How to Answer a Line Graph Question for IELTS Writing Task 1

Line graph is a line that connects individual data points that show quantitative variations over time. This is a very common question type for IELTS Academic Writing Task 1.

 

On this page, you will find a complete discussion on IELTS Task 1 Line Graph question. The discussion will proceed under the following 7 major steps:

  1. Analyse the question

  2. Identify the major features

  3. Remember the 4 paragraph structure

  4. Paraphrase the question sentence

  5. Write an Overview paragraph

  6. Write the Body paragraph 1

  7. Write the Body paragraph 2

In fact, we are going to use this 7 Step Strategy for all the question types for Academic IELTS Writing Task 1. Remember this 7 Step Strategy. It's quite simple. Start applying this method in your writing. You will see the benefit for sure. However, if you need our help with a guaranteed 7+ band score in Writing, just click here

Let's go through the example question below, and see how we prepare the answer applying our 7 Step Strategy.

Example

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The graph below shows the production levels of main fuels in a European country from 1981 to 2000. Measured in tonnes.

Write at least 150 words.

IELTS Writing Line Graph Question

Source: Cambridge English IELTS Past Papers

1. Analysing the Question

We need to find three major areas in the question sentence: 

  • Topic Words / Keywords (General area of the question topic)

  • Micro Keywords (It helps us prepare a specific answer, rather than being general)

  • Action Words (The words that tell you what you need to do)

Topic Words: production levels of main fuels

Micro Keywords: Petroleum, Coal, and Natural Gas; (1981 - 2000)

Action Words: Compare (Action words are the words that call for action. However, these words might not always be stated directly, in that case you need to understand what the examiner is expecting from you. For example, if there are more than one diagram or data set or graphical line as in this question, you can just go for comparing the major features).

After completing the question analysis part, we need to find the major features in the diagrams.

2. Identifying the Major Features

  • Petroleum kept fluctuating, but always remained highest.

  • Coal declined gradually over the time.

  • Natural Gas experienced a sharp rise after a long stagnant period.

  • Only Natural Gas is rising at the end. The other two are falling.

  • Units are measured in tonnes.

3. Remembering the Essay Structure

We can complete the essay using only 11 sentences! Yes, it is that much simple! Take a look how we place the 11 sentences in our 4 paragraph essay.

 

1. Paraphrasing the Question Sentence

Paraphrase the question statement using just one or two sentences. 

 

2. Overview Paragraph

Sentence 1: summary statement 1(preview of the essay without presenting data)

Sentence 2: summary statement 2 (more preview without presenting data)

Sentence 3: outline sentence (State how the discussion will proceed.)

 

3. Body Paragraph 1

Sentence 1: first major point

Sentence 2: second major point

Sentence 3: extension sentence 1 (compare/combine the major points stated above)

Sentence 4: extension sentence 2 (extension of the previous sentence, or adding an exceptional feature).

4. Body Paragraph 2

Sentence 1: exceptional feature 

Sentence 2: extension of the exceptional feature

Sentence 3: final sentence (wrapping-up the whole essay, completely based on the discussion above, nothing new)

Let's develop the answer step by step applying the above-stated 4 paragraph essay structure.

4. Paraphrasing the Question Sentence

This is the first paragraph of our IELTS Task 1 essay. This paragraph is all about paraphrasing the question statement. That means you will restate the question sentence in your language without changing the meaning of the original sentence. If you want to write this paragraph perfectly, you need to have a good grip on paraphrasing techniques. We have a full article on how to paraphrase. We suggest you take a look in case you need.

 

This paragraph conveys an impression to the examiner how well you have understood the question.

Let's look at the actual question statement that we are using on this page:

"The graph below shows the production levels of main fuels in a European country from 1981 to 2000. Measured in tonnes."

We can paraphrase this statement as below:

"The diagram illustrates the production levels of Petroleum, Coal and Natural Gas for a country over the period of 20 years, from 1981 to 2000. Units are measured in tonnes."

That's it, quite simple. Our first paragraph is complete, and you have already used 25 out of 150 words. Let's move to the next part of the essay, the Overview Paragraph.

5. Overview Paragraph

Overview is the second paragraph of our IELTS Writing Task 1 essay. This is the most important paragraph as well. Because without an overview paragraph in Task 1, you cannot expect more than band 5 in IELTS Writing section. Therefore, you need to take a very special care for this paragraph. We suggest you take a tour through our detailed discussion on how to write an Overview paragraph.

An Overview simply means a summary of the main features that you are going to discuss in the body paragraphs. Don't use any data in this paragraph, just state the obvious feature that you see in the diagrams. You are writing this paragraph just to convey a general idea about your essay to the readers.

 

Overview Paragraph Structure

Remember our Overview paragraph structure:

Sentence 1: summary statement 1(preview of the essay without presenting data)

Sentence 2: summary statement 2 (more preview without presenting data)

Sentence 3: outline sentence (State how the discussion will proceed.)

Let's form the paragraph:

Sentence 1(Summary Statement 1)

"Overall, instead of obvious fluctuation of production level, petroleum remained the highest level of fuel production in the whole period."

Sentence 2(Summary Statement 2)

"However, Coal went through a steady decline over the time. Whereas, Natural Gas started rising sharp after quite a long period of stagnant level of production."

Sentence 3(Outline Sentence)

"Significant features are discussed in the following paragraphs."

Complete Overview Paragraph

"Overall, instead of obvious fluctuation of production level, Petroleum remained the highest level of fuel production in the whole period. However, Coal went through a steady decline over the time. Whereas, Natural Gas started rising sharp after quite a long period of stagnant level of production. Significant features are discussed in the following paragraphs."

