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
- How to score well on a bar chart question in writing task 1
- IELTS academic task 1 sample question
- IELTS academic task 1 sample question – bar chart showing interest
- IELTS Academic writing task 1 question – pie chart showing usage