Top Tips for IELTS

Bar charts – an interactive lesson

This is a complete IELTS writing task 1 lesson. You will find here a quiz on the exam, a sample task 1 question, an interactive quiz guiding you through a possible approach to this part of the paper and then an online timed exercise and finally a sample answer.

Think and plan

The concept here is to get you doing and most importantly thinking. For me, this is the most academic part of the whole IELTS exam: indeed, perhaps the one truly academic part of the exam. If I have one major tip here it is to think (and plan) as much as you can before you start writing. If you do that, the writing part tends to be easier – with practice!

The aim of the lesson

This lesson has a very particular focus. It is to get you organising and selecting the right information. This is a personal comment, but I really do believe that the major difficulty in this part of the paper is one of organisation: in contrast to the essay, all the information is given to you and most of the language is quite predictable. What is left is the task of putting that information and language together: the task of organisation.

Now the interesting bit

Below you’ll find an IELTS task 1 writing task. There is a relatively easy set of questions to help you approach the question. It is in effect a mini lesson. Please note that the information in the chart is made up! You’ll find my solution below. I suggest you do the exercise and then check my answer out.

A suggested approach

In short my suggested approach is:
  1. Find the main ideas: look for the obvious points. Often these are missed because they look too simple. An example of a main idea is that the trend is upwards. Each main idea is the topic of a separate paragraph (just like an essay really).
  2. Find the key supporting details: looking for the extremes is a good place to start- these details are the support for your main ideas

The Task

Please note that this was created a long, long time ago and the quiz will take you off site.

An answer

This chart shows the relative popularity of broadband and dial up internet access in 10 countries from Europe, Asia and North America. It is evident that broadband tends to be more common than dial up.

In Japan approximately four times as many houses have broadband (40%) rather than dial up (10%). A similar pattern can be seen in the USA, Malaysia and Italy. In contrast, in France and Germany broadband is only 3-4% more popular, while in Australia they are equally used at 20 %. The major exceptions are the United Kingdom and India where more houses have dial up access.

The other major point to note is that in the USA over 65% of households have internet access, while in India only 20% do. In Australia, most of the European countries and Japan just over half of the people have internet at home. Only about 40% of Italians, however, can use the internet at home. The country with the lowest figure is India at less than 20%. (168 words)

Notes

There are clearly more ways of organising this report. Another possibility would be to write one main paragraph about broadband and another about dial up.

The main point to note about this task is the organisation of the answer, Each paragraph focusses on one main point. This point is then developed and explained with supporting details.

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27 Responses to Bar charts – an interactive lesson

  1. Dominic Cole May 6, 2009 at 2:02 am #

    A sample answer

    This chart shows the relative popularity of broadband and dial up internet access in 10 countries from Europe, Asia and North America. It is evident that broadband tends to be more common than dial up. In Japan approximately four times as many houses have broadband (40%) rather than dial up (10%). A similar pattern can be seen in the USA, Malaysia and Italy. In contrast, in France and Germany broadband is only 3-4% more popular, while in Australia they are equally used at 20 %. The major exceptions are the United Kingdom and India where more houses have dial up access.

    The other major point to note is that in the USA over 65% of households have internet access, while in India only 20% do. In Australia, most of the European countries and Japan just over half of the people have internet at home. Only about 40% of Italians, however, can use the internet at home. The country with the lowest figure is India at less than 20%. (168 words)

    Notes

    There are clearly more ways of organising this report. Another possibility would be to write one main paragraph about broadband and another about dial up.

    The main point to note about this task is the organisation of the answer, Each paragraph focusses on one main point. This point is then developed and explained with supporting details.

  2. tiff January 19, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    Mr Dominic,
    Today I happen to find out about this excellent site of yours and I want to thank you for all the lessons and tips you wrote for practising for the ielts exam. I am very bad at grammar, and am not confident with my writing skills. I will be taking the exam in Feb and am now educating myself.
    I wrote the report for this bar chart, but I have no one to correct it for me. I would be grateful if you could correct it for me, and perhaps mark the band score as well? Thank you very much again for your wonderful classes.
    My answer is attached below.

    This graph shows the comparition proportion between houses using broadband and dial up to connect to the internet in nine different countries in 2009. It is obvious that the USA has the most percentage at 50 percent for broadband while only approximately 20 percent of people used dial up. Japan and Malaysia have the same pattern where broadband users take up significantly high rates than that of the dial up users. However, in France, Germany and Italy, only a slight difference is noted in the users of broadband and dial up respectively. In contrast, the UK and India have people using dial up more than that of broadband for surfing the internet. There is an exception in the whole chart where Australians share the same proportion at about 22 percent for both dial up and broadband. Overall, this chart shows the figures for each way for surfing the net varies on geographical bases.

