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  • Hi, I'm Oli.

  • Welcome to Oxford Online English!

  • In this lesson, you can learn how to answer IELTS academic writing task one questions.

  • In task one of the academic IELTS writing exam, you have to summarise and describe the

  • information given to you in some kind of chart.

  • You might have to summarise and describe a pie chart, a line graph, a bar chart, a table,

  • a diagram, or even a map.

  • Are you watching on YouTube?

  • If so, you can find a link to our website in the video description.

  • The lesson page on our website includes the task as well as a model answer.

  • We recommend watching the video on our website so you can refer to the task and the model

  • answer while you watch.

  • One more thing: do you want to watch this video with subtitles?

  • You can!

  • Just click the 'CC' button in the bottom right of your video player.

  • In this lesson, you'll see a sample IELTS academic writing task 1 question.

  • You can learn how to approach these questions and write your own answer.

  • You'll also see some useful tips to help you improve your IELTS writing score.

  • Let's start by looking at our sample question: So, what should you do first?

  • With all IELTS writing, you need to organise your ideas before you start.

  • For a chart such as this one, think about how to connect the data.

  • Often, IELTS academic task one questions contain lots of data.

  • Many students try to present every piece of information, like a big list, but this is

  • a mistake.

  • Do you know why?

  • If you do this, your writing will probably be too long and repetitive.

  • You also won't have much progression in your writing, which is needed for C&C scores

  • of six or higher.

  • So, you need to connect and group the data, but how?

  • There's no general rule here, but here's a good starting point: look for *similarities*

  • and *contrasts*.

  • In this question, you should look for similarities and contrasts both within each chart, and

  • between the two charts.

  • Think about it now.

  • Look at the charts, and try to find similarities and contrasts in the data.

  • You can see the full-sized chart on the webpage for this lesson.

  • Don't forget: if you're watching on YouTube, there's a link in the video description.

  • Pause the video, and do it now!

  • Ready?

  • Here are some ideas.

  • In the first chart, the proportions for 'living with flatmates' and 'living with parents'

  • are similar, and they're much larger than the other two segments, which are similar

  • to each other.

  • In the second chart, the proportions for 'living with flatmates' and 'living alone' are

  • similar.

  • 'Living with a partner or spouse' is much larger than all the other groups.

  • Between the two charts, the proportions for 'living alone' are very similar.

  • The other segments are all quite different, especially 'living with a partner or spouse'.

  • Did you get these ideas, or did you have different ideas for similarities and contrasts?

  • There's more than one way to do this.

  • But, you should think about this point before you start writing.

  • Try to make connections in your head, and put the data you're given into groups.

  • This will help you to link the data when you write, which is necessary for higher scores.

  • What else should you do before you start writing?

  • One: for a chart, check whether it shows figures, or percentages, or a mix.

  • You need different language to talk about these things.

  • If the chart shows figures, you'll need to talk about numbers, figures, amounts, and

  • so on.

  • If the chart shows percentages, you'll need to talk about percentages and proportions.

  • Here, these are pie charts, so you need to talk about percentages and proportions.

  • Two: check if the data relates to the past, the present, the future, or a combination.

  • Sometimes, we see IELTS students who don't pay attention to this, and then they mix different

  • verb tenses in their answer.

  • This could hurt your score.

  • Decide what verb tenses you need (past or present or future or mixed) and try to keep it in your head as you write.

  • Here, the charts are from 2015, so you'll need past verb forms.

  • Three: ask yourself if the charts refer to a moment in time, or changes over time.

  • You'll need different language in each case.

  • Here, the charts refer to a moment in time.

  • This means you'll need to use the verb 'be' a lot.

  • You won't use verbs like 'increase' or 'change', like you would in some IELTS

  • task one questions.

  • Make sure you organise your ideas clearly *before* you start writing.

  • Time spent planning will increase your chances of writing a well-structured, complete task.

  • Now, you're ready to write.

  • How should you start?

  • At the start of your answer, you should do two things.

  • One: write a short paragraphone or two sentencessaying what the chart shows.

