Top Tips for IELTS

Some more advanced trend vocabulary

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This is some useful trend vocabulary for charts and graphs for people looking to get band 7.0 or over.

Test yourself first

Upward trends

Downward trends

adjectives and adverbs


These verbs are alternatives to the basic rise and fall vocabulary. One benefit of using them is that sometimes they help you avoid repeating too many numbers. If you have a strong verb, you don’t always have to give the exact figure.

Up verbs


  • “Soar “and “rocket” are both very strong words that describe large rises. “Rocket” is more sudden. You probably do not need to qualify these verbs with adverbs.
  • “Leap” shows a large and sudden rise. Again, you probably do not need to qualify it with an adverb.
  • “Climb” is a relatively neutral verb that can be used with the adverbs below.

Down verbs


  • “Plummet” is the strongest word here. It means to fall very quickly and a long way.
  • “Drop”  and “drop” are normally used for fairly small decreases
  • “Slip back” is used for falls that come after rises
  • “Drop” and “Dip” are also frequently used as nouns: eg “a slight dip” “a sudden drop”

Adjectives and adverbs

This is a selection of some of the most common adjectives and adverbs used for trend language. Please be careful. This is an area where it is possible to make low-level mistakes. Make sure that you use adjectives with nouns and adverbs with verbs:

  • a significant rise – correct (adjective/noun)
  • rose significantly – correct (adverb/verb)
  • a significantly rise – wrong wrong wrong

Please also note the spelling of the adverbs. There is a particular problem with the word “dramatically:

  • dramatically – correct
  • dramaticly – wrong
  • dramaticaly – wrong

Adjectives of degree


  • “sudden” and “sharp” can be used of relatively minor changes that happen quickly
  • “spectacular” and “dramatic” are very strong words only to used to big, big, big changes

Steady adjectives

Small adjectives


  • “marginal” is a particularly useful word for describing very small changes

Other useful adjectives

These adjectives can be used to describes more general trends


  • “overall” can be used to describe changes in trend over the whole period: very useful in introductions and conclusions
  • “upward” and “downward” are adjectives: the adverbs are “upwards” and “downwards”
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76 Responses to Some more advanced trend vocabulary

  1. joy September 12, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    “it rocketed to a high of 75%” means that it reached to more than 75%?
    thanks for your unique website

    • Dominic Cole September 13, 2011 at 12:52 am #

      No, not really. It just means it rose very quickly like a rocket. Its the speed of change that matters – the final number is still 75%.

    • Anonymous July 27, 2015 at 8:02 am #

      yeah it is really useful ,great. thanks so much

  2. joy September 13, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    thanks for your help and care!
    you’re the best!!

  3. Afsane September 14, 2011 at 9:36 am #

    Would it be correct to say ” the sales hit a trough” instead of saying sales plummeted or sank? guess I’ve read it somewhere, not sure whether it can be used in formal writing or not.

    • Dominic Cole September 14, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      The trough is the low point on a line diagram. It is though quite an unusual word – much less common then peak for example. “Hit a trough” is a possible phrase but is more journalistic than academic. A more neutral alternative would be “low” or “low point”.

  4. Joy October 26, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    Wow, great lesson, that is what i am looking for. Thanks much.

  5. Olsen November 4, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    You are amazing! So helpful.
    Thank you so much!

  6. Jullie November 30, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    Thank you so much . I understand their meanings more than before.

  7. simar January 6, 2012 at 7:06 am #

    dear , which tense i have to use in writing task 1

    • Dominic Cole January 6, 2012 at 7:08 am #

      It depends on the task and the question. Read the chart/graph carefully. If it is about the past, use past tenses etc, if there is no time frame at all then you use present tenses.

      • Tikki June 29, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

        No, doubt efforts is worthless… good job may
        ALLAH bless you

  8. saadah April 5, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    In the downward trend task given, can I describe like this?

    The sales rose to 135 in September only to slip back to 130 again in October, a downward trend that continued in November.

  9. saadah April 5, 2012 at 5:10 pm #

    Example; Number of people employed in Oct is 150 while in Nov 140.

    Do these sentence mean the same?

    It went down by 10 people in Nov ;
    There was a drop of 10 people in Nov

  10. Evelyn April 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm #

    would you please tell me in task 1 that words such as nadir ,apex,vertex are proper to use? Thank you!

    • Dominic Cole July 12, 2012 at 7:31 am #

      Not really appropriate – they are very low frequency words – meaning that we don’t use them often. The best thing to do is to use the standard vocabulary rather than trying to show off by using unusual vocabulary that you may well get wrong.

