IELTS Bar Chart: Tips for a High Score

Learn how to describe an IELTS bar chart by following the tips and techniques in this video lessons. It is common to be given a bar chart in IELTS writing task 1 academic paper. You must learn:

  • how to write an introduction
  • how to identify key features
  • how to write an overview
  • if there is a conclusion or overview
  • how to organise the body paragraphs
  • how to write complex sentences
  • tips to avoid getting a low score
  • how to get a high score
  • bar chart model band 9

IELTS Bar Chart Tips Video Tutorial

IELTS Bar Chart Essential Tips

Below are useful tips for an IELTS bar chart.

1. Introduction Paragraph

Keep your introduction paragraph simple. Just paraphrase the information given by IELTS. It is usually just one sentence. It is possible to also comment on the units of measurement in the chart “Units are measured in …”.

2. The overview

Look at your bar chart and choose the key features. These might be highs, lows, main differences etc. Collect them together and present them in an overview. To learn more about the overview / conclusion debate, please see my IELTS Overview Video Lesson. You must remember that the examiner is looking for the overview and it is an essential part of your Task Achievement mark. That criterion is 25% of your marks.

3. Body Paragraphs

Make sure you have more than one body paragraph. The usual is two body paragraph. Decide how you will divide the information in the bar chart into difference body paragraphs. You must organise your paragraphs into a logical order.

4. Support Sentences with Data

Your body paragraphs must have numbers to support them. If you fail to have numbers with your sentences in the body paragraphs, you might get only band 5 in Task Achievement. To learn useful vocabulary for using data accurately, see my lesson: IELTS Vocabulary: Accurate Data.

5. Complex Sentences

You must write your task 1 using a range of complex sentences. You must learn these sentence structures. The best way is from model answers: IELTS Writing Task 1 Model Answers.

6. Linking devices

You should use a range of linking devices. For example, while / whereas / as opposed to / compared to / in comparison with. All these will help you get a higher score in Coherence and Cohesion which is 25% of your marks. Make sure you use them correctly.

7. Assessment Criteria

Learn more about what the examiner wants to see in your writing. You must understand the requirements for the band score you are aiming for. See this page to learn about IELTS Writing Task 1 Band Scores 5 to 8 Explained.


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    Good day Mam Liz!I’ve been following all your tips & exercises for the past few weeks & thank you so much for all these informations!I know God will bless you more for your super kindness! Just like to inquire if you have model answer for wrting task 1, flowchart ( step by step description)? thanks again!

    Tetet from the Philippines

  2. Abdel Fattah Al nagar says:

    I really enjoyed your way of teaching and your constant smile as well . You are a miracle.
    Thank you Liz

  3. Manasseh S Pablo says:

    Thank you very much Liz! I don’t think I need to enroll in a review class because what you teach is more than enough!

  4. Thank you so much Liz, you are amazing! It’s so clear to understand and easy to remember!

  5. Shahram Ali says:

    Data written in brackets wil be taken in counting words

  6. Aravind U says:

    Hi madam,
    Thank you. I found it very helpful. Thanks a lot

  7. Hey liz you are doing the tremendous work

  8. Hi Liz,
    Thanks a lot for what you present. that was great to be taught with a tutor like you.

  9. Hi Liz,
    Is writing task same for academic and general training test. If not, can you please share some details about general training writing task 1&2

  10. Hello Liz! Is in writing task 1 more common to get only a bar chart or a graph, or are they often associated with something else such as a table?

  11. Hi Ms. Liz,
    I’m a bit confused because am not placing conclusion for task 1 but my mentor told me that i should put one yet i’ve given an overview. I just want to clarify.
    Thank you

  12. Maria Christa says:

    Dear Liz,
    what if i given a bar chart that have more than 6 categories? should i write them all?

  13. Orkun Kumral says:

    Dear Liz,

    In the introduction part, could we use past tense to describe the chart? The chart datas given in the past (2010)
    For example,

    First sentecence; The chart illustrated….
    Second sentence; Units were measered…


  14. sajawalkhan says:

    hello liz,
    cant we use word disbursement for expenditure?

  15. zeynep kucukkirali says:

    hello,It was quite helpful but just I wonder why you wrote the overall before than main body? could you explain the reason.

    thank you Liz


  16. Camila Buitrago says:

    Dear Liz, I really want to thank you, your lessons are clear and effective. You have helped me a lot 😀

  17. Hi Teacher Liz,
    With due respect I would like to share my sentiments on your efforts. Madam ,You have shown a great sense of humanity and generosity while putting your lectures on IELTS for free for the whole world. I respect your teaching way and presents many thanks to your human way of help. Your style is paramount and easy to understand. Your lectures are helping me the lot. Thank you once again Mam.

  18. hi Liz,
    thank you for useful tips.
    is it necessary to write conclusion at the end of chart??

  19. By the way, you’re so sweet 🙂 and that’s also to say that your teaching style ROCKS! I wish I can have lessons in your classroom 🙂


  20. oxzeria mushonga says:

    how about if you are given 2 bar graphs

  21. Miss,
    should i write: ” Brazil saw an upward trend in the the number of car users”
    or ” The number of car users in Brazil saw an upward trend”

  22. Mis Liz,
    Shouldn’t it be
    “The expenditure on books in the UK was higher than that of in France.”
    in the third line of the first body paragraph?

  23. Hello, Liz!
    Your site is very useful! I’ve got a question: is ‘whilst’ has the same meaning as ‘while’ and is it okay to use it in IELTS writing?

  24. Hi Liz,

    Your website is very informative. Keep it up!
    Thank you for making this website very useful.


  25. Hi Liz,
    Thank you again for sharing your videos with us. They have been very helpful.
    My questions are:
    1. Can I use the word “graph” for bar and pie charts as well? or only for line.
    2. Can I use the word “chart” for line? or only for pie and bar?

  26. Hi Liz,

    I have a question.Can the overview paragraph be at the last one ?Or does it have to come second,as in your video?
    Thank you so much, I’ve found your video to be very useful.

  27. JOHNNY REY FUNA says:

    Thank you so much. I learned a lot.

  28. Hi Liz,

    My name is Palak and have recently registered my id with this site. I had my result today. Unfortunately I could not get 7 bands for writing as I missed by 0.5. I am thinking to reappear for test soon after some good practice. I came across this site very recently and and I am very much thankful for all great information and tutorials that can be access through this site. I was wondering would you able to review my couple of essays if I could post them to you?

  29. Dr.Saqib Ali says:

    hello liz!
    i have to ask about units. For example, if it is showing the percentages then how we can describe that? Is it right to describe as;
    “units are given in percentages”

    • You don’t need to give the units unless they are particular interesting or unusual. If it is just percentage, it is usually mentioned in the introduction anyway “the graph illustrates the percentage of…”

  30. Mohamad says:

    Should we also write the Overview when it is a Line Graph?

    • All writing task 1 (academic) have an overview. See my model answers on the writing task 1 page.
      All the best

  31. Hi Liz,
    Firstly I would like to thank you for guiding all of us!!! I have recently appeared for My IELTS in Sri Lanka. In writing Part 1, we had a table to describe.. The table was actually a combination of two tables one which was having information about trends in the population growth in 4 regions from 1950 to 2000. The other was the predicted population in next 50 years i.e. from year 2000 to 2050..
    I was finding it difficult to judge whether I should write the whole description in past tense..Eventually I did describe the table in the past tense..I used sentences such as ‘ The predicted / expected population by the year 2050 was …. millions’ …Is it write to form such sentences or should I have described it in any other way?

    • Charts or tables that span from past to future are tricky. You need to write “The population was 26 million in 2005 and is expected to reach 30 million by 2050″. That means you use the past to refer to the past and the future to refer to the future. Also don’t forget that “30 million” has no “s”.
      All the best

  32. hii mam!! thanks lot for your guidance ..its really very usefull..but i want to know that word written in brackets are being counted or not?

  33. Hi Liz,
    May I ask you something? If IELTS says: The bar chart bellow gives information about the percentage of the population living in urban areas in different parts of the world.(the chart shows Africa ,Asia ,Europe ,Latin America ,North America and Oceania .My introduction can be: The chart illustrates the percentage of the population living in cityes in 5 of the continents of the world (Africa ,Asia,Europe,America and Australia) ….etc?
    IELTS divided the America in Latin America and North America so it speaks about 6 parts and I speak about 5 continets.
    I hope my question make sense to you!t
    Thank you so much for your valuable help!

    • Hi,

      It’s best never to change the information given in the chart, particular names of places. You can paraphrase other words rather than names. So I would write “The bar chart illustrates the proportion of the population living in cities in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America and Oceania.”
      All the best

  34. sathish reddy says:

    will the examiner count the word which were included in brackets/braces??

  35. Ayman Kenawy says:

    Is it pound sterling or sterling pound ?

  36. Dear Ms Liz,
    I want to know about the overview you explained in your essay. It seems very lengthy and include details, for instance, we are going to give full explanation in the body paras so I think better to not include more information in the overview. For example, my view would be like this “overall, It is clear that UK spent much money on five different items than the France ” and this trend will be in the same paragraph in the introduction such as

    The bar graph illustrates the amount of money spent in pound sterling by UK and France on five different items(Cars, Computers, Books, Perfumes and Cameras) in the year of 2010. Overall, it can be seen that UK expended much money on these items than the France.
    Thank you

    • Hi,

      The overview highlights the key features. It is your choice how many key features you put in your overview. Usually, it is better to highlight more rather than less key features. The body paragraphs contain details with figures.

  37. I love your teaching! It’s useful for me. Thank you so much!

  38. Hi Liz,
    . Thank you. It is very helpful and in a step-wise manner, easy to follow.

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