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Vocabulary For Academic IELTS Writing Task 1 (part 1)
Introduction + Basic/ General Trends + Details Description + Summary (optional) .
Vocabulary for the introduction part:, general statement part:, vocabulary for the general trend part:, 1. in general... 2. in common... 3. generally speaking... 4. overall... 5. it is obvious... 6. as it is observed... 7. as a general trend... 8. as can be seen... 9. as an overall trend/ as overall trend... 10. as it is presented... 11. it can be clearly seen that... 12. at the first glance... 13. it is clear, 14. at the onset... 15. it is clear that... 16. a glance at the graph(s) reveals that..., the structure of the ielts academic writing task 1 (report writing):, introduction:, reporting details:, conclusion:.
Vocabulary to Start the Report Body:
1. as it is presented in the diagram(s)/ graph(s)/ pie chart(s)/ table... 2. as (it is) shown in the illustration... 3. as can be seen in the... 4. as the diagrams suggest... 5. according to the... 6. categorically speaking... 7. getting back to the details... 8. now, turning to the details... 9. the table data clearly shows that... 10. the diagram reveals that... 11. the data suggest that... 12. the graph gives the figure... 13. it is interesting to note that... 14. it is apparently seen that... 15. it is conspicuous that... 16. it is explicitly observed that... 17. it is obvious... 18. it is clear from the data... 19. it is worth noticing that... 20. it is crystal clear/ lucid that... 21. it can be clearly observed that... 22. it could be plainly viewed that... 23. it could be noticed that... 24. we can see that..., vocabulary to show the changes:.
Vocabulary to represent changes in graphs:
Types of Changes/ Differences and Vocabulary to present them:
Dates, months & years related vocabulary and grammar: , percentage, portion and numbers:, words/ phrases of approximation - vocabulary:, what criteria would a band 9 graph response satisfy.
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IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary (Complete List)
Finding and learning all the IELTS Writing Task 1 vocabulary you need can be exhausting.
But IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 vocabulary is actually the most valuable, as graphs appear in over 75% of Task 1 questions.
In this lesson, I’ll teach you all the words you need to describe any Task 1 graph accurately.
- basic vocabulary for graphs
- vocabulary to be more descriptive
- vocabulary for estimates
- vocabulary for predictions
- how examiners assess your vocabulary
Basic IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary
As the British Council explains here , you mustn’t repeat the same words too often if you want a high Lexical Resource score.
This is why you’ll find so many IELTS Writing Task 1 vocabulary synonyms to describe the images below.
- The number of people watching TV and movies increased from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people watching TV and movies grew from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people watching TV and movies rose from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people watching TV and movies climbed from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people watching TV and movies went up from 1980 to 2020.
- From 1980 to 2020, there was an increase in the number of people watching TV and movies.
- From 1980 to 2020, there was a growth in the number of people watching TV and movies.
- From 1980 to 2020, there was a rise in the number of people watching TV and movies.
- The number of people playing video games decreased from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people playing video games declined from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people playing video games dropped from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people playing video games fell from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people playing video games went down from 1980 to 2020.
- From 1980 to 2020, there was a decrease in the number of people playing video games.
- From 1980 to 2020, there was a decline in the number of people playing video games.
- From 1980 to 2020, there was a drop in the number of people playing video games.
- From 1980 to 2020, there was a fall in the number of people playing video games.
- The number of people playing music stayed at the same level from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people playing music was constant from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people playing music remained stable from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people playing music remained unchanged from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people studying fluctuated from 1980 to 2020.
- From 1980 to 2020, there were fluctuations in the number of people studying.
As the British Council explains, you must learn all of this vocabulary before your test if you need a high score.
Descriptive IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary
Now that you know the basics, you need to learn adverbs and adjectives that that will allow you to be more descriptive.
But first, we must understand the difference between rate and amount .
Rate vs Amount
To help you understand, let’s look at these two images.
Even though both hills are 1 km high, we can see that they climb upwards at different rates .
The rate is how steep the hills are, and the amount is the 1 km climb.
You can see how this applies to a Task 1 question in the image below.
You don’t need to know the exact angle (∠) to describe the rate.
You’ll just describe the rate in a general way, using the adverbs and adjectives below.
Adverbs of Rate
Adjectives of Rate
Adverbs of amount
Adjectives of amount
So why do we need to separate rate from amount ?
Because adverbs and adjectives of rate can only be used with some graphs.
We can only use them when we see the angle (∠) of the increase or decrease.
For example, the way the information is presented in the bar graph and line graph below allows us to see the angle (∠) of increase or decrease for each category.
