The number of students in 2001 was accounted 33,438 students.
This writer has learned, or noticed, that the word ‘account‘ is often used to describe numbers in IELTS Task 1 writing.
Well, that’s a step in the right direction, but he or she now needs to do some more noticing. And to speed up noticing, we need examples! Take a look at (print?) these examples. Then answer the following questions.
What word nearly always follows accounts when accounts is a verb)? (answer)
Answer: ‘Accounts’ is always followed by ‘for’.
What kind of data always follows accounts for when accounts for is describing data? (answer)
Answer: The data that follows ‘accounts for’ is a percentage.
Now that we know more about account (we have noticed more), we can see that the use of account in the opening example is inappropriate because the data being described is the wrong kind of data. We cannot use accounts for to give an objective description of a number in a graph, table or chart.
We saw in the examples that accounts for is part of the structure:
Something accounts for something.
X accounts for Y.
Look at the pie chart below. Refer again to the examples and see if you can make a sentence about Firefox using accounts for. As you write, think also about the time frame and what tense you need to use. If you like what you’ve written, please add it as a comment below this post!
Yes, I like my jobbecause it matches my education.
In IELTS you will often be required to express opinions about topics that you may not have thought about very deeply or discussed in daily conversation with friends. Not only do you have to give opinions, you also have to give reasoned support for these opinions.
The opening statement can be expressed:
Claim: I like my job.
Support: My job matches my education.
Fine. But let’s say you studied chemistry at university and you now work as a chemist. Then you could say:
I like working as a chemist because I studied chemistry at university.
I studied chemistry at university because I wanted to work as a chemist.
But then it is possible to say:
I enjoy working as a chemist because I studied chemistry at university because I wanted to be a chemist because I was studying chemistry because I wanted to be a chemist.
This is known as a circular argument. You say you like your job, and since you chose to study chemistry, we assume that you like that, too. So we still don’t know why you like chemistry (your job)! You might as well say “I like it because I like it!”
There are much better reasons why a person might like their job:
the job pays a good salary
the job involves travelling (which you enjoy)
the job involves meeting interesting people
the job presents opportunities for career development
the workplace is situated conveniently close to your home
So, when you’re preparing for IELTS, think – more deeply than usual – about the things you like (or don’t like). And then think about why you like (or don’t like) them.
Let’s practice right now. Here is a list of things people either like or don’t like. Choose one item and add a comment below, saying why you either like or don’t like the item. Try to give two reasons, and avoid those circular arguments!
Americans rose steadily, while Indonesians fell dramatically.
Well, maybe. Something like this?
With a sentence like the one above you are unlikely to communicate anything meaningful about a graph, table or chart. If there was a rise or a fall, then you need to state precisely what it was that rose and what it was that fell – What is the subject?
The divorce rate in Americarose steadily, while the divorce rate in Indonesiafell dramatically.
Here there are 2 subjects:
the divorce rate in America
the divorce rate in Indonesia
Some of you will complain about the repetition in this sentence (‘the divorce rate‘). However, it’s better to repeat words and phrases and communicate something meaningful than to avoid repetition and communicate nothing.
Actually in this example repetition can be avoided:
The divorce rate in America rose steadily, while thatin Indonesiafell dramatically.
* Many thanks to Diro, Nando and Ari for the ‘falling Indonesians’ photo – You guys rock! 🙂
I enjoy using Facebook because I could see photos of my friends there.
Students are often confused about can/could, will/would. Sometimes they have learned at school that could and would are more formal, or more polite than can and will. That may be true when you are requesting something, but in IELTS speaking and writing you’re usually using can and will to communicate possibility or ability rather than to make a request.
Possibility / Likelihood
How possible or likely is it?
I enjoy using Facebook because I can see photos of my friends there.
In this case there is a strong possibility (almost 100%) that I will see my friend’s photos on Facebook. In this case I need to use can.
Let’s imagine a similar situation where there is no possibility:
If I had an Internet connection, I could see photos of my friends on Facebook.
