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IELTS Writing Task 1: How to describe BAR GRAPHS

IELTS Writing Task 1: How to describe BAR GRAPHS

Hi there. My name is Emma and in today’s video we’re going
to talk about the test known as the IELTS. So if you are going to be writing
the IELTS, this video is for you. Now, in this video we’re talking specifically
about if you’re writing the academic IELTS. If you’re, you know, just here for general
interest, you can still learn quite a bit from this video because we will be talking
about different vocabulary and grammar. So this video can also help you if
you’re not taking the IELTS also. Okay, so what are we going to be talking
about specifically in this video? Well, if you’re taking the IELTS you probably
know that there’s a writing part of the IELTS. The writing part has two sections, we call
them Writing Task 1 and Writing Task 2. In this video I’m going to cover
a small bit of Writing Task 1. So, in Writing Task 1 you’re going to
be given some sort of visual image. Okay? So you might see something
like this, this, or this. It might be a chart, it might be a table,
but you’re going to see some sort of visual and you need to describe
what you’re seeing. So this video… I’ve covered different types of Writing Task
1 and I’ll talk about the links to some of these other videos at the end, but in this
specific video we’re going to be talking about bar graphs. Okay? So, first of all:
What is a bar graph? Well, so I have here three different
types of charts or graphs. We have this one, this
one, and this one. This is called a pie chart.
Okay? I’ve covered this in another video, so if
you’re interested in learning how to write about pie charts, you can
check out that video. But you’ll notice with a pie chart it
looks kind of like a pizza or a pie. It’s in a circle and it’s… Has different colours
representing different percents. We have here, this is
called a line graph. So you’ll notice that there’s a line and,
you know, sometimes this represents time, sometimes it represents other things, but with
a line graph you’ll notice, like, increases and decreases, but it’s
one connected line. We’re not covering either
of these in this video. What we’re going to be covering is another
thing you might see on the IELTS, which is you might be given a
picture like this. This is called a bar
graph or a bar chart. So we have here these rectangular-shaped
things that are each a different colour. These are known as bars. Okay? So, I know a bar is a place you go to buy
beer, but in this case a bar is not that, it’s actually this kind of
rectangle on the chart. So, on the IELTS you may get a
picture of something like this. You might actually get a picture of two things
together, or you might get a picture of something a lot more complicated
than this. In this case we’re going to talk about: What
would you do and say, and what are some tips if you get a picture of a
bar graph or a bar chart? Okay, so what are you
going to have to do? Specifically they’re
going to ask you… After you get a picture like this, they’re
going to ask you to describe what you see. Okay? So you’re describing
the main information. You’re also going to have to maybe make comparisons,
say how things are similar or how things are different, which is contrast. So, for example, if this is, you know, different
activities, maybe you might say that the red is shopping and the
blue is golfing. In this case, shopping is less
popular than golfing. Okay? So pretty much you need to compare the different
bars and say: What are the same about them? Which ones are similar and
which ones are different? You’re also going to have to report
any main features or trends. Okay? So maybe you’ll see a pattern and you’re going
to have to write about, you know, some of these main points you see when
you look at the visualization. You do not write your opinion. Okay? So if this is a graph on education, maybe
this is elementary school, secondary school, university, master’s, and like a doctorate or
something – you do not write what you think about it. Okay? All you do is in this type of question you’re
just writing what you see and what it means. You’re not writing your
opinion on anything. So you should not write the words: “I think”
or “In my opinion”, you’ll actually lose marks for this. So in task 1, no opinion;
that’s for task 2. Okay, so for something like this, and we will
look at an example question, you have about 20 minutes. You know, you’re responsible for your timing,
but something like this should take you about 20 minutes and you need to
write at least 150 words. If you write less,
you lose marks. So it’s very important to
write at least 150 words. There is such a thing as too many words, so
you don’t have to write 800, that would be very bad. You know, writing 500
would be very bad. You’re aiming for
around 150 words. You know, maybe 170 is fine, but you
don’t want to write way too much either. Okay, so now we’re going to look at an example
of a question for this and some more tips on how to… How to write when you
look at a bar graph. Okay, so I have here an
example of an IELTS question. So, here’s the chart and
here is the question itself. It says: “The chart shows information about
changes in the average housing prices in three different cities
between 1990 and 2000. Summarize the information by selecting
and reporting the main features and making comparisons
where relevant.” So, for a question like this you will again
have about 20 minutes, and you’ll also have… You have to write
about 150 words. So, what do a lot of students
do when they see this? They go: “Oh my gosh. I… I
don’t know what to do. I panic.” Right? A lot of students get really stressed
out, but this is something you can do. So, the number one thing you need to do is