However, the pie charts and table only show numbers, so no angles are visible.
Therefore, we can only use the adverbs and adjectives of rate with the bar graph and the line graph.
On the other hand, we can see the amount of change in all four questions above.
That means we can use adverbs and adjectives of amount with all chart types.
A side note that you might find interesting is that all four graphs above represent the same information.
Examples of Descriptive IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary
Even though there are several suitable adverbs and adjectives in each of the descriptions below, we never use more than one.
- The number of people watching TV and movies increased steeply/rapidly/dramatically/substantially/significantly/considerably from 1980 to 2020.
- From 1980 to 2020, there was a steep/rapid/dramatic/substantial/significant/considerable increase in the number of people watching TV and movies .
- The number of people reading books increased modestly/moderately from 1980 to 2020.
- From 1980 to 2020, there was a modest/moderate increase in the number of people reading books .
- The number of people working out increased gradually/slowly/slightly/marginally from 1980 to 2020.
- From 1980 to 2020, there was a gradual/slow/slight/marginal increase in the number of people working out .
- The number of people baking decreased gradually/slowly/slightly/marginally from 1980 to 2020.
- From 1980 to 2020, there was a gradual/slow/slight/marginal decrease in the number of people baking .
- The number of people gardening decreased modestly/moderately from 1980 to 2020.
- From 1980 to 2020, there was a modest/moderate decrease in the number of people gardening .
- The number of people playing video games decreased steeply/rapidly/dramatically/substantially/significantly/considerably from 1980 to 2020.
- From 1980 to 2020, there was a steep/rapid/dramatic/substantial/significant/considerable decrease in the number of people playing video games .
Big or No Rate Changes in Categories
In the next set, we will look at adverbs and adjectives you can use when there’s a big change in the rate (suddenly/sharply/sudden/sharp) and adverbs and adjectives for when there is no change in the rate (steadily/consistently/steady/consistent).
- The number of people doing woodwork increased by about 10 from 1980 to 1990 and suddenly/sharply increased to 200 people in 2000. After that, it steadily/consistently decreased until 2020.
- From 1980 to 1990, there was an increase of about 10 in the number of people doing woodwork, and there was a sudden/sharp increase to 200 people in 2000. After that, there was a steady/consistent decrease.
Stable Trends & Fluctuations
And now, adverbs and adjectives to describe stable trends and fluctuations.
- The number of people playing music remained completely stable from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people studying remained relatively stable from 1980 to 2020.
- The number of people studying fluctuated slightly from 1980 to 2020.
- From 1980 to 2020, there were slight fluctuations in the number of people studying .
- The number of people playing board games fluctuated wildly/considerably/substantially from 1980 to 2020.
- From 1980 to 2020, there were wild/considerable/substantial fluctuations in the number of people playing board games .
IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary for Estimates
Sometimes, the questions will show you exact numbers, like in the table below.
For questions like this, just copy the number into your essay.
However, some questions don’t show the numbers like this, and you need to use the y-axis to estimate, such as in the line graph below.
For graphs like this, you can never be 100% sure what the number is.
To make sure we are correct, we use approximations.
You will find examples of these below.
- The number of people painting in 1980 was approximately/roughly/about/around 100.
- The number of people painting in 2000 was approximately/roughly/about/around/just above/just over 100.
- The number of people painting in 2020 was approximately/roughly/about/around/almost/just below/just under/nearly 100.
You can see that some of these words were only used when ‘ painting ‘ was definitely above 100, some when ‘ painting ‘ was definitely below 100, and others can be used in all situations.
- Definitely above : just above, just over.
- Definitely below : almost, just below, just under, nearly .
- Above or below : approximately, roughly, about, around.
IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary for Predictions
So far in this lesson, all of the data we looked at was in the past.
However, there are times when the question will contain future predictions, like in the chart below.
As there’s no guarantee that these predictions will come true, we cannot use grammar structures like ‘will’ or ‘going to’ to describe them.
Instead, we must use phrases like these;
- is expected to
- is forecast to
- is predicted to
- is projected to
- is shown to
Here’s an example;
- The number of people doing woodwork increased by about 10 from 1980 to 1990 and suddenly increased to 200 people in 2000. After that, it has steadily decreased, and this trend is predicted to continue until 2040.
How Examiners Assess Your IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary
The examiner will assess your vocabulary based on the Lexical Resource band descriptor, which you can find here .
Here are the main things you need to know.
Communicating clearly is the most essential aspect of your Lexical Resource band score.
To communicate clearly, every word in your answer needs to be used accurately.