  11. Kessia April 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    Very useful! This blog is perfect! =D

  12. sanjaya June 5, 2012 at 7:51 am #

    when describing graph the tense that most suitable is “simple present” or have to change according to the graph?
    Please help me on this.
    Thank you

    • Dominic Cole July 6, 2012 at 8:52 am #

      It depends almost entirely on the details of the graph/chart you are given. One of the first things you should do is to look to see if the data relates to past, present or future time.

  13. ravi July 25, 2012 at 10:57 pm #

    can someone give me the best website or idea of learning vocabulary?

    • Dominic Cole July 25, 2012 at 11:48 pm #

      Next week is my week for updating my directory of useful websites. Is there any vocab you are looking for in particular?

  14. Iam Car July 26, 2012 at 2:00 am #

    Wow! I’ll be taking the exam this Saturday (July 28th). Great help! Thanks!

    • Neha Soni July 27, 2012 at 11:47 pm #

      The content of this page has indeed been quite helpful to me! Thank you so much! I shall be answering the test on 28th July. I’m hoping for the best! :)

  15. Suhel September 27, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Hey Dominic Cole,

    I am going to write IELTS in October, I have some ideas and list Vocab that you can include on this page. If you need Volunteer then please let me know so I can put effort and can source all IELTS related help on 1 website rather going around and finding other places.

    I hope to hear from you soon.


  16. Refik October 3, 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    Thanks for the site; I am a teacher and you made my job a lot easier.

  17. Anonymous October 7, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Am new in this site, its very helpful to me.Thanks so much!

  18. Shaky October 7, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    Thnks a lot sir !!

  19. tar October 12, 2012 at 1:56 pm #

    Dear Dominic,

    You are a great help! I would love to tell you my great appreciation for your blog!
    You have no idea how much desperate IELTS test candidates from every corner of the world you are helping!

    Honestly, your support is splendid.I am sitting for the exam at the end of this month. I am visiting your posts day and night.

    Thank you again and I wish you good luck in your life!

  20. forouzan October 17, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    thank you thank you thank you.

  21. Gayathri December 10, 2012 at 12:38 am #

    Thank you very much Sir for this very interesting class ,it is easy to understand ,thank you for helping us

  22. Lucas Queiroga January 10, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    I truly expect you to make a lot of money with this website, it has been helping me a lot!

    Anyway, thank you very much


  23. Abid January 23, 2013 at 11:53 pm #

    Can I use nadir for lowest point.

    • Dominic Cole February 12, 2013 at 2:10 am #

      Not advised – I’d stick to the more common words. You should also note that “nadir” has a negative meaning and the lowest point in a graph is not necessarily negative.

  24. rakz February 10, 2013 at 10:16 pm #

    why are the boxes empty when i view them with mac or ipad?how do i make em appear.

  25. Tariq February 25, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    Dear Dominic
    Your blogs are really fantastic especially todays,thank you so much.

  26. Collins March 6, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

    Hi Dominic
    Can you give me some tips to generate ideas well.
    Thanks a lot

    • Dominic Cole March 7, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      Are you talking about ideas in part 1 or part 2? In part 1, you don’t really need any ideas – all the information is there in front of you in the visual. In part 2, it is harder I know. I do have a lesson on this, but I shall try and post a new one for you soon (in the next week or so). It’s an area where many candidates get confused.

      • vijay March 28, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

        its really helpful..will u please post some rough map for task 1 with these key words…..thank u DC…:)

  27. this site is also helpful to me.i get my proper information in this site.this site is awesome.

  28. Aman August 2, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    im preparing for august 17th IELTS test ….Ur lessons or suggestions seems
    quite helpful for me n am shore i will get good score by….so lets see the final results..thanks for all

  29. blue angel August 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    thankyou so much!!!!
    very helpful
    Thankyou thankyou thankyou


  30. blue angel August 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm #

    thankyou so much!!!!
    very helpful
    Thankyou thankyou thankyou domini cole

  31. sagar chopra September 15, 2013 at 6:54 pm #

    it is very helpful for a learner of ielts

  32. Isabel Marant Sneakers October 18, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

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    Best of luck for the next!

  33. rammy bains October 20, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    thnk youuuuuuu 4 the help

  34. haru December 30, 2013 at 4:42 am #

    i have a final exam tomorrow. you have made my day. this one was very helpful! thanks for sharing :)

  35. Drumil Patel March 7, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    In which tense we should write task-1 ?
    Can we write in present tense if the past years are given in charts ?
    Like 1990-2000

    • Dominic Cole March 7, 2014 at 7:47 am #

      An important question. The answer is that you MUST use the past tense if the data shown is in the past.