  • Two: write another short paragraph with an overview.

  • This doesn't have to be a separate paragraph; you can put it together with the first paragraph

  • if you want.

  • It doesn't matter.

  • Let's look at these one by one.

  • For the first paragraph, you just need to restate the information in the instructions,

  • *but* you should use paraphrase or different structures to avoid too much repetition.

  • Look at the example from our model answer: Often, IELTS students have problems with this.

  • This is because they try to follow the sentence structure in the task, and just change the

  • words.

  • Paraphrase is useful, but you need to use other skills, too.

  • For example, you can use different references.

  • The task refers to 'two charts' while our model answer refers to 'pie charts'.

  • You can put ideas in a different order.

  • The task says 'living arrangements of two different age groups', but in our model

  • answer, we switch the order of these ideas, as well as changing the words.

  • Sometimes, paraphrase is enough.

  • The task mentions 'a certain country'.

  • In our model answer, we paraphrase this to 'an unspecified country'.

  • Finally, you can avoid repetition by using different levels of generality or specificity.

  • The task refers to 'living arrangements'; in our model answer, we list the four specific

  • categories.

  • You don't need to change *everything* from the task.

  • It's fine to copy and repeat small chunks of language.

  • Also, there are some things you have to repeat.

  • Here, there's no way to change 'in 2015', so we kept it the same.

  • One final point: it's fine to copy any text which appears on the chart itself.

  • This means you canand shouldcopy the categories, like 'living alone', 'living

  • with parents' and so on.

  • That gives you your first paragraph.

  • Next, you need to write the overview.

  • You can also put your overview paragraph at the end, if you want.

  • For your overview, think about this: imagine you want to tell someone about the chart,

  • but you can only say one or two sentences.

  • How would you do it?

  • Hopefully, this question is easier, because you planned your answer, and found connections

  • between different points, and looked for contrasts and similarities.

  • You did that, didn't you?

  • You can use that here!

  • Your goal in the overview is to take the most important points from the chart, without going

  • into detail.

  • If you want to try, then pause the video and write your own overview sentence.

  • We'll show you our example in a few seconds.

  • Did you do it?

  • Here's our model sentence: Our model overview is two sentences.

  • An overview should be one or two sentences long.

  • If your overview is longer, it's probable that you're either including too much detail,

  • or separating ideas which should be combined into one sentence.

  • Don't mention any specific numbers or statistics in the overview.

  • Include big-picture details only.

  • Here, you can see two ideas.

  • One was comparing the two charts, and highlighting that the trends are different in each one.

  • The second idea highlights the most popular living arrangement in each group.

  • Like many things here, there isn't just one way to write an overview.

  • However, someone who reads your overview should have a general idea of what the charts will

  • show.

  • Now, let's see some skills you need to write the rest of your answer.

  • After your overview, you'll write one or more paragraphs, explaining the contents of

  • the charts in more detail.

  • In this and the next three sections, you'll see some common problems which IELTS students

  • have, and how you can avoid them.

  • First, it's easy for IELTS task one answers to become repetitive.

  • Look at a sentence: Looks fine, right?

  • Let's add another one.

  • Hmm

  • Not sure this is going well.

  • Let's add one more.

  • Do you see the problem?

  • If you write like this, your writing becomes repetitive, and starts to feel like a list.

  • Even if you change some words, like using 'approximately' instead of 'about',

  • or 'proportion' instead of 'percentage', it won't solve the problem.

  • So, what should you do?

  • There's more than one idea here, but first, you need to try to use varied sentence structures.

  • Look at the first sentence you saw before.

  • Here's a challenge: how many ways can you think of to say the same idea, without changing

  • the meaning, or losing any detail?

  • Pause the video, and try to write this idea in at least three different ways.

  • Do it now!

  • Could you do it?

  • Here are some possibilities.

  • 'Around 20% of 25-34-year-olds lived alone.'

  • 'Among 25-34-year-olds, around 20% of people lived alone.'

  • 'In the 25-34 age group, about 20% opted to live alone.'