But, you can only use a word accurately if you fully understand it.
This is why there are images and complete sentences to explain all the IELTS Writing Task 1 vocabulary in this lesson.
To help you improve your accuracy further, you will need to read texts that contain this type of language.
Good sources are the business sections of newspapers. Here are some examples;
- The Guardian
- Yahoo Finance
If you make lots of spelling mistakes, you won’t get a high Lexical Resource score.
Some people are naturally good at spelling, and others need to work hard to remember.
If you often misspell words, please make sure to learn the correct spelling of all the IELTS Writing Task 1 vocabulary in this lesson or else it won’t improve your score.
Collocations are words that are often used together.
For example, common collocations for the word ‘ increase’ are;
- increase to
- increase from
- increase by
- increase until
This is why it’s crucial to learn phrases or whole sentences instead of learning individual words.
For example, if you only learn the word ‘ increase ‘, you won’t know the correct collocation for your IELTS test.
But if you learn the words ‘ it increased from ‘, you will use the correct collocation.
A range of topic-specific vocabulary
The great thing about Academic IELTS Task 1 is that there will probably be a chart in your question.
That means that all the IELTS Writing Task 1 vocabulary from this lesson will give you the topic-specific vocabulary you need.
Just be aware that it’s okay to use the same word two or three times in your essay.
So if the word ‘ increase ‘ is in your essay two or three times, that won’t bring down your score.
But you can’t use the word ‘ increase ‘ every single time, and that’s why you need to learn all the different ways to describe this type of trend.
Another thing you should be aware of is that the examiner will count the noun and the verb forms of a word as two different words.
For example, in the sentence below, the word ‘ increase’ is used as a noun and as a verb, so the examiner will recognize that these are different words.
There was an increase (noun) of about 10 people doing woodwork between 1980 and 1990, and it suddenly increased (verb) to roughly 200 people in 2000.
However, the IELTS Writing Task 1 vocabulary in this lesson is not the only vocabulary you’ll need for your answer.
You will also need vocabulary based on the categories in the question.
For example, one of the categories in today’s lesson was ‘ video games ‘, so you needed to know that ‘ playing video games ‘ was the appropriate term to use in the answer.
Make sure to continue improving your range of vocabulary with the strategy to improve Lexical Resource .
With all of the vocabulary you’ve learned in this lesson, your life will be much easier on test day. Make sure that you also learn the vocabulary you need for Task 1 map and Task 1 process questions.
If you need to revise any of the vocabulary, this video lesson will be helpful for you.
Next, make sure you understand the other IELTS band scores as well, so complete the Task Achievement lesson , the Coherence and Cohesion lesson and the grammar lesson for Academic IELTS Task 1.
The biggest hurdle for most IELTS candidates in Task 1 is writing effective overviews so you’ll need to complete my overview lesson as well and then follow my 5-Step Plan for writing your essay.
I also wanted to share two activities to help you practice IELTS Writing Task 1 vocabulary on the British Council and Cambridge websites.
- Ebooks & Courses
- Practice Tests
Academic IELTS Task 1 – Vocabulary for Task 1 Essays –
As with all parts of the IELTS exam, Academic IELTS Task 1 is assessed on four criteria. We looked at the first two, Task Achievement and Cohesion and Coherence, on the Task 1 overview page ( IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 ) and it’s now time to focus on Vocabulary.
This lesson includes:
1) Understanding the marking criteria
2) Key vocabulary for Academic IELTS Task 1:
- Adjectives & adverbs
- Verbs & nouns
- Other useful phrases
- Percentages, proportions & approximations
3) A word list PDF to download.
Understanding the Marking Criteria
Before we start looking at the specific vocabulary you will need for your IELTS Task 1 essay, it’s essential that you understand how vocabulary is assessed. Vocabulary, also called Lexical Resource, carries 25% of the marks so, you need to know what the examiner is looking for.
We’re going to focus on Bands 6 - 8 as these are the levels most students are aiming for. Here are the official marking criteria for Vocabulary. Don’t worry if you don’t fully understand them. I explain the main points below. If you follow my guidance in this lesson, you’ll be able to meet these criteria and get a good score for IELTS Task 1.
You can see a full table of all the band level marking criteria for Writing IELTS Task 1 by clicking this link – Task 1 Marking Criteria .
The marking criteria for vocabulary can be summed up in a single sentence:
- Vocabulary (Lexical Resource) is the ability to use a range of appropriate vocabulary and to use it correctly.
Of course, there’s more to it than that and there are three key things you need to do to get a high score for vocabulary. Correct spelling is obviously essential so I won’t say any more about this.
