Top Tips for IELTS

More about using comparisons in task 1 writing

This lesson looks at some more advanced comparison vocabulary for academic task 1 writing to talk about the degree or size of the comparison. The idea is generally not enough to say that something is “bigger than” something else, you need to say by how much and that there are times you want to use words and not just numbers.

Why do you need this language? Why not just use numbers?

An extremely interesting comment on this site came from someone who asked whether it was wrong to say something was “far more” than something else on the grounds that this was a subjective opinion and the task is to describe the data objectively. My answer to this is:

this is a language task and you should try to use language and not just numbers in your answer

this is a summary task and that means that you do not include all the numbers, but describe some of them in language

mostly, you should try and combine words and numbers together in order to give the examiner/reader as much information as possible

in your summary statement, however, (normally either your introduction/conclusion) you may simply use words without numbers because it is a general description of the chart/graph/table

Amounts and numbers


Considerably and significantly have similar meanings. I would say that considerably is the stronger word, but someone else might tell you different!

A useful alternative to marginally is fractionally.

Be careful with countable and uncountable words. You use amount and less with uncountable words such gas and number, and fewer with countable words such as people.

I would avoid using a lot more as this is rather non-academic language. Alternatives would include far more and a great deal more.



You should be careful with the prepositions here. You talk about a difference between two things, but say one thing is different from (or sometimes to) something else.



While you cannot use almost similar, you can say almost the same as

Other useful adjectives


The preposition used with both these words is to. So one thing can be identical or comparable to something else.

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11 Responses to More about using comparisons in task 1 writing

  1. Atif Mubeen December 14, 2011 at 12:31 am #

    This is very good website for IELTS.

  2. bo December 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm #

    i cant find this one document that is simalr

    • Dominic Cole December 14, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

      Sorry, are you looking for something that you can’t find. Is there a broken link somewhere? If you tell me where it is?

      • FlapJack November 19, 2013 at 12:36 am #

        Hi Dominic,

        Just to inform you, your link to your tips for band 8 writing candidates is down.

        On another note, I would like to thank you for for all the tips and guides on your website. I have just only started my preparation for this test and was lucky enough to come across this site. It is so informative, well- structured and presented. Plus, I was very impressed that you frequently answer questions asked by the public. Oh, and to top it off, there are no gimmicks! you’re not trying to push a product on us like most other websites I have previously visited. I almost couldn’t believe it! I cannot even begin to fathom the amount of effort and time you must have put into the creation of this site. You, sir, are a legend!

  3. later December 17, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    Dear sir,

    I wonder how I got such less marks in writing, is that any way we can re-open or recount our papers in IELTS? I know what I have written and I doubt that something must be wrong with my result. Well I believe you’re my teacher since I learn so much from this site, and I don’t think I can ever show my gratitude through any words of the world but Thanks an infinite.

    • Dominic Cole December 18, 2011 at 1:21 am #

      Yes, it is possible to get your writing re-marked – at a price. If your score doesn’t change when it has been re-marked, you pay around £60. You need to contact the centre you took the test in and ask for the IELTS Enquiry of results form. The key is that you need to file it so that it is received within 6 weeks of your test.

      Does it work? Yes, I know of people who have had their results changed when their paper has been remarked. Though I know too of people for whom it hasn’t worked. If there is a big difference in your scores, two examiners will have looked at the writing in any case. It’s really up to you to decide.

      Hope that helps.

  4. Noah March 30, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    Dear teacher!
    I have found your blog recently. I think it is really useful for me.
    But sometimes i find mistakes in and it really make me confused. Please help me!
    In one sample have one pie chart and one bar graph discribe about migration to Australia ( I don’t remember exactly where’s this lesson, so i just post randomly here) There is a sentence as follow
    “The bar chart shows that approximately twice as many people settled in Australia between 2000 and 2010 as migrated there permanently. Overall, there was a steady rise in the numbers of settlers….”
    + I don’t understand about the structure ” twice as + Noun + Veb + as + Verb”.
    Does it have the same meaning with :” People settled in Aus was twice as many as the people migrated there premanently”??
    + Even when i use the same structure, I think it have to be: ” twice as many people settled in Aus as people migrated..”? Is it correct?
    + Moreover, with the sentence 2, ” there was… in the numbers of settlers”? What is the difference between The Numbers of settlers and The Number of Settlers? Because after that, you wrote: “There wwas a noticeable decrease in the number of settlers and migrants”
    Thank you very much!!

    • Dominic Cole March 31, 2013 at 9:29 am #

      The number and the numbers are equally correct. A check of the British national corpus shows that number is rather more common. No change in meaning.

      My sentence is really just an as many…as. You don’t need to repeat the noun/subject people. It is understood. You would only add in the noun/subject if it is was different from the first part.

      Twice as many women drank coffee as men smoked cigarettes. Women/men
      Twice as many women drank coffee as smoked cigarettes. Women/women

      • Noah March 31, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

        Thank you very much!

  5. Melvina March 2, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

    thank you so much Dominic Cole! this website is perfect! My husband is doing his revision for the test in 2 weeks time. <3

    • Dominic Cole March 2, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

      Not perfect. I hope all goes well with your husband’s test in two weeks time. I must say I’m quite amused that you wrote in and he didn’t. An interesting division of labour.

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