In this lesson we will look at the Band Descriptors for Academic Task 1, then focus on specific sentence structures. I would strongly suggest you get a pen and paper for this podcast and take notes.
Listening and then writing will engage not only your auditory and visual memory but possibly your kinaesthetic memory too, and we know the more senses we stimulate the easier it is to remember something. So grab a pen.
In order to complete any large task efficiently it is often useful to break it down into its smaller parts. In this case we will break down Academic Task 1, sentence by sentence. First of all we have 150 words to write, which means between 8 and 9 sentences. The introduction and summary will take 2, leaving roughly 8. In the official Band Descriptors, under Task Achievement we see ‘presents a clear overview of main trends, differences or stages ‘. I want to focus on ‘differences’ because if we dedicate 2 sentences to differences, that leaves 6 sentences left to write.
Following the strategy of breaking it down into the smallest components we now know EXACTLY what to write for 50% of the report. One sentence for the introduction, one for the summary, two can be dedicated to differences. Even before going into the exam we now know what 50% of the report will look like. Awesome.
To describe differences we can use ‘ADVERB CLUASES OF COMPARISON’.
To make comparisons we can use a simple structure as shown below, if you are listening I strongly suggest you write these down.
More Europeans prefer Football than Americans.
More Germans prefer vodka than Colombians.
Fewer Italians drink tea than Austrians.
These are simple to start with because they are the base.
Then to pick up more points and show the examiner we can use a VARIETY OF STRUCTURES we can transform them into a passive structure:
Football was chosen by more Europeans than Americans .
Vodka was preferred by more Germans then Colombians.
Tea was drank less by Italians than by Austrians.
Step 3 is to add an adverb.
Considerably more Europeans prefer Football than Americans.
Significantly more Germans prefer vodka than Colombians.
Substantially more time is spent on the internet than before.
Be careful because adverbs can be placed in different places:
Production fell significantly
Significant production fell.
Clearly market share tumbled.
Market share tumbled clearly.
Now we have adverbs under control, lets analyse another.
ADVERB CLAUSE OF CONCESSION
Definition: Adverb clause of concession implies something surprising is conveyed in the principal clause when compared to the subordinate clause.
Now the key to using this type of clause effectively is to find something that really is a contrast, ‘a difference’.
For example you could have a line graph, showing the progression of sales, and suddenly for a particular year the sales slump. In this case we could say:
Although sales reached 20 million in 1993, they crashed to just 1 million in 1992.
Write this structure down, we have the subordinate clause ‘Although sales reached 20 million in 1993’ <COMMA> then the main clause ‘they crashed to just 1 million in 1992’.
Although every Asian country was experiencing an increase in urban population figures, Bhutan’s figures showed a significant decrease.
Although the number of Welsh pet owners is at its lowest in 1990, it almost doubles in 1993.
To use this structure effectively, ALWAYS place although at the beginning of the sentence, ALWAYS. Yes you can place it in the middle, but I want to give you a simple structure to make passing the exam as stress free as possible, NOT TEACH THE ENTIRE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
So for reasons of simplicity, and exam preparation, just place it at the front, after the exam experiment.
WHEREAS AND WHILE
Very briefly the conjunctions ‘while and whereas’ are similar except ‘while’ is slightly less formal and it can be used for comparisons in time; ‘She drove while talking on her mobile’,
We can use WHEREAS in the middle of the sentence to contrast two ideas.
Females scored higher in analytical subjects, whereas males scored higher in creative disciplines.
A COMMA IS NEEDED AFTER THE FIRST CLAUSE.
Derbyshire allocated the majority of its budget on leisure services, whereas Yorkshire invested hardly any of its budget in leisure.
For most of the years output from English factories grew, whereas in Wales it actually fell.
In 2014, 33% of visitors were from Asia, whereas in 1992 the proportion was just 11%.
Click to read transcript
Tips for Academic IELTS Task 1.
My name is Ben Worthington from ieltspodcast.com and you may recognize my voice. Just for the record, I am from England, I am a native English speaker, and if you’re going to ieltspodcast.com you can find out lots more about me, about passing IELTS, about the guarantee I offer, and how you can word with me. And also, I’d strongly recommend you sign up for the email list. And there you get tips every single week which will help you to pass. There is good quality material that’s been sent out as well. So I strongly recommend that.
Now, let’s have a look at the content of this podcast. What we’re going to do is first look at the Band descriptors for Academic Task 1. Then we’re going to look at the adverbs of clauses, adverb clauses of comparison, adverb clauses of concession, and then using “whereas” and “while” to express contrast.
This may sound a little bit tricky. It may sound a little bit advanced. But trust me, the way I’m going to teach it makes it simple. I’m going to try and avoid grammar jargon and focus more on just a really practical way of doing this.
And there’s a lot of logic behind this. What we’re going to do is break it down into tiny, tiny, tiny, tasks that are easy to digest, absorb, use, and therefore making it a lot easier than the traditional approach.