1) Use appropriate vocabulary
In your Task 1 essay, you will be describing data and this requires some very specific vocabulary that you might only use in this part of the exam. This is what the marking criteria are referring to when they mention ‘precise meanings’ and ‘less common lexical items/vocabulary’.
You’ll find lists of useful Task 1 specific words below.
2) Use vocabulary flexibly
You need to have a wide enough range of vocabulary that you can say the same thing in more than one way, that is, paraphrase. This is what the marking criteria mean by the phrase ‘allow some flexibility and precision’. You do this by using synonyms.
Paraphrasing also involves using different sentence structures, which I cover in the lesson on Grammar for Academic IELTS Task 1 .
3) Use collocations correctly
The marking criteria specifically mention the correct use of collocations as something you'll be assessed on.
A collocation is a combination of two or more words that sound correct to a native speaker when used together. The word combination often doesn’t work if you try to replace the first word with a synonym. For example, we say,
- heavy rain but not weighty rain
- fast food not quick food
- keen interest not eager interest
My advice here is to only use collocations you are 100% sure are correct. These are something to focus on when learning vocabulary and I include some Task 1 related examples in the word lists we’ll now focus on.
Key Vocabulary for Academic IELTS Task 1
Adjective & adverbs.
In your IELTS Task 1 essay, you are required to describe what you see in a chart, graph, table, map or a diagram, most especially, to record changes in the data. To do this, you will use describing words, that is, adjectives and adverbs.
- Adjectives are words that describe or modify nouns or pronouns.
- Adverbs are words that describe or modify verbs or adjectives.
Adverbs can generally be formed by adding ‘ly’ to the end of the adjective.
Here is a table of adjectives and adverbs relevant to Task 1 questions. Don’t try to learn them all. This is only a very short essay (min. 150 words) so you won’t be able to include much detail.
Learn 2 or 3 words for large changes and 2 or 3 for small or moderate changes .
Small or Moderate Changes:
Verbs & Nouns
You will also need some specific verbs and nouns.
- Verbs are words that describe an action or state.
- Nouns are words that refer to a thing, a place, a person or a quality.
Many words have a verb form and a noun form as can be seen in the tables below.
For your essay, you should learn 2 or 3 words for upward movement , 2 or 3 for downward movement because you will probably have to write about changes in data.
The following words can be used to describe both upward and downward movements .
Finally, you will need a couple of phrases to describe situations that show little or no change .
Remember to use the appropriate verb tenses in your essay.
Many of the words in these lists can be formed into collations that are ideal for expressing change.
There are two ways that you can create them:
- Verb + Adverb
- Adjective + Noun
Here are some examples:
Again, don’t try to learn them all. Just pick a couple that you feel comfortable using.
The following sentences illustrate how you might use some of this vocabulary in an IELTS Task 1 essay.
1) The price of houses went into sharp decline between 1980 and 1985 but increased significantly from 1986 to 1990.
2) Over the whole time period, there was a steady growth in the number of women choosing to study part-time but for men, the level fluctuated .
Other Useful Phrases
Here are a few more phrases that you may find useful.
Percentages, Proportions & Approximations
All chart, graphs and table in IELTS Task 1 questions contain numerical data. You will gain marks if you are able to vary your language when you present this numerical data in your essay. Using approximations and proportions are an ideal way to do this, so we’ll start with these as they are useful for all types of IELTS Task 1 essay questions.
Often, numerical data is expressed as percentages and you can use approximations to present this form of data in a different way. Here are some examples:
I’ve created a PDF of these word lists. Download it here: Task 1 Vocabulary PDF
You now have more than enough vocabulary to write a high-scoring Academic IELTS Task 1 essay. Use the lists when you practice writing Task 1 essays. You'll soon become familiar with the vocabulary and this will help you to choose which words and phrases to learn fully and memorise.
You’ll also find some useful vocabulary for making comparisons on this page:
Grammar for Academic Task 1 Essays
And, there’s a lot more help with Task 1 in the lessons in the menu below.
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Ielts task 1 ( academic) – all lessons.
IELTS Academic Writing – A summary of the test including important facts, test format & assessment.
Academic Writing Task 1 – The format, the 7 question types & sample questions, assessment & marking criteria. All the key information you need to know.
Understanding Task 1 Questions – How to quickly and easily analyse and understand IELTS Writing Task 2 questions.
How To Plan a Task 1 Essay – Discover 3 reasons why you must plan, the 4 simple steps of essay planning and learn a simple 4 part essay structure.
