IELTS Writing Task 1 Useful Language

IELTS Writing Task 1: Useful Language

Here’s an interesting question that IELTS teachers get asked all the time: Is it a good idea to memorise sentences for use in the writing section of IELTS?

My answer is that Yes, memorisation is a natural part of learning a language and can be especially useful as preparation for a test. In IELTS, the trick is to identify and learn phrases not sentences.

Whole sentences are useful when you can predict the topic. For example, you can memorise sentences to use in your real-life self-introduction, since you already know the topic: yourself. However, you cannot predict the topic in IELTS, so stick to learning phrases instead. Phrases offer you more flexibility and can be used regardless of the topic. They also tell the examiner that you’re familiar with the type of language used when completing this type of task.

Sometimes these phrases are called signposting language. This is because they describe connections rather than facts. Useful language in this category focuses on the relationships between things and the sequence in which they occur. The phrases can also be grouped into functions: in other words, each phrase has a particular function or purpose, for example introducing an exception to the main trend.

The useful language below is grouped around functions common in IELTS Writing Task 1 (Academic Module) in which you have to compare a set of data. Memorise these phrases and use some of them (not all!) to organise your ideas when writing your Task 1 answer.


Introducing the topic

  • The graph shows… / The table reveals…
  • The chart displays… / The diagram illustrates…
  • Some interesting facts concerning… are revealed in the diagram.
  • Several key trends are revealed by the graph showing…

Introducing the first set of data

  • Beginning with the…
  • To begin with the…
  • Let me begin by describing the…

Introducing the second set of data

  • Meanwhile, the…  shows that…
  • As for the… , it shows that…
  • Turning to the… , it can be seen that…

Introducing the first major trend

  • First of all, it is clear that…
  • Most noticeably of all, it can be seen that…
  • The first result worth pointing out is that…

Introducing lesser trends

  • Another trend that can be observed is that…
  • It is also worth pointing out that…
  • Also worth noting is that…

Exceptions to the main trend

  • However, this was not always the case.
  • However, it should be pointed out that…
  • There was one noticeable exception, however.

Comparing and contrasting

  • Similarly, … / By contrast, …
  • A similar trend can be observed in…
  • The results for… , however, reveal a markedly different trend.

Adding figures

  • The figures were X and Y respectively.
  • …, at X. / …, with Y. (Usage note: use ‘at’ when you mean ‘the figure was’; use ‘with’ when you mean ‘something had’)
  • …, at/with X and Y respectively.

Concluding and summarising

  • To sum up, … / In summary, … / In short, …
  • Overall, … / On the whole, …
  • The main thing that can be observed here is that…

Teacher’s Notes

IELTS TeacherThe IELTS Writing assessment criteria rewards you for attempting to use a range of academic expressions and linking phrases, even if you make some mistakes. The useful language above is exactly the sort of language the IELTS examiner is expecting to find in a high-scoring answer, so please start using it in your own IELTS answers. A native English speaker can tell you if the phrases are being used grammatically and appropriately.

Would you like me to check your IELTS writing answers and give you expert feedback based on the official scoring criteria? Find out if your answers are high-scoring by taking my IELTS Writing Practice Test with Feedback.