IELTS Writing Task 1 Language and Vocabulary Guide

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IELTS Writing Task 1 language can be intimidating. After all, most students don’t learn language to describe charts and graphs in their English classes! And yet these graphics require the precise use of correct terminology. In this post, I’ve gathered many IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 vocabulary and useful phrases that you can use to boost your score.

We’ll take a look at everything from IELTS Writing Task 1 introduction vocabulary to comparison language, words you can use to describe fractions and percentages, and much more!


 

Table of Contents


 

IELTS Writing Task 1 Language: Why Grammar and Vocabulary Matter

On your IELTS essays, grammar and vocabulary make a difference in your band descriptor—a huge difference, in fact!

Out of the four categories you’ll be marked on, Grammatical Range and Accuracy and Lexical Resource account for half of your score overall. In other words, the grammar that you use accounts for 25% of your score, while the vocabulary that you use accounts for another 25% of your score.

What does this mean for your IELTS practice? It means that you’ll need to work on using accurate grammar and vocabulary, finding the precise term that describes the graphic on IELTS Writing Task 1. It also means that you’ll need a variety of grammar and vocabulary structures, not relying on just one or two for the entire essay.

 
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Write About Graphs and Charts Using IELTS Writing Task 1 Language


 

Introductory IELTS Writing Task 1 Language

  • The table illustrates the trends in…
  • The chart reveals information about the changes in…
  • The bar graph provides a…
  • The line graph presents how X has changed over a period of…
  • According to the pie chart…
  • The graphic clearly shows that…
  • As the chart indicates…
  • The table reveals that…
Examples of IELTS Writing Task 1 Language in Practice

ielts graph 4 - magoosh

The line graph presents how specific populations in three Australian cities changed over a period of 24 years.

The graphic clearly shows that these three populations all grew in these cities between 1992 and 2016.

ielts graph 5 - magoosh

The bar graph provides a month-by-month view of product sign ups from approximately mid-2017 and early 2021.

The graphic clearly shows that interest in this product fluctuated by month and decreased over time from approximately mid-2017 and early 2021.


 

Trends

Verbs

  • Fluctuates
  • Varies
  • Rises
  • Falls
  • Dips
  • Remains steady
  • Remains stable
  • Remains unchanged
  • Levels off
  • Peaks at
  • Reaches a peak of
  • Hits a high of
  • Hits a low of
  • Bottoms out at
  • Plateaus

Adverbs

  • Gradually
  • Steadily
  • Quickly
  • Rapidly
  • Slowly
  • Eventually

Nouns

  • Fluctuation
  • Variation
  • Rise
  • Fall
  • Dip
  • Level
  • Peak
  • High
  • Low
  • Plateau

Adjectives

  • Gradual
  • Steady
  • Quick
  • Rapid
  • Slow
  • Eventual
  • Steep
  • Sharp
  • High
  • Low
  • Extreme

Sentence Starters

  • The [noun] [verb] [adverb].
  • There was a(n) [adjective] [noun].
Examples of IELTS Writing Task 1 Language in Practice

ielts graph 3 - magoosh

The percentage generally fluctuated between 5% and 15%.

There was a steep peak in mid-2019.

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The percentages showed extreme variation between May 2018 and September 2020.

There was an overall percentage decline in the period between May 2018 and September 2020.

The line graph is chaotic with variation monthly across many different measures.


 

Increases and Decreases

Verbs

  • Rises
  • Increases
  • Climbs
  • Grows
  • Goes up
  • Jumps
  • Decreases
  • Drops
  • Falls
  • Declines
  • Plummets
  • Plunges


Adverbs

  • Steadily
  • Gradually
  • Sharply
  • Rapidly
  • Slightly
  • Dramatically
  • Significantly
  • Considerably
  • Moderately
  • Modestly

For more adverbs to use in this task, one of Magoosh’s IELTS experts, Eliot, has some great tips!

