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Academic IELTS Writing Task 1: Writing a summarising sentence

Let’s have a look at the band descriptors for Task Achievement for Academic Writing Task 1:

  • Band 5 – recounts detail mechanically with no clear overview

  • Band 6 – presents an overview with information appropriately selected

The overview sentence can make all the difference between whether you get a band 5 or less, or a band 6 or more.

Don’t limit yourself to a band 5:

As this sentence is so important, put it in your introduction. Don’t save it until the conclusion. You may run out of time and never get chance to write it. You would have limited yourself to a band 5.

How to write a summarising sentence:

After you have written the introductory sentence, look at the input material and identify the overall trend or main idea of the diagram(s). You may want to circle this ‘main idea’. Then you can describe it in a sentence.

The overall trend or main idea may be:

  • A change over time
  • A sudden increase, decrease or a period of stability or fluctuation
  • A significant difference between different categories
  • An identifiable pattern for different times, places or groups
  • A category that has a different pattern to the other categories
  • The larges, smallest, highest or lowest value
  • The most surprising feature of the input.

If the input is very complex or there are multiple inputs you may need to describe more than one overall trend or main idea.

IELTS Writing Task 1: Summarising Sentence – Example 1

The chart below shows the percentage of U.S. men and women who were physically inactive in 2000.

INTRODUCTORY SENTENCE: The bar chart compares levels of physical inactivity for males and females over the age of 45 in the United States in the year 2000.
SUMMARISING SENTENCE: Overall, the older the person, the lower the level of physical activity, especially for women.

IELTS Writing Task 1: Summarising Sentence – Example 2

The chart below shows the percentage of U.S. men and women who were physically inactive in 2000.

INTRODUCTORY SENTENCE: The pie chart shows how power was generated in the United States in 2005.
SUMMARISING SENTENCE: As the chart shows, most of the electricity was generated from fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil.

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