Top Tips for IELTS

Task 1 introductions – think word families

One of the very hardest parts of IELTS writing can be writing the introduction to academic task one. This is because you need state what the charts/graphs are about without copying the question itself. How can you get this right?Well, one possible answer is to think about word formation (simply changing the form of the words in the question).  I like this solution because it is normally quite simple to do and you don’t want to waste time on the introduction. You want to spend as much time as possible on content part of your summary.

See two examples

Let’s look at a couple of quick examples to show you what I mean and the skill you need to learn.

Question A

The graph below shows the different forms of  transport taken by commuters in London between 1975 and 2001.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant


Here I see the word “commuter”. I decide to change that word from a noun to a verb “commuter” to “commute”. If I do this, the whole structure of the sentence changes and I won’t be copying.

I’d add that it can be dangerous to look for synonyms here. Commuter is the right word – we don’t really have another word which means the same thing, it’s really quite precise.

My solution

The graph illustrates the changes in how people commuted to work in London in the period between 1975 and 2001.

Question B

The graph below show the change in the number of training courses run by accountancy firms in New York in 1990 and 2000 and the pie charts shows the number of men and women who attended these courses.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant


Just like before I look for words that I can change and I ignore the more technical words which may not have synonyms. I see this

  • change = change (In the question it is a noun: I will use it as a verb)
  • attend = attendance (I will change the verb in the question to a noun)

My solution

The graph shows how the number of training courses organised accountancy firms in New York changed between 1990 and 2000 and the pie chart shows the attendance figures for 1990 for those courses.



Get more help with IELTS preparation on the main pages of my site

Home page

Speaking Guide

Writing Guide

Essay writing guide

Academic task 1 guide

Letter writing guide

Reading guide

Listening guide

IELTS vocabulary

IELTS grammar

Keep up with me on Facebook - all the updates and even more advice there


Or just get all my free lessons by email

Subscribe to DC IELTS by Email

3 Responses to Task 1 introductions – think word families

  1. roshavbg February 27, 2014 at 7:44 am #

    Hi Dominic,

    I’m glad you came back. It was long pause. If I make a suggestion about the new vision of the site. Please bring back this menu on the left in the site where was visible the new articles was posted. It will be much more easy to follow every new post from you.

    Thank you in advance.

    • Dominic Cole March 1, 2014 at 8:07 am #


      I am actually busy trying to fix various bits of the site right now. The recent posts should appear automatically – I haven’t tried to make them disappear but sometimes IT has a mind of its own. Can i suggest you refresh the page? I’m rurally not after more page views! But that seems to fix it for me. In a few weeks I do hope to have everything looking much smarter and in good working order. Apologies four teething problems for now.

  2. Mia Nguyen April 28, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

    Hi Dominic,

    This is my introduction for the question A: The graph provided reveals the difference of transportation for commuting in London during the period from 1975 to 2001.

    i’d be very nice if you took a look:) please take time checking it for me!

    Best wishes


Leave a Reply