Writing Task 1: How to use ‘number, total, amount, figure, period’

Useful IELTS academic writing task 1 vocabulary.

To get a good score in IELTS writing task 1 academic, you need to have a good range of grammar and vocabulary. In this lesson we will look at 5 words that can be used in various ways. Those words are : Number, Total, Amount, Period and Figure. Try the exercises at the end of the lesson to test your knowledge then click the green buttons to see the answers. The key to learning is to practice, so think about how you can apply these words to your academic task 1 reports, especially for graphs and trends.

 

Using the word ‘Number’

Did you know that the word ‘ Number’ can be used as a verb as well as a noun?

  • numberpresent verb
  • numberedpast verb
  • the number ofnoun
  • outnumber verb

Examples sentences:

1. Cars produced in Japan number around 9 million units at present
2. Car production in Japan numbered around 9 million units last year
3. Coal exports in The USA outnumbered steel exports throughout the whole period.
4. In September 2017, the total number of EU migrants to the UK was just under 100,000.
5. The number of cars produced in Japan last year stood at around 9 million, outnumbering the USA (7 million).

For ‘people’ we also use the word ‘number of’ as ‘people’ is a countable noun.

  • The number of + countable noun 

The number of people living in London has risen to around 10 million since 1970’

  • When comparing things or people you can also use the word outnumber

The number of users on Facebook last year reached around 2 billion, outnumbering Twitter which stood at 1.5 billion users.’

Note: A good way of paraphrasing ‘the number of ‘ is to use  ‘the proportion of..’ so I can also write:

The proportion of users on Facebook last year reached around 2 billion, outnumbering Twitter which stood at 1.5 billion users.’


Using the word ‘Total’

  • totaledpast verb
  • in totalnoun phrase
  • 
the total number /amount ofnoun

1. The number of cars produced in Japan totaled around 9 million last year
2. The total number of cars produced in Japan last year stood at around 9 million, outnumbering the USA (7 million).
3. In total, 300,000 iPhones were manufactured in the last quarter of 2016
4. The total amount of electricity produced in the first half of 2016 was around 2 million kilowatts


Using the word ‘Amount’

  • The amount of + uncountable noun


1. The amount of electricity produced in Canada from Hydroelectric power has risen sharply since 2012
2. The amount of coal used in Australia doubled throughout the whole period.
2. Car production in The USA amounted to around 250,000 vehicles in the first half of 2015.

Sometimes you can use the word ‘amounted to’ (past tense) or  ‘amounts to’ (present tense) This is a synonym for ‘in total’ .

The cost of repairs amount to $700  (present)   /  The cost of repairs amounted to $700  (past)


Using the word  ‘Figure’

This is useful if you want to reduce repetition in your writing instead of constantly using ‘ the number of’ or ‘the proportion of’

  • uncountable nouns:  the figure for unemployment.
  • countable nouns: the figure for people
  • countries:  the figure for the USA.
  • percentages:  the figure for…… rose by 10%.

1. The figure for people entering University reached a peak by 2014
2. The figure for CO2 emissions in The UK dipped slightly by the end of the 30 year period.
3. The population figures for India rose by 12% over the two decades.
4. The figure for unemployment dropped to 5% in 2015.


Using the word ‘Period’

This is a good way to paraphrase a date range especially in the overview where it is best to avoid numbers or details , so rather than writing for instance, ‘from 2000 to 2010’ you can write:

  • ‘in a ten year period’ 
  • ‘throughout the ten year period’
  • ‘throughout the whole period.’

In a graph with a time period, If I want to talk about the first year I can write ‘at the start of the period’ and for the last year I can write ‘at the end of the period’


Practice

Here are 2 charts from BBC news stories about migration from the UK and people arriving and leaving before and after Brexit. (Note that this is for practice purposes only and not official Cambridge IELTS material.  Source: BBC and ONS)

To see the News story click here for the link to the BBC, this is worth reading as there is some useful IELTS academic task 1 vocabulary that you could make notes on.

Try the exercise below and then check your answers. Note that the grammar will need to be in the past tense here.

 

bbc ielts graph

Use these words:

The proportion of  / The figure for  / outnumbered  / the whole 10 year period 

amounted to  / The number of / numbered

 

1. EU migrants ___________  around 90,000 in December 2012 and rose steadily until June 2016.
2. _______________ EU migrants rose steadily from December 2012 to June 2016.
3. _______________ non EU migrants _____________ slightly over 200,000 by September 2017.
4. Non EU migrants ___________ EU migrants throughout the ____________________
5. __________________ non EU migrants in December 2007 amounted to 200,000.

 

1. EU migrants numbered around 90,000 in December 2012 and rose steadily until June 2016.
2. The number of EU migrants rose steadily from December 2012 to June 2016.
3. The figure for non EU migrants amounted to slightly over 200,000 by September 2017.
4. Non EU migrants outnumbered EU migrants throughout the whole 10 year period.
5. The proportion of non EU migrants in December 2007 amounted to 200,000.

 


 

Use these words:

numbered  / The figures for  / outnumbered  / the figures  

 The number of / The proportion of / amounted to

 

1. ______________ EU citizens who arrived in the UK 12 months after Brexit  ___________ approximately 240,000.
2.  ______________ Non EU citizens that arrived in the UK a year prior to Brexit,  ______________those for the period 12 months after Brexit.
3. EU citizens who left the UK in the 12 months following the vote  _____________ 123,000.
4.  _______________  people leaving the UK before and after Brexit were almost equal.
5. Overall, more people arrived in the UK prior to Brexit compared to the year after the vote, according to  ___________

 

1. The proportion of EU citizens who arrived in the UK 12 months after Brexit amounted to approximately 240,000.
2. The number of Non EU citizens that arrived in the UK a year prior to Brexit, outnumbered those for the period 12 months after Brexit.
3. EU citizens who left the UK in the 12 months following the vote numbered 123,000.
4. The figures for people leaving the UK before and after Brexit were almost equal.
5. Overall, more people arrived in the UK prior to Brexit compared to the year after the vote, according to the figures.


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