One final thing, get a pen and paper and take notes. This is because it is going to help you. You’re going to… If you’re taking active notes, one, you’re going to see the sentences that you hear, and you’re going to be writing them down. So you’ll have the pen and paper in your hand so you’re not only going to be engaging in your auditory senses. You’re going to be engaging in your auditory, visual when you write it down, and kinesthetic because you’ve got the pen in your hand. So by engaging in your senses, it’s more likely that you are going to remember these things.
Just a quick note, there’s a new “Resources” section at ieltspodcast.com where you can find IELTS tutors willing to teach you online, you can find online courses, you can find out more information about the sentence guide, you can get books, and there’s even a proofreading service now. So check that out. Go to ieltspodcast.com and you’ll see a bright colored button saying “Resources.”
Right then. Let’s get cracking.
First of all, let’s go to the official Band descriptors. Under “Task Achievement” for IELTS Academic Task 1, you will present a clear overview of main trends, differences, or stages. And that was for IELTS Band 7 or above.
Let’s have a look at this logically. We’ve got 150 words to write. From my experience that’s between 8 and 9 sentences roughly. If we use 1 sentence for the introduction and 1 sentence for the summary, that leaves about 6 or 7 sentences.
Now with these 6 or 7 sentences, 2 of them we can use for describing differences specifically. We allocate 2 sentences which are going to describe differences. Then the other 4 sentences will also have a specific task (and we can talk about those in another podcast/another video).
Just by following this strategy and dedicating 1 sentence for the introduction, 1 sentence for the conclusion, and the 2 sentences for differences, we’ve written 8 sentences and we know exactly what to do for 50% of the actual task.
So even before we’re going to the exam, we have half of the task completely under control. I hope you’re writing this down because literally this is a plan. A game plan for entering the exam and knowing what to write, and basically killing the confusion.
First of all, for one of these sentences to describe the differences, we’re going to use an adverb clause of comparison. I’ll give you the basic structure. And then from this, we can build on it.
We can say for example, “More Europeans prefer football than Americans.” “More Germans prefer Vodka than Colombians.” And we can also use the reverse. “Fewer Italians drink tea than Austrians.” Very simple structure. Adverb clause of comparison. Very simple. You just choose 2 different parts of the graph and you just basically write down what you see using that structure.
To pick up more points, we can transform it to the passive. In this case, “Football was chosen by more Europeans than Americans.” What I would do if you are taking notes (and hopefully you are), you’d have written those 3 sentences I’ve said before. What I would do now is change them into the passive. So press pause, and try and transform them into sentences. The Vodka and German and Colombian sentence. And the tea, and Italian, and Austrian sentence. Pause it, have a go, and then check with the answer which I’m about to tell you now.
So let’s go.
“Vodka was preferred by more Germans than Colombians.” And finally, “Tea was drank less by Italians than by Austrians.” So hopefully you’ve got all of these right.
Now to pick up more points we can add an adverb to the beginning. We can say “Considerably more Europeans prefer football than Americans.” “Significantly more Germans prefer Vodka than Colombians.” “Substantially more time is spent on the internet than before.”
Now, be careful with these. For a quick fix, you just stick them at the front. You can also place them at the end but be careful. You need to know the rules. For example, if we put it at the end, we can say, “Production fell significantly.” But we cannot say “Significant production fell.” That’s terrible. Alternatively, we can say “Clearly, market share tumbled.” Putting it at the front. However, we cannot put it at the end for this one. If we say “Market share tumbled clearly,” that’s terrible.
Stick it at the… well… experiment. And the way to experiment is to get it corrected. Try a few different variations, get it corrected, find a native speaker and just ask them “Excuse me, can you just tell me which ones are correct and which ones aren’t?” If you don’t have any native speakers around, find an online correction service. This one at my site at ieltspodcast.com. Just click the colored button that says “Essay Correction.”
The other way we can do it, which is slightly more advanced, we use an adverb clause of concession. And we use this because it implies there’s something surprising. I’m going to get into the details about the principle clause and the subordinate clause. All I’m going to do is give you a very simple, practical, way to use it. Because now is not the time to get into clauses. Now is the time to learn some sentences pretty quickly.
First of all, the first tip for using this, what you really need to do is find something that is a difference. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense. What I mean by “difference” is something that you can contrast significantly. For example, a tiny portion on the pie chart compared to the majority portion. The largest portion. Or if we’re talking about a bar chart, we would take the smallest bar and contrast it with the largest bar. If we’re talking about a line graph, we would look for the biggest change in the line graph. For example it’s level, and then suddenly it just drops to the absolute base of the Y axis or X axis (for example). So it drops right to the bottom. That is a difference. That’s a real contrast.
So the way we use this is… Once again, this is just to completely, 100% practical way to use it. What we do is we use “although,” and we say “Although sales reached 20 million in 1993, they crashed to just 1 million in 1992.” So we start off with a subordinate clause… No… I said I wasn’t going to get into this… Yeah, so basically, something that in the principal clause (what is surprising) and then the contrasting subordinate clause.