  3. Amin June 11, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    Hello Dominic. Thanks for your amazing blog.
    Just a quick note about your answer: the number of countries being displayed in the chart is actually 9 (cf. paragraph 1, line 1 of your answer).

  4. will July 14, 2010 at 2:24 am #

    The graph shows the differences of broadband and dial – up internet users in 9 different countries globally.
    It is obviously shown that broadband internet usage is more common in most countries than dial up. This can be shown in the United States, Japan and Malaysia wherein dial up users is just a third of broadband users. The proportion of broadband users is in between the range of 5% to 50%. The United States easily spearheads’ the list with 50% of the people uses broadband followed by Japan with nearly 45%. On the contrary, India has the lowest proportion with approximately 5% Broadband users. While for France, Germany, Italy, Australia and Malaysia have almost the same in value close to the average of 28%.
    Dial up usage being less popular, ne exception to the rule is in the UK wherein Dial up users is greater than broadband with just under 45%, against broadband users with 20%. In addition to this it also leads the list for dial up users in contrary with Malaysia and Japan with the lowest proportion of 5%. For India, Italy and the USA have a share of around 15%, but for France and Germany it is just close to the average of dial up users which is 25%.
    Furthermore another peculiar proportion in the chart is in Australia where broadband and dial up users is equal.
    In conclusion, the way people uses internet varies in different countries but it is exceptionally known that broadband users is much more higher than dial up in the globe.

    – Hi hopefully you can check and comment on this=)

  5. ieltscandidate December 4, 2010 at 9:36 pm #

    HelIo Dominic,
    I wrote my answer in “quiz” yesterday, but I had a lot of mistakes. I ‘ve tried to correct them, so here is my second version ( probably there are also mistakes). Could you check it and comment? Also, I have a question about the definite article before “internet” . Which is correct :

    “internet”
    or
    “the Internet” ?

    I wrote somewhere with article, and somewhere without..

    The chart shows how people access the Internet in nine countries.
    We can see that approximately three times more people access internet through broadband connection than through dial-up connection in the United States, in Japan and in Malaysia. In contrast, in India and in the United Kingdom the percentage of dial-up connection usage is almost double. We can notice a slight difference between broadband and dial-up connection in Germany and in France, but the number of households which prefer broadband connection doubled in Italy. Australia is an exception where the same proportion of households access internet through both ways of connection.
    The rate of internet usage differs among countries. The smallest fraction of usage is in India, with under 10%. In most of the European countries around one third of the population has internet in their households. Australia and Italy have about the same proportion of internet usage,but significantly different from them are the United States, Japan and Malaysia, where the large majority of the population uses internet from their home.
    In conclusion, it can be seen the the Internet usage through broadband connection is more common in all countries than the usage through dial-up connection.

  6. Dominic Cole December 5, 2010 at 4:08 pm #

    Definitely “the” internet – that’s one of the most common mistakes there is. I should do another post on articles soon. The one language problem I see (looking at this v quickly) is articles. “internet usage” “a large majority”. Other than that, your language is commendably correct. Don’t worry about this being your second version. That’s how you learn. Don’t worry too much about timing until just before the exam.

    One significant problem here is that you don’t specify enough detail. Anyone reading this would want to know the facts and figures. Where are the figures?

    Otherwise it’s nicely organised and you are certainly using the right range of language.

  7. ieltscandidate December 5, 2010 at 11:00 pm #

    Thank you for your comment.

    Oh, that articles. I learned them theoretically, although I need time to gain the feeling of accurate application.
    Lastly, I realized that I missed the particular details. I was scared that the report will be boring with too many numbers so I reduced the usage of them. Unfortunately, I overdid it.
    I am going to practice the articles ! 🙂

    Best regards,
    Gabriella

  8. Aiping December 28, 2010 at 10:26 am #

    hey Dominic,
    Could you post some materials on Writing for General Training?

    Thanks

    Aiping

    • Dominic Cole December 29, 2010 at 11:30 pm #

      Expect something in the next couple of days. I have completely ignored general training until – and that’s wrong!

