Academic Writing Task 1Around the Web

Describing change in line graphs in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1

When describing the changes on a graph, the examiner is looking for you to use a good range of vocabulary and not just to use words such as increase or decrease. However, what other words could you use to describe changes?

In this blog post, we will be looking at verbs, adjectives and adverbs to use when describing change in a line graph.


Let’s look at verbs first.

If the numbers go up, we can use increase. Other verbs which mean similar include:

  • rise
  • climb
  • grow
  • jump (to show a large increase)


  • Music downloads grew between January and March 2020.
  • Between September and November, music downloads jumped from 100 to just under 300.
Line Graph


The verbs increaserise and jump can also be used as nouns;

  • There was an increase a rise a jump in music downloads between January and March.

You may want to use growth as a noun;

  • There was a growth in music downloads between January and March.

Do not use climb as a noun.

If the numbers go down, we can use decrease. Other verbs which mean similar include:

  • decline
  • fall
  • drop
  • plunge (to show a large decrease)


  • Downloads of music fell in the middle of 2020.
  • Between May and July, music downloads dropped by about 300.


The verbs decreasedeclinefall and drop can also be used as nouns:

  • There was a decrease a decline a fall a drop in music downloads.

Do not use plunge as a noun.

If numbers change very little, we can use remain with some extra words.


  • Music downloads remained steady between July and September.

We can also use show little change or show no change – see Liz’s blog post for more information on using show.


Adjectives are useful in Writing Task 1 because they can allow you to give more information about the figures you are describing. For example, look at the changes on the graph – what is different about the change between January and March, and the change between March and May?

Line Graph

(Click to enlarge)

That’s right. One change is bigger than the other.

To describe a large change, we can use significant. Other adjectives meaning similar include:

  • steep
  • sharp
  • dramatic


  • There was a sharp rise in the number of downloads between January and March.

To describe a small change, we can use slight. Other adjectives meaning similar include:

  • small
  • minor
  • minimal


  • There was a minor growth of music downloads in May.


Use an article when describing a singular noun.

Do not use adjectives with ‘strong’ nouns – a slight jump sounds wrong.


As well as using adjectives, adverbs can help to demonstrate a wider use of vocabulary in Writing Task 1. Remember that you must use a verb with an adverb.

To describe a large change, we can use significantly. Other adverbs meaning similar include:

  • steeply
  • sharply
  • dramatically


  • Downloads of music grew sharply between January and March.

To describe a small change, we can use slightly. Other adverbs meaning similar include:

  • minimally

Do not use small or minor in this way.


  • Figures between July and September rose slightly.

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