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August 05, 2010


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the line graph compares the average rate of people aged 65 or older in three countries over a period of one century


Hi Saif,

I'm afraid you can't say "rate of people".

Don't try to find too many alternatives. "Percentage" or "proportion" is enough.

thx for the advice

Hi Simon,
I have one question Can I write like 'The sales of dinner at a restaurant decreased or the sales for dinner at a restaurant'?

And Can I write like 'The sales at this restaurant for/of fell to $3445 before went (to or at) peak level, about $4350'. Do I need to use to or at here, which is written in bracket?

Thanking you

No problem Saif.


Hi Jay,

I'd write 'the sale of dinners' or 'the number of dinners sold'.

I wouldn't write 'before went to/at'. I'd write 'before reaching a peak of' or 'before rising to a peak of...'

Hope this helps

Hi, Simon,could you show us some examples of task1 which covers two or more pie charts

Hi Adverb,

Remember that there is nothing really different or special about pie charts - they just show percentages/proportions. If you know how to describe percentages, it´s easy to describe a pie chart.

I´ll try to find a good example soon.


Ok.Looking forward to it.
Thank you so much.

Hi Simon,
Regarding the introduction, do you think 'depict' is a good substitute for 'show' and 'illustrate' in a process diagram question?

The graph illustrates the percentage for tow groups age 65 years and over during a century .

The graph illustrates the percentage for tow groups age 65 years and over in three countries during a century .

Hi Jack,

"Depict" is ok, but I wouldn't use it personally. We tend to use this word when talking about paintings or drawings (i.e. by artists).


Hi Emy,

I probably wouldn't write "during a century". You could write "during the 20th century" or "over the course of a century", but I'd prefer to use "over a period of 100 years".

Thanks Simon.

No problem Jack

Hi, Simon.
I have 2 questions.
Can I use 'proportion' and ' percentage' as well as 'account for' for all kinds of graph??? I think they are used in pie chart only. Its so confusing.
And if the graph had many pieces of imformation, could i just choose some of them to describe?

Hi Quynh

It is true that pie charts ALWAYS show percentages. However, graphs, bar charts and tables can also show percentages, so it is NOT TRUE that you can only use 'proportion', 'percentage' and 'account for' for pie charts.

Look carefully at my task 1 lessons - I always choose SOME of the information. It's impossible to mention everything in just 20 minutes.

Hope this helps


thank you very much!!! it really helps.

No problem Quynh Anh

Hi Simon
is it okey if I write that in the period from 1940 to 2040 or in the period of a century ?
thanks :D

Hi Yuki,

"In the period from 1940 to 2040" is fine, but don't write "in the period of a century".

You could write "over a period of 100 years" or "over a century".

hi simon!!!
can you give me some idea how can describe a bargraph.what kind of info are important???as i knoe that we cant just straight write the number ..

Hi Mandy,

My advice is to look for the highest and lowest numbers, or the most noticeable changes. Have a look through my task 1 lessons on this site for more advice and examples.

hi simon

i have written a introduction for the graph , have a look on it and suggest me.

with reference to the graph which displays the proportion of the population aged 65 and over between 1940 and 2040 in three different coutries.

Hi bik,

"with reference to the graph which displays" is not a good way to start because it changes the grammar of the sentence (making it wrong). Just keep it simple: "The line graph shows/illustrates..."

hi simon

thank you for suggesting me.and after this sentence,what should i write? "It is clear that or it can be seen clearly"

Hi Bik,

I´d just write "It is clear that..."



Hi Mahmood,

If the 2 graphs/charts are different, you don't need to compare them.

Look at this lesson:


Simon can I write "The line graph illustrates the figure for the population aged 65 and more in Japan, USA and Sweden over the period of 100 years" ? I used the figure for is that ok even if the graph shows percentage??? Thanks

Hi Saichee,

Yes, "figure" is fine for percentages. I'd probably write the plural "figures for" in your sentence.

Dear Simon,

May I write a indroduction like

"The graph reveals the proportion of the elderly in three different countries between 1940 and 2040." ?