  36. Kemaru April 3, 2014 at 4:38 pm #

    Should it be ” It’s evident that the overall trend was consistently upward” instead of “…..upwards”?? because “upward” in this question acts as an adjective not an adverb, consistently is an adverb already.


  37. Maria Ali May 10, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    Going to take my exam tomorrow! It’ll be a great help.
    Thankyou so much!

  38. Yasir Yaqoob May 30, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

    Thank you very much Dominic Cole. I think you did tremendous job and i have no words for you, Excellent website.

  39. a.belgasem June 21, 2014 at 5:56 pm #


  40. AIAOS July 18, 2014 at 1:58 am #

    It’s an amazing place to learn IELTS.

  41. Prajay Patel November 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm #

    Hello, Sir

    This tips is really helpful for me. Sir my exam is after 6days. is there any best way for preparation so that i can get good band?
    Just for a note my listening and speaking is good, but i am not strong is reading and writing.

    • Dominic Cole November 3, 2014 at 2:56 pm #

      Sorry this is too general a question to answer properly. All I would say is that you should go to the exam with a plan i.e. know what you are going to do in each paper. It always helps to have a plan!

      • Sapna Roy June 30, 2015 at 5:46 pm #

        Hello Mr. Cole, nice to visit your amazing website. I am a person with high anxiety levels. I was sweating heavily during the last exam and did very poor in listening. I scored only 5.5. It takes time for me to get my concentration. When I started reading section. I did well till writing. What do you suggest to get a quick concentration.

  42. Rukshana khoja January 5, 2015 at 1:35 pm #

    Thank you
    it really very useful

  43. Julie January 16, 2015 at 1:40 am #

    Brilliant Thank you

  44. tAAn February 1, 2015 at 1:54 am #

    They then rose slightly to 135 in September before slipping back to 130 in October, a downwards trend “that” continued in November. The period ended with a spectacular fall to 60 units sold.

    Could you explain the “that” above. I don’t know the function of “that”. Thank you.

    • Dominic Cole September 6, 2015 at 12:56 pm #

      It’s a relative – a bit like “which”

  45. Seema February 9, 2015 at 4:12 am #

    Thank you very was a great help!

  46. sony February 10, 2015 at 3:44 am #

    i am confuse about tense .

  47. Yazhini Venugopal February 11, 2015 at 3:14 pm #

    Thanks for the lessons and tips. Hope to score 7 above in the test.

  48. Lydia February 23, 2015 at 5:20 am #

    Please send more study guide

  49. shneha March 5, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    well please give me some hints on writing or describing topic of graph.

  50. Jun July 6, 2015 at 11:17 am #

    “Drop” and “drop” are normally used for fairly small decreases

    Why use again word?? (Drop and drop)
    I know these are same word.
    What are difference?

  51. preet gill August 16, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    hey Dominic ;

    I recently gave my ielts exam and I scored 6 bands…overall.7 in speaking 6.5 both in R L…….though my requirement of achieving overall band was fulfilled but I couldn’t got enough for writing which were only 5 instead of 6..anyone pls give me suggestions about what were my shortcomings in it…am very stressed pls help.. am writing my exam on 19th sept again….am waiting for valuable reply sir!!!!!!.nd what do I need to incorporate in my writing in order to meet my needs!!!

    • Dominic Cole September 6, 2015 at 1:01 pm #


      The first thing is to RELAX or try to; you’ll never perform your best if you’re too stressed. Yes, it would seem that something did go wrong with the writing as normally you’d expect more than 5.0 in writing if you can get 7 in speaking.

      It’s not too late to talk to a tutor – there are plenty to choose from here: Beyond that I can only say that you need to make sure that you avoid the obvious deductions:

      you get to 150 words/250 words respectively
      you answer the questions

  52. baekhyun August 17, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    it‘s very helpful! Thank you!

  53. AAK September 12, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    Dear Dominic,
    I had prepared for my IELTS exams from your site and got 8 score. Wanted to say Thanks. Also i wanted to ask if you could also guide me for my professional writing skills. Currently my professional responsibility is to write brief concept papers(software) for the organization which is presented on government level.
    Can you please suggest any vocabulary or templates(like yours :)) for writing them.

    Thank you much

    • Dominic Cole September 12, 2015 at 1:47 pm #

      Congratulations! Band score 8.0 is super impressive. I’ll try and get back to you about your professional writing skills.


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