take a breath, first thing, and then think about: What are you seeing? Don’t just start writing. Think about: What can
you actually see? What is happening here? Okay? So, for example, here
we have on this side… This is called the Y axis. We have the percentage of
change in housing prices. Okay, so I see here the word “percent” and
I see the numbers 10, 5, -5, and -10. So this is showing percent. Okay? And what kind of
percent is it showing? Housing prices, so the
cost of buying a house. How has it changed over time? And then I can also
look here and here. Okay, so we’re looking at the year
1990 and we’re comparing it to 2000. Usually the graph would
also have a title. I didn’t have enough space to write the title, but
in terms of the visual you might see something like this. There are different
types of bar graphs. So sometimes you’ll just have, you know, maybe
one part of it, sometimes you’ll have multiple bar graphs you need to interpret, sometimes
you’ll have a pie graph and a bar graph, so key here is take your time to really
think about what you’re seeing. So in this case we have three different colours:
blue, green, and red; and we have three different cities: Toronto,
Montreal, and Vancouver. So, I made up this, by the way. This is not actually reflective of
housing prices in these cities. I have no idea what housing prices are right
now, so you know, don’t take this as fact because it’s made up numbers. So when you look at this,
what can we see right away? Well, we can find Toronto. This is Toronto in 1990 and
this is Toronto in 2000. Okay? If I look here this is about
5% and here it’s 10%. I can also look at Montreal. Montreal here is
in the negatives. It’s -5%, compared to here in 2000 which
is 5%, so it’s a positive number. And then we can look at red which represents
Vancouver, this is the same as Toronto, it’s 5%, and this is, again,
the same as Toronto, 5%. So, you can start by asking
yourself some questions. Okay? What are you looking at? You can look at the bars and think
about: Which is the tallest bar? So in this case the tallest bar in
1990 are both Toronto and Vancouver. In 2000, the tallest bars are
also Toronto and Vancouver. You can look at
the shortest bar. Well, in this case, in terms
of negative, we see Montreal. Okay? In this case, again,
it’s Montreal. So looking at which is the tallest and which
is the shortest are some questions you want to ask yourself
right off the bat. You also want to look
at change over time. Okay? You know: How is
this graph changing? Is something increasing? Is something decreasing? In this case we see Toronto increased,
Montreal increased, and Vancouver increased. Everything has
increased over time. You also want to compare: How are these
bars the same and how are they different? So I’ll look: Okay, you know, in this
case Toronto and Vancouver are the same, Montreal is different. Toronto and Vancouver have both
increased, Montreal has decreased. In this case all three have increased,
but Toronto and Vancouver are greater. You know, they show greater
increase than Montreal. So noticing these types of patterns and just
really analyzing: “What are you seeing?” will really help you in
terms of your answer. So key point here:
Don’t just write. Take a minute to actually
understand what you are looking at. Okay, now let’s look at some
other tips on how to do… How to analyze a bar graph. Okay, so you’ve now understood
what you’re looking at. You’ve read the question carefully and you’ve
also looked at the visual, in this case, a bar graph. So what do you do next? Well, it’s a good idea to have a
plan on how to do these questions. So, for example, what I would recommend
is first write an introduction. Your introduction should
not be long. Okay? A lot of students, they start the introduction
and then they run out of time because they spent too much time
on the introduction. For this, you only really need to write
maybe two sentences for your introduction. What your sentences should say in your introduction
is it should pretty much say all of this, so you need to talk about
what kind of chart it is. In this case it’s a bar chart or a bar graph, and
you can pretty much say all of this information. Now here’s the tricky thing: You
can’t just copy what you see here. Okay? So in your answer, your
answer should not be, you know: “The chart shows information about
changes in the average housing prices in three different cities
between 1990 and 2000.” If you copy the question
you will lose marks. Okay? It does not show what you’re capable of,
so do not copy the words in the question. You need to use your own words to say all of
this information, but use your own words. Okay? So one way to do
this: Instead of saying… If they say: “chart” here, you
can change that to “bar graph”. Okay? Instead of using the word “show”, maybe you
can use the word “demonstrate” or “indicate” or, you know, “represents”,
“illustrates”. So there’s a lot of great words
you can use instead of “show”. In terms of the three different cities,
you can actually name the cities. In this case we looked at
Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver. You know, you’ll also have to include details
about the dates, but you can change some of these words around. Instead of: “average housing prices”, maybe you
could change that to: “the price of housing”. You know, so there’s
different things you can do. The main point here is change the wording and
change the sentence structure if you can. So that’s key in
your introduction. Again, you are not giving
your opinion here. Okay? So whether you think: “Oh, it’s great that, you
know, all these Canadian cities, you know, their housing prices
are going down”, you don’t give your
opinion about it. Okay, the next thing
you should do… So, your introduction is, again,
about maybe two sentences. You can now give a sentence or two
about the main trend you see. So the main trend is the