Nouns

  • Rise
  • Increase
  • Growth
  • Jump
  • Decrease
  • Drop
  • Fall
  • Decline
  • Plummet
  • Plunge

Adjectives

  • Steady
  • Gradual
  • Sharp
  • Rapid
  • Slight
  • Dramatic
  • Significant
  • Considerable
  • Moderate
  • Modest

Sentence Starters

  • The [noun] [verb] [adverb].
  • There was a(n) [adjective] [noun].
Examples of IELTS Writing Task 1 Language in Practice

ielts graph 1 - magoosh

From 0 to 5, there’s a steep and rapid decline, going from 98% to 15%.

After 10, there’s no significant change from its gradual decline.

ielts graph 7 - magoosh

After a sharp decline to almost -20 by the end of July 2018, numbers jumped again and stabilized.

The numbers rose and fell sharply between September 2017 and May 2018.

Although there are some drops into the 20s and some peaks into the 70s, the general range fluctuates between 30 and 50.


 

Comparisons

  • More than
  • Less than
  • Equal to

Verbs

  • Surpasses
  • Equals

Nouns

  • Greatest
  • Least

Comparative Descriptors

  • Nearly
  • Almost
  • Just under
  • Just over
  • Roughly
  • Around
  • Approximately
  • Greater
  • Larger
  • Smaller
  • Lesser
  • Similar

Sentence Starters

  • The [noun 1] [verb] the [noun 2] in [time period].
  • From [time period], [noun 1] was [OPTIONAL adjective] [comparison phrase] [noun 2].
Examples of IELTS Writing Task 1 Language in Practice

ielts graph 4 - magoosh

The Melbourne population surpassed the Sydney population in 2002.

From 1995 to 2001, the Sydney population was slightly greater than the Melbourne population.

Brisbane had the least amount of change in population from 1992 to 2016.

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Numbers of the orange line were always less than numbers of the blue line.

Though the orange numbers rose, they never surpassed or even equalled the blue ones.

Both the blue line and orange line saw a similar peak in the summer months of 2019.


 

Steps and Processes

Adverbs

  • Firstly,
  • First of all,
  • To start with,
  • At the beginning,
  • Second,
  • Third
  • Then,
  • Next
  • After that,
  • Later,
  • Following that,
  • Subsequently,
  • Before
  • Prior to
  • Finally,
  • Lastly,

Nouns

  • Step
  • Stage
  • Phase

Sentence Starters

  • [preposition] [noun], the number was [number or description].
  • In [noun] [step/stage/phase number], the number was [number or description].
Examples of IELTS Writing Task 1 Language in Practice

ielts graph 5 - magoosh

At the beginning, the number was flat and steady.

Following a sharp increase in phase 2, the line plateaus.

ielts graph 7 - magoosh

In Stage 2, the numbers never reached the heights of Stage 1, but maintained a steadier pace.

At the beginning of Phase 2, the numbers dropped sharply.


 

Percent Vocabulary

Nouns

  • X percent
  • A(n) X percentage

Adjectives

  • Insignificant
  • Small
  • Significant
  • Large
  • Equal

Sentence Starters

  • In [time period], the [thing being measured] [Trend or Increases/Decreases verb] [noun].
  • A(n) [adjective] percent of [thing being measured] [Trend or Increases/Decreases verb] [time period phrase].
Examples of IELTS Writing Task 1 Language in Practice

ielts graph 1 - magoosh

In Year 1, the amount fell from around 95% to around 90%.

A significant percent of the value decreased between years 0 and 20.

ielts graph 6 - magoosh

After February 2020, the percentages dropped overall.

Most of the stocks lost at least a small percentage of their value after February 2020.


 

Fraction Vocabulary

Nouns

  • One tenth (one fifth, etc.)
  • One quarter
  • Half
  • Three quarters

Adverbs/Adverbials

  • Around
  • About
  • Approximately
  • Less than
  • More than
  • Equal to

Sentence Starters

  • [adjective] [noun] [verb] [time period phrase]
  • The [noun 1] was [adjective] [percentage noun] of the [noun 2] [time period phrase]
Examples of IELTS Writing Task 1 Language in Practice

ielts graph 4 - magoosh

Less than one-fifth of the population was in Brisbane.

