In this lesson I show you some useful language to highlight the main points in task 1 summaries. The idea is that it’s not enough just to put the ideas in – you need to make them clear to the examiner. For this you need the right words and phrases.
See how this works in action
Before I show you the language. let me show you how it works with a couple of quick examples. See if you can identify the main points from these two paragraphs. Think also about where and how the language is used.
A content paragraph summarising a table
When we look at the total medals won, the United States was still the most successful nation with over 100 medals and Hungary the least with only 17. Russia with 82 medals overall, however, was only slightly behind China in second place, while Great Britain dropped to fourth place with 65 medals. Of the other nations, it is notable how almost half of South Korea’s and Hungary’s total medals were golds, whereas only between one quarter and one fifth of Germany’s and Australia’s medals were gold. France and Italy, in contrast, won an almost equal proportion of golds, silvers and bronzes.
An introductory paragraph summarising the whole chart
These charts show how there was a significant change in the working status of parents in Canada between 1976 and 2014. It is clear that there was a major shift from fathers being the sole breadwinner to more dual income families and single mothers.
Phrases to identify the main points
One technique is to use clear phrases that say – what follows next is the main point. This is perhaps the clearest way of doing it.
It is notable how/that or It is of note that
It is clear how/that
It is obvious how/that
It is immediately apparent that
The first item to note is
The most significant point is
Another technique that is slightly less obvious – and may actually improve your score – is to simply rely on adjectives that describe important points. Very often you will be using the superlative (-est/most forms) to do this. Some key words here are
the most significant (change)
the greatest (amount)
the most important (detail)
the least (popular)
the highest (number)
a notable (difference)
a major (development)
Key nouns – pattern/trend
This is another set of language that help you. This time you use words that show an overall picture. These you may use in your summary statements in particular
the overall trend
the general pattern
Do be a little careful using “trend”- remember it only works when there is a change over time.
A key technique – simple sentences express clear thoughts
This may seem a little simple but simple really does work. You just need to know how to work it. This language can work really very well. Here are two key tips:
See this paragraph from my recent lesson on pie charts to see how this works. I start off with a really short sentence. It works beautifully to highlight the main point. It may seem band score 6.0 but it works as band score 9.0
This situation was quite different in 2014. By that time, dual income families had become easily the largest category at 55%. It is also striking how the father being the sole earner had fallen dramatically to only 17%. Equally notable is how the proportion of lone mothers had doubled to 16%. The figures for couples with no income, single fathers and the mother as the major breadwinner all rose but still only accounted for only 8% of the total.
Here is a quick task that can really help your writing. Look at this chart (full lesson here) and identify what you think are the main points. Do not write the whole summary. The best way to practise skills is often to do them by themselves. Instead write me 3 sentences picking out the main points. Just them.
If you need help on this. Think that each line needs to be summarised. Also you need to describe the relationship between the two lines. This means you need
one sentence about rentals
one sentence about house prices
one comparison sentence about their relationship