How to write a line graph for IELTS writing task 1

Learn how to describe a line graph for IELTS writing task 1. IELTS Line graphs are common in writing task 1 along with bar charts, tables, maps, diagrams and pie charts. This lesson was last up-dated in 2018.

The guidelines below will help you structure your line graph answer and focus on the right aspects for a high score.

Steps: How to write IELTS Line Graphs

  1. Have a clear introduction.
    1. try to include all information from the two axis and the names of categories.
  2. Put all main trends in an overview statement – this should be contained in one paragraph.
    1. do not divide your key points into different paragraphs. Make sure you include the main increases and decreases shown.
  3. Use a range of vocabulary and do not make spelling mistakes.
    1. Use different verbs and nouns
    2. Use a range of adjectives and adverbs
    3. Vary your time phrases
    4. Click here to get a word list: LINE GRAPH VOCABULARY
  4. Don’t always give from … to … for the amounts, sometimes you can give the difference “it increased by double..”.
  5. Put numbers or percentages to support your sentences in the body paragraph. Failure to do that will result in a low score.
  6. Organise your body paragraphs logically so it is easy for the examiner to read.
    1. Leave an empty line between paragraphs to make them easier to see. This is not a rule, it is a strong recommendation.
  7. If the line graph contains many lines and a lot of movement, be selective. You are being marked on your ability to select key features.
  8. Don’t spend more than 20 mins on task 1. You will need a full 40 mins for task 2.
  9. Write 150 words or more. Aim for about 160-190 words. Don’t write under the word count.
  10. Follow well-written model answers.
    1. Click here: IELTS Writing Task 1 Model Answers

Line Graph Sample

It is not common to be given only one line in IELTS writing task 1. However, this answer will provide you will an example of vocabulary, layout and general content.

  • Source: IELTS Liz

Line Graph Model Answer

The graph illustrates how many people from the age of 65 and above were reported to have contracted influenza in a particular village in the UK from 1985 to 1995.

Overall, the number of cases of elderly people with influenza increased over the period given. The highest number of people with the illness can be seen in 1991.

In 1985, the number of cases of influenza stood at 40 and then rose steadily over the next three years to reach 55 in 1987. In the following year, 1988, the figure dipped slightly to below 50 after which it rose significantly to reach a high of 75 in 1991.

From 1991, there was a decrease to about 60 in 1993 of the number of reported cases of influenza. From this point, except for a slight increase of about 5 cases, the number remained at about 60 at the end of the period.

151 words

Focus Points:

Take time to read through the model and pay attention to:

  1. the content of each paragraph
  2. the use of verbs, nouns, adverbs and adjectives
  3. the logical order of information in the body paragraphs

Please note: this is a practice exercise lesson. It is rare for IELTS to give a one-line graph. So, use this to practice language and technique.


All the best



  1. Hello Liz,
    Thank you very much for the content that you produce. I’m using it as a main source for my IELTS preparation.
    I’m struggling a lot with identifying key features of a graph. Not sure why, but I usually end up writing too much information in an overview. Do you have any suggestions or tips on how to properly identify the key features for the overview?
    Thank you in advance.

    • Give a bird’s eye view – what goes up or down over the period. Then mention which might be higher or lower. Those are two key features that are in most line graphs. Another option is to add an unusual key feature – ie when lines show opposite trends (but this isn’t common). So, the two common key features I mentioned will be two sentences – one each. Your task is to simplify what you see – not complicate it.

  2. thank you liz.Your lessons are too helpful.

  3. Hi ,
    Can you please let me know that is it ok to use brackets in your writing tasks ?

  4. Hi liz,
    Somebody told me that, for graphs ‘Overall Statement’ should put at last, rather than within introduction or second paragraph. To what extent it is right??

    • There are no rules about this. The examiner will mark you based on logical organisation. Your overview statement can come before or after the smaller detail. This means it comes before or after the body paragraphs.

      • Mam, as you said before, I would prefer “overall” just after the Introduction paragraph.
        thank you so much for your worthful lessons! All of the classes are excellent and it means a lot…

  5. Hello liz
    I couldnot find your answers for all the writing task 1 ,i had found it once,but now i could’nt find it again rather those in the home page..please help me this..that is really usefull for me.

    • Go to the red bar at the top of each page and click on the words: Writing Task 1. All main pages are accessed through the red bar.

