How to write a line graph for IELTS writing task 1

To describe a line graph, you must use give accurate descriptions of main changes over a period of time. IELTS require you to use a range of language and sentences to relate the informtion given in the graph.

Below is useful language and also a check list for you to follow to describe a line graph.

Adverbs: steadily, gradually, sharply, rapidly, steeply, slightly, dramatically, significantly, considerably

Adjectives: steady, gradual, sharp, rapid, steep, slight, dramatic, significant, considerable

Nouns and verbs: vocabulary for a line graph


The number of cases in Someland increased steadily from 100 to 200 between 1983 and 1988.

There was a steady rise in the number of cases in Someland to reach 200 from 1983 to 1989.

Time phrases: over the next three days, three days later, in the following three days, the next three days show, over the period, from…to… / between … and…, the last year, the final year, the first year, at the beginning of the period, at the end of the period

line graph practice


  1. Have a clear introduction
  2. Put all main trends in an overview statement – this should be contained in one paragraph
  3. Don’t have a conclusion
  4. Make sure you are using adjective + noun or verb + adverb
  5. Don’t repeat language of change – use a variety of words
  6. Use a range of time phrases
  7. Don’t always give from … to … for the amounts, sometimes you can give the difference “it increased by double..”
  8. Add numbers or percentages to your sentences in the body paragraph
  9. Organise your body paragraphs logically so it is easy for the examiner to read
  10. Write 150 words or more. Don’t write under the word count.

Line Graph Model

The graph illustrates the number of cases of a particular disease (disease X) in Someland over 10 years from 1983 to 1992.

Overall, the number of cases of disease X remained below 200 over the period given except for a considerable surge between 1989 and 1991 when the figures doubled. The disease was completely eradicated by the final year.

In 1983, the number of cases of the disease stood at 100 which then rose steadily over the following 4 years to reach 200 in 1987. In the following year, 1988, the figure returned to the original number of 100.

There was a dramatic growth in cases to a peak of 400 in 1989 after which it experienced a slight fall to 350 in 1990. Over the following year, the number remained stable at 350. In the last year, the number of cases plummeted sharply to zero with no cases being reported.

151 words

Take time to read through the model and pay attention to:

  1. the content of each paragraph
  2. the use of verbs, nouns, adverbs and adjectives
  3. the logical order of information in the body paragraphs

Please note: this is a practice exercise lesson. It is rare for IELTS to give a one-line graph. So, use this to practice language and technique.


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  1. Hi liz,
    Somebody told me that, for graphs ‘Overall Statement’ should put at last, rather than within introduction or second paragraph. To what extent it is right??

    • There are no rules about this. The examiner will mark you based on logical organisation. Your overview statement can come before or after the smaller detail. This means it comes before or after the body paragraphs.

      • Mam, as you said before, I would prefer “overall” just after the Introduction paragraph.
        thank you so much for your worthful lessons! All of the classes are excellent and it means a lot…

  2. Hello liz
    I couldnot find your answers for all the writing task 1 ,i had found it once,but now i could’nt find it again rather those in the home page..please help me this..that is really usefull for me.

    • Go to the red bar at the top of each page and click on the words: Writing Task 1. All main pages are accessed through the red bar.

  3. and plateau word good for line graph

  4. Abdul Rehman says:

    Hello Liz mam,
    I’ve a question. Can we use both verb+adverb and adjective+noun in a line graph or we have to choose only one pair for whole graph.
    Thanks in advance..

  5. Dear Liz,
    It is possible in Writing task 1 just have 1 body paragraph ?

    • If you want a good band score, then you need to demonstrate the skill of organising paragraphs. See the band score requirements.

  6. Bin Clinton says:

    Excuse me, Why ‘the origin number’? I think that should be ‘the original number’

  7. Hi Liz,
    Question about the intro, how come it is “over 10 years” when it is from 1983-1992?

    • The word “over” does not mean “more than” in this context. It refers to over the period. There are 10 years given.

      • Thanks!

        • Hi Liz,
          Just a follow up question. So the counting of years should start at the first given year, which is 1983? However, 1983 + 10 = 1993. In the line graph it is 1992.
          There was another essay says 26 years (1981-2007) which is correct when being added (1981 + 26 = 2007).
          Just really curious. Do you have any explanations about this? And one last question, should the overview be in a separate paragraph or part of the intro?
          Thanks a lot!

  8. Hi Liz,
    thank you so much for you free lessons, thank you for teaching me that overview contains the key features or the highest or the lowest point ..but i am still struggling to understand the real content of overview,
    I would like to ask about your overview above, you wrote” Overall, the number of cases of disease X remained below 200 over the period given except for a considerable surge between 1989 and 1991 when the figures doubled.”
    -In 1991, the number of cases is actually 350 which is not double of 200, so, is it still fine or accurate to say that” the figure doubled”? or should we say ”…the figure almost doubled?because it is doubled in 1989 (400 cases) but not in 1991 (350 cases).
    or does the accuracy of information we give in overview is not 100% required?

