Top Tips for IELTS

Two pie charts and a line graph – farming in the UK

This lesson gives you a sample task one report when you need to describe 3 different charts/graphs. This may look tough, but the principle is the same – organise your writing by selecting and reporting the main features in paragraphs. If you can do that, the writing is not so hard.

To help you, I talk you through the process of organising your report into coherent paragraphs with a series of mini tasks. You can also download the report to read my writing notes.

Understanding the question 

The question is always the same for these charts and graphs:

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

This means that when you look at the charts for the first time, you should ask yourself:

  • what are the main features?
  • how can I summarise them?
  • what are the comparisons?


How many paragraphs? – Normally two

Before you write you want to decide how to organise the report. This means deciding how many major paragraphs you will write. The answer is almost always going to be two. If you only write one main paragraph, you won’t be able to make the main points clear. If you write three main paras, you are almost certainly writing too much.
Here it should be clear that the line graph describes one kind of data and the two pie charts another. Therefore you should write one para for the line graph and another for the pie charts.

Line Graph

Finding the main points

This is the key stage. Remember the task is to summarise the main points and this means “selecting” and not including absolutely everything. Very often the main points are simple to see – obvious things. Typically,there will only be 2/3 main points per chart.


Look at the line graph and select the main points that you will use to organise your writing. At this stage you are not looking for numbers, just patterns. The tip is to think visually here, look for:

  • extremes (highs and lows) (beginnings and endings)
  • major changes (beginnings and endings again)
  • comparisons (what is the same,what different) (which is greater,which smaller)

See my ideas

  1. twice as many dairy farms as arable farms (the blue line is higher)
  2. difference between the two narrowed (look at the beginning and end)
  3. both fluctuated and the pattern was different (look at the lines overall)

Finding supporting detail

The next step is to decide what details you want to include. Again, you want to select here and not include all the detail. The details you choose should support the main points.


Which numbers will you include in the report? These should support the main points above.

See my ideas

  1. twice as many dairy farms as arable farms – approximate numbers 1000 and 2000 and the years 2006 and 2011
  2. difference between the two narrowed – fall to around 1900, rise to just under 1000
  3. both fluctuated and the pattern was different  – perhaps major fall in 2007 compared to rise in 2009

Pie charts

Finding the main points

When you have two charts with similar data, you should automatically look for comparisons between the two. The main questions to be asked are:

  1. What has changed?
  2. What is the same?

See my ideas

What is the same?
  • five crops – all should be named
  • potatoes and barley do not change
What is different?
  • rape seed rose dramatically
  • corn and wheat both fell slightly
  • corn and wheat were highest in 2006
  • rape seed almost at same level in 2011

The details – grouping information

The challenge here is not to simply list all the data.One way to do this is to group similar bits of info together. In this case,

  • potatoes and barley belong together
  • wheat and corn belong together
If you can do this, then you will avoid some repetition and summarise more effectively.

Read and download the report and notes

These charts show the changes in the number of dairy and arable farms in the UK  and the changes in the arable crops grown between 2006 and 2011

The line graphs show that there were almost twice as many dairy farms as arable farms throughout this period, with the numbers fluctuating around 2000 farms and 1000 farms respectively. However, this difference did narrow by 2011, when the number of dairy farms had fallen from 2000 to approximately 1900, while arable farms had risen slightly to just under 1000. Although arable farming fluctuated only slightly, there was a steady decrease in dairy farms from 2007 onwards from a high of around 2050.

The pie charts show that while there were the same five main crops in 2006 and 2011, there was a notable change in the proportion of these crops. In 2006, wheat and corn accounted for just over and under one third of arable farming respectively, with potatoes, rape seed and barley all around 10%. By 2011, however, almost a quarter of arable farmland was devoted to rape seed and corn and wheat were around 5% less common than before. There was little or no change in potatoes and barley.

In conclusion, the main changes were the growth of rape seed farming and the fall in dairy farms.

Download version with notes

On this download you will find notes on:

  • number language
  • trend language
  • approximation language
Task 1 report - farming in the UK (3916)

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12 Responses to Two pie charts and a line graph – farming in the UK

  1. louise August 7, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    Very useful model illustrating how to tackle 3 charts/graphs at the same time.
    Note. There´s a typo in the excellent download version with notes – ‘approxiamtely’

    • Dominic Cole August 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm #

      Thank you for letting me know. It’s now fixed – my only excuse is I have 3 keyboards, none of which really work.

