IELTS Bar Chart: Tips for a High Score

Learn how to describe an IELTS bar chart by following the tips and techniques in this video lessons. This lesson is 100% vital for all IELTS candidates doing writing task 2 academic paper in 2018.

You must learn:

  • how to write an introduction
  • how to identify key features
  • how to write an overview
  • if there is a conclusion or overview
  • how to organise the body paragraphs
  • how to write complex sentences
  • tips to avoid getting a low score
  • how to get a high score
  • bar chart model band 9

IELTS Bar Chart Tips Video Tutorial

This video lesson shows you how to tackle an IELTS bar chart for writing task 1 (academic paper).

IELTS Bar Chart Essential Tips

Below are useful tips for an IELTS bar chart.

1. Introduction Paragraph

Keep your introduction paragraph simple. Just paraphrase the information given by IELTS. It is usually just one sentence. It is possible to also comment on the units of measurement in the chart “Units are measured in …”.

2. The overview

Look at your bar chart and choose the key features. These might be highs, lows, main differences etc. Collect them together and present them in an overview. To learn more about the overview / conclusion debate, please see my IELTS Overview Video Lesson. You must remember that the examiner is looking for the overview and it is an essential part of your Task Achievement mark. That criterion is 25% of your marks.

3. Body Paragraphs

Make sure you have more than one body paragraph. The usual is two body paragraph. Decide how you will divide the information in the bar chart into difference body paragraphs. You must organise your paragraphs into a logical order.

4. Support Sentences with Data

Your body paragraphs must have numbers to support them. If you fail to have numbers with your sentences in the body paragraphs, you might get only band 5 in Task Achievement. To learn useful vocabulary for using data accurately, see my lesson: IELTS Vocabulary: Accurate Data.

5. Complex Sentences

You must write your task 1 using a range of complex sentences. You must learn these sentence structures. The best way is from model answers: IELTS Writing Task 1 Model Answers.

6. Linking devices

You should use a range of linking devices. For example, while / whereas / as opposed to / compared to / in comparison with. All these will help you get a higher score in Coherence and Cohesion which is 25% of your marks. Make sure you use them correctly.

7. Assessment Criteria

Learn more about what the examiner wants to see in your writing. You must understand the requirements for the band score you are aiming for. See this page to learn about IELTS Writing Task 1 Band Scores 5 to 8 Explained.


Main IELTS Pages

Develop your IELTS skills with tips, model answers, lessons, free videos and more.


  1. Hi Liz,
    The phrase as opposed to isn’t synonym with by contrast? How is it making sense in this sentence of overview?
    Thank you

  2. Hey Tr.Lizz, Thanks for amazing session on writing task one. I just wanted to know if that’s okay to put numerical value like 5 consumer goods in your introduction paragraph. Except the dates and percentages being described in the test, whether it is okay to write number on certain sentences even though it’s not being written in the question.

  3. Hello Liz!
    How do I insert symbols which are not on the keyboard if I take computer test? Should I keep writing “pounds” instead?
    Thank you!

    • In nearly all question in IELTS, the currency will be given in the question which means you do not write it in the answer. However, if this isn’t the case, you can write the word.

  4. Payal Sharma says

    Hi Liz
    I just wanted to ask that percentage (%) are allowed to write in task 1 or should we write in alphabets only (I. E percentage).
    Thanks in advance

  5. Liz,
    Can i write the overview after the Body paragraphs like a conclusion.
    Which would get me more marks?

    • Yes, it can be written at the end of the report. No, it doesn’t get you a higher score – it makes no difference to your score if you put it after the introduction or at the end.

  6. Chioma Omotayo says

    Hi liz please i would want to know if this is for Academic or general writing.

    • Please go the RED MENU BAR and select “Test Information”, then choose GT IELTS – you can read for yourself about GT writing.

  7. Hi
    Is it right to use “on the other hand” for task 1


  8. Michael Samir says

    Words are not enough to say Thank you, my dearest teacher 🙂

    For the introduction in task 1:

    if the y-axis is in the form of (percentages %) and I need to add a second sentence like ‘Units are measured in the form of percentages’

    I believe that it isn’t correct, if not what could I write instead?

    Thanks in advance

    • If your introduction begins “the chart illustrations the proportion…”, the word “proportion” means percentage. So, you would not introduce that twice.

  9. Michelle Marzan says

    Hi Liz,

    I tried doing one of the practice tests you posted for writing task 1. However, there was no available model answer. I just wondered if you could check this report I made with regard to one of the bar graphs, which pertained to the digital games’ revenues over a span of 6 years (2000 to 2006).