    My last question is about Grammar, would you please explain a bit more when we put ”s” in ”figures”?
    One student wrote ”’The figures rose steadily in the next four years, to reach its first peak in 1987” and you asked to take off ”s” in figure. when we should not put ”s” like”figure”?thank you.

    • The overview contains a description, so if we write “it doubled” as a description it is fine. But you can certainly make it clearer by writing “it more or less doubled”. As long as you don’t write “it doubled exactly”. But you need to understand that we are not referring to details. In the first years the numbers were 200 and under, then they reached 400. The description is “doubled”. If you get lost in details, then it isn’t an overview.

      Usually, we write about “the figure” rather than using the plural.
      All the best

  9. Dear Liz,

    I am from Mongolia. I am doing independent study on the preparation of IELTS examination. Thank you for helping the students like me around the world. I would like to kindly ask you to check my writing below in order to let me know my writing skill in task 1.

    The line graph illustrates the amount of goods transported in four different ways (road, water, rail and pipeline) in Uk between 1974 and 2002. The units are measured in million tonnes.

    Overall, over the period, the highest amount of goods was transported by road while the least amount of goods was transported by pipeline. Interestingly, all the amounts of goods were increased over the 28 years except the amount of rail transportation which almost reached back to it’s original number.

    In terms of the road, the amount of goods was transported, it began about 70 million tonnes which rose steadily over the following 18 years to reach over 80 million tonnes in 1992. In the following 4 years, there was a gradual decline after which it grew up to nearly 100 million tones. Likewise, about 39 million tonnes of goods was transported through water in the first year and then the figure fluctuated slightly and rose to about 65 million tones. Similarly, in 1974, the figure of the pipeline transportation stood at about 5 million tonnes and there was a steep fluctuation until it leveled out from 1995 to 2002.

    On the other hand, the amount of goods was transported by train was 40 million tonnes in 1974 which was followed by slight changes and reached at just above it’s beginning figure of 40 million tonnes.

  10. how to write bar graph

  11. Ronak Maniya says:

    How can apply this sentence structure. Subject+ verb + proposition + indirect object + direct object. In graph and essay

  12. Hi Liz,

    I am a bit confuse about the difference between gradually as a slow change and slightly as a small change – what is the difference between a slow and small change? also what is the difference between dramatically as a big change and rapidly as a fast change?



  13. Hi,
    Liz, Please kindly Check and suggest the band….
    I am satisfied with ur explanation. How is the level of my English? Can I get 8_?

    Hoping to have a quick response.

    The line graph depicts the number of reported cases of a particular disease in Someland from 1983 to 1992.

    Overall, although the number of cases fluctuated over a period along with a sharp rise during late 1980’s, it was completely nil till the end.

    In 1983, 100 cases were reported, which consistently remained stable over the next two years (till 1985). After that, there was a gradual increase to reach 200 in 1987, and the number of cases steadily fell by 100.

    The most noticeable was of drastic rise in the number of cases of the disease reaching at 400 in 1989.In the following year, it slowly plummeted by 50 and remained constant till 1991. Within a year( in 1992). It was completely eradicated. with a tremendous plunge.

    • Hi Niraj,

      Unfortunately, I won’t have time to comment on your writing but hopefully you might get a useful comment from another students. I will be pretty busy for
      the next month but after that I hope to have time to comment again on students’ writing.
      All the best

      • How unlucky I am!

        I am going to take the exam next month,…

        If possible, plz help me……

        Thank you

  14. hi
    could you please suggest me which exam is more scoring in ielts academic or general

    • Hi,

      The IELTS academic test is considered more difficult than the GT test. But it is important that you take the test that suits your future plans.
      All the best

  15. Dear Liz,

    Kindly check and what band score is this.. What am I lacking? I really need your expertise with this. Kindly evaluate my work. Am I ready for the IELTS exam? Thank you for your time..

    The line graph illustrates the number of foreign students studying in Australia from six different countries (Japan, Singapore, Hongkong, Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea) over 3 years from 1994 to 1997. Overall, it can be seen that students from Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore increased its student population while Korean, Hongkong and Japanese students decreased over the period given.

    In 1994, the number of Indonesian students started at 11000 while Malaysians started as nearly as the Indonesians. Similarly, pupils from Singapore stood at around 8000 and showed steady increase to its peak of over 13000 in 1997. The first two mentioned foreign students rose significantly to almost doubled in the last year.