Thank you

Hi Aleaf,

I wouldn't use "reveals", but the rest is fine.

Hi Simon,

Can we use "show" and "illustrate" interchangeablely with graphs, charts, tables, map etc. ?

I read on Paul's website that when we should not use "the" before "sale", but I seem to find a different answer here.


Also Paul suggested that we shouldn't use "compare" in introducing a chart, or graph. I now feel a little confused about this.

Thank you.


Hi Summer,

Yes, it's fine to use "show" and "illustrate" interchangeably.

You can use "the" before any noun to make it specific e.g. the sale of my house...

I often use "compare" - I think it's a good word to use. Look at the link below to see examples on the web:


Hi Simon,

Thanks for your explanations and examples.

Hello Simon,

I have a lot of sources to prepare myself for IElTS but I prefer mostly your blog. Moreover I am trying to follow all your tips how to pass successfully the Writing Part. However I have english course for ielts, where my teacher frequently tells me that my introduction is not good because I don't include all the information and that I have to describe it as I am speaking to a "blind man" . But on the other hand I'm strictly following your advice so for example if i say "over a period of 50 years" my teacher corrects me that it's not specified from which exact period I am talking about. Another thing is that i haven't mentioned how the data is measured for example millions of tones , per grams per week etc. In other words this is in contradiction with your advice to keep the intro simple and try to paraphrase the summary.
Should it be that strict the introduction or I should continue following your advise for simplicity and paraphrasing as I find it more natural and I am training this long enough? I'd really appreciate if you respond me .

Hi Ivo,

It's true that if you write "over a period of 50 years" you must say what those years are at some point in the essay e.g. in the second paragraph. However, it's not necessary to write exactly how the data is measured.

My advice is that the introduction doesn't get you a high score - the summary and details paragraphs are more important, so it's fine to follow my technique of paraphrasing the question to write your introduction.

thank you a lot Simon for your fast response, you seem a really great person :).

No problem Ivo.

are two paragraph well organized? only this much

By far the greatest proportion of elderly people was found in the USA, at about 10% in 1940. The figures for Sweden and Japan were much lower at about 7% and 5% accordingly. Although the percentages of older people in the USA and Sweden rose to around 15% and 14% respectively, the figure for Japan dropped to about 3% in 1960, following a period of stability until about 1990, before it rose to about 5% by the present time.

Even though there will be some fluctuation in the percentages of elderly people, Japan is predicted to have more demographic composition of older people by the year 2040, rising to about 27%,compared 25% of Sweden and 24% of the USA.

They look fine to me Simran.

Dear Simon,
this way we can write summary paragraph for this graph:
It is clear that the percentage of elderly people in all three countries is expected to increase considerably by 2040. Also, Japan experiences the most change over a period of 100 years.

That looks fine Elaheh.

Dear Simon,
Thanks a lot for your attention,

Please tell me that what should be the word limit for the introduction of task 1 ??

There isn't a word limit for the introduction. Just write one good sentence.

hi Simon

you're simply amazing. thank you a lot for all your efforts (sorry it's off-topic)

Hi simon can you check mistakes in this report for me! Thanks a lot!

The graph illustrates the percentage of population aged 65 and over from 1940 to 2040 in 3 nations.
It is expected to happen an interchange among those countries. From the starting point the proportion of people aged 65 or more in Japan was much less than that of Sweden and USA( 5%) However at the end of 2040 it's expected to reach the top, with approximately 28%. While at the same time US showed a good start (9%) but in the end it's predicted to stand in the bottom (22%).
The figure for the old people Sweden rose from 7% in 1940 to 15% in 2000 and it is predicted to reach 25% in the year 2040.
To sum, the trend in 3 countries reflect there has been an improvement in the living standard of 3 countries, this is most evident in the case of Japanese people. It also indicates that the old will account for the highest percentage of population in the near future.

Is it ok to say elderly population in place of people aged more than65

Hi Simon,
This is mine.

