GILC Talk: Describing Multiple Data Sets in IELTS Writing Task 1

By Kheang Chheangmay


As an academic consultant for the Language Learning Advisor (LLA) Program, I have advised students from the General English Program, Diploma Program and IELTS preparation courses. I have noticed that most of the students have always complained about how difficult the IELTS writing test is and how it is a struggle for them to achieve a high score in the writing test. Therefore, my main intention for conducting this GILC Talk is to provide a step-by-step guide to students, particularly those who plan to take IELTS, on how to present and organize the data properly in IELTS Writing Task 1.

In the IELTS academic writing task 1, you are required to look at a diagram or some data in a graph, table or chart and present the information in your own words. Your writing is assessed on four criteria including task achievement, coherence and cohesion, lexical resource, and grammatical rang and accuracy. Here are some general tips before you begin your writing:

  • Limit yourself to 20 minutes.
  • Make sure you write at least 150 words.
  • Make a plan, don’t just start writing.
  • Select the important information.
  • Use a mix of sentence types and language.
  • Don’t give your opinions or start to explain why things may have happened. It is a factual report – just explain what you see.

Sometimes, you get two sets of data to describe, so when you present your data, you should try to do it in the simplest way – the simplest way for you to write and the simplest way for the examiner to read and follow. If you have two graphs, you should do the following:

  • Analyse what you see to check you understand everything.
  • Introduce both graphs and then provide an overview of each graph. Remember to paraphrase.
  • Describe the first graph first, and the second one next. Don’t try to compare across the graphs or write about them at the same time (you should only do this if you have two of the same graphs).
  • Write about all the necessary data in a brief way. If you write too much, you will run out of time.

Last but not least, there are some proven strategies which you may find practical to improve your writing skills. Before the test day, you should:

  • Allow plenty of time to improve, as skills develop very slowly.
  • Take English classes or other formal tuition.
  • Practice using reputable IELTS books and websites.
  • Know how you will be tested (format, assessment criteria).

Thank you for reading this article and I wish you all the best with your IELTS test. If you have any inquiries, please feel free to contact me via my email address:

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