The Brisbane population was about one half of the Sydney population in 2016.

ielts graph 8 - magoosh

The orange line averaged about half of the blue line in this time period.

At certain points, the blue line was more than twice the orange line.


 

Proportion Vocabulary


Nouns

  • A(n) [adjective] proportion
  • A(n) [adjective] majority
  • A(n) [adjective] minority
  • A ratio of x to y

Adjectives

  • Insignificant
  • Small
  • Significant
  • Large
  • Equal

Adverbs

  • Approximately
  • Roughly

Sentence Starters

  • [Proportion noun] [OPTIONAL adverb] [adjective] of [noun] [be verb] [description] [time period phrase]
Examples of IELTS Writing Task 1 Language in Practice

ielts graph 4 - magoosh

An approximately equal number of people lived in all three cities in 1992.

A significant number of people live in Sydney and Melbourne compared to Brisbane in 2016.

ielts graph 8 - magoosh

A larger proportion of people consistently preferred blue to orange.

A minority of the population preferred orange to blue.


 

Time Phrases and Expressions

  • From X to Y
  • Between X and Y
  • Throughout
  • In
  • The X to X period…
  • Over a(n) X period
  • From that point
  • Over the next X years,
  • Over the following X years,
  • The graph predicts that, in the future…

Sentence Starters

  • [Time phrase], the [noun] [Trend or Increase/Decrease verb]
Examples of IELTS Writing Task 1 Language in Practice

ielts graph 3 - magoosh

From the end of 2020 to the beginning of 2021, the percentage fluctuated between 8% and 12%.

ielts graph 9 - magoosh

Over a six year period, the numbers rose and fell sharply.

Throughout the period from 2013 to 2016, the numbers fluctuated, peaking at around 1,300 in early 2019.

Between 2013 and 2016, there were 8 distinct peaks.


 

Concluding IELTS Writing Task 1 Language

  • In general,
  • Overall,
  • Finally,
  • To conclude,
  • In summary

Sentence Starters

  • [Concluding phrase], the [noun] [verb] [time phrase].
Examples of IELTS Writing Task 1 Words and Phrases in Practice

ielts graph 2 - magoosh

In summary, the numbers rose, then fell to approximately the original amount from March 2020 to March 2021.

ielts graph 7 - magoosh

To conclude, after an initial rise, then fall, the numbers fluctuated consistently for the rest of the period.

ielts graph 8 - magoosh

Overall, blue remained more popular than orange throughout this period.

 
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Lesson Videos and Quick Tips for IELTS Writing Task 1 Language

I know, that’s a lot of vocabulary! But the more that you practice with IELTS Writing Task 1 language, the easier it will become to find the exact right word or phrase that you need on your actual IELTS exam.

As you practice, here are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • Paraphrase instead of repeating (check out Magoosh’s video on IELTS paraphrasing tips!)
  • Summarize, particularly at the beginning and end of your essay
  • Avoid repeating words—use a mixture of vocabulary instead
  • Beware of common IELTS traps (we have a video on what to avoid on the IELTS!)
  • Know the Task 1 requirements, including word count
  • Use categories and units accurately

 
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A Final Word on IELTS Writing Task 1 Language

While learning the vocabulary that you need for IELTS Writing Task 1 can feel overwhelming, repeated practice with sample questions will help you become increasingly fluent. Keep in mind that the language you learn for this task will have big benefits later on—not just on the IELTS itself, but also as you continue your higher education and face charts and graphs in your classes. So keep working on describing different kinds of charts and graphs using the phrases in this post!

For more IELTS vocabulary resources for Task 1, check out:

To learn vocab for other IELTS sections, check out our free guides to IELTS Speaking vocabulary, IELTS Listening and Reading words, and IELTS Writing Task 2 vocabulary.
Good luck!

By the way, improve your IELTS score with Magoosh!

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