"The graph provides information about the percentage of senior citizens in three nations over 100 years from 1940 to 2040."

Please correct if i am wrong!
Many thanks!!!

Best regards,

Hi Simon,

This is mine. Can you check it please...thanks

The graph shows what proportion of the population in three countries aged 65 or more from 1941 to 2040.

Hi Simon,

This is my example: please tell me if this is correct.. Thnx

The graphs shows the total percentage of aged 65 and more in three different countries from 1940 to 2040. Or should i change total percentage to just rate?

Thank you..


Hi Simon,

Please check my task 1 for this graph:

The graph illustrated the percentage of population aged 65 and more in Japan, Sweden and the USA over a period of 100 years.

Overall, the figures underwent an upward trend. Having the lowest proportion of population at only 5%, Japan's data experienced a drop from 1940 to 1960, and leveled off at about 3% in 1980. It then increased gradually to 7% in 2011. The proportion of population aged 65 and over in this country is predicted to shoot up dramatically from 10% to 25%, reaching its peak in 2040 and becoming the highest of all.

In the meantime,the figures of Sweden and the USA shared a similar fluctuation between 1940 and 1990. Whilst the percentage of population in Sweden see a steep rise in the present time and is expected to drop slightly in 2020, the proportion in the USA remains stable at 14% and may rise up to 22% in the latter year. Lastly, the figures may climb up to 23% and 26% in the USA and Sweden respectively.

Thank you.
I am not very sure about describing graphs that indicate past, present and future. In addition I do not know how to write maps. Can you help me?

hi Simon you advise that two alternatives like( proportion and percentage ) are enough but I am confused whether to use them in the main body for several times or just look for any 'difficult' alternatives. what would you advise

hi simon,

i couldn't generate ideas at the time of speaking.could you help me?

Is this acceptable introduction ( for Test 2 Writing Task 1- Cambridge Ielts 5 )

We are given tow types of bar chart which compares the study reason of different students generation and received support from employers bye a percentages of statistics in a period of approximately 25 years

thank you

Hi Simon,
How about this one?

The line graph illustrates the trends in percentages of population of aged 65 and above in three countries from 1940 to 2040.

Hi Simon!
I'm a dentistry student and I need 4 score on IELTS Writing Test for my postgraduate education.

What is your advice for me?
What should i do to reach this point? Writing test is really hard work for me.


Hi, Simon,

Thanks a million for your excellent and practical teaching.

May I use this structure as follows, for the introduction for this IELTS Task 1 question?
The graph below shows the proportion of the population aged 65 and over between 1940 and 2040 in three different countries.

As shown in the figures, the statistics and estimates for the percentage of elder residents whose ege is 65 or more in three nations from 1940 to 2040 are explicitly and concisely domonstrated.

Your 's idea is really Super Se Uppar i mean very grate.
Thank you very much.

The chart illustrates the percentage of people older than 65 years from mid-20 century until mid-21 in different countries.

Please my issue is found in task 2 writing.i want to know exactly Were the writer point of view should be found.in the introduction or in the conclusion and how.i'm looking forward to hear from you..

Hi Simon

Can we use OR instead of AND?

I can see you paraphrased "65 and over" to "65 or more" which doesn't mean same thing semantically.

Please explain!!

Good day!

I paraphrased it this way:
The graph illustrates the distribution of the population among older adults in three different countries between the year 1940 and 2040.

is it possible to use "distribution" even there is no other age group? or should I just use percentage?

can I use the word TO?
between the year 1940 TO 2040.

or just use AND?
between the year 1940 AND 2040.

Hi Simon,

I really find this post useful. Could you please guide us on how to write overview in Ielts Writing task 1? I do not see this much on the internet.
FYI, I am going to take the Ielts test in early December and my goal is 8.0, but my current level is around 6.5. Do you think this is feasible? :)

Thank you so much! Can't wait to see your answer.

The chart indicates the percentage of elderly people start from 65 age between 100 years starting from 1940 in 3 separate nations.

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