Answering IELTS writing task 1: bar chart

In this lesson we’re going to learn how to tackle bar charts in IELTS Writing task 1 questions to get the highest score. To get a band 9 in IELTS Writing task 1, you should follow this answer structure:

  1. Introduction
  2. General overview
  3. Specific features

Let’s look in detail how to apply this structure to an IELTS bar chart question.


IELTS bar chart Question:

The bar chart shows the divorce rates in two European countries from 2011 to 2015.
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.


And now let's learn how to answer IELTS bar chart questions.


IELTS bar chart answering strategy:

1. Introduction

You should start your answer by writing an introduction. The introduction is 1 or 2 sentences, where you paraphrase the information from your question. You should mention two things in your introduction:

In our example, the introduction can look like this:

The bar chart provides information about the percentages of divorces in Finland and Sweden between 2011 and 2015.

See how I used synonyms to paraphrase the question:

 

2. General Overview

The second paragraph of your answer is a general overview, where you briefly describe major trends on your graph. Ideally, you should describe 2-4 key features.

To make major trends easier to notice, you can outline Sweden’s bars and Finland’s bars like this:

Now it’s obvious that:

Use word overall to start your general overview. In our case, the overview may look as follows:

Overall, Sweden experienced a downward trend, while Finland showed an upward trend throughout the period. Both countries’ divorce rates had some fluctuations. Although Finland initially had a lower rate, it outraced Sweden in the end of the period.

 

3. Specific details

After we’ve written the introduction and general overview, it’s time to give the specific details. You should describe the specific features in 2 or 3 (sometimes more) paragraphs.

You can group data in such way:

When you have two countries (or two cities or any other two things depicted on the graph), the simplest way of grouping data - is to describe each country’s trend in a separate paragraph.

When giving specific features, you have to write exact numbers/percentages and include as much details as you can.

In our case, the specific details may look as follows:

Sweden’s divorce rate was about 45% in 2011, being higher than Finland’s rate by approximately 8%. Then, it rose to almost fifty percent in 2012. However, the figure showed a gradual decrease to 47% in 2013, and continued to decline steadily to the end of the period, reaching around 45% in 2014 and hitting a low-point of about 37% in 2015. 
 
Percentage of divorces in Finland was less than 40% in 2011, and it decreased in 2012, when about one third of marriages in Finland ended with a divorce (as opposed to almost a half in Sweden). However, the figure experienced a steady growth during the next three years. It rose to approximately 30% in 2013, then increased by around 5% in 2014, and reached around 42% in 2015, outracing the rate of Sweden.

Tips:

 

The full answer + Practice

It’s the end, we have finally written the answer for IELTS bar chart question. And now, let’s practice: fill in the gaps in this answer with appropriate words.

The provides about the percentages of divorces in Finland and Sweden between 2011 and 2015.

, Sweden experienced a downward trend, while Finland showed an trend throughout the period. Both countries’ divorce rates had some fluctuations. Although Finland initially had a lower rate, it Sweden in the end of the period.

Sweden’s divorce rate was about 45% in 2011, being higher than Finland’s rate by approximately 8%. Then, it rose to fifty percent in 2012. However, the figure showed a gradual decrease to 47% in 2013, and continued to decline steadily to the end of the period, reaching around 45% in 2014 and hitting a of about 37% in 2015.

Percentage of divorces in Finland was than 40% in 2011, and it decreased in 2012, when about one third of marriages in Finland ended with a divorce (as to almost a half in Sweden). However, the figure experienced a steady growth during the next three years. It rose to approximately 30% in 2013, then increased by around 5% in 2014, and reached around 42% in 2015, outracing the rate of Sweden.

(190 words)