    On the other hand, Hongkong students began at close to 15000 and then the figures fluctuated considerably for the following years and ending at over 13000. Japanese students amounting to approximately 10000 climbing to marginally over 13000 in 1996 and in the last year, it fell to more or less 12000. A similar trend can be observed in Korean students that showed about 10000 at the beginning of the period. A sharp rise of the number of students reaching to a peak of around 20000 after 2 years and dropped slightly to about 18000 in the final year.

    • Hi,

      It’s quite a good in some areas but also there are problems with your report which would limit this to around band 6. Here are some comments:

      1. It is possible to put the introduction and overview in one paragraph and you have used clear linking (Overall) to help the examiner identify the overview – well done.
      2. The information in your overview is inaccurate. This is a serious problem. You write that the number of Korean students decreased over the period but actually the number rose from about 10,000 to around 18,000. You must make sure that you don’t write inaccurate information.
      3. Be more careful with your grammar. We can’t write about “students decreased” but we can write about “the number of students decreased”. People do not increase or decrease but numbers do. This is a repeated error.
      4. Punctuate your numbers 13000 = 13,000.
      All the best

  16. Tran Thanh Quang says:

    Dear Liz,
    I am writing to you because I need your help.
    I am going to take a Ielts test next month( March 15 in Moncton Univerity, Canada)
    My purpose is immigration, I need 5 marks for all skills, but that is not easy to me for the person who are not english speaker!
    My pressure is not good in writing both taks 1 and 2 for General. So is it possible for your to sharing me some best ways how yo improving that skill ASAP??
    Thanks you very much for your understand and looking forward your answer!
    Your truky,
    Quang Tran

  17. Hello, Liz.
    I got 7.0 in writing, and many of my friends tell me that it is a good score. However, I’d like to improve my writing skills further, and that’s why I’m actually here. I’ve been looking for the right explanation of how to write Task 1, and I am completely taken aback. Almost all the sources I’ve looked through give different views on how to perform the task, with some of the instructors insisting on writing both the overview and conclusion, and others laughing at those who recommend this. I would really appreciate if you said where YOU get the information on HOW to do Writing Task 1 from. Are there any, say, official instructions or regulations on what should or shouldn’t be included? Thank you in advance. Looking forward to hearing from you.
    PS Sorry for my clumsy English.

    • Hi,

      Lets start by saying this is in no way clumsy English and could have been written by a native speaker. It contains no errors at all. So, if you only got 7 in writing, something is amiss.

      It’s a good question to ask the source for teacher’s advice. My source comes from, firstly, the band score descriptors which have been published by IELTS to help students understand the scoring and requirements for each band score. The band scores clearly show that the examiner is looking for an overview in task 1 and a conclusion in task 2. Further to this, you are marked on your organisation of information. So, if you have put your key features in an overview and then repeated them in a conclusion (all this in only a 150 word report), then it’s poor organisation and also repetitive. The second source of my information is that I trained as an examiner for both speaking and writing back in 2008 before I started teaching. It’s always best to get advice from either examiners, ex-examiners or teachers who have completed the examiner training rather than teachers with no official training.

      To do well in writing task 1 can be tough due to the range of possible charts, all of which are approached slightly differently and have different language and key features. Going through the charts systematically is the only way to train properly. As I said, you certain seem to have flawless English so you should be aiming for the top scores.

      Here’s a link to the public band score descriptors published by IELTS for writing task 1: and writing task 2: In writing task 2, the conclusion is mentioned in task response as a requirement to get above band 5.
      All the best

      • Thank you for complimenting on my English and for a very quick response. While practising, I normally prefer to have both the overview and conclusion. For instance, in the overview of the description of a graph on the quantity of goods transported by four types of transport in the UK, I wrote the following: Over the period, the quantities of goods transported by all the modes of transport rose, with rail transportation showing an insignificant rise. In the conclusion, I put this: Overall, in the period between 1974 and 2002, the transportation of goods by road tended to be more popular with the citizens of the UK. Which of these, in your opinion, doesn’t make sense or is more irrelevant or superfluous? Thank you.

        • Hi,

          It just means you have two overview statements which you have decided to put in different places in your report rather than collect them into one place. It is your choice to have one or two separate overviews. It will not affect the criterion of task achievement because you have key features highlighted well regardless of where you put them. But it will affect your score in coherence and cohesion because you have decided that key features should be put in different places. The examiner should be able to find an overview which contains all key features rather that divided statements.
          All the best

        • Sorry, you also asked which is superfluous? Neither are. They are both key features which should be put together in the overview. The overview contains the key features which you have selected – this does not mean just one. Take a look at my model task 1 to see the range of overviews:
          All the best

      • I find that he uses contracted words alot and i dont think his punctuations are accurate. Futher more, he uses conclusion for eassy 1which is technically wrong.
        –Just my observation

        • Using contractions is something that many students are not aware of. The examiner will mark students down for the use of contractions in academic writing and for poor use of punctuation. The conclusion usually means a split overview – that is also problematic.

