Unit 6 – Writing task 1

Of all the types of tables, Table is probably the most difficult to read. It has too much data and is often out of order. This leads to a situation where “numbers are just numbers” without any meaning, making it difficult for us to compare and describe. So, when approaching a Table, the first thing before starting to write is to rearrange the information for meaningful.

Take a look at the following table:

The table below gives information on consumer spending on different items in five different countries in 2002.

ielts test preparation - ielts writing - how to read tables containing a lot of data in ielts writing task 1 exam preparation

As you can see there are 15 numbers in this table. Of course, we cannot report each number in order. Instead, choose one for yourself axis for comparison. You can go along (by Country) or horizontally by each type of item (by Items):

  • Going by Country: if you use Country as the axis to describe, you will look at each country to see how they spend on the 3 items shown in the table differently.
  • Follow Items: if Items is the axis, you would describe the difference in spending for each item by countries.

When doing Table, not every axis will give us 2 equivalent articles. In fact, having one axis makes for a more logical article than the other. If you notice above, if you write by Country, you will have to write an article with 6 different ideas, while writing in Items, the exclamation has only 3 different ideas. In the spirit of the chart, we always try to make fewer numbers and more comparisons. So it can be seen that if we follow Items, our article will get more comparisons (5 objects vs 3 objects). This also means that the reader after reading our article will remember more.

Once we have selected the axis, we can go into the table description. As with the charts, you should always comment on this table in general. Since we have set the axis to describe as Items, we will comment on Items. It can be seen that people spend the most on Food/Drinks/Tobacco and the least on Leisure/Education

Looking at the graph, it is immediately obvious that people in six countries spend the most on food, drinks and tobacco while allocating the smallest portions of their budget to leisure and education.

Note: you can see above is the word spend in the previous clause has been paraphrased to allocate… portion to in the latter. In Task 1, we try not to write two structures over and over. Of course, you can completely write “…spend the most…spend the least…”, but the article will be appreciated more if you have more than 1 way to express an idea.

After getting a general comment, you will go into the description according to the selected axis. So, if you use Items as the axis, you will describe the difference of the same item in different countries. You should be careful not to write like this:

In the Food/Drink/Tobacco segment, Ireland spends A %. Italy spends B%. Spain spends C %. etc

This spelling does not represent any relationship between the countries we want to compare. Instead, you should group countries come together. Looking at the table, we can clearly see that in the Food/Drink/Tobacco segment, Ireland and Turkey spend significantly more than the other 3 countries. So you can write:

Among the five countries, it can be noted that the expenditure for food, drinks and tobacco of Turkey and Ireland was significant higher than that of the others, at 32.14% and 28.91% respectively. In the same category, Italy, Spain and Sweden all spent under 20% of their budget with Sweden having the smallest percentage at 15.77%.

As you can see above, no expression is used twice. You can repeat, but if possible avoid doing this in the same paragraph. Task 1 article only has 12-15 sentences, so paraphrase is not too difficult.

Similarly, you can write a description of the remaining 2 items as follows:

Compared to food, drinks and tobacco, spending for clothing and footwear is noticeably lower in all countries. With the exception of Italy who spent 9% on these items, the expenditure of the other countries in this category was relatively the same and below 7%. The smallest proportion of spending was allocated to leisure and education. In this category, Turkey has the highest percentage of national consumer expenditure at 4.35% while the smallest figure can be seen in Spain at only 1.98%.

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