How to Write an Overview for IELTS Task 1

An overview is the most important message a graph tries to convey. In fact, it is a description of the most important fact(s) in your report. Generally, trends and correlations are the best indicators of your overview. Sometimes some writers prefer to write the overview immediately after the introduction in a separate paragraph, others, however, at last.


“In summary, ticket prices increase broadly in line with passenger traf ic, except during the evening rush hour when they actually fall.”It sums up the key groups, the trend and the exception(correlation) in the data.Notice that the summary does not include any figures. Neither your introduction nor your summary should include figures.

What is the difference between conclusion and overview?

A conclusion is really a final judgement, decision or opinion. This is perfect for the task 2 essay, but task 1 asks you to write a description without analysis or opinions. On the other hand, an “overview” is a simple description of the main points. It is a summary of the information shown in the graph or chart. Also, a conclusion should be at the end of a piece of writing. An overview or general summary could go either at the end or near the beginning. Admittedly, it’s a good idea to describe the main features of the graph or chart near the beginning of your essay.

Why does it matter?

An overview is one of the first things an examiner looks for because it shows them that you can identify the most important information from the graph or chart and clearly identify overall trends and comparisons.

ielts-task-1-overview IELTS Task 1- How to Write an Overview

How do I select the correct features? 
To understand this we have to think about the different types of graphs and charts.There are generally two different kinds of charts and graphs: dynamic and static.

Dynamic chart has more than one date whereas static has only one.



When we are looking at dynamic graphs we should be looking out for:

  • What does the data do from the start to the finish?
  • Do they generally go up or down or do they fluctuate?
  • Any significant difference from the general trend?
  • Overall increase/decrease?
  • Peaks/lows?

When we look at static graphs we should be looking for:

  • What are the highest/lowest values?
  • What are the most noticeable differences?
  • Any similarities?
  • Any significant exceptions?

Is there any special grammar? 
You should try and make a complex sentence by making a subordinate clause. Complex sentences are sentences with more than one clause and they help increase our marks in the grammatical range part of the marking criteria.You can easily make a subordinate clause structure in the overview by joining two pieces of information with the words ‘while’. ‘although’, ‘with’, ‘even though’, ‘whereas’ or ‘and’. However, make sure you know the meaning of these words and how they are correctly used in a sentence.


“In summary, this farm generally employed the most fertiliser at seasons of high rainfall, and by contrast it produced the most fruit when both rainfall and fertiliser use were around their lowest.”This summary uses the phrase “by contrast” to emphasise the exception which exists in the data.

Vocabulary for the General Trend Part:-

In general
Generally speaking
As is observed
As a general trend
As can be seen
As an overall trend
As is presented
It can be clearly seen that

Overview examples…NB: Join the two sentences by using clause.

It is clear that there are five stages in the production of cement, beginning with the input of raw materials and ending with bags of the finished product. To produce concrete, four different materials are mixed together.

It is clear that the principal change to the town will be the construction of a ring road around the center. Various other developments with regard to shops and housing will accompany the building of this road.

It is clear that the principal reason why Americans traveled in 2009 was to commute to and from work. In the same year, the primary concern of Americans, with regard to the trips they made, was the cost of traveling.

It is noticeable that school A had higher proportions of children with all seven educational difficulties in both years. However, while school A managed to reduce the incidence of most of the problems between 2005 and 2015, school B saw an overall rise in the percentage of children who were struggling.

It is clear that average global prices of both oil and food rose considerably between 2000 and 2011. Furthermore, the trends for both commodities were very similar, and so a strong correlation is suggested.

It is clear that there are six* main stages as the salmon develops from egg to mature adult. We can also see that salmon spend time in three distinct locations during the cycle, moving from river to estuary to the ocean and then back upstream.

The line graph compares three companies in terms of their waste output between the years 2000 and 2015.
It is clear that there were significant changes in the amounts of waste produced by all three companies shown on the graph. While companies A and B saw waste output fall over the 15-year period, the amount of waste produced by company C increased considerably.

It is clear that there are six distinct stages in this process, from the initial collection of waste paper to the eventual production of usable paper……. can you extend this further?