This is a common error when describing trends in graphs in IELTS task 1 writing. It makes sense, intuitively – if something ‘falls’ then it falls down and not up! However, ‘fall’ and ‘fall down’ can have quite different meanings depending on the context.
Take a look at these examples.
Real incomes actually fell in many places.
The deer fell immediately and never moved again.
The squad fired and both men fell.
Just about anything or anyone can fall, either accidentally or predictably. This is a good word to use when describing trends in IELTS Task 1 Writing! In fact, this is what we need with our opening example:
When demand is low, prices usually fall.
He fell down from his horse and died immediately.
It’s better to wear a belt so that your trousers don’t fall down.
Both of these examples highlight ‘accidents’ in which someone or something falls down from a higher position to a lower position.
Houses rocked and cracked; furniture fell over.
I actually fell over the bed when entering the room.
These are also ‘accidents’, but this time a person or thing falls over from its normal standing position into an abnormal position on the floor or on the ground.
Australians who disagreed or remained neutral had an upward trend during the period.
I mentioned in a previous post that ‘trend’ is a dangerous word and perhaps best avoided because:
it is usually redundant
it carries with it unusual collocation that does not translate easily from other languages
The wrong collocation can cause meaning to change. In the example above, ‘upward trend‘ sounds like some kind of illness, which is something that we ‘have’, for example “I had a cold last week.” We might imagine the following conversation:
You: Sorry I missed our appointment yesterday. I had an upward trend. Your friend: Sorry to hear that. I hope you’re feeling better!
Once again, it’s possible, and usually preferable to describe a trend without using the word ‘trend‘. Avoid it!
Bakso was chosen by 60% of students, Martabak by 20%, Siomay by 15%, and only 5% chose Other.
OK the problem here is that ‘other‘ is rarely used as a noun. Generally it is used as a noun modifier: “other people“, “other things“, etc. In the above example, what is the noun that is being modified by ‘other’? Well, all of the items in the chart belong to a class, or group, and the name of that group is usually given as a label on the chart. In any case we know that Bakso, Martabak, and Siomay are all different kinds of Asian fast food, so we can write:
Bakso was chosen by 60% of students, Martabak by 20%, Siomay by 15%, and only 5% chose other kinds of Asian fast food.
‘Other‘ is used as a noun in sociology, psychology and anthropology to identify and possibly explain ‘something different from us‘, either as individuals or as a society. In these contexts there is a related concept: ‘otherness‘.
In this post we’ll do two things. First, you will read a text and complete (draw) a bar chart based on the text. Next we’ll think about the use of ‘stood at’ in this kind of text, which is very similar to the writing you do in IELTS Task 1.
Reading (and drawing!)
Copy this chart to a piece of paper:
Read this article. As you read, complete the bar chart on your paper.
In IELTS Task 1 writing candidates are often required to make future predictions based on data in graphs, tables, and charts.
This can be an opportunity to display some sophisticated grammar, in particular the future perfect tense!
In a previous post I showed you how to use a phrase beginning by + time expression to build a sentence using past perfect tense. In fact we can take the same approach with other perfect tenses:
In this example we can say:
By 2020, sales of all devices will have increased.
Here I used the structure:
by + future time expression + subject + will + have + V3
We can then add other information in the usual manner using will for prediction:
By 2020, sales of all devices will have increased. Sales of the PS4 will be double sales for the Xbox One, which will in turn be three times sales for the Wii U.
Future perfect is very rarely used by native speakers because there are very few opportunities to use it! This is one of the reasons why future perfect, and indeed the other ‘perfect’ tenses, helps to increase your IELTS score for grammar in both writing and speaking.
Pay careful attention to the structure of future perfect and good luck with your future predictions in IELTS task 1!
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!
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! 🙂
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)