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Academic IELTS Writing Task 1 – How to Describe Tables

In today’s video lesson Adam (our own ex-IELTS examiner with 10 years of experience) will show you how to approach the Academic Writing Task 1 that many consider the most challenging – a table. The reason test takers have a hard time describing tables is because there is a lot of information, and trying to include all of it would take too long. It would also be the opposite of what the examiner wants you to do!

With a table you need to decide what you will be comparing, and be selective about the data you are mentioning. In this video Adam shows you the things you should pay attention to and gives you a method how to approach a table.

Watch the lesson on YouTube, or below:


One important thing about the table is ‘When?‘. When are you comparing? Is it the past, the present or the future? It is important to think about the time and choose the verb tense according to that, because it will give you a higher score.

Another important thing about the table is its Totals. If you draw a line showing whether the numbers went up or down, visualising this will help you write your report. In the video you can see how Adam did it, and you can do the same in your test.

Giving a score to the categories (cars, buses & coaches, pedal cycles, etc.) to show which had the highest numbers will also help you. You can then group categories with the highest and the lowest scores together, to avoid describing each of them separately. Watch Adam do it in the video and do the same on your table.

Marking the categories that went up over the years with an arrow pointing up, and categories that went down with an arrow pointing down can also be a helpful visual tool. It is important to include that information in your report.

And this is just a taste of what’s in the video – so make sure to watch it in full, because an IELTS examiner is the best person to show you how to write high-scoring IELTS reports!

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!

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