most important or the… The most… You know, the thing you see that
is kind of like the biggest thing. So in this case we looked at housing prices
of Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal. One thing that was a very big trend
is that everything increased. All of the cities increased over time
in terms of their housing prices. That’s a main trend. So anything that’s a big pattern
that when you look at you notice: “Okay, all of these things
show the same pattern” or maybe, you know, it might
be that one of the main trends is that Vancouver is the most expensive
and Montreal is the least expensive. These types of things are things
that you can write about overall. So in terms of when you’re talking about
main trends, there’s two great words to use. “Overall” or, and I’ll just
put that here, “In general”. So these are two great words that can start
off this sentence where you can show off what is the big picture
or the main idea. Okay, and that should be maybe,
you know, two sentences. After you finish the main trend, then
you’re going to have a new paragraph. And in this new paragraph is where
you’re going to say most of the details. Okay? So you’re going to say
specific numbers. You’re going to, you know, really do
comparing and contrasting between them. Toronto is like this, Vancouver is like this,
Montreal is like this, and you’re going to look at each thing individually
and, you know, together. So in this case the
key here is detail. Okay? So you want to have as much specifics and
detail as possible, and you’re pretty much summarizing what you see, but paying attention
to specific numbers and specific details. A good tip with this… So this is where the majority, your
biggest paragraph is going to be here. You can introdu-… You can use your introduction and the main
trend as one paragraph if you want or two, but your biggest paragraph is going
to be the detailed description. Okay? This should be, you know, maybe five, six
sentences so it should be a lot longer, maybe even more. In this case what you want to do is you want
to write the most important and talk about it, or the biggest trend you see, and then
go smaller to something that maybe isn’t so important. So you’re paying attention to the most important
information, and then you’re going to the least important information,
but you’re including it all. And finally, you can
write a conclusion. It’s not necessary, but it does
wrap up your answer quite nicely. And your conclusion can just be one sentence
just explaining, you know, what you saw in one sentence. So this is a good plan
on how to write… How to write when you’re
describing a bar graph. All right, so now let’s look at some more
tips on how to do this type of answer. Okay, so one way to deal with, you know, you’re
going to be very nervous probably or maybe a bit anxious while you’re writing the IELTS,
one way to deal with this with the writing is to actually have some phrases
memorized that you’re used to using. This can help you save time, and as well this
can help you with the word count on the IELTS because you need at
least 150 words. So, I have here
some key phrases. You don’t have to memorize all of them, but
maybe pick one or two and you can use this on the IELTS, practice these, and you know,
they can really help with your describing of a bar chart or a bar graph. So, for example: “It
is clear that…” If we looked at the example we were just using:
It is clear that Vancouver has had the greatest increase in average
housing prices. It is clear that Montreal has, you
know, increased a little bit. Okay? So pretty much you can use this as the beginning
of your sentence to talk about some of the patterns you’re seeing. What’s even better than this is the next
one: “It is clearly evident that…” Why is this better to use? Well, for the simple reason of it’s longer
and you need to, you know, have 150 words. Right? So each word you use counts. So let’s count: one, two, three, four;
versus one, two, three, four, five. So you’re getting an
extra word in there. We can also use the next one: “We
can see from the chart that…” Or: “We can see from
the bar graph that…” Again, you just insert the information,
whatever it is that you’re looking at. You know, this is a way to
introduce what you’re seeing. You can also say: “According to the bar
chart…” or “According to the bar graph…” So these are great expressions you can use
which will really help you save time thinking about how to start a sentence. But, you know, here’s a bit of caution: Don’t
reuse the same one again and again and again. You don’t want to use this for
each sentence you’re writing. Okay? So it’s good to know these, but use a couple
of them and don’t use them for each sentence because you don’t want it to
have too much repetition. Okay, another thing that will help you in terms
of bar charts or bar graphs is your vocabulary. It’s very important that you have, you know,
a high level of vocabulary for the IELTS. You want to show that you know multiple words
that have the same meaning, but that the words are different. So I’ll give you an example. One thing we just talked about was housing
prices and how there’s been an increase. So I could say: “Toronto’s housing prices
have increased”, and, you know, I’d probably give the amount at 5%. Now, this is great, but one problem students
have is they keep using the same word again and again and again, and so they don’t
get as high a score on their vocabulary. So we could add something to this to make it,
you know, a bit more special or a bit better. You know, maybe we
could add an adverb. We have words like:
“dramatically”, or “steadily”. So there’s different things… “Slightly”, which means
just a little bit. So we can add an adverb here to
describe: What kind of increase was it? Was it a big increase
or a small increase? We can also use
