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IELTS table about transport in Milan

This lesson helps you write an answer to an IELTS table about transport and types of transport. In it I talk you through how to write a better summary by taking an organised approach. This means looking at each of these in turn:

Understand what the table shows

Identify key points for summary

Decide how to organise your answer

Find details to include

Write

Remember to spend time thinking about the table before you start writing

The sample answer

This table shows the rise in passenger transport in Milan from 2010 to 2014 in the bus, train, tram, taxi and metro networks. There was increased usage of all 5 forms of transport during this period and the metro was used more than any other mode of transport.

In 2010 there were just 7.3 million passengers using public transport in Milan, but by 2014 this figure had approximately doubled to over 14 million. The numbers rose for each form of transport every year with the exception of buses in 2011 when the figure dropped slightly from 1 million to 0.8 million. The pattern of change was mostly steady with the two greatest changes being the rise in bus usage in 2012 and metro usage in 2011, where there was an increase of around 1 million in both cases.

The greatest number of passengers used the metro and trains, the figures rising from 3 million to 5 million and 1.4 million to 3.6 million respectively. While more people used trams at the start of this period, bus transport had become more popular by 2013. Taxis accounted for the fewest number of journeys at 0.6 to one million. 

This table shows how many people (in millions) used different form public transport in Milan between 2010 and 2014

IELTS table about transport

 

Understanding the question – what the table shows

Tables can be hard to read as they are not very visual and show lots of data. It helps to be methodical as you look at a table and look at what the columns and rows show. You should see from the table that it shows:

a change in time – the columns

different forms of transport – the rows

Don’t look at the table all at once – look at the rows and columns separately
Also think about using the columns and rows in a table to organise your answer

Find the key points for your table summary

The next step is to identify the key points for your summary statement. Again this will help you organise your answer by giving you the general points.  A sensible approach here is to look for a general trend over time (rise/fall) and the order of popularity.

Change over time

You are only looking for general points here. So just look to see

if they all changed in the same way

how much the change was

One quick way to do this is to forget the data in the middle and look at the beginning and the end. Like so:

IELTS table transport 2

You should now immediately see that:

they all rise

the rise is around double in most cases

There is of course more detail but you can include that in your main content paragraphs.

Order

A second point you need to consider is order or “popularity”of the different forms of transport. You need to look to see

which was the most popular

which was the least popular

did they change

To do this you can again look at the beginning and ends of the table but this time it helps to re-order the table in your head starting with the highest to see if the order remains the same:

milan-transport-3

You should now see that buses become more popular than trams in this period but otherwise the order remains the same with the metro the most used form of transport and taxis the least.

Remember to look at beginnings and ends and for highest and lowest to find main points

Organising your main content paragraphs

You want to write your answer in paragraphs. With tables one natural way to do this is use one paragraph for what you see in the rows and one for what you see in the columns. In this case this means

paragraph 1 – change over time thinking about years (the columns)

paragraph 2 – popularity of forms of transport (the rows)

Change over time paragraph

We already have the main idea – they all rose. We now need more details. Here are some ideas:

look for any exception

Here there is one exception to the general rule: the number of passengers fell in 2011. That needs to be included

look for total numbers

The table doesn’t show totals but they are easy and quick to work out. Showing the totals helps you summarise the information more quickly. Here the total rose from around 7 million to 14 million.

look for pattern/rate of change

This means looking quickly at how the numbers rose. Here you should see that in general they rose steadily but there were two big leaps – buses in 2012 and metros in 2011. These are details to include.

In 2010 there were just 7.3 million passengers using public transport in Milan, but by 2014 this figure had approximately doubled to over 14 million. The numbers rose for each form of transport every year with the exception of buses in 2011 when the figure dropped slightly from 1 million to 0.8 million. The pattern of change was mostly steady with the two greatest changes being the rise in bus usage in 2012 and metro usage in 2011, where there was an increase of around 1 million in both cases.

Order of popularity paragraph

Again we have the main idea – metro had the most passengers and taxis the fewest. All we need now is the detail. The logical way to organise this paragraph is from big to small.

start with high numbers

It helps to group information together. Here I take metro and train together as they are 1 and 2 and have a similar pattern.

look for exceptions

I also make note that buses became more popular than trams during the period. This is a detail you want to include.

end with the low numbers

I also include the numbers for taxis as they are the lowest on the scale.

The greatest number of passengers used the metro and trains, the figures rising from 3 million to 5 million and 1.4 million to 3.6 million respectively. While more people used trams at the start of this period, bus transport had become more popular by 2013. Taxis accounted for the fewest number of journeys at 0.6 to 1 million.

Remember to write in paragraphs
Include important details such as exceptions and high and low numbers
Think about how to group information

Other lessons to help you

A key skill in task 1 answers is learning to use paragraphs to organise your answer. This lesson gives you more help on that

Using paragraphs to organise your answer in task 1 tables

One problem with tables is that they give you too much information. This lesson gives you more help on how to read a table:

How to find information in a table

Just get all my task 1 advice

IELTS task 1 guide

   

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3 Responses to IELTS table about transport in Milan

  1. mini October 7, 2016 at 5:55 am #

    Article is very helpful. Thank you. Got a clear idea

  2. Douglas October 9, 2016 at 3:40 am #

    Sir, this is a brilliant essay, but I hope you could rectify some minor errors and typos in it.

    1. 【In 2010 there was just 7.3 million passengers using….. million. 】
    I think it should be “In 2010 there were just 7.3 million passengers…..” because “passengers” is the plural form of passenger.
    2. 【The numbers rose for each form of transport every year with the exception of buses in 2011 where】
    I think we need to alter where to when since “where” is grammatically coupled with words related to places and “when” with words related to time if we want to write an attributive clause.
    3. 【the figures rising from 3 million to 5 million and 1.4 million to 3.6 million respectively.】
    In this sentence you use the present participle form of the verb “rise” instead of using it as a predicate, which making this sentence an imcomplete one.

    You are an incredible teacher in my eye, I respect you very much cuz I have learnt a lot form you, so I do hope you could proofread your works before releasing them in order to garantee their quality.

    • Dominic Cole October 9, 2016 at 3:45 am #

      Now adjusted thank you. I’ve actually only changed the punctuation slightly for point 3 – it was a clause and to a sentence.

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