Ielts Graph Essay Sample Band 8

IELTS Writing Task 1: Question

You might see a line graph like this one in Task 1. The ability to describe changes over time is a key skill in line graph tasks.

The diagram shows the consumption of renewable energy in the USA from 1949-2008.

Write a 150-word report for a university lecturer identifying the main trends and making comparisons where relevant.

IELTS Writing Task 1: Model Answer

The line graph shows growth in the consumption of renewable energy during the period 1949-2008 in the USA. The results are also broken down by source.

The first thing to note is that renewable energy use more than doubled over the period, with particularly strong growth in biofuels. This sector did not exist in 1980 but experienced a steep rise during the 2000s to over one quadrillion Btu per year. This made biofuels a serious challenger to both wood and hydroelectric power, which both saw only limited growth overall. The former grew steadily between 1975 and 1985, but then slipped back to around its original level of 1.8 quadrillion Btu. The latter began the period at the same level as wood but experienced more substantial growth. However, it also fell back to around 2 quadrillion Btu, with a particularly sharp drop in the late 1990s.

Finally, wind power emerged late in the period but showed a gradual rise to around 0.5 quadrillion Btu, suggesting that it, along with biofuels, will replace wood and hydroelectricity as the main sources of renewable every in the future.

(184 words, IELTS 8.0)

Why does this Task 1 answer get an IELTS Band 8 score?

Task achievement: The model answer describes the overall trend first, followed by an analysis of the different energy sources. Numerical evidence is used sparingly to illustrate the trends. The main trends are used as the basis of a prediction in the final sentence.

Coherence and cohesion: Trends are explained in general terms first, followed by supporting figures. Some energy sources are grouped together for ease of understanding. It and this are used throughout as cohesive devices, and the writer uses the former and the latter to refer back to information in a previous sentence.

Lexical resource: The writer uses a wide range of vocabulary to describe change, including adjectives and adverbs such as limited, substantial and particularly sharp, and verbs such as doubled, slipped and emerged.

Grammatical range and accuracy: The model answer is free from grammatical errors. Sentence forms are complex and include relative clauses and linking words such as with. The candidate makes use of past, present and future tenses. Punctuation is also used carefully and accurately throughout.

Teacher’s Notes

A line graph question in IELTS Writing task 1 will typically ask you to compare the performance of several different things over time, in this case renewable energy sources. Maximise your score by making good use of reference links such as ‘the former/latter’ and ‘respectively’. Even though you are only supposed to describe what is shown in the graph, a nice way to end is to make a prediction about the future based on the current trend.

Would you like me to check your IELTS writing answers and give you expert feedback based on the official scoring criteria? My online IELTS Writing Practice Test will show you how to improve by a whole band score in just two days. Read more.


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Paragraph 1

The opening paragraph has all the key information about the graph but it paraphrases the question. This is very important. Make sure you use synonyms and rephrase your answer. For example, in this case:

“shows” to “illustrates”

“oil capacity” to “amount of oil”

“from 1990 to 2010” to “between 1990 and 2010”

Paragraph 2

This paragraph gives a clear overview of the chart. The overall trend is that the capacity increased, but there is a big difference between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. This paragraph demonstrates an excellent knowledge of the required grammar and vocabulary. “Tended to increase”; “20-year period” (and not 20-years period); “significantly higher than”.

Paragraph 3

This paragraph goes into detail about the two most significant countries: Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It follows clearly from the previous paragraph which has highlighted these two countries. All the key vocabulary to describe movement in a graph is used correctly (“significant increase”; “rose steadily”; “reaching a peak”; “remained relatively stable”). There are two sentences about Saudi Arabia and then two about Qatar, correctly using the linking phrase “in contrast”. The paragraph is very well structured and cohesive, with no grammar mistakes and an excellent range of vocabulary.

Paragraph 4

Paragraph 4 gives details about the four remaining countries. Again, all the language for describing a graph is accurate – “saw a slight rise”, “peaked in 2010”. The prepositions are also used correctly (something students often mix up) – “a rise in production”, “in 1990”, “compared with”, “peaked in 2010 in Iran at over 4 million barrels”  


This answer displays everything needed for a Band 9 answer on IELTS Task 1. The answer is clear and well-structured with a skilful use of paragraphs and links. There is a wide range of very natural vocabulary needed to describe a graph and there are no spelling mistakes. There are no grammar mistakes in the answer and there is an excellent range of complex structures.


IELTS task one marking scheme:

IELTS task 1 Writing band descriptors PDF

This post is by Everest Language School teacher and literary podcaster Conor Reid

You can prepare for the IELTS exam in Dublin in one of our IELTS preparation courses.

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