Vocabulary for Task 1 Essays – Learn key vocabulary for a high-scoring essay. Word lists & a downloadable PDF.
Grammar for Task 1 Essays – Essential grammar for Task 1 Academic essays including, verb tenses, key sentence structures, articles & prepositions.
The 7 Question Types:
Click the links below for a step-by-step lesson on each type of Task 1 question.
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- Multiple Graphs
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- Academic Task 1 Vocabulary
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IELTS Writing Task 1 Grammar and Vocabulary Guide
This article will help you improve your score for IELTS Writing Task 1 vocabulary and grammar.
Firstly, you should know that the IELTS writing test marking scheme is divided into four parts:
- Grammatical Range and Accuracy
- Task Achievement
- Lexical Resource
- Coherence and Cohesion
Therefore, grammar accounts for 25% of the marks in your writing test.
You are assessed on two things:
- Your ability to produce grammatically accurate sentences;
- Your ability to use a wide range of grammar structures.
As a result, grammar is often the area that students struggle with the most, as it can easily bring a student’s scores down.
Accuracy of grammar
Examiners look for how many ‘error-free’ sentences you have. Therefore, you need to make sure each sentence has no errors. Even a small mistake like an article in the wrong place or misplaced plural counts towards this.
As a result, you must check your work after you finish writing. Always try to leave yourself two minutes at the end to proofread your work. Simple errors, which could be fixed with a quick check, will really damage your marks in this area.
Range of grammar
A good answer will have a range of appropriate structures and tenses. Many students try to insert complex sentences and tenses into their answers. This is a poor strategy that will make your answers look unnatural and can result in you making mistakes.
A good answer uses complex sentences (such as conditional and relative clauses) that flow naturally. In other words, don’t insert complicated sentences or tenses just for the sake of it.
Below is some advice on certain grammar structures that will help boost your score in part one of the writing test if used appropriately. I have only included advice for charts, such as pie charts, line graphs and bar charts, in this post. I discuss process diagrams in a separate post.
In IELTS writing task 1, you may have to describe trends. This may come up in a line graph, bar chart or when comparing more than one chart.
There are two main grammatical structures we can use to describe trends.
- There + be + adj. + noun + in + noun phrase
There was a gradual rise in the price of oil.
There has been a sharp drop in the price of oil.
- Noun phrase + verb + adverb
The price of oil rose gradually.
The price of oil has risen dramatically.
Describing Increases and Decreases
When describing any of the charts in IELTS writing task 1, you might have to describe increases and decreases. There are three main ways you can describe increases and decreases.
The price of property fell sharply
The percentage of homes dropped dramatically.
- There + be + noun + in + noun phrase
There was a fall in literacy levels.
There has been an increase in the cost of coffee.
- Using fractions
The price of oil halved in less than a year.
The price of oil has halved since July.
By July, the price of oil has halved .
IELTS writing task 1 will often require comparing data sources, groups and times. Here are five grammatical structures you can use to make comparisons.
- More/few/less + noun + than
Overall, more people preferred public transport to taxis.
- of one syllable -er + than
A higher number of people preferred public transport to taxis.
- More/less + adj. of more than one syllable + than
Taxis were more popular than public transport.
- of one syllable -est.
The highest % of commuters preferred taxis.
- The most/least + adj. of more than one syllable.
The least popular mode of transport was buses.
IELTS writing task 1 is essentially a summarising task. Your overview paragraph should contain two or three sentences summarising the main features of the graph. To help you do this, here are some short phrases.
- To summarise, the most marked change is….
- Overall, it is clear….
- Overall, the majority/minority….
- In sum, the most noticeable trend is….
Don’t say ‘to conclude’. This is only for discursive essays.
Using the appropriate tenses in IELTS writing task 1 is essential if you want to get a high band score.
The key is to look at the chart’s title and the information on both axes to establish what time frame is used. This will help you establish what tense you should use.
- If the time is one point in the past, for example, January 1990, then we should use the past tense .
- If it has projections for the future, for example, 2045, we use future tenses .
- If there is no time, we use the present simple .
Below are a range of tenses that could be used in task 1. Remember, the tense you use will depend on the information displayed in the graph. This is not a complete list of tenses, and an awareness of all the English tenses will help you achieve the IELTS score you need.
- Present Perfect :
We use this tense generally to talk about an action that happened at an unspecified time before now. The exact period is not important.
In writing task 1, we use this tense to talk about changes in data that have happened over a period of time.
The price of oil has fallen by $5 a barrel every week since July.
- Present Perfect Continuous
We use this tense to show that something started in the past and has continued up until now.
