In this lesson I show you a model answer to a task 1 summary where there are two pie charts about employees. If you like, try to write the summary yourself and then compare your version with mine.
The lesson with this model talks you through how to:
find the key points
use better grammar
Understanding the question
When you look at these charts you should see that they show
a change in time – so you need to compare them over time – trend and comparison language
percentages – so you need to describe the numbers
the past – so you need past tenses
Summarise not describe everything
Remember that the task is to
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant
It would be a mistake to try and include all the details shown in the charts.
The different academic qualifications held by workers in an engineering company in 1984 and 2004
The model answer
These two pie charts show how the qualifications held by employees in an engineering company changed between 1984 and 2004. Two key points are that by 2004 there had been a rise in the proportion of employees with higher degrees and that the percentage of employees with science degrees had also increased.
In 1984 around two thirds of the workforce had studied for a scientific degree with exactly one third just having a first degree. In contrast only a third had studied for an arts degree, with around 20% having a first degree and 10% a masters. It is also notable how just over half the workforce only had a first degree and that less than 10% had PhDs.
By 2004 the figures for workers with science degrees had risen significantly to account for around 75% of the total workforce. The greatest increase was among those with masters degrees – a rise of 8% to 37%. All the figures for workers with arts degrees fell with the highest fall of 11% being for those with first degrees. Again, it is notable how by 2004 there was an almost equal proportion of workers with masters and first degrees at around 45%. There had also been a 50% rise in employees with scientific PhDs which contributed to the increased level of higher degrees.
Notes on structuring the answer
Introduce the charts
The first sentence should simply be a description of the information in the charts. The key point to note her his that you cannot simply copy the wording from the question.
Find the main points to write a summary statement
This is a key stage.
See how I have my summary statement right at the start of my answer. I do this for two reasons. It makes it easier for the examiner to see the main points. It is also easier to write when you start off with a general point (main ideas) and then move onto details in the paragraphs that follow.
Organise your answer into paragraphs
You need to make sure that your answer is organised into paragraphs – this is something examiners look for when they mark the writing. There is normally more than one way to organise the paragraphs but it often makes sense when you have two charts to use one paragraph per chart. It is simpler that way!
Organise the information within your paragraphs
If you want to score well for coherence you should also think about the order of information in your paragraphs. See how:
start each paragraph by stating what it is about (1984 and 2004)
then identify key details – looking at the big numbers first – science degrees
use a similar model in each paragraph by then discussing arts degrees and finishing with PhDs
Understanding the main points in the charts
Look at the key – learn to group information
One of the first things you should do when you look at a chart is to check the key to see what is being shown. Here the key gives you a lot of help. You should see that the information falls into categories/groups
arts and science degrees
If you look at the charts now – thinking about those categories – then you should see that
science degrees were much more common in both years and increased by 2004
arts degrees were less common by 2004
the proportion first degrees was around 50% in 1984 but fell by 2004
the proportion of master degrees increased and was level with first degrees by 2004
the proportion of PhDs increased only slightly
These are the main points you need to include in your answer.
One problem with task 1 is that it is easy to repeat language a lot. This can be inevitable when you are dealing with technical phrases such as masters and PhD. You should though look at the common words in the question and try and find some synonyms.
Look at my sample answer and see how I have varied the word employees (words marked in red). These are the synonyms I use
Note also how I use the word those to substitute for the noun.
By 2004 the figures for workers with science degrees had risen significantly to account for around 75% of the total workforce. The greatest increase was among those with masters degrees
Another area where you can use some variation is in number language. As these are pie charts all the numbers shown are percentages. This means you can use:
You can also of course use descriptive phrases such as half/a third etc. See the words marked in red to see the variation I get.
Think different past tenses
When you have two charts/graphs about two different times in the past then you may be able to vary your grammar by using the past perfect (had tense). Look at these examples:
Two key points are that by 2004 there had been a rise in the proportion of employees with higher degrees and that the percentage of employees with science degrees had also increased
By 2004 the figures for workers with science degrees had risen significantly to account for around 75% of the total workforce
One way we use this tense is to show that something had happened before. In these examples the idea is that the rise had occurred before 2004.
In 1984 around two thirds of the workforce had studied for a scientific degree with exactly one third just having a first degree.
This example is similar. The idea is that the workers had studied for a degree before they started work.
Learn better task 1 writing skills
If you want to practise your skills one suggestion is to focus on precise skills and not try and do it all at once. This practise exercise will help you write better paragraphs and organise your task 1 summary better too. It is based on the charts in this lesson