  2. louise August 8, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Great post . back on form!
    Any chance of
    1. Some GENERAL EXAM letter models
    2. Some part 2 speaking models
    Many thanks

  3. louise August 8, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    Dominic, I write this in good faith.
    Look at the replies you get … what´s the pattern??
    Model Answers …. great response ….
    Lengthy explanations, theory,
    ips – zero resonse

    • Dominic Cole August 8, 2012 at 10:16 am #

      There will be more sample material on its way. September is pencilled in as writing month when I shall be upgrading my sample essays, letters and task ones. Speaking is a slightly lower priority for me just now, but I suggest you go off to Splendid Speaking where you’ll find truly excellent podcasts.

      I’m amused by your disdain for the more technical posts. In point of fact, they get as much if not more response than the sample material – it is unwise to judge response level simply by the number of comments on a student orientated site. There are a number of other indicators available.

      More to the point, few if any other IELTS sites are prepared to look at how to write well. This is a pity because one of the surest ways to write a good IELTS essay/task one is to understand the principles of good writing: sample essays by themselves are unlikely to get you very far.

      The approach I take in the classroom is to blend theory with practice and it is the approach I take here too. Some materials will be more interesting for some learners and some for others. That is simply natural because learners differ in their learning preferences – not everyone learns in the same way. But it is I find a mistake to underestimate students’ willingness and ability to understand ideas.

      Finally, there is a very significant danger in solely providing sample material. The IELTS industry would like you to think that there is something special about IELTS. They have money to make, books and courses to sell. The truth is that there is very little specific to IELTS. It is a simple exam with few if any secrets and for most people the best way to prepare for IELTS is not by just doing IELTS specific work, doing essay after essay. That is a trap many, many candidates fall into. Practice, practice, practice is just about the worst IELTS advice I know.

      • louise August 8, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

        Not disdain, merely an observation.
        The ´How to´sadly cannot be fully explored on ‘short courses’.
        That said. excellent answer – you have convinced me.
        In my opinion this is the best IELTS site on the net ….
        I will recommend it to all my students

  4. meme August 24, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    hey sir ,

    i’m just asking if the Question was
    (( the changes in the number of dairy and arable farms in the UK and the changes in the arable crops grown between 2006 and 2011 )) >

    can u write for me different introduction ???

  5. angel November 15, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    Oh distractors.

    Why don’t you make your own blog, luoise? What are you doin reading Dominic’s site in the first place? Gosh.

    Anyway, Dominic, you are truly heaven sent! KUDOS!

  6. fanta March 27, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

    Just a quick one @Dominic, which is correct to say? The graph shows that or the graph show that? I confused about this as some websites say it shows others uses show. I will really appreciate it if u can help me clearify this. Thanks. Ur blog is really helpful

    • Dominic Cole March 28, 2014 at 7:19 am #

      We need “the graph showS”. It is the third person singular of the verb.

  7. Roxy July 28, 2015 at 2:04 pm #

    Please help. My task is to explain a Graph and a Table about Visits to Australia by overseas residents. Please just check my grammar, word usage and etc without giving you the exact TABLE and GRAPH. Thanks!

    The line graph illustrates the figure of yearly visits of different races coming from specific countries to Australia as also depicted in the table.

    It is of note that the overall trend for the whole period of 30 years (1975-2005) was steadily upwards. Similarly, a modest increase of approximately 6 to 7 million tourists visited the country for the two separate decades; from 1975 to 1985 and from 1995 to 2005 respectively. In comparison between the two dates mentioned, this number rose substantially to 9 million foreigners from 1985 to 1995.

    As demonstrated in the table, Japanese were consistently the top visitor with a significant increase of 3.2 million to 12 million visitant for the whole 30-year period. These were followed by Koreans contributing almost 33% of the total overseas citizen. On the contrary for the people of China who came to Australia very often with 800,000 Chinese in total within the reported period. To sum it up, it is safe to say that Asians travels a lot to Australia compared to natives of USA, Europe and even Great Britain nationals.

    • Dominic Cole September 11, 2015 at 8:15 am #

      Sorry I really don’t have time to check individual work.

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