Line Graph Lesson: Energy Consumption by Fuel Source

Writing about a line graph with a future prediction.

Here is a line graph from the Cambridge IELTS 9 book about US energy consumption by fuel type. As you can see, there is a date range from the past with predictions for the future. Always take around 2 minutes to analyse the task before writing anything. Give yourself 4 minutes in total to plan out what you will write.

Note that this graph is courtesy of the Cambridge IELTS 9 practice book. Only use authentic Cambridge IELTS material when practicing. You can get these books online such as You can also download free practice tests from or the British Council website.


IELTS graph model answer
Source: Cambridge IELTS 9

Static and Dynamic data

  • Static data means that the chart or graph displays one period of time.
  • Dynamic data shows two or more periods of time and how trends change over a period of time.

Different language will be used for static charts and dynamic charts. Before you begin writing, always make sure that you first analyse the chart or graph to see if it is one time period or if the data is changing over time. Take 2 minutes to analyse the graph or chart because If you use trends language for a static chart then you will lose marks for grammar.

Analysing the task

Rubric: On the vertical axis it shows energy consumption in units of a quadrillion. On the horizontal axis, it shows the date range from 1980 to 2030 (history and projections)

Paragraphing: I need a short paraphrased introduction, an overview and 2 main body paragraphs. No conclusion is needed. Word count would be over 170 words for a fully developed answer (150 words minimum)

Trends: The graph shows dynamic data. This means that there are changes over time. It is evident that fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil) show the highest consumption with predicted increases, while cleaner energy (wind, hydro, solar, nuclear) have the lowest consumption and will remain relatively low.

Grouping the data: Straight away I can see that the best way to group the data would be in these two categories (fossil fuels and cleaner fuels) by grouping the data you will gain marks for coherence and cohesion.

Grammar: I will need to use the past tense / present perfect and language for future predictions.

Grammar for future trends:

To see a full lesson on grammar needed for future trends in IELTS academic writing task 1 click here

Click here for more detail on grammar and vocabulary for describing trends in task 1.

Future simple (Will + base verb)

  • will rise,  will decline,  will remain the same, will drop , will level off …etc

Future perfect (Will + have + past participle)

  • will have risen,  will have dropped,  will have fallen by 20%, will have risen sharply, will have declined

The passive to express the future

  • is /are expected to
  • is/are set to
  • is / are predicted to
  • is / are anticipated to
  • is /are likely to

Model Answer

Click the blue button below to see the full model answer with notes.

The graph illustrates data from a 2008 report regarding energy consumption in the USA since 1980 with predictions until 2030.

Overall, fossil fuels have shown increases in consumption since the start of the period with expectations for even more reliance on these fuel sources. Cleaner energy sources have accounted for considerably less consumption with predictions for a similar trend.

Fossil fuels saw steady increases in energy consumption since 1980. Petrol and oil started the period at 35 quadrillion units, fluctuated until 2000, and then climbed steadily with a prediction of over 45 quadrillion units by 2030. Coal followed a similar trend with expectations of around 30 quadrillion units by 2030. Natural gas usage demonstrated fluctuations and it is set to level off at approximately 24 quadrillion units from 2020 onwards.

Regarding cleaner energy fuel sources, they all began the period at under 5 quadrillion units and showed declines in their use, with the exception of nuclear, which climbed slightly to 6 quadrillion units in 2005 and is anticipated to reach about 10 quadrillion units. Solar and wind also expect to see slight increases. Hydropower is projected to remain relatively unchanged until 2030.

190 words


Remember that you should not report on every single bit of data. You need to be selective and cover the main trends. A word count of around 170 to 190 words would be enough for a well-developed answer. You do not get a higher band score for a very long answer. Keep it concise and clear.

I also advise practicing your writing by using the official IELTS answer sheet which you can download if you click here.


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