Top Tips for IELTS

A checklist for part 1 graphs, charts and tables

In task 1 it is important that you accurately describe the information from the diagram so you don’t lose marks under Task Response. The difficulty is to decide what is the key information as there is often a lot of data to process. One way of thinking about this, is to ask yourself if someone could draw the chart and graph from the information in your report. This is not easy to do and so to help you, you will find below a 8 point checklist, an exercise and a practice suggestion.


Here is my 8 point checklist to help you include the relevant details. I suggest you use it to check your own work: you should be able to answer “yes”to all the questions.



1. Type of diagram

Have you correctly identified whether it is a bar chart/line graph/pie chart/flow chart/table?

2. The correct tense

Have you correctly identified whether the data in the chart relates to past time, a current state of affairs or a future prediction? This includes not just using the correct tenses but also including specific times in your report.

3. The subjects

Have you included all the subjects that are referred to in the diagram? Even if you have a bar chart ortable naming 8 different countries for example, you still need to refer to them all in your report.

4. Units

Have you included references to the units? These may be units of time (months/years etc), money (millions of £) or simple numbers (10,000s). To do this, you need to read the x and y axes carefully.

5. Highs and lows/Beginnings and ends/Biggest and smallest

Have you included the extremes shown in the diagram? In nearly all charts and graphs these are key features to include as they give the reader a frame for understanding the chart or graph. When there is a lot of data, you may not include every extreme so you need to use your judgement.

6. Patterns and trends

Have you noted any patterns?

In dynamic charts (when there is a change in time), it is nearly always important to note whether the general trend is upwards or downwards.

In static charts (when there is only one time frame), it can be important to note patterns. For example, if you look at my sample report on holiday destinations, you will see that I group England, Scotland and Wales together and note that they have a similar pattern.

7. Exceptions

Is there anything in the chart that is completely different to the general pattern? If so, this too is very likely to be a key detail that needs to be noted.

8. Ordering information

Have you ordered the information in a logical way? It is no good putting all the right information in if the keys points are hidden away. This can happen if you follow the order of the chart without thinking. Possible logical ways of ordering the report include:

  • start with the most significant detail
  • start with the general pattern, then note exceptions
  • group items that are similar
  • move from the largest to the smallest
  • move from the first in time to the last in time


The exercise is to look at this sample task 1 report and then try and draw it. Your version need not be exactly the same as the original but it should look very similar.

This bar graph shows the quarterly changes profits for Microsoft, Ford and IBM in 2012. The first point to note is that while both Microsoft and IBM are predicted to show a substantial growth in profits in this period, there is going to be little movement in the figures for Ford. It should also be remarked that although IBM will start the year with the lowest margin, it is predicted to be the most profitable company by the end of the year.

If we look at the numbers in detail, we see that Ford is expected to make a first-quarter profit of around $825 million and this should rise marginally to $900 million by the end of September, only to fall back to its starting point by December. In stark contrast, IBM is predicted to show a steady growth in profits throughout the year, shooting up from just over $180 million to exactly $1,200 million by the year’s end. After a difficult first quarter where its profits drop by around half to around $200, Microsoft is forecast to follow a similar pattern of steady growth from April to December, finishing at $600 million.

Download the task with answer and notes: Bar chart - US Companies profit forecast (4226)

Practice suggestion

The practice suggestion is quite simple. Look at one of your own reports and then try and draw the original graph/chart/table. If you cannot do it, go back to the diagram and see what you have left out.

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8 Responses to A checklist for part 1 graphs, charts and tables

  1. Giada Nuzzo July 2, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Thanks to your amazing site I was able to achieve band score 8! thank you ever so much Dominic, keep it up! 🙂


  2. sHUxrAT September 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Thanks a lot for all your materials

  3. Sahar January 14, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    Please, see this answer which I wrote in resopnse to your example chart in Pro profs Quiz maker.

    The chart shows the difference in the proportions of broadband and dial up internet connections in 9 different countries world wide. It is clearly seen that broadband connections were more prevalent in most countries. However, there were exceptions as in the UK and India wherein dial up percentages were higher than broadband ones. The greatest difference between the two types of internet connections were seen in The USA, Japan and Malaysia reaching up to 40% in the USA.

    Notably, The USA had the greatest proportion of broadband access about 50%, followed by Japan at 40%. The European countries used broadband moderately at average of 28% that level was achieved by another developing country “Malaysia”. Australia had equal proportions of broadband and dial up usage at nearly 20%. The least broadband percentage use was in India at about 5%. Dial up internet access was the highest in the UK about 43% and lowest in Malaysia and Japan at 10% approximately. Other countries used the dial up technique at average of 15%. However, the total internet access showed great variation world wide with the highest at America, Britain and France at about 60% and as low as 15% in India.

  4. mac July 21, 2012 at 12:13 am #

    hello, i hope your blog will help me,,, I need each band 7 for my nursing registration…..I am already frustrated …

    • Dominic Cole July 21, 2012 at 9:50 am #

      Best of luck – the medical requirements are quite tough. Let me know how it goes and if you need any particular materials to help you.

  5. E.S August 5, 2012 at 4:48 pm #

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Would you mind describing the way of writing Pie charts?

    I would like to thank you for helping me.

    Sincerely yours,


    • Dominic Cole August 5, 2012 at 6:53 pm #

      Next week I intend to produce some more materials on task 1.

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