How to write a good overview in writing task 1

The overview / summary is a very important part of your task 1 report. Many people have no trouble describing specific details, but they find it difficult to describe the general features of a graph, bar chart or diagram. So here are my tips on how to write a good overview in writing task 1:

  1. Always try to write two sentences. This forces you to describe two main or general features of the graph, bar chart or diagram.
  2. Don’t put any numbers in your overview. Save specific numbers for the “details” paragraphs.
  3. If the graph or chart shows a time period (e.g. years), look for the overall change from the beginning to the end of the period (e.g. from the first year to the last year).
  4. Look for overall trends, and ignore individual figures that don’t fit the trend. For example, if a graph shows a rising trend overall, you can ignore a specific year when the figures decreased – save that year for your “details” paragraphs.
  5. If no time period is shown, you can’t look for trends. Instead, look for differences and similarities between items.
  6. Don’t look for individual “highest” or “lowest” figures such as a “peak” on a line graph. Instead, describe the highest and lowest items overall (e.g. which line on the graph was the highest for the whole or most of the period?).
  7. Start your overview with a simple phrase that clearly shows the examiner that this is your summary paragraph e.g. It is clear that… , It is noticeable that… , Overall we can see that…
  8. If there are two different charts, write one overview sentence about each chart.
  9. If there are more than two charts, they must be connected in some way, so look for two main features overall.
  10. If the task is to describe a diagram or map that compares things, you can mention the main differences and maybe the number of differences and / or similarities between the two diagrams.
  11. If the task is to describe a process diagram, you can mention the total number of stages in the process and say where or how the process begins and ends.

To get a much better understanding of this advice, go through our IELTS writing task 1 lessons here on the blog and analyze the second paragraph of any full answer that you find.

Related IELTS Resources

Take a practice test to find out what is your current weakness in terms of IELTS scale and allow more time to improve your weak spots. The following IELTS resources will help you to develop your skills faster:

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