IELTS academic writing task 1: Table on consumer expenditure

Model answer and analysis of a table in IELTS writing task 1.

Tables sometimes show up in IELTS academic writing task 1. In some cases, they are in a double task such as a pie chart and table or a bar graph and table. In this lesson, we have a table on its own with a lot of data. This is taken from Cambridge IELTS 7, page 30, it is a popular example of a table for IELTS teachers.

Before writing anything you will need to analyse the task. Take around 4 minutes to plan, look at the categories, the countries, the year and the highest and lowest statistics. The grammar tense is important to get right too, you can see below that the table shows data from 2002, so I will write in the past tense.

Example Task


ielts table writing task 1

Source: Cambridge IELTS 7, page 30


Planning Stage

As mentioned earlier, you need around 4 to 5 minutes to plan your answer. There are 5 countries in the table. There are 3 categories to report on and it is in the past, 2002. The tense will be past simple, but most importantly, I do not need to report on every bit of data in this table.

The task question says: ‘Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant’. This means that you do not have to report on everything. You have to be selective or you will lose points in the exam.

Lets take a look at the highest and lowest data:

ielts table task 1

I have picked out the highest and lowest statistics here. I will only write about those in this report, the data must be grouped into 2 main body paragraphs. The overview will pick out the key features without mentioning percentages or numbers. The introduction just paraphrases the task question.

I don’t need to cover too much as the report should be under 200 words but over 150 words. No conclusion is needed.

Model answer

The table below gives information on consumer spending on different items in five different countries in 2002. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

ielts task 1 tableSource: Cambridge IELTS 7


The table illustrates the percentages of consumer spending in five nations, comprising of three categories of products and services in 2002.

Overall, the largest proportion of consumer expenditure for each country was for food, drinks and tobacco. Conversely, the leisure and education section shows the lowest percentages of spending among the five countries.

With regard to the highest expenditures, consumer spending on food, drinks and tobacco was the highest in Turkey at 32.14%, followed by Ireland at nearly 29%. Likewise, Turkey shows the highest expenditure in the leisure and education category at 4.35%. For the clothing and footwear section, the largest proportion of spending was for Italy at 9%.

In terms of the lowest expenditures, the table shows that Sweden had the lowest figures for national consumer spending for food, drinks and tobacco and clothing and footwear, at 15.77% and 5.40% respectively. Spain had the lowest amount of spending on leisure and education at almost 2%, followed closely by Ireland with a figure of 2.21%.

164 words


  • The word count in my model answer is 164 words. Aim for more than 150 words. Over 200 words is just overkill.
  • In main body one, I chose the highest percentages and kept it concise. 
In main body 2, I chose the lowest percentages and kept it concise and clear. This is grouping the data which is important for good coherence and cohesion.
  • Always start your overview with ‘Overall’ and do not write statistics or numbers, use language to highlight the key features.
  • Yes there is some repetition with the word ‘highest’  and ‘spending /expenditure’ this cannot be avoided, you can repeat words as long as it is done within reason.
  • In some cases, you can use approximation, such as: almost 2% or nearly 29%, or even better is if you can use fractions to paraphrase statistics, as this will help your Vocabulary band score. Click here for a lesson on approximation and fractions vocabulary.

Any questions? Leave a comment below…..

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