Here the writer clearly does not have an Internet connection and so he is not likely to see his friend’s photos. Notice that in this example could is part of a structure called ‘second conditional’, which is used to describe an unlikely situation in the present:
If + subj + V2 + ‘,’ + subj + could/would + V1
In the ‘second conditional’ the situation you are describing is unlikely:
If I found a million dollars in the street I would buy a new house.
This kind of imaginary situation is by far the most common context for could and would.
Indonesian students tend to overuse ‘will‘ because they want to translate ‘akan‘. But ‘will‘ is not used in English as much as ‘akan’ is used in Indonesian. Actually there are generally only three situations where will is suitable:
‘First conditional’ – a situation in the present that is highly possible:
Look at those clouds. I forgot my umbrella. If it rains I will get wet!
Look at those dark clouds! It will probably rain soon.
Habits (usually annoying habits)
He drives me crazy. He‘ll (he will) trim his nails and then leave the cuttings all over the floor for me to clean up!
How able are you (or were you)?
It’s unusual to talk about past abilities, because once you acquire an ability, for example the ability to swim, you rarely lose that ability. It would be ridiculous, for example, to write:
When I was younger I could swim, but then I forgot how to swim so now I can’t.
We generally only lose this kind of ability when something terrible happens to us:
When I was younger I could swim, but then I lost my arms and legs in an accident and so now I can’t swim.
On the other hand ability can sometimes be a matter of degree. for example we can talk about partial ability, and about changes in our level of ability:
When I was younger I could swim 20km, but now that I’m old I can only swim 20 metres!
Most of the time when we talk about ability we use can – present tense – because, most of the time, we’re making a claim that is true now or always.
My brother is at university. He says university assignments be very stressful. He actually failed his last assignment because didn’t answer the question properly. If he misinterprets the next assignment question he fail again and this be bad for his future career.
For useful tips, click on highlighted words and phrases in the text below. Click again to close.
My brother is at university. He says university assignments can be very stressful. He actually failed his last assignment because didn’t answer the question properly. If he misinterprets the next assignment question he will fail again and this could be bad for his future career.
can - highly likely – assignments are often stressful
could - unlikely – now that he has failed once, he will be careful not to fail again
will - highly likely – the same often happens to other people
In general, all the lines show that there is an increasing trendof people with bronchitis.
When students are preparing for IELTS Task 1 writing they learn the importance of describing ‘trends’ in graphs, tables and charts. Not surprisingly, they go ahead and use the word ‘trend’ to describe these trends. But native speakers almost never do that.
In the opening example a trend is described, but the word ‘trend’ is redundant. It is enough to write:
In general, all the lines show that the incidence of bronchitis is increasing.
This kind of statement stands out as ‘a trend’ because it says something general about a change over time without mentioning data.
So here’s your checklist for a trend:
It is expressed as a sentence
It does not feature the word ‘trend‘
It says something general without mentioning values from the graph, table or chart
It describes a change over time
The thing that is affected by change is named specifically (‘incidence‘).
Understand also, that a trend is often ‘hidden’ in data that is highly irregular. In the following graph grammatical accuracy goes up and down erratically over time, but the general trend (shown by the straight line) is downward.
The ‘trend’ in this graph can be described:
The more frequently the word ‘trend’ is used, the less accurate the writing.
In general, the 6pm news reached its peak for almost 5 million viewers per day in the first month.
This is actually quite communicative and in IELTS this sentence might give you a satisfactory score for TA. However, the language problems would leave you with a much lower score for GRA and for CC.
It doesn’t make sense to signal this statement ‘In general‘, because it’s not general. It features data values taken from the x and y axes of the graph. Better to put this information in the detail section of your essay and signal it “In detail,“.
You need to treat ‘reach a peak‘ as a phrasal verb. If you want to change the tense – and the tense will most likely be past simple tense – then you can modify ‘reach‘ (past: ‘reached a peak‘). Otherwise don’t mess with ‘a‘ and don’t mess with ‘peak‘.
The preposition ‘for‘ is not right.
So, if you really are making a general statement, do this:
In general, the popularity of the 6pm news reached a peak in the first month.
If you want to mention detail, then do this:
In detail, the 6pm news reached a peakof almost 5 million viewers per day in the first month.
Pay careful attention to this pattern:
something + reached a peak (+ of + value x) (+ time expression)