Friday, 2 September 2016

Best IELTS Language for Academic Writing Task 1

In this article I'd like to look at some of the best IELTS language for Academic Writing Task 1.
First of all, have a quick look at 'Data to analyse in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1' on my site to get an idea of the different types of graphical data you might have to analyse.
OK, did you check them out? Good, now we can jump right in to looking at some useful language.
Academic IELTS Writing Task 1 is basically asking us to describe trends, so first of all, I'd like to look at some of the most common language used to describe trends.
Nouns Verbs
a rise / to rise
an increase / to increase / to go up
a climb / to climb
a jump / to jump
Nouns Verbs
a fall / to fall
a drop / to drop
a decline / to decline
a decrease / to decrease
to level off at...
to remain stable at...
to remain steady at...
to fluctuate
to reach a peak
to hit a trough
As well as having language to describe the trend, we also need to be able to describe the degree of difference.
  • Large difference
X increased rapidly / sharply / dramatically / significantly (adverbs to go with verbs).
There was a rapid / sharp / dramatic / significant increase (adjectives to go with nouns).
X decreased suddenly / abruptly / steeply (adverbs to go with verbs).
There was a sudden / abrupt / steep decrease (adjectives to go with nouns).
  • Small difference
X increased steadily / moderately / slightly / gradually / slowly (adverbs to go with verbs).
There was a steady / moderate / slight / small increase (adjectives to go with nouns).
X decreased steadily / moderately / slightly / gradually / slowly (adverbs to go with verbs).
There was a steady / moderate / slight / gradual / small decrease (adjectives to go with nouns).
One of the biggest problems students tell me they have when answering Academic IELTS Writing Task 1 is actually putting all this language together to make a coherent response to the question.
IELTS Writing responses require a systematic approach and I usually give my students the following two example tables so they can organise their answers well and achieve the best IELTS score possible.
Time period / Subject of the sentence / Verb to describe change / Adverb to describe how much change
From January to February, sales rose dramatically.
From February to April, sales fell slightly.
From April to June, sales increased moderately.
Time period /'there' + verb 'to be' in appropriate tense to introduce the subject /
Adjective to describe the amount of change / Noun to describe change
From January to February, there was a dramatic rise in sales.
From February to April, there was a slight fall in sales.
From April to June, there was a moderate increase in sales.
Now let's look at the individual columns in greater detail so that we can get more variety of language in our answer. I have seen many students simply write 'a catalogue of details' (and then it went up, then it went down, then it increased again etc) when they answer an IELTS Writing Task 1; a variety of expressions is necessary to make your writing more interesting and get a higher band score.
'From January to February.....'
We could also use the following alternatives:
  • For one month
  • Over the next month
  • For a period of one month
  • During the next month
When you describe change, it is important to be clear about what exactly is changing. Let's say, for example, that the topic of the graph in the two tables was 'cars'. We cannot say 'cars increased' but 'the sales of cars increased' or 'car sales increased'.
If the graph was describing the increase in cars on Sydney roads, then we would say 'the number of cars increased' or 'car numbers increased'.
See the selection at the beginning of the post.
Keep these guidelines in mind when doing practice IELTS Writing Task 1; you'll soon find that using a variety of language will come naturally to you and that your answer will have a clear structure.

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