“increase” as a noun. In this case it’s a verb, but we can
change this so it’s in the noun form now. “There has been an increase
in Toronto’s housing prices.” Or we can use a different
word altogether. “There has been a rise”, “a
rise” is a synonym of increase. They have the same meaning,
but they’re different words. So finding synonyms
that, you know… You’ll often have to talk about
increases and decreases, so finding… And staying steady. So finding ways to, you know, to say these
words but to have multiple words that mean the same thing, synonyms of these words is
really, really a good idea in order to improve your vocabulary mark on
your writing for the IELTS. Okay, so let’s look at some
more tips on how to improve. Okay, so I have two more tips on how to really
help you with looking and analyzing bar charts or bar graphs. One of them is knowing
your grammar. You get marked on the IELTS for how well
you’re able to write in terms of your grammar. So, on this task when you’re looking at bar charts
you’re often asked to compare different things. So in the case that we looked at before you had
to compare Vancouver to Toronto to Montreal, but you might be comparing
different things. Maybe you’re comparing, you know,
hobbies of men to hobbies of women. Or maybe you’re looking at different ages and,
you know, levels of schooling or something like that. So you’ll probably have to compare
and contrast different things. So one thing you should know is how to make
superlative sentences and comparative sentences. So as a reminder, superlatives is when you’re
comparing three things or more, you could be comparing three, four, five,
six, 10, you use the superlative. And what you’re doing is you’re saying out
of those three things, which is the highest? Which is the lowest? Which is the greatest? Pretty much you can
do it with anything. For example, if you’re looking at
mountains, a superlative would be: Mount Everest is the tallest
mountain in the world. So superlatives have this ending, “est”
and it also has “the” in front of it. Okay? So what we were talking about with housing
prices, Vancouver has the highest housing prices, as an example. You also have here “the
least” and “the most”. These are also superlatives. Then we have these things
called comparatives. We use comparatives when
we’re comparing two things. So superlatives, this, is for three or more;
comparatives are when you’re just comparing two different things. So, for example, if we wanted to compare
Montreal and Toronto, we could say: “Toronto has a higher
population than Montreal.” Or, you know, with
housing prices: “Montreal had a smaller
increase than Toronto.” Okay? So the key here is you have
“er” and you also have “than”. So these are comparatives. Another thing that you can really do to help
your mark on the IELTS and your vocabulary is using different transition
words for compare and contrast. Compare is where you’re saying how
things are the same or similar. Contrast is when you’re saying
how things are different. So on the IELTS Task 1 you’re going to have
to say how things are similar and how things are different. So, in terms of contrast we have some
great examples of expressions here. You can use the words:
“In contrast,”. So, for example: “Vancouver has very high housing prices. In
contrast, Montreal has low housing prices.” You can use the words: “On the contrary,”
in the same way as “In contrast,”. You can also use the verb
form of “different”. A lot of students don’t know about this word,
but I think it’s great whenever you’re doing comparisons. “Differ” is a verb and it
means to be different from. So, for example: Toronto
differs from Vancouver. Montreal differs from Toronto. It just means that
there’s a difference. Notice also the preposition
that comes after “differs”. We say: “differs
from” something. If I wanted to talk about apples and
oranges: Apples differ from oranges. Okay? So very good vocabulary
here to use. We also have words for when we’re talking about
how things are similar, when we’re comparing things. So we have the word “both”. Both Toronto and Vancouver
are great cities. Toronto and Montreal-sorry-are
alike in many ways. They are similar. Toronto has had an increase in housing prices,
similarly, Vancouver has had an increase. Okay? So using these types of words can really help
you in your mark in terms of your vocabulary and organization. So, we’ve covered a lot today and you
might be asking questions, like: “Oh my god, comparatives and superlatives,
ugh, I don’t remember any of that.” Or you might be confused by it. Similarly, with comparing contrast you might
think: “Well, how do I use this in a sentence?” Those are all very
good questions, and I wanted to tell you that we have a lot
of resources that can help you with that. So earlier in the video I talked about how you
want to change the question into your own words. We have a video on how to
do that about paraphrasing. When I talked about superlatives and comparatives,
we have a video on that, on what they are and: How do we…? How do we write them? How do we do them correctly? Compare and contrast, we have a great video on
some expressions we can use when we compare and some expressions we
use when we contrast. So these extra videos are
really good for this task, so I highly recommend watching them and
really understanding how these things work. So we’ve covered a lot today, and there’s a
lot more that you can study, so invite you to check out our
website at www… Ugh, sorry. www.engvid.com. There, you can actually find more resources
on all sorts of different things from IELTS to pronunciation, to vocabulary, all sorts
of great videos, and you can also try our quiz on bar graphs which can really help
you practice everything you learned today. So I hope you subscribe to my channel
and I hope you keep watching. Until next time, thanks for
watching and take care.

