Mastering Task 1: Graphs & Diagrams language

Mastering Task 1: Graphs & Diagrams language

Let's go over the language that is specific to this task and improve our detection of what language is needed when.

There are five types of IELTS graphs for Task 1

  • Maps
  • Process diagrams
  • Bar charts
  • Line graphs
  • Pie charts
  • Tables

What is the structure for this task?

1. Introduction- paraphrase with one simple sentence; you do not need to over-complicate this.

2. Overview- highlight main features, without tipping into detail. Start your overview with the word ‘Overall’- this signals that you have achieved the correct structure for the question and awards you in both TA (Task Achievement) and CC (Coherency and Cohesion)

3. Paragraph 1- details

4. Paragraph 2- details


You do not need a conclusion for this task. Simply end with your final paragraph. Your two main paragraphs would have covered everything, so there is no need for a conclusion.

Make sure you separate your paragraphs, so it is clear what you are addressing in a logical manner.

What language should I use for each graph?

Some language pertaining graphs is not always relevant to each graph type.

For example, you wouldn’t have language like; rises, ascends, spikes, peaks, for a map diagram as they have different characteristics. But you would be more likely to address things like the placement of specific items or areas (if say the map concerns planning proposals), or if it is a process diagram concerning food distribution, then your connectives and linking words are important. Or, if the diagram concerns the location of something, then prepositions are important.

The following grammar list uses grammar for different purposes, which you can apply to the diagram that it makes most sense to use with.



  • Next to
  • Adjacent to
  • Besides
  • To the rear of
  • Across from
  • Edging towards/from
  • In place of (replacing)
  • Amidst
  • Among
  • By means of
  • Beyond

I.e. ‘the proposal to move the car park from site A to site B, results in its new location being adjacent to the railway station. The map illustrates that in 2010, site A was further from the town’s centre and instead closer to the nature reserve.


Rise, increase, grow, go up to, climb, boom, peak, fall, decline, decrease, drop, dip, go down, reduce, level up, remain stable, no change, remain steady, stay constant, stay, maintain the same level, crash, collapse, plunge, plummet.

These verbs would be more useful for the likes of a line graph, bar chart, or pie chart, because of their very nature in how their data is presented. It may be that in maps or diagrams these can be used- but it is overall, much less likely.

I.e., the amount of people attending fitness classes on Saturday, shows a significant growth compared to the attendance on Tuesday, which shrinks to a decrease in 43 per cent.

I.e., from 2018-2019, the line graph demonstrates a significant decline in in-store shopping, in comparison to online shopping. Within this year, a 67 per cent drop can be seen, where the subsequent year continues to plummet with similar results.


Sharp, rapid, enormous, dramatic, substantial, considerable, significant, slight, small, minimal, colossal.

Adjectives differ in that they are more multi-faceted in their usage, for each of the graph types in task 1. As they help to describe a behaviour or pattern, they can mostly be used across the board for task 1. But again, your judgement is important here. With words like ‘sharp, rapid, dramatic’, these are better purposed for the likes of a bar chart or line graph. Whereas, ‘considerable’ and ‘significant’ for example, are more general.


Dramatically, rapidly, hugely, massive, sharply, steeply, considerably, substantially, significantly, slightly, minimally, markedly.

The same applies with adverbs. Use your judgement and think about what is more specific to data that concerns changes or patterns over time (bar, line, pie, table), compared to process diagram and maps that are more concerned with the transitional behaviour. In other words, the process of something from A -> B ->C, which is likely to follow a more direct pattern that shows several steps or functions as part of a wider process. Similarly, maps pertain a transitional like identity and are likely to show changes over time in which you are asked to comment on.

So, in the first instance, knowing a collection of word types and grammatical language is needed. Secondly, having appropriate judgement is important so that you clearly explain or describe the diagram or data given to you.

When practicing, highlight the language you are using within task 1, and refer to these (often), so that you can detect the language you are using between them. You will see that generally speaking; the data uses different language to information concerning diagrams or maps.

Thank you for reading! Continue with us at The Writing Lab for more support with your IELTS preparation.