  18. The graph illustrates the pattern of outbreak of X disease in Someland from 1983-1992.
    Overall, it is clear that the total number ofX cases peaked for 2 times during the period shown, but X disease was successfully eradicated by the end of the period, 1992.
    In 1983, there were only 100 cases reported in Someland. The figures rose steadily in the next 4 years, to reach its first peak in 1987, when the total number of X patients doubled to 200, compared to that of 1983.
    After a sharp fall in 1988 to its original 100 case level, the trend increased again to its second peak at 400, which was 4 times higher number of cases than it was at the start of the period, 1983. Since then, it declined slightlyin the following 2 years before the trend decrease dramatically to reach a low of ‘0’ in 1992

    Dear Liz, i started to follow you since January 2015 I truly thank you for the lessons.

    • Hi,

      It’s good. Your introduction clear. In your overview, I would change “for 2 times ” to “twice”. Also be careful using peak because usually it means the highest point. That means you shouldn’t have two peaks, just one in 1989.

      When you write about “the figures”, just use the singular “the figure”. Well done spotting the double figures in 1987. Excellent. Also the sentence is well written using the clause “when the total …”. This is a great piece of information which is well highlighted. You also highlighted the peak in 1989 by saying it was four times higher than the original number – well done! Another good highlight.
      All in all, it’s a good report.

      • Teacher Liz
        Thank you for your feedback. It encourages me to keep up with my writing practice as I am reluctant to do so after my near miss in my writing result 6.5 ( I need individual 7 and avg 7.5).
        This is my first piece of writing after that.
        Now I regain confidence with your lessons. Thank you again.

  19. Thank you mam …………I see u r replaying every one its hard, really great job …if I will come UK sure I will meet u

  20. The line graph illustrates the number of cases of X disease in Someland from the year 1983 to 1992.

    Overall, the number of cases of X disease showed a single and prominent peak in the year 1989 and eradicated completely by the end of the given time period, with some ups and downs.

    The number of cases reported in the first two years(1983 and 1984) was 100 which increased steadily and doubled(200 cases of X disease in Someland) in 1987. The line graph observed its first fall from 1987 to 1988 and the figure came back to 100.

    There was a sharp and significant increment of 300 cases of X disease in 1989, from where it again fall slightly to 350 in the year 1990 and witnessed a plateau in the following year. In the final year, number of cases dropped down remarkably and hit a baseline at 0.

    comments and suggestions please….liz and all other students…

  21. Dear Liz,
    i have to take my ielts general test on 28-3-15 from Vijaywada, Andrapradesh , India i need to score band 8..i have yesterday seen your sight its very useful and enrolled
    for daily post. i request for general test material for writing task as well as speaking tips so as to reach the goal

    thank u


    • Hi,

      I only have two lessons for the GT writing task 1 at the moment. Here’s a link for a model and also tips for letter writing:

      To get 8 in speaking, you will need to be able to speak at length without effort on any topic given to you. You will need to produce sentences and use vocabulary with only rare errors. You will need to expand very fully on each question asked, you should be able to speak for 2 minutes in part 2 and you should be able to develop your answer well in part 3. You should also be able to move in and out of different tenses while you are talking rather than just talk in one tense.

      Make sure you prepare ideas and vocabulary for all topics. Practice adding more to each prompt in part 2 and learn to really go into detail in part 3. But the key really will be developing your answers and your ability to produce high level, accurate English.
      All the best

  22. Hi Liz,

    I just collected my GT test result today. My scores are writing=6.5, listening=6.0, speaking=6.0, reading 5.0. So, my overall score was 6.0. But, I’ve got few problems because, Australia is demanding for 6.0, in each part of the test for the class of visa I want to apply for, that is “skilled recognise graduate”

    Do u think I should proceed with my visa application or take another test?

    • Hi,

      It’s best that you contact the visa application office and check if they would accept your results. But to be honest, if they require band 6 in each skill, you usually must have that. It’s most likely you will need to take your test again. Obviously you have a band score 6 level of English. So, all you need to do is work on your reading skills for each type of question to get band 6 in reading.
      All the best

      • Thanks for your advise Liz.

        I think taking another will be safer for me. Meanwhile, do you do lessons for Internet base TOEFL test, I mean if you’ve got a website for that too, and if u don’t, can refer any website to me? I’m thinking of taking that too.


        • Hi Nadis,

          Unfortunately, I only work with IELTS at present and I can’t recommend anyone for TOEFL. You’ll need to search online. Make sure you find someone who makes the test clearer for you and can explain things fully.
          Wishing you all the best

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