      • tripat August 18, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

        plz give me some new tips to write task 1 and task 2
        ]

  9. mohammed January 10, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    The graph shows the differences of broadband and dial – up internet users in 9 different countries globally.
    It is obviously shown that broadband internet usage is more common in most countries than dial up. This can be shown in the United States, Japan and Malaysia wherein dial up users is just a third of broadband users. The proportion of broadband users is in between the range of 5% to 50%. The United States easily spearheads’ the list with 50% of the people uses broadband followed by Japan with nearly 45%. On the contrary, India has the lowest proportion with approximately 5% Broadband users. While for France, Germany, Italy, Australia and Malaysia have almost the same in value close to the average of 28%.
    Dial up usage being less popular, ne exception to the rule is in the UK wherein Dial up users is greater than broadband with just under 45%, against broadband users with 20%. In addition to this it also leads the list for dial up users in contrary with Malaysia and Japan with the lowest proportion of 5%. For India, Italy and the USA have a share of around 15%, but for France and Germany it is just close to the average of dial up users which is 25%.
    Furthermore another peculiar proportion in the chart is in Australia where broadband and dial up users is equal.
    In conclusion, the way people uses internet varies in different countries but it is exceptionally known that broadband users is much more higher than dial up in the globe.

  10. neelima July 17, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    thanks for the good example.
    I need your help for small difficulties. I want to know, for writing task 1, when the past tens and present tense is used.
    I understood it in this way
    I am planning to write exam in 2011, so if the chart presents data of 2011, one should answer in present tense, if it is from 2010 or 2009 one should answer in past tense. is it wright?

    • Dominic Cole July 17, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

      That’s about right. Though it is unlikely that you will get data for 2011. You are more likely to need to use the present when there is no date at all on the data – as in a pie chart. The key is to read the question itself. I did a post on this a week or so ago.

      tenses in part 1
      http://www.dcielts.com/task-1-2/tenses-academic-task1/

      If it isn’t clear. let me know and I shall revise it.

    • tripat August 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

      i agree with u neelima

  11. Joseph September 29, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Dominic,

    Do you have an active link to the bar chart for the exercise on broadband and dial-up in nine countries.

    Keep up the great work.

    Many thanks.

    Joseph

  12. Shab October 7, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    Is there any other way to say “four times as many houses” and convey the exact meaning?
    I have problem with this phrase. I’ve read “describing numbers” but I still cannot use it correctly! Any advice?

    • Dominic Cole December 6, 2011 at 5:15 am #

      The only other way I can think of is to turn the numbers around and use “one quarter”.

  13. Elena November 7, 2011 at 4:26 am #

    Great stuff, Freelancer. Huge 10x.

    Elena

  14. farshid January 29, 2012 at 9:11 am #

    Hi there
    in your sample answer and in the second paragraph, why do you repeat a similar sentence twice?
    I mean, you write “while in India only 20% do” in the second line and again you repeat a sentence with the same meaning in the last line of your report.(“The country with the lowest figure is India at less than 20%.” )

  15. Jennifer June 6, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Sorry I come from hong kong
    I want to ask is it appropriate to provide reasons to justify the results?
    I am confused with this as I will have the exam in this month

    heartfelt thanks to your useful sites it will be of great use of value especially for those who cannot afford to attend tutorial classes like me

    Superb site!!!!!!!!!!!^_^^_^

  16. Anonymous July 9, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    thank you so much for this great website. Keep up with your fantastic work.

  17. Anonymous September 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm #

    hello sir…your site is great.do you offer essay checking ?

  18. DAVE February 5, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

    thank you so much this is a wonderful site!!! I am vgoing to share this with my fellow test takers now and in the future! thanx alot and God bless!!!

  19. Aisha March 20, 2015 at 12:34 am #

    Hello there

    I have just found this website,, and many thanks for Dominic ,, it’s reall useful ,, I had ielts two time and in both my weakness in writing part ,, I attached my answer below please if you have time give me your feed back about my answer .. Thanks allot

    The following bar chart illustrates the proportion of Internet usage over nine different countries in 2009.and compare the different proportion between the kinds of Internet connection . It’s clearly seen that broadband was the most popular kind of connection in most of the countries .
    It is immediately apparent that, the USA had the highest Internet usage among All the remaining countries ,Around 53% of household had Internet connection there. While , the lowest percentage of using Internet was in India at just below the quarter of population .furthermore, European countries and Malaysia showed moderate Internet usage varied between 40%_25% .

    Moreover , there are major variation in the kind of connection used in these metropolitan areas .in some countries like USA , Japan and Malaysia had the highest differences between broadband and dial up usage , in around 35%, 30% and 27% as much as broadband as dial up respectively . While the rest of the countries had the same pattern in less significant proportion, only uk had different pattern in which dial up more popular than broad band in about 15% .

    In overall , United States had the highest Internet usage and India the lowest .
    Broad band were more popular than dial up in all the countries ,except the United Kingdom where household prefer using dial up approximately twice Times than broadband .
    .

  20. Niro July 10, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    Hi Dominic

    This is the most helpful site and your guidance is invaluable. I feel very confident after doing
    These exercises and it is user friendly.

    Thank you very much.

  21. zoe October 1, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

    The bar chart compares the usage of Internet

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