Academic Writing task 1: C02 Emissions line graph
Line graphs are very common in IELTS academic task 1 writing. In this lesson, we will look at a Model Answer and an analysis.
This line graph comes from Cambridge IELTS 11 academic. You can find this book on Amazon. Use only official IELTS material when doing practice tests as there is a lot of fake IELTS material out there on the web.
Source: Cambridge IELTS 11 Academic.
If you need to see a lesson on the grammar used in this type of task, click here
The graph illustrates the average output of carbon dioxide in metric tonnes for each individual in four European countries over a forty-year period.
Overall, the UK and Sweden which initially showed a high C02 output saw a decline in emissions toward the end of the period. Conversely, Italy and Portugal which started with relatively low emissions saw considerable increases by the end of the period.
In 1967, the UK showed the highest proportion of carbon emissions at around 11 metric tonnes per person, however, this figure declined steadily ending at approximately 9 metric tonnes for each individual by 2007. Swedens output started at just over 8 metric tonnes, rising to a peak of slightly more than 10 tonnes in 1977. It then saw a sharp decline to approximately half of that by 2007.
In contrast, Portugal in 1967 had the lowest output at just over 1 tonne per person. Over the next four decades, this increased sharply, ending at over 5 metric tonnes. Italy demonstrated a similar pattern, beginning at a little over 4 metric tonnes and ending at nearly 8 tonnes of carbon dioxide for each person by 2007.
The model answer is 191 words which is quite long. If possible keep it under 190 words. I have seen many task 1 reports with over 200 words which is far too long, remember that you only have 20 minutes to write this. For task 1 academic it’s a good idea to aim for about 160 – 190 words to cover the task well. Do not go below the minimum which is 150 words. By the way, you don’t get a higher band score for writing more words.
It is important to understand how the task is marked to give the examiner what they need for a higher band score.
Writing Task 1 is marked on 4 criteria:
- Task Achievement (accurately write about the information presented)
- Coherence and Cohesion (easy to understand, clear and logical)
- Grammatical range and accuracy (using the correct grammar to describe the trends, numbers, comparisons)
- Lexical Resource ( accurate clear vocabulary that is relevant to the task, good paraphrasing skills)
Grouping the information
You need to spend at least 3 or 4 minutes analysing the task and planning where to put the information, grouping the information is crucial for a coherent logical response and a good Band score.
I have paraphrased the task question which is very important in this kind of task. You can use synonyms or you can change the grammatical structure of the sentences so that it retains the same meaning. Paraphrasing is not just about synonyms, you can restructure the grammar, this is a very important skill to practice.
‘The graph illustrates the average output of carbon dioxide in metric tonnes for each individual in four European countries over a forty-year period.
- shows = illustrates
- average carbon dioxide emissions = the average output of carbon dioxide
- per person = for each individual
- 1967 and 2007= over a forty-year period
I didn’t paraphrase the word ‘graph’ because a graph is always a graph, you can’t really paraphrase this word. I also wrote ‘in four European countries’ instead of repeating the countries names.
The overview is also an important feature in task 1 academic and your report must have one. The overview should not include any numbers, statistics or dates. Leave those details for the body paragraphs. You will need to look at the main trends of the graph and write briefly about those. Pick out two main trends and give a summary.
‘Overall, the UK and Sweden which initially showed a high C02 output saw a decline in emissions toward the end of the period. Conversely, Italy and Portugal which started with relatively low emissions witnessed considerable increases by the end of the period.
I start with the word ‘Overall’ this is a good way to introduce the overview. I have picked out the two main trends here which are:
- The UK and Sweden = started high ended much lower.
- Italy and Portugal = started low ended much higher.
- initially showed
- saw a decline
- toward the end of the period
- Conversely (shows contrast)
- relatively low
- witnessed considerable increases
- by the end of the period
I do not recommend writing a conclusion in writing task 1 academic. Never include an opinion, you must write factually.
Now we can write in more detail about the graph and the trends. Also, remember to be selective and do not write about everything in the graph. Grouping the information is very important in this part of the task. Take the 2 main trends and separate them into 2 body paragraphs as below
‘In 1967, the UK showed the highest proportion of carbon emissions at around 11 metric tonnes per person, however, this figure declined steadily ending at approximately 9 metric tonnes for each individual by 2007. Swedens output started at just over 8 metric tonnes, rising to a peak of slightly more than 10 tonnes in 1977. It then saw a sharp decline to approximately half of that by 2007.‘
In this body paragraph, I wrote about the 2 highest C02 outputs, which are the UK and Sweden and described how they declined in the 40 year period. I added more detail and numbers here, notice how I have used prepositions also (at, around, over, to, by) and most importantly you must use the language of approximation as there a no exact figures in the chart.
- the highest proportion of
- declined steadily
- rising to a peak
- output = emissions
- a sharp decline
- each individual = per person
In the next paragraph, I have written about the 2 lowest C02 outputs, which are Italy and Portugal, and described how they increased in the 40-year time-frame.
‘In contrast, Portugal in 1967 had the lowest output at just over 1 tonne per person. Over the next four decades, this increased sharply, ending at over 5 metric tonnes. Italy demonstrated a similar pattern, beginning at a little over 4 metric tonnes and ending at nearly 8 tonnes of carbon dioxide for each person by 2007.‘
- Conversely (shows contrast)
- the lowest (superlative)
- just over
- increased sharply
- ending at
- demonstrated a similar pattern
- beginning at ….ending at
Using the language of comparisons is useful in this kind of task, make sure you know how to use comparatives and superlatives, especially if you get a graph or bar chart with 2 or 3 trends.
Language of approximation
In the graph, there is no figure showing in between the lines so you will need to use approximation for a better band score in vocabulary. It is important to notice this as it is common in many IELTS graphs or charts.
- around 11 metric tonnes…
- just over 8 tonnes of C02 emissions
- just under 11 tonnes…
- a little more than 4 metric tonnes of C02 output
- slightly higher than 4 metric tonnes..
- slightly less than…
- approximately 11 tonnes of C02..
- Close to.
Using more academic vocabulary
I also advise practicing with more academic vocabulary when describing the data. such as: ‘proportion, figure, accounted for, amounted to, totalling, stood at, comprising’
- The proportion of C02 emissions stood at around 7 metric tonnes for Sweden in 1967.
- The figure for C02 output for Portugal totalled nearly 6 metric tonnes in 2007.
- The UK had the highest amount of emissions comprising nearly 11 metric tonnes in1967.
- C02 output for Italy accounted for just over 4 metric tonnes in 1967.
To see a lesson on adverbs and trends when writing about line graphs click on this link here, there is also an exercise on using prepositions in the lesson.