Quite simple. Previously we wrote 25 words for the first paragraph (paraphrasing the question sentence). And just now we have added 50 more words to write the 2nd paragraph (Overview paragraph). That means we've completed the 1st two of our 4 paragraph IELTS Task 1 essay. Therefore, we're already halfway through. It's time to  move to the Body Paragraph 1 and Body Paragraph 2 respectively.

6. Body Paragraph 1

In the overview paragraph, we have given just a general statement of significant features, we haven't discussed any detail. Now it's time to explain them in the two body paragraphs.

Body Paragraph 1 Structure

Remember our body paragraph 1 structure:

Sentence 1: first major point

Sentence 2: second major point

Sentence 3: extension sentence 1 (compare/combine the major points stated above)

Sentence 4: extension sentence 2 (extension of the previous sentence, or adding an exceptional feature).

Let's form the paragraph following the above-stated structure:

Sentence 1(First Major Point)

"Though its production went through ups and downs, Petroleum was always the largest level of fuel production comparing the other two."

Sentence 2(Second Major Point)

"Producing 80 million tonnes a year, Coal was the second major fuel production in 1981."

Sentence 3(Extension Sentence 1)

"Though the production level of Petroleum always kept fluctuating between 100 and 120 million tonnes, Coal experienced a steady decline over the period."

Sentence 4(Extension Sentence 2)

"Eventually in 2000, it ended up with producing the lowest level among the three major fuels."

Complete Body Paragraph 1

"Though its production went through ups and downs, Petroleum was always the largest level of fuel production comparing the other two. Producing 80 million tonnes a year, Coal was the second major fuel production in 1981. Though the  production level of Petroleum always kept fluctuating between 100 and 120 million tonnes, Coal experienced a steady decline over the period. Eventually in 2000, it ended up with producing the lowest level among the three major fuels."

We have just added 60 more words to write the first body paragraph. That means we have already finished 75% of our IELTS Task 1 essay! See how simple it is! We are just describing the major features that we see in the diagrams.

We've written 25 for the first, 50 for the second and 60 words for the third paragraph. That means we have already used 135 words out of total 150 for an IELTS Task 1 essay question. Therefore, we need to write at least 15 more words in this essay, and we have one more paragraph to write. Awesome! Let's jump to the final paragraph, which is the Body Paragraph 2. Remember, we have a complete discussion on how to write an IELTS Task 1 body paragraph. Feel free to check that article anytime.

7. Body Paragraph 2

Body paragraph 2 is the final paragraph of our IELTS Task 1 essay. This is the easiest paragraph in the whole essay. Because here we're just stating other features briefly in the first sentence, adding another overall comparison statement in the second sentence, and then writing a final sentence summarizing the whole essay. Lets's apply our structure for the second body paragraph:

 

Body Paragraph 2 Structure

Sentence 1: exceptional feature 

Sentence 2: extension of the exceptional feature

Sentence 3: final sentence (wrapping-up the whole essay, completely based on the discussion above, nothing new)

Let's form the paragraph following the above-stated structure:

Sentence 1(Exceptional Feature)

"On the other hand, Natural Gas never experienced decline in this whole period, though it started 3rd in 1981 and passed a long stagnant production level."

Sentence 2(Extension of the Exceptional Feature) 

"Bisecting Coal at 50 million tonnes, Natural Gas started increasing sharp and remained the only rising fuel at the end of the period."

Sentence 3(Final Sentence)

"Finally, instead of major fluctuations, Petroleum remained at the highest level of production, Coal experienced a steady decline and only Natural Gas was rising at the end of the period."

Complete Body Paragraph 2

"On the other hand, Natural Gas never experienced decline in this whole period, though it started 3rd in 1981 and passed a long stagnant production level. Bisecting Coal at 50 million tonnes, Natural Gas started increasing sharp and remained the only rising fuel at the end of the period. Finally, instead of major fluctuations, Petroleum remained at the highest level of production, Coal experienced a steady decline and only Natural Gas was rising at the end of the period."

We've added 60 more words to the previous 135, and just finished the final part of our 4 paragraph essay. That means we have completed an IELTS Task 1 essay with 195 words, which is absolutely okay. In fact, you should write somewhere between 150 and 200 words. Now let's see how the whole essay looks like:

A Complete Response to the Line Graph Question

"The diagram illustrates the production levels of Petroleum, Coal and Natural Gas for a country over the period of 20 years, from 1981 to 2000. Units are measured in tonnes.

Overall, instead of obvious fluctuation of production level, Petroleum remained the highest level of fuel production in the whole period. However, Coal went through a steady decline over the time. Whereas, Natural Gas started rising sharp after quite a long period of stagnant level of production. Significant features are discussed in the following paragraphs.

Though its production went through ups and downs, Petroleum was always the largest level of fuel production comparing the other two. Producing 80 million tonnes a year, Coal was the second major fuel production in 1981. Though the  production level of Petroleum always kept fluctuating between 100 and 120 million tonnes, Coal experienced a steady decline over the period. Eventually in 2000, it ended up with producing the lowest level among the three major fuels.

On the other hand, Natural Gas never experienced decline in this whole period, though it started 3rd in 1981 and passed a long stagnant production level. Bisecting Coal at 50 million tonnes, Natural Gas started increasing sharp and remained the only rising fuel at the end of the period. Finally, instead of major fluctuations, Petroleum remained at the highest level of production, Coal experienced a steady decline and only Natural Gas was rising at the end of the period."

195 words

Check our step by step solutions for all the important types of task 1 questions:

Multiple Graphs        Bar Chart      

Pie Chart                  Map

Table Chart               Process Diagram 

Don't forget to check the following resources: