Remember that academic task 1 is a summary writing task. This means that you do not include all the detail, but it also means that to do it well you really do want to include a brief summary statement of the main points of the chart. That is the best way to make the main points clear.
Why do you need a summary statement?
Your goal is to make the main points of the chart clear and the most effective way to do this is to make a separate paragraph telling the examiner what those main points are. If you leave this summary statement out the examiner may penalise you for not answering the question.
What should you put in the summary statement?
You should include the really obvious things – these can be for instance the biggest changes or greatest contrasts. Normally, you want to include only 2/3 points as the idea is not to include much detail. The idea is to write 2 or at most 3 sentences. You don’t need/want to include detail (numbers etc) in the summary statement.
Where you should you put the summary statement?
A difficult question. My preference is to include it immediately after the introduction as it helps show the examiner immediately that you have seen the big picture and that you are answering the task. If you look in the official Cambridge test books though, you will find that the answers prepared by examiners have this summary statement at the end normally. Tough. But don’t worry too much as IELTS examiners are trained to accept different approaches so either way should be ok.
Is the summary statement a conclusion?
No, not really. You can put the summary statement at the end as you would with a conclusion, but they do different jobs. A conclusion is about your ideas and soothing you put in an essay. IN task one you don’t include your ideas at all, you are simply summarising facts. This is not an essay – you don’t have opinions and so you don’t come to conclusions.
An example and a test
Look at this chart below and decide what 4 features you might include. Remember you’re only looking for the big picture – the really obvious things. Ignore the details and that means you don’t want many “numbers”.
The chart below show the percentage of families in the UK which owned cars between 1950 and 2010
See my summary statement
It is clear that the proportion of families owning cars rose significantly and the majority of families did own cars by 201o. It is also notable that there was a steady increase in families owning two or more cars, even though most families only had one car.
See how I combine ideas. I link the idea of more families owning cars with the idea that now most families own cars. I also link the idea that 2 and 3+ car families grew with the idea that one car families were most common.