    • Dipti Patel says

      Dear Liz,

      Thank you so much for your valuable guidance. I request you to provide one more example on line graphs which has 3-5 lines so that it would be better to learn and write in the exam.
      I also want to inform you that I am planning to appear for my IELTS in the month of October and your website is the only source for me to study. So I request you to help me in this and i hope that it would be better for others also. Looking forward to get positive response from your side.
      Thanks again in the advance.

      • IT’s certainly something I will put on my list of things to do, but I’ll actually be taking a break in September and possibly October too. Only a few reading or listening lessons will be posted during that time as well as updated topics.

  6. and plateau word good for line graph

  7. Abdul Rehman says

    Hello Liz mam,
    I’ve a question. Can we use both verb+adverb and adjective+noun in a line graph or we have to choose only one pair for whole graph.
    Thanks in advance..

  8. Dear Liz,
    It is possible in Writing task 1 just have 1 body paragraph ?

    • If you want a good band score, then you need to demonstrate the skill of organising paragraphs. See the band score requirements.

  9. Bin Clinton says

    Excuse me, Why ‘the origin number’? I think that should be ‘the original number’

  10. Hi Liz,
    Question about the intro, how come it is “over 10 years” when it is from 1983-1992?

    • The word “over” does not mean “more than” in this context. It refers to over the period. There are 10 years given.

      • Thanks!

        • Hi Liz,
          Just a follow up question. So the counting of years should start at the first given year, which is 1983? However, 1983 + 10 = 1993. In the line graph it is 1992.
          There was another essay says 26 years (1981-2007) which is correct when being added (1981 + 26 = 2007).
          Just really curious. Do you have any explanations about this? And one last question, should the overview be in a separate paragraph or part of the intro?
          Thanks a lot!

  11. Hi Liz,
    thank you so much for you free lessons, thank you for teaching me that overview contains the key features or the highest or the lowest point ..but i am still struggling to understand the real content of overview,
    I would like to ask about your overview above, you wrote” Overall, the number of cases of disease X remained below 200 over the period given except for a considerable surge between 1989 and 1991 when the figures doubled.”
    -In 1991, the number of cases is actually 350 which is not double of 200, so, is it still fine or accurate to say that” the figure doubled”? or should we say ”…the figure almost doubled?because it is doubled in 1989 (400 cases) but not in 1991 (350 cases).
    or does the accuracy of information we give in overview is not 100% required?

    My last question is about Grammar, would you please explain a bit more when we put ”s” in ”figures”?
    One student wrote ”’The figures rose steadily in the next four years, to reach its first peak in 1987” and you asked to take off ”s” in figure. when we should not put ”s” like”figure”?thank you.

    • The overview contains a description, so if we write “it doubled” as a description it is fine. But you can certainly make it clearer by writing “it more or less doubled”. As long as you don’t write “it doubled exactly”. But you need to understand that we are not referring to details. In the first years the numbers were 200 and under, then they reached 400. The description is “doubled”. If you get lost in details, then it isn’t an overview.

      Usually, we write about “the figure” rather than using the plural.
      All the best

  12. Dear Liz,

    I am from Mongolia. I am doing independent study on the preparation of IELTS examination. Thank you for helping the students like me around the world. I would like to kindly ask you to check my writing below in order to let me know my writing skill in task 1.

    The line graph illustrates the amount of goods transported in four different ways (road, water, rail and pipeline) in Uk between 1974 and 2002. The units are measured in million tonnes.

    Overall, over the period, the highest amount of goods was transported by road while the least amount of goods was transported by pipeline. Interestingly, all the amounts of goods were increased over the 28 years except the amount of rail transportation which almost reached back to it’s original number.

    In terms of the road, the amount of goods was transported, it began about 70 million tonnes which rose steadily over the following 18 years to reach over 80 million tonnes in 1992. In the following 4 years, there was a gradual decline after which it grew up to nearly 100 million tones. Likewise, about 39 million tonnes of goods was transported through water in the first year and then the figure fluctuated slightly and rose to about 65 million tones. Similarly, in 1974, the figure of the pipeline transportation stood at about 5 million tonnes and there was a steep fluctuation until it leveled out from 1995 to 2002.

    On the other hand, the amount of goods was transported by train was 40 million tonnes in 1974 which was followed by slight changes and reached at just above it’s beginning figure of 40 million tonnes.

  13. how to write bar graph

  14. Ronak Maniya says

    How can apply this sentence structure. Subject+ verb + proposition + indirect object + direct object. In graph and essay

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