

  6. Veronica September 13, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    Dear Dominic!
    I’m now puzzling over Writing task 1 from the book Cambridge IELTS 7, test 3.

    I’m trying to describe the bar chart using expression “that was matched by..”.

    First I met this expression in such sentence “France used coal as a source for only 25 units of electricity in 1980, which was matched by natural gas”. In this sentence the meaning was that natural gas produced as much electricity as coal did.

    I’m trying to use this phrase in my own sentence, but I’m not sure weather my usage is correct. Can you check it, please?

    ” As can clearly be seen from the chart, during the period from 1990 to 1995 house prices fell by approximately 7% in Tokyo, that was matched by London’s prices.”

    This is the link to the graph I’m describing
    http://cs11070.vkontakte.ru/u3355608/142236952/x_97091087.jpg

    • Dominic Cole September 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

      I’m not sure about your first sentence. Where id you find it? Really (for me), you need a noun before the “which” so that it is clear what it refers to. So I would rewrite your sentence this way:

      “As can clearly be seen from the chart, during the period from 1990 to 1995 house prices fell by approximately 7% in Tokyo, a fall that was matched by London’s prices.”

      Here’s another variation:

      ” It is evident from the chart that house prices dropped by 7% in both London and Tokyo, a fall which was almost matched in New York.”

    • Dominic Cole September 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

      I’m not sure about your first sentence. Where did you find it? Really (for me), you need a noun before the “which” so that it is clear what it refers to. So I would rewrite your sentence this way:

      “As can clearly be seen from the chart, during the period from 1990 to 1995 house prices fell by approximately 7% in Tokyo, a fall that was matched by London’s prices.”

      Here’s another variation:

      ” It is evident from the chart that house prices dropped by 7% in both London and Tokyo, a fall which was almost matched in New York.”

  7. Veronica September 15, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    I found that sentence in the book Cambridge IELTS 7. It was included into the model answer to Test 4, Writing task 1 and described as an example of a very food answer.
    Thank You so much for the explanation!!!!

  8. Veronica September 15, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    One more question, please. I always thought that we should use “by” with the word “slump”

    For instance, “Britvic’s share price has slumped by 10% after…”

    But today I faced such sentences:
    “HP share prices slumped almost 10 percent after Mark Hurd resigned”
    “House prices slumped 10% in 2008, official figures show”

    So can we omit “by”?

    If yes, what about other words, like drop, fall, decline, plummet, diminish etc?

    • Dominic Cole September 15, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

      Oh, good question. The safe option is to use the “by”. It is quite possible to use these falling words without “by”, but it is slightly journalistic and it is more precise to use the “by”.

  9. Veronica September 16, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    Thank You so much!! You and your site are the best help for me not only to prepare for IELTS, but also to improve my language! Yours site is really great!!!

  10. Thi September 25, 2011 at 6:18 am #

    WE LOVE U OUR TEACHER! GREAT~~~~

  11. timo May 21, 2012 at 2:32 am #

    cheers alot

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