    Here it is:

    “The graph illustrates the global revenue of various digital games over a span of 6 years from 2000 to 2006. Units used are in billion dollars.

    Overall, the most popular digital game over the period given were the handheld games, with its constant increase in sales. There was also an observed increase in the revenue trends of both online and mobile phone games whereas a gradual decrease in the sales of console games.

    In the year 2000, the handheld games had almost $12 billion of sales and continuously increased to around $18 billion. In comparison, online games were not yet around until 2001. However, its revenue constantly increased from around $1 billion in 2001 up to $8-10 billion in 2006. Similarly, the mobile phone games just started selling in 2002 with almost the same revenue as online games (around $2 billion) until it reached over $6 billion of sales in 2006.

    Consequently, with the rise of technology, the sales from consoles games declined from around $6 billion in 2000 to just $4 billion.”

    I was just hoping to get your feedback on this one as this part of the test, including speaking, is what I am most anxious about.

    Although I know that the writing task 2 has a greater impact on my writing band score, do you think this kind of writing in task 1 will warrant me a band score of greater than 6? *fingers crossed*

    Apologies for the lengthy comment.

    Hope to hear from you. Thanks! 🙂

  10. Hi Liz
    thanks at all , your method is very simple and really nice, I would like to ask if it is possible to write instead of the brackets a word like (such as ..) I mean .. 5 consumer goods such as cars, computers, ….

  11. You are very good teacher. I see your video and i can improve my writing task 1. So clear and help. May God Bless you sister liz.

    From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

  12. Hi , Liz
    My name is Tatiana. I’m so grateful with your videos and lessons . I love your approach to us. I can understand you clearly. Just I would like to ask something in your tutorial video about bar chart , you talked about units, just I would like to know if my information from Ielst is on past tense, I would need to put ” units were measured in ….” Thank you so much. You are so nice …

    • That information is always in the present tense because it refers to the chart sitting before you on the paper at the present time.

  13. mohammad javad sharghi says

    Hello my teacher,
    I just want to appreciate your caring.
    with best regards
    a student from Iran

  14. Hello mam,
    In academic writing task you mentation that we put information in bracket. So, i won to know examinar counts that words?

  15. Khalid Adam says

    Is the examiner going to score handwriting??
    I have a VERY BAD handwriting

    • If the examiner can’t read it, you will get a low score. If the examiner can read it, it’s fine.

  16. Kristel Gatchalian says

    Liz, you’re so nice to share this information to everyone! You will be blessed 🙂

  17. Hello liz!
    what should we write after an overview? we summarize all the key features in overview.
    then what we suppose to write in body paragraphs A and B?

  18. zeeshan afridi says

    maam your style of teaching is very good and helpfull…i have my ielts test next months. i m sure that i will learn alot from your online classes.

  19. Hey Liz, I have a question of bar chart below,

    54% of the older age group find learning to speak the local language the most problematic. In comparison, the youngest age group finds this easier, and the percentage who have problems learning the language is much lower, at 29%.

    Above content is from a book of Cambridge English. The bar chart has 3 groups (people aged 18-34, 35-54, and over 55), and 3 abilities (learn language is one of three).

    This paragraph only included two groups (oldest 54%, youngest 29%), but did not mention the other group (middle age 35%) at all.

    My question is:
    Do we need to write all data of the 3 groups? If we don’t write all, will we lose marks?

    • You are marked on selecting data. This means if there is a lot of data, you will choose what to put in. If your task 1 has little data, you will probably include it all in order to reach 150 words (plus). Your choices are being tested in both writing task 1 and writing task 2. This means that the IELTS writing test is not only language based – it is also skills based.

  20. Plz reply what should I do if there are two things like bar graph and line graph or table and pie chart in task 1.Should I write one overall for both or separate for each?how should I explain it.?

  21. Hi Liz,
    You have emphasized that writing an overview is crucial for a writing 1 task and I have been following this writing structure when I practice. However, I joined a british council course recently and my teacher mentioned that only one sentence in the introduction highlighting the key features is needed followed by 2 body paragraphs. He didn’t recommend us to write overviews. Is it essential to write an overview? I am very confused right now.
    Thank you for your guidance! Your website is incredibly helpful!


    Good day Mam Liz!I’ve been following all your tips & exercises for the past few weeks & thank you so much for all these informations!I know God will bless you more for your super kindness! Just like to inquire if you have model answer for wrting task 1, flowchart ( step by step description)? thanks again!

