Change Over Time: IELTS Academic Task 1

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Change Over Time: IELTS Academic Task 1
Task Instructions The IELTS Change over Time task is designed to test your ability to explain information during different time periods shown in a line graph, bar graph, pie chart, table, process diagram, or map (the last two tasks will be covered in a separate section). You must present the information in your own words as complete sentences within paragraphs. You are required to write over 150 words, and the task should be completed in 20 minutes (both part 1 and 2 must be finished in 1 hour). Questions:
1. How many words should you write? 2. How long should you take to write your essay? 3. Are there different time periods in this task?
Requires 1. Past tense 2. Verb and noun phrases to describe trends 3. Verbs and nouns to describe data levels 4. Prepositions for time and data
How to Improve 1. Do exercises to improve the grammar and vocabulary to complete this kind of task 2. Read sample questions and answers 3. Learn how to correctly structure a change over time task 4. Practice writing Change Over Time tasks 5. Receive feedback on practice tests 6. Use the feedback to improve your answers
Copyright Michael Wattie 2012

Vocabulary - Learn vocabulary to describe numbers that are not precise (roughly, approximately, about, just under, just over) - Use paraphrasing to avoid repetition (gives information about global sales = illustrates worldwide distribution ) - Build up lots of vocabulary to describe trends and comparisons
Describe the Trends below:

Nouns an increase a surge a rise A jump A leap
Verbs increased surged rose soared rocketed

Nouns a decrease a decline A decrease A tumble a plunge
Verbs decreased declined plunged tanked sunk

Nouns at a similar level a steady trend maintained stability
a period of stability

Nouns a fluctuation an oscillation

Verbs stabilized remained unchanged remained static maintained stability stayed the same

Verbs Fluctuated oscillated

Copyright Michael Wattie 2012

Describing specific points Reached a peak (n) Peaked (v) Reached a low point (n) Reached a nadir (n) Was overtaken by (n) Overtook (v)
Copyright Michael Wattie 2012

Sentence structure For this task you should use the past tense and you should try to modify noun and verbs to improve the precision of your task, which will improve your TASK score as well as your VOCABULARY score.

For example:

was+ Adj+ noun

verb +adverb

There was a slight increase…., ………. Increased slightly

Adjectives and adverbs according to the degree of change (biggest to smallest)

size Adjectives

Time Adjectives

A dramatic…

A sudden…

A Considerable…

A quick…

A steep

A rapid…

A Sharp…

A steady…

A Significant…

A gradual…

A Substantial…

A slow…

A Moderate…

A Slight…

Scale Adverbs …dramatically …considerably …sharply …significantly …substantially …moderately

Time Adverbs …suddenly …quickly …rapidly …steadily …gradually …slowly
Copyright Michael Wattie 2012

EXERCISE 1: describing trends
Every chart, apart from a pie chart, is made up of an x-axis (the horizontal line) and a y-axis (the vertical line). The x-axis often shows units of time (in hours, days, months, years, and decades) and the y-axis shows the changes that take place over that time. Although, you will usually have to write about events that happened in the past, occasionally you will h ave to write about the future. The number of women studying IELTS at the Excel Night School in Sydney in 2006. (units in 10s)
Copyright Michael Wattie 2012

Look at the line chart above and put the appropriate number next to each word or phrase shown in the table below. Each number may have more than one answer.

climbed steadily



fell dramatically

increased substantially reached a peak


sharp fall

rose slightly





levelled off

dropped sharply

remained stable


Copyright Michael Wattie 2012

Prepositions for time and data Time from 1900 to 2000 during the period From 1900 to 2000 from 1940 onwards in 1940 Numbers use ' amount ' with things that cannot be counted but ' number ' with things that can be counted increased from 1,000 to 2,000 increased by 1,000 reached a peak at 2,000 fell to its lowest point at 1,000 Exercise 2: Prepositions
Copyright Michael Wattie 2012

Language with numbers and percentages When writing your report you must carefully identify whether the information that is given involves countable data (trees), uncountable data (water), or percentages (15%). This is because the language used with the three types is different. If you use the incorrect language the examiner will easily identify it and your vocabulary score will be lowered.
Countable numbers The number of trees planted increased
Uncountable numbers The amount of water used increased
Percentages The percentage of water used increased The proportion of water used increased The rate of water usage increased
The water usage increased by 15% The water usage increased by 15 per cent. The water usage increased by 15 percent. The water usage increased (to 15%).
Exercise 3: language with numbers and percentages Copyright Michael Wattie 2012

Task 1: Changes over time
1. Read the question.
2. Underline key vocabulary in the question and write words with the same or related meaning
3. Identify the highlights of the task. There should be about 10 critical points that should be mentioned for each task)
4. Be clear about whether the data is about percentages or numbers.
 For percentages you use: proportion, %, per cent, rate, one-third, two-thirds  For percentages you use: amount for uncountable nouns, number for countable
5. Brainstorm key points for the answer
You can do this by circling key parts of the chart. Look at the following: 1. beginning numbers 2. ending numbers 3. highest point 4. lowest point 5. data series that overtake other ones (e.g. line chart where one line crosses over another line)
Look for: Striking trends Comparisons/similarities Overall trends
6. Work out the overall summary. There should be 1 or 2 key points that must be mentioned
Copyright Michael Wattie 2012

7. Plan the structure for the answer

Paragraph 1:

One sentence rephrasing the original question+ information from the axes. Overall summary Comparisons (er, est; more, most)

Paragraph 2: group 1 data (either a category or period of time)

Paragraph 3: group 2 data

[if required]

Paragraph 4: group 1 data (either a category or period of time)

Paragraph 5: group 1 data (either a category or period of time)

8. Write the start of the introduction by paraphrasing the question/ information given in the chart

You are advised to spend a maximum of 20 minutes on this task.
The line chart below shows the number of men and women that smoke cigarettes in Australia.
You should write at least 150 words.

Copyright Michael Wattie 2012

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Change Over Time: IELTS Academic Task 1