Model IELTS Academic Writing Task 1: A bar chart and pie chart about global fashion sales

Feb 27, 2023 | IELTS Test

Below is a model answer to a double Academic Task 1 question about a bar and pie chart

The most common type of Academic Task 1 question involves comparing and contrasting two different data sets. Take a look at the following question which is followed by an analysis, description of how we decided to structure the essay, and then the model essay itself together with further explanatory notes.


The Practice IELTS Writing Task 1 Question

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task. 

The bar chart shows the percentage of Canadian boys and girls participating in extracurricular clubs.   

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

You should write at least 150 words.

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.


The charts below show the total value of global online fashion sales from 2015 to 2021 and the frequency of online fashion sales in the US over the same period.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Write at least 150 words.

ielts bar chart example on fashion purchases in the US



This is a very simple T1 task, in comparison to many others with considerable more complexity. (In fact, it could probably be completed adequately within only 140 words, but as we need 150 minimum we will include some phrasing that is not essential for meaning.) As always, we need to look carefully at what is shown to ensure we have a complete understanding. In this case, there is nothing complicated in the data, and thus no risk that we might miss something of significance. A quick look tells us that there are just nine figures/percentages in total, which is fewer than in most table/graph tasks in the exam. This means that we can easily – and should – report all the numbers and proportions. There is no decision to be made about what data could safely be omitted, as is often the need where there is significantly more information to study. 

In looking for the most important information to include in our summary/overview, we see that in the first graph the figures increase overall through the period, but with a slight drop at the end. In the pie chart, most customers only buy once or twice a year, with some buying at most six times. There are 20%, though, who buy as often as weekly and so we decide this is worthwhile including in the summary.    



We decide to structure the report in the following way: 

1st paragraph: a paraphrase of the question plus an overview of both charts.

2nd paragraph: a description of the line graph followed by one for the pie chart.

The report could be written in three paragraphs with a separate one for both charts (which would be perfectly alright from the examiner’s perspective), but in this instance as there are barely more than 150 words, we decide the reader can easily absorb the data in just two paragraphs.  


The Model Answer

second ielts bar chart example on US fashion sales

The bar graph presents the value of worldwide internet fashion sales over six years, while the pie chart illustrates how often people in the US made such purchases.  In summary, sales values rose from 2015 to 2019 but fell slightly by 2021, while a clear majority of US customers purchased online only occasionally. However, a significant proportion did buy products as often as weekly. 

Global sales totalled about US$525 billion in 2015, rising to $600 billion in 2017. Two years later, this figure climbed to around $675 billion, but there was a small drop to $660 billion in 2021. As for online purchasing habits, most customers in America bought fashion items just once or twice a year (31%), or every two to three months (29%). Some 5% did so once a month, but a sizeable proportion, a fifth, made purchases once a week. People who never bought fashion items on the internet constituted 15%.   [154 words] 



See how we have taken care in parts to use paraphrasing to avoid repeating key terms used in the input data too often. “Global online” becomes worldwide internet; “US” becomes  in America; “once a week” equals weekly, and so on. In this case it is clear that we can refer to people, but also more specifically as customers. We use items and products in parts as while “fashion” mostly refers to clothing, it also includes things like shoes, scarves, hats etc.

Question: could we say American people/customers? If we did, it would not be seen as any kind of major error by the examiner, but “purchases in the US” does not mean that all customers there are American. There are people there of many other nationalities too, such as foreign students, visiting business people, and tourists on extended holiday. 

We know we should always look for how percentages could be changed into proportions, so the obvious one to use from the pie chart is to change “20%” into a fifth.  

The word Some to begin the sentence Some 5%…. is used as a ‘device’ just to avoid beginning a sentence in the formal style with a number or figure. Native English speakers understand that this does not mean “some of” (the word here can be confusing to native speakers of other languages) but effectively all of. 

Note how our grammar shows a good variety which would ensure a high grade from the examiner. There is a mix of sentence types with several longer structures: simple, compound and complex sentences are all included. See too how we use the present participle rising to in one instance which is a little more advanced grammar than just using the relative pronoun or and and past simple form of the verb (which/and rose to). We also show variety by using both the subject + verb format (sales values rose...) and the it/there + is/was + noun structure (there was a small drop….) to present the data. 


What You Can Do Next To Improve Your IELTS Writing Score?

Browse through our growing number of mock questions and write your own answer. You can receive graded professional feedback by purchasing one of our Writing Correction Packages.

If you would like to learn more, you can purchase a video course about IELTS General Task 1 essays, by visiting this page.

Or purchase our Academic Task 1 eBook, which gives you many more model essays with detailed explanations and exercises. 


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