  • 'Approximately one fifth of those aged 25-34 lived by themselves.'

  • What about your ideas?

  • Were they similar to these, or different?

  • So, what's going on here?

  • First, you can simply change the order of the ideas, as in sentence one.

  • You can use an adverbial, like 'among 25-34-year-olds' in sentence two.

  • You can use different words to refer to the same thing.

  • For example, instead of '25-34-year-olds', sentence three refers to 'the 25-34 age

  • group'.

  • Instead of 'around 20 per cent', sentence four refers to 'approximately one fifth'.

  • Sentences three and four also change the words 'lived alone', either by adding an idea

  • – 'opted to live alone' in sentence threeor by paraphrasing – 'lived

  • by themselves' in sentence four.

  • Be careful with this, because when you change the words, it's easy to change the meaning.

  • Make sure that your words have the same meaning as whatever you're referring to.

  • Learning to vary your sentence structure is vital if you want to get higher scores for

  • C&C and grammar.

  • However, there are other key skills you need.

  • Let's look at another!

  • Look at two sentences.

  • These sentences are fine, *but* if you write your whole answer like this, it will probably

  • get overlong and repetitive.

  • Also, to get higher grammar scores, you need to use a range of complex sentence structures.

  • So, you should try to combine ideas where you can.

  • For example: You can also combine contrasting ideas, using

  • conjunctions like 'while', 'whereas', 'although' and so on.

  • Here's a task for you.

  • Look at the two charts, and find two contrasting data points.

  • Write *one* sentence describing them both, linking the two ideas with a conjunction.

  • Pause the video and try it now!

  • Did you do it?

  • Let's look at one example:

  • 'Among 35-44-year-olds, almost half lived with their partner or spouse, while a much

  • smaller proportion lived with their parents (around 10-15%).'

  • Of course, there are many possibilities here.

  • But, you should be thinking about this all the way through your answer.

  • Look through the model answer.

  • Try to find where we've combined two or more ideas in one sentence.

  • Take note of different ways to combine similar or different ideas, and try to use them in

  • your writing.

  • Let's move on and look at one more key skill.

  • Look at these three sentences.

  • 'The number of 35-44-year-olds living with their parents was quite higharound 50.'

  • 'The percentage of 35-44-year-olds living with flatmates decreased dramatically compared

  • to the younger age group.'

  • 'Just over a quarter of 35-44-year-olds lived by themselves.'

  • What do you think?

  • Good sentences, or not?

  • All three sentences have problems.

  • Can you find them?

  • You'll need to look at the charts, too.

  • Pause the video and think about it if you want.

  • Any ideas?

  • Let's look together.

  • All three sentences have issues with precision of language.

  • We see these problems often in our students' IELTS writing.

  • The first sentence refers to 'number' and 'around 50'.

  • This is too loose.

  • First, the pie charts don't give you *numbers*, in the sense of quantities.

  • It's a percentage, so you should use the word 'percentage' or 'proportion'.

  • Secondly, what does '50' mean?

  • 50 what?

  • If you mention a number, you should add the units, in this case, 'per cent'.

  • The second sentence has two problems.

  • First, it doesn't make sense to say that the percentage 'decreased'.

  • 'Decrease', 'increase' and similar verbs are used when things change over time,

  • but these pie charts refer to one moment.

  • Secondly, 'dramatically' suggests a very large difference or change, but in this case,

  • the difference between the two percentages was not that great.

  • IELTS students often try to use words like this to increase their vocabulary score.

  • However, it's more important that your words fit the data accurately.

  • Here's a better version of sentence two: What about the third sentence?

  • Very simple: the information is incorrect.

  • The pie chart shows that just *under* a quarter of this age group lived alone.

  • When you're under time pressure, it's easy to make mistakes like this.

  • However, mistakes with the data will limit your TA score to six, so it's important

  • to make sure you get every detail accurate.

  • Don't forget to practise this further by visiting the full version of this lesson on

  • our website.

  • You could also try writing your own answer for this task.

  • Good luck if you have an IELTS exam coming up soon!

  • Thanks for watching!