100 thoughts on “IELTS Writing Task 1: How to describe BAR GRAPHS

  1. awesome stuff. Thanks for the helpful content. By the way, in 17:38 you suggest writing "we can see that…". But didn't you mention that we should not use first person in Writing Task 1?

  2. I hope everyone has got a clear and insightful understanding of the task 1. Thanks a lot for all these videos. These are very helpful, not only because you cover all minor tips and tricks, but also the way you explain these things makes it quite easy to understand.

    Appreciate your work.

  3. I watched other videos, they recommend not to write conclusion. Only Introduction, Overview, Paragraph 1 and Paragraph 2. Which one is correct? please help

  4. You should include a written example for a better appreciation of what you were explaining.. However, it was a good help.

  5. Mam you illustrated it very clearly in very easy ways I learned a lot from watching your videos and also let me say u r so pretty.💕💕💕💕💕

  6. I watched your video ,
    You're very brilliant teacher.
    I loved your teaching technique.
    It's really helped to me. Thank you Emma mam.

  7. May I ask anyone here if the writing exam is done via paper and pencil or online? Counting or adjusting the number of words might be difficult if it is through paper and pencil. But then again, how can everyone be expected to be familiar with a computer? I think I just answered my question! 😊

  8. Thank you for all your videos. 💓
    I just followed your advice and got overall 8.0 on my first try.

  9. Hey I remember Adam told us in a video, I saw long time ago, that there's no conclusion in task one. And now you show us there is, what the hell. I'm so confused now =(

  10. Thank you very much Emma, you are one of the best english teacher on Youtube. Unlike a few other teachers, you stay modest in your appearence and makeup and you bring more importance to the content of the lesson . Please do not change.

  11. Thanks a million for the helpful video, dear Emma. It would be very useful if you could share with us kindly the answer to task 1 covered in this video. Best of luck.

  12. I have one question. In 20:07 you said "Toronto's housing prices have increased". But the years we've given are 1990 and 2000. Both of them are in the past, so why hadn't you used past perfect instead? "Toronto's housing prices had increased". Isn't that more correct?

  13. Hi Emma, please I wish to ask you that if you interpret the graph, pie chart,bar graph etc wrongly during your exams but your explanation is in good English would you be considered ?

  14. I saw in another video that you said we should use past simple tense but here you used simple perfect in your examples. Can you tell us why you used simple perfect instead of using past simple?

  15. I believe there are some major mistakes in your analysis, in 10:30 you said that Montreal has decreased, it didn't , comparing both graphs it's clear that it has increased. (even before that you said that "Toronto and Vancouver increased", although this is true, comparing the graphs, it seems that you are just talking about the first graph, which is static (only shows data from 1990)) And then in 10:43, you said that Toronto and Vancouver had greater increase. And it's not true. Although their numbers are higher, they actually just increased 5% (from 5 to 10), while Montreal, had the greatest increase 10% (-5 to 5). I know you are making up examples, but just to point it out here that maybe ESL students might think that increase and decrease are words to describe the highest or lowest figures. :**

  16. Thank you so much for your videos .. you are a great teacher ..i am watching your videos again after 2 years beacuse my ielts expired , please pray for me 😊

  17. I am preparing for the IELTS exam on my own, so I turned to youtube videos to get some ideas about writing task 1, and especially from You, Emma. Firstly, I found your video uploaded in 2012 and after watching it, I clicked this video. The difference between two videos is amazing 🙂 You now feel much more confident in this video 🙂

  18. Hey Emma , I’d like to say thank u so much , you really deserve to be the best teacher on YouTube . I’ve never seen as easy description as you doing.
    Thank you so much and have a beautiful life ♥️😊
    From Saudi Arabia 🌺

  19. I want to marry with you when I watched your video. When you will with me , you can explain all IELTS classes to me.

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