Useful IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 Vocabulary

During the International English language Testing System IELTS Academic writing task 1, test takers will have to interpret information that is presented in a line graph, a bar chart, a pie chart, or a table, You will be tested on your ability to present that information in a write a formal report of about 150 words.

This is part of the test is not really as difficult as it is often hyped up to be. Report writing is a technical skill, which requires a certain structure and the use of unique terminology. One of the main reasons students from Singapore struggle to score well in this section is that they are unfamiliar with the type of vocabulary needed for academic report writing. Your use of vocabulary is one of the four criteria that the examiner will be assessing you on and it makes up 25 % of your writing band score.

In this article, you will learn all about the specific vocabulary needed for the academic writing task one and some tips on when to use them.

IELTS Writing Task 1 Vocabulary Band Descriptors

According to the writing vocabulary band descriptors, in order to obtain a band level of 8 in the vocabulary section a test taker must be able to:

  • Use a wide range of vocabulary fluently and flexibly to convey precise meanings.
  • Skillfully use uncommon lexical items with occasional inaccuracies in word choice and collocation

To put it simply, this means that to score well in this area your answer will have to include vocabulary specific to reporting data, as well use a wider range of vocabulary and collocations you should also not repeat the same words again and again, meaning that you have to be able to paraphrase and use synonyms as well. The vocabulary you use should be related to the different types of IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 diagrams, which can include

  • Line Graphs
  • Bar Charts
  • Tables
  • Pie Charts
  • Process Diagrams
  • Maps

Vocabulary To Describe IELTS Task 1 Data

When you analyse the graphical data presented to you in the question, you will have to report the main features as well as make comparisons between different sets of data. You have mention periods of stability, upward or downward trends or periods of instability (fluctuations in the graph or charts) To do this you need to have proper knowledge of which vocabulary to use for different types of changes. For example, if your graph depicts an upward trend, you would have to describe that change as sudden or gradual.

I’ve compiled an easy to understand table, that contains synonyms for commonly seen trends that appear in the academic writing task.

Upward Trend Downward Trends Upward Trend followed by a Downward Trend Fluctuating Trend Stable Trend Upward Trend followed by a Stable Trend
Nouns a rise

an increase

a surge

a growth

a fall

a drop

a decline

a dip

a peak a fluctuation

a variation

a period of stability a plateau


Verbs to rise

to increase

to surge

to grow

to fall

to drop

to decline

to dip

to peak to fluctuate

to vary

to stabilize to plateau
Phrases to show an upward trend to show a downward trend

to hit the lowest point

to hit a though

to reach a peak to show some fluctuation/ variation to remain stable/


to reach a plateau

to level off

to flatten out


You can always make the above-mentioned verbs and nouns sound more engaging by adding the correct adjective or adverb to go along with it. Remember that adjectives follow nouns and verbs are usually paired with adverbs.

Adjectives and adverbs sharp(ly)



steady (ily) relative(ly) considerable (ably)  the second highest the third lowest slight (ly)

gentle (ly)

a little

gradual (ly)


There are also other instances when it is difficult to determine the exact figures mentioned in the graph. In such cases, you might have to use approximations instead.

Here are some useful approximations vocabulary:

Approximate More Less
roughly more than less than
approximately well over well below
almost just above just below
nearly just over just under
about a little more than slightly less than
around a large proportion a small proportions
exactly a significant majority an insignificant minority


Jonathan has been teaching students to prepare for the IELTS and PTE Exams for more than 10+ years. He's taught English to students in various countries in the world including Singapore, China, Australia, Canada and Colombia.