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Academic IELTS Writing Task 1 – How to Describe Bar Charts

If you didn’t get Band 7 for Academic Writing Task 1, and you blame it on your vocabulary or grammar, think again!

In the 10 years Adam worked as an examiner at the British Council, he saw times and times again that test takers weren’t getting Band 7+ because they were writing their answers the wrong way (and NOT because they lacked vocabulary or didn’t know grammar).

So he made this video to show you the right way to answer the Academic Writing Task 1.

By watching this video, you will

– learn how to describe bar charts in your Academic Writing Task 1
– know how to organise the information in your answer
– save time on Writing Task 1 and use it for Writing Task 2, which carries more weight

Watch the lesson on YouTube, or below:


In the video

1. What are you comparing?
In this particular diagram it is the percentage of New Zealand Smokers, tobacco products, years 2014 to 2018.

2. How are you comparing?
The values are percentages, which means you can use some synonyms of ‘per cent’ (e.g. proportion).

3. When are you comparing?
In the past, so your choice of grammar should be from the past tenses.

4. Which group was the largest? Any overall trends? Drastic changes?
Make sure you mention them.

And this is just the beginning, so do watch the entire video, because insider tips from an IELTS examiner are priceless if you want a higher score.

Adam doesn’t give you a model response in this lesson, because he would like you to have a go and write your own. But if you’d like to see a Band 9 sample, check out our High Scorer’s Choice IELTS practice tests. This particular topic can be found in Package 2 and we also provide a model response for it, as well as all the other writing tasks.

Enjoy the lesson!

4 thoughts on “Academic IELTS Writing Task 1 – How to Describe Bar Charts”

  1. Edson Kalengamaliro

    The given bar chart illustrates a percentage of new Zealand smokers and tobacco product consumption, in proportion to age group for a period of four years.

  2. Edson Kalengamaliro

    Overall we can see that the use of cigarettes was the highest over the given period, while as E-cigarette consumption saw a tremendous rise within the same time. Further more Cigars experienced a fluctuated demand.

  3. From 2014-2016 cigarettes were the most favoured tobacco product as compared to E-cigarette and Cigars. However despite being the most popular product, in 2015 it started experiencing a significant drop with a sharp decrease of 5.3% over the stated period.

    On the other hand the population of smokers opting for E-cigarettes sky rocketed from 2014-2018. Similarly the consumption equally grew from 5.5 to 15.3% by 2018. With regards to the surge, in 2017 both E-cigarettes and cigarettes products were at par (in spite of the drop in cigarette sale) (15.3%) respectively.

    Lastly market for cigars kept fluctuating over the 8 years. Still there was a slight rate of increase in clients using the product from 2014-2015 and a huge jump of 4% between 2016-2017. Even though there was this change, cigarette and cigar utilisation were the same in 2017 and 2018 respectively and there after a 4.5% sank appeared.

  4. The bar graph displays data on the use of tobacco products by 18-25 years old citizens of New Zealand over a period of four years beginning from 2014.
    Overall, the E-cigarette consumption saw significant rise over the whole period whereas the use of cigarettes declines steadily and usage of cigars had sharp fluctuation over the four years span. E-cigarette users topped the three groups in numbers followed by cigarette and cigars groups.

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