I’ll say it again. “Although.” We start off with “Although” and then we say “Although sales reached 20 million in 1993, they crashed (the subordinate clause) to just 1 million in 1992.”
I’ll give you some more examples. “Although almost every Asian country was experiencing increase in urban population figures, Bhutan’s figures shows a significant decrease.” And we’ve contrasted. We’ve just picked up points for taking note of the differences and using a fairly sophisticated sentence structure.
Let’s have another look. “Although the number of Welsh pet owners is at its lowest in 1990, it almost doubles in 1993.”
Now, there are different ways of using this. We can place it in the middle and in some cases we can… ah, no, we can’t put it at the end, sorry… but we can place it at different places in the sentence. However, if… I’m just going to give you this very simple sentence structure. You can learn all the rules and do more experiments later, but stick with this structure and it’s practical.
You can use it and you’ve just picked up points for taking note of the difference, and like I said before, it’s a sophisticated sentence structure.
Now talking about getting feedback, there’s is a new CV checking service at ieltspodcast.com. So go and have a look at that. That’s ieltspodcast.com/cv. And you can even get your CV checked for free.
Anyway, let’s go.
The next part of this podcast, we’re going to talk about “whereas,” and “while.” Once again, this is entirely focused on the practical basis. These are the conjunctions. And we’re going to use just “whereas” because “while” is slightly less formal and there’s a bit more confusion regarding “while.”
For example, you can use it for comparisons in time. “She drove while talking on her mobile.” And we can also use it for comparisons on the graph. But for the time being, we’re going to use “whereas” because it’s simpler and it sounds slightly more formal. And we can use these in the middle of the sentence.
So once again, we’re going to use these sentences to show a contrast. Two different groups of information. I’ll give you an example. “Females scored higher in analytical subjects, whereas males scored higher in creative disciplines.” We say the first clause, place a comma, followed by “whereas” and then our second clause.
Let’s have another look. “Derbyshire allocated the majority of its budget on leisure services, whereas Yorkshire invested hardly any of its budget in leisure.”
So once again, I hope you are writing these sentences down. Then write a few sentences of your own, and get some feedback on those. Experiment. This is how you learn them.
Like I said before at the beginning. You’ve got 2… Or even maybe 3 different structures you can use. You’ve got the comparison one, which I’ve said before, add an adverb at the beginning to make it a little bit more complex. Then we’ve got the “although,” to show something more surprising. And we’ve got a contrast with the “whereas.” This is just to show comparison.
So there you go. You’ve got three sentences. Actually, more than 50% of the exam is totally under control… Not the exam but Task 1 of the exam.
I’ll just give you a few more sentences which you use. Copy these down and change the vocabulary. But write them down because they’re useful.
“For most of the year’s output from English factories grew, whereas in Wales it actually fell.” Now this would probably be either a line graph or a bar chart, I’m guessing. Another sentence. “In 2014, 33% of visitors were from Asia, whereas in 1992 the proportion was just 11%.” Obviously that would be a pie chart.
Okay. We are coming towards an end. So hopefully you’ve got a couple of notes. Start using the sentences. Write out lots of sentences. You can get a massive resource pack at ieltspodcast.com/academic… I think it’s the Academic Resources… Either way, you’ll see, if you will scroll through the home page, you’ll see the big colored button on the right.
Now, there’s 5 things you can do to increase your chances of passing the exam. First one, sign up for the tutorials. Sign up with your best email address and you’ll get lots of decent material, resources, tips, and more tutorials like this in your inbox every week. Fill your phone up with these podcasts. You can fill it up with your mp3s as well. Listen to this 24/7.
I’m doing the same with some other material that I’m trying to learn, and it’s a really good way. What you do is just listen all the time and just let it seep into your brain. Let it fill your brain with this information. And you don’t even have to work while you do this. You can just be in the supermarket and you just keep on listening to the recordings. Do this especially for the speaking task and you can respond. Or even for the model essays which I read. And just let it soak. Let your brain soak in all this information.
The third thing you can do is subscribe to the YouTube channel. Just jump on Google, put “IELTS Podcast YouTube.” Subscribe to that and you’ll get to see the actual videos if you’re more of a visual learner.
And of course subscribe to the iTunes podcast (that’s the fourth thing). And the 5th thing, if you’re having any problem at all, send me an email [email protected], or [email protected] Either of those will work for you.
1. If you’re having problems, get help. Send me an email or find somebody else.
2. This is not impossible. I was just talking to a student a couple of days ago, Mega. You’ll hear the interview in about a week or two. She took her test 13 times. 13 times. What I want to say is that it’s not impossible. And if you do get the right resources, the right help, you will pass. You just got to keep pushing on. And if motivation is a problem, jump on to YouTube and just put “motivation.” At the moment, I use CT Fletcher. It’s quite insane and there’s lots of profanity in there but I’m using that for my gym motivation, alright? That really gets you fired up. So yeah. Each person is different. What you need to do is basically just find out what works for you.
So, all the best and just keep on doing it. Push on. Okay. All the best.