Oil prices have been decreasing since July.
- Future Perfect
We use this tense to state that something will be finished at a particular time in the future.
We often use it with ‘ by ’ or ‘ in ’.
The price of oil will have reached $300 a barrel by 2020.
- Past Simple
Use this tense to talk about an action that started and finished at a specific time in the past.
The price of oil fell from $150 in Jan 2014 to $50 in Jan 2015.
Approximations, Percentages and Fractions
You will have to deal with percentages in many of the IELTS writing task 1 questions. This is a good opportunity to express these percentages differently and boost your score. A way of varying this language is to express them as fractions or proportions.
Remember that you should vary your language as much as possible to score high in the ‘lexical resource’ part of the test.
For instance, use approximations. E.g. 49% can be expressed as “nearly a half”.
Below are a range of expressions that can be used to express percentages.
73%- nearly three quarters
51%- just over a half
49%- just under a half
32%- nearly a third
3%- a tiny fraction
50%- exactly a half
26%- roughly one quarter
49%- around a half
24%- almost a quarter
77%- approximately three quarters
70%- a large proportion
71%- a significant majority
15% a small minority
3%- an insignificant minority
IELTS Academic: Writing Task 1 in 6 Simple Steps
Hopefully, you have found this post on IELTS Writing Task 1 vocabulary and grammar useful. If you have any queries, please comment below or email me at [email protected].
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For more help with Writing Task 1, check out these full lessons:
Writing Academic Task 1 in 5 Easy Steps
See the articles below for more help with Academic IELTS Writing Skills:
How to Paraphrase
Task 1 Charts Checklist
How to Write a Complex Sentence
How Many Words?
Task 1 Tips
About Christopher Pell
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IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary List With Examples
In this tutorial, we discuss IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 Vocabulary with examples of them in sentences.
Find out why writing ‘this means’ could be the key to a better score, how to better introduce an overview – and the keywords in the question that you should ALWAYS change!
What is IELTS Writing Task 1?
IELTS Writing Task 1 is part of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. You need to write in a formal, academic style of English.
There is a visual, such as a map, chart, table, or process diagram, and you will write a report based on the information presented.
The report should be at least 150 words in length and there are two main things that you need to do:
- Describe the main trends, patterns, or features shown in the diagram.
- Make comparisons between the data.
Therefore, Writing Task 1 is designed to test your ability to present information clearly and accurately, as well as to show you understand the main idea (this is an overview).
Why is vocabulary so important for IELTS Writing Task 1 and how do you improve your answer?
1. word choice affects the clarity of an essay.
Word choice can affect the clarity and complexity of an essay. To score well on task achievement as well as coherence and cohesion, you must communicate clearly.
For a band 7 or above, most phrases in your answer need to be used accurately. Too many complex words can make your writing confusing and difficult to understand.
Good paraphrasing is also important, below we have detailed the three ways you can paraphrase and a good essay will include all of them.
2. Vocabulary helps express complex ideas clearly
By knowing the right words to use, you will be able to communicate complex ideas effectively. This will help you achieve a higher band score on the IELTS Writing Task 1 exam since clarity (coherence) is one of the 4 elements scored by examiners.
3. High-level vocabulary helps to achieve a high IELTS score
By memorising more complex phrases and using them accurately in their writing, students can improve their Lexical Resource band score. Here’s a great example:
For an overview, many students write something like, ‘Overall, sales of bottled water increased during the period studied while customers bought less soda’
The word ‘Overall’ signals an overview. That’s fine, but try this! Overall, what stands out from the diagram is that…
Overall, what stands out from the diagram is that sales of bottled water increased during the period studied while consumers bought less soda.’
It’s a much more complex sentence and shows off more than one tense in a sentence which is hard to do accurately. This trick works for pretty much any task 1 diagram.
4. Vocabulary is needed to construct complex sentences
Using a range of adverbs and adjectives allows for more descriptive sentences while understanding how prepositions work can help improve sentence structure and clarity.
Your sentences need to be grammatically accurate as well as complex.
The easiest way to improve your grammar score is to practice using useful complex phrases that you can prepare in advance (lots of examples below!).
5. Vocabulary is needed to paraphrase the question – change these keywords.
Vocabulary, or lexis, plays a significant role in IELTS Writing Task 1, as it is responsible for 25% of the final task 1 grade.
A lot of students will lose marks by basically repeating the question in the first sentence of their answer.
An easy way around this is to memorise your three keywords: Illustrates, depicts, and presents which all mean ‘shows’.
Then start with, The diagram illustrates ….