    Tetet from the Philippines

  23. Thank you so much Liz, this is an amazing work, well done dear.
    Ali Helmi,
    Cairo, Egypt

  24. Abdel Fattah Al nagar says

    I really enjoyed your way of teaching and your constant smile as well . You are a miracle.
    Thank you Liz

  25. Manasseh S Pablo says

    Thank you very much Liz! I don’t think I need to enroll in a review class because what you teach is more than enough!

  26. Thank you so much Liz, you are amazing! It’s so clear to understand and easy to remember!

  27. Shahram Ali says

    Data written in brackets wil be taken in counting words

  28. Hi madam,
    Thank you. I found it very helpful. Thanks a lot

  29. Hey liz you are doing the tremendous work

  30. Hi Liz,
    Thanks a lot for what you present. that was great to be taught with a tutor like you.

  31. Hi Liz,
    Is writing task same for academic and general training test. If not, can you please share some details about general training writing task 1&2

  32. Hello Liz! Is in writing task 1 more common to get only a bar chart or a graph, or are they often associated with something else such as a table?

  33. Hi Ms. Liz,
    I’m a bit confused because am not placing conclusion for task 1 but my mentor told me that i should put one yet i’ve given an overview. I just want to clarify.
    Thank you

  34. Maria Christa says

    Dear Liz,
    what if i given a bar chart that have more than 6 categories? should i write them all?

  35. Orkun Kumral says

    Dear Liz,

    In the introduction part, could we use past tense to describe the chart? The chart datas given in the past (2010)
    For example,

    First sentecence; The chart illustrated….
    Second sentence; Units were measered…


  36. sajawalkhan says

    hello liz,
    cant we use word disbursement for expenditure?

  37. zeynep kucukkirali says

    hello,It was quite helpful but just I wonder why you wrote the overall before than main body? could you explain the reason.

    thank you Liz


  38. Camila Buitrago says

    Dear Liz, I really want to thank you, your lessons are clear and effective. You have helped me a lot 😀

  39. Hi Teacher Liz,
    With due respect I would like to share my sentiments on your efforts. Madam ,You have shown a great sense of humanity and generosity while putting your lectures on IELTS for free for the whole world. I respect your teaching way and presents many thanks to your human way of help. Your style is paramount and easy to understand. Your lectures are helping me the lot. Thank you once again Mam.

  40. hi Liz,
    thank you for useful tips.
    is it necessary to write conclusion at the end of chart??

  41. By the way, you’re so sweet 🙂 and that’s also to say that your teaching style ROCKS! I wish I can have lessons in your classroom 🙂


  42. oxzeria mushonga says

    how about if you are given 2 bar graphs

  43. Miss,
    should i write: ” Brazil saw an upward trend in the the number of car users”
    or ” The number of car users in Brazil saw an upward trend”

  44. Mis Liz,
    Shouldn’t it be
    “The expenditure on books in the UK was higher than that of in France.”
    in the third line of the first body paragraph?

  45. Hello, Liz!
    Your site is very useful! I’ve got a question: is ‘whilst’ has the same meaning as ‘while’ and is it okay to use it in IELTS writing?

  46. Hi Liz,

    Your website is very informative. Keep it up!
    Thank you for making this website very useful.


  47. Hi Liz,
    Thank you again for sharing your videos with us. They have been very helpful.
    My questions are:
    1. Can I use the word “graph” for bar and pie charts as well? or only for line.
    2. Can I use the word “chart” for line? or only for pie and bar?

  48. Hi Liz,

    I have a question.Can the overview paragraph be at the last one ?Or does it have to come second,as in your video?
    Thank you so much, I’ve found your video to be very useful.

  49. JOHNNY REY FUNA says

    Thank you so much. I learned a lot.

  50. Hi Liz,

    My name is Palak and have recently registered my id with this site. I had my result today. Unfortunately I could not get 7 bands for writing as I missed by 0.5. I am thinking to reappear for test soon after some good practice. I came across this site very recently and and I am very much thankful for all great information and tutorials that can be access through this site. I was wondering would you able to review my couple of essays if I could post them to you?

  51. Dr.Saqib Ali says

    hello liz!
    i have to ask about units. For example, if it is showing the percentages then how we can describe that? Is it right to describe as;
    “units are given in percentages”

    • You don’t need to give the units unless they are particular interesting or unusual. If it is just percentage, it is usually mentioned in the introduction anyway “the graph illustrates the percentage of…”

  52. Hi,
    Should we also write the Overview when it is a Line Graph?

    • All writing task 1 (academic) have an overview. See my model answers on the writing task 1 page.
      All the best

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