If the question says ‘the diagram shows’ but it is a line graph, then say ‘The line graph illustrates’
If the question says ‘The bar graph illustrates’ then you write ‘The diagram depicts’.
Change the word for ‘diagram’ and the word for ‘shows’ to start your answer well with good paraphrasing.
TOP TIP – Never change a fixed expression!!
A lot of students try to do this, and it’s always a disaster..
For example. Marnie learned the phrase ‘Turning to the details’ for introducing a new paragraph in a task 1 essay. She couldn’t remember it exactly in the test and so she wrote, ‘Around the detail’ which sounded right to her but doesn’t make any sense.
Fixed expressions mean just that – don’t try to paraphrase any part of a fixed expression. Learn and use them accurately or write something more simple.
How to build a better vocabulary list for IELTS Writing Task 1
1. adjective/noun and verb/adverb examples.
To really show off your vocabulary in the test, make sure you use at least TWO adjective/noun and verb/adverb examples.
- In the second year, there was a slight increase in sales of coffee . Slight increase is an adjective/noun combination.
- However, in the third year, sales dropped dramatically. Dropped dramatically is a verb/adverb phrase.
Not all combinations work well together, so be sure to look at a lot of examples and choose your favourites.
Dropped slightly, dropped suddenly, dropped dramatically, dropped significantly, A significant increase, a marginal increase, a steady increase, a dramatic increase all work well.
2. Word lists and collocations
Word lists are collections of words that can be used to express a particular idea or concept in an IELTS Task 1 essay.
These word lists can be formed into collocations, words that typically go together. For example, “increased significantly” could be used as part of a collocation with “price” or “number” .
The price increased significantly in the second year.
However, you couldn’t say ‘people increased significantly’ as this doesn’t collocate naturally. You would have to write ‘the number of people buying soda increased significantly’
To improve your collocation skills:
- Identify words that are commonly used together, such as ‘increase’ and ‘from’.
- Make a list of commonly used collocations for each word you identified. For example, for ‘increase’, your list could include phrases such as increase to, increase from, increase by and increase until.
- Practice using these collocations in writing and speaking exercises to help build your vocabulary for IELTS Writing Task 1.
- Identify the keywords in the topic sentence of your essay and add them to a vocabulary list. For example, price and sales, in the USA.
- Look for verb and noun forms, as well as adverbs and adjectives that can be used to avoid repetition in your essay. For the price you could use, It was priced at, sales price, cost. For sales you could use sold, total sales, and the amount sold. For the USA you could use America, The US, and American customers. Note these next to the question before you start writing your answer so you don’t forget to use them.
- Research any unfamiliar words or phrases you come across so you can better understand their meanings if you see them again in another essay.
4. Get better at paraphrasing
Did you know there are three main ways to paraphrase in the IELTS test?
- Synonyms – we saw a few examples above, remember to switch up illustrates, depicts and presents.
- Change the form of the word. Sometimes, words like ‘sales’ are hard to find a synonym for. Changing the form counts as paraphrasing! Sold, was sold, selling, and total sales are all acceptable examples of paraphrasing.
- Reference! This, that, which, it. If you’re struggling to think of a synonym or another word form, reference. For example, In 2005, coffee was the most popular beverage of the three studied. By 2008, however, it was the third most popular product. We are using ‘it’ as a way to paraphrase ‘coffee’. Use a dictionary or online resources such as Merriam-Webster Dictionary or Thesaurus Online to find relevant synonyms for each word on your list if necessary; this will help ensure that all of your phrases are accurate and suitable for use in an academic setting such as IELTS Writing Task 1.
A comprehensive list of IELTS Writing Task 1 vocabulary
Here is a list of vocabulary that may be useful for IELTS Writing Task 1, along with some example sentences:
- Describe : to give a detailed account of something. “The data describes the changes in the number of visitors to the park over the past 2 years.”
- Show : to present or display something “The table shows the average monthly temperatures in London for the past year.”
- Present : to make something available or visible “The chart presents data on the number of international students studying at four universities in the USA.”
- Illustrate : to represent or show something in a visual way “The diagram illustrates the water purification process of how water at a treatment plant.”
- Depict : to represent or describe something in a visual way “The graph depicts changes in the price of oil over the past 35 years.”
- Reveal : to make something known or visible that was previously unknown or hidden “The data reveals a strong correlation between the amount of exercise a person does and their overall health.”
- Indicate : to show or point out something “ The chart indicates that there has been a steady increase in the number of Japanese tourists visiting the island in recent years.”
- Demonstrate : to show or prove something through evidence or an example “The data demonstrates a clear relationship between the amount of time spent studying and test performance.”
- Display : to show or present something in a way that is visible to others “The table displays the results of the survey, showing the percentage of residents who agreed with each statement.”
- Trend Analysis: the process of identifying and describing trends in data or events ” The trend analysis of the data illustrates that there has been a steady increase in the number of students using public transportation in the city over the past eight years.”
- Decline: to reduce or lessen in amount, intensity, or degree. “House prices in Smalltown went into a sharp decline between 1980 and 1985 but increased significantly from 1986 to 1990.”
- Fluctuated: rise and fall irregularly in number or amount. “Over the whole time period studied, there was a steady growth in the number of women choosing to study part-time but for men, the figures fluctuated.”
- Difference: to be distinct or different in some way. “The difference in temperature between the two cities is quite significant. In the coastal city, the average temperature in August is 28 degrees celsius, while in the inland city, the average temperature is 34 degrees Celsius.”
- Decrease in: to reduce or become smaller in size, amount, or degree. ” The bar chart illustrates a decrease in the number of reported accidents in the supermarket warehouse over the past six months. In January, there were 50 accidents reported, but by June, this number had fallen to 30.”
- Little or no change in data: means that the data remains relatively constant or unchanged over a period of time. “The data shows that there was little or no change in the number of people using the city’s tool-sharing program over the past year. In 2020, the average number of daily program participants was 50, and in 2021, it remained at around the same level at 52.”
- Increase to: This collocation means that something has increased in amount or number. “The population of the country has increased to 35 million people since 2019.”
- Increase from : indicates an increase from a previous amount or number, usually over a period of time. “The population of the country has increased from 24 million people ten years ago to 26 million today.”
- Increase by: This collocation indicates that something has increased by a certain amount or percentage since its last measurement or estimate was made. “The population of Fiji has increased by three per cent since last year’s census results were announced.”
- TOP TIP – Try to use ‘This means’: Use this phrase to indicate that you are making comparisons. For example, “ This means that potatoes were higher than sales of other food products. or This means that it had increased by 34%.”
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Some of these questions were already covered in this blog post but I will still list them here (because not everyone carefully reads every paragraph) so here’s the TL;DR version
What is IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary?
It’s vocabulary that can be useful in the Academic IELTS exam. It includes adjectives, adverbs, verbs, collocations and other useful phrases that can help students better express their ideas in the test.
What kind of vocabulary is used in the IELTS Writing Task 1?
In IELTS Writing Task 1, vocabulary is assessed on two levels: static and dynamic. Static vocabulary refers to words or phrases that do not change over time, such as “shop” or “house”.
Dynamic vocabulary refers to words or phrases that change over time, such as “increase” or “decrease”.
Both types of vocabulary are used in the IELTS writing test and can be found in graphs, charts, tables and other diagrams.
The marking scheme for lexis accounts for 25% of your overall score on the writing test so it’s important to have a good grasp of both types of vocabulary when preparing for the exam.
How can I use the IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary?
- Familiarize yourself with the IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary, by reviewing the list of words and their definitions.
- Practice using this vocabulary in mock IELTS Writing tests, to add variety to your responses and improve your score.
- Paraphrase words like ‘small’ and ‘large’ and use a mix of verb/adverb and adjective/noun phrases.
- Use these words every time you practice mock IELTS Writing tests so that they become part of your natural vocabulary for Task 1 writing.
What are the different types of graphs used in the IELTS Writing Task 1?
The types of graphs used in the IELTS Writing Task 1 include
- Diagrams (pie charts, bar graphs, line graphs, tables or a combination of the above.
- Maps – these can be both in the past, a past/present, present/future or a combination of the above
- Process Diagrams: Process diagrams show how something works from start to finish (e .g., from customer order through the production line) or a cyclical process.
What are the common mistakes to avoid while using IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary?
Common mistakes to avoid while using IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary include:
- Repeating the same words too often – if a word is hard to find a synonym for, remember, change the form or use referencing.
- Not using words that imply more or less, such as “increase” or “decrease”
- Trying to paraphrase a fixed expression.
More Writing Task 1 Tutorials
- How to get band 9 in Task 1
- 5-step plan for Task 1
- How to paraphrase in Task 1
- Academic task 1 marking criteria
- Five essential writing skills for Task 1
- What tense to use in Task 1
- How to describe percentages
- Vocabulary to describe a map
- Academic task 1 sample essays and answers
- Task 1 sample charts and graph questions
- Academic Task 1 sample diagram questions
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- IELTS academic task 1 sample question
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Ielts vocabulary writing task 1
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