Academic IELTS Task 1: Useful Vocabulary for Graphs and Diagrams

Academic IELTS Task 1: Useful Vocabulary for Graphs and Diagrams

Academic IELTS Task 1: Useful Vocabulary for Graphs and Diagrams – to get a high score in Task 1 writing of the academic IELTS you need to give accurate and strong description and analyses for the provided graph(s) or diagram. In this minimum 150 word essay it is easy to keep repeating words and numbers. However, this is not good to achieve a high score.

In order to get a great band level on this section of the IELTS, you must use a variety of vocabulary that not only describes but also emphasizes the changes, similarities and differences in the data. You should review and practice the vocabulary below.


These verbs are alternatives to the basic rise and fall vocabulary. One benefit of using them is that sometimes they help you avoid repeating too many numbers. If you have a strong verb, you don’t always have to give the exact figure.

Up Verbs

soarthe use of water soared in March
leapthe prices leapt to 90% in one year
Climbpopulations climbed to over one million by 1980
Rocketuse of cars rocketed in the first decade
Surgea surge of migration is seen in November


  • “Soar “and “rocket” are both very strong words that describe large rises. “Rocket” is more sudden. You probably do not need to qualify these verbs with adverbs.
  • “Leap” shows a large and sudden rise. Again, you probably do not need to qualify it with an adverb.
  • “Climb” is a relatively neutral verb that can be used with the adverbs below.

Down verbs

SinkThe cost of housing sunk after 2008
Slip backUse of electricity slipped back to 50 in May
DipDivorce rate dipped in the 60s
DropA drop in crime can be seen last year
PlummetTourists to the city plummets after September


  • Plummet” is the strongest word here. It means to fall very quickly and a long way.
  • “Drop”  and “drop” are normally used for fairly small decreases
  • “Slip back” is used for falls that come after rises
  • “Drop” and “Dip” are also frequently used as nouns: “a slight dip” “a sudden drop”

Adjectives and adverbs

This is a selection of some of the most common adjectives and adverbs used for trend language. Please be careful. This is an area where it is possible to make low-level mistakes. Make sure that you use adjectives with nouns and adverbs with verbs:

  • a significant rise – correct (adjective/noun)
  • rose significantly – correct (adverb/verb)
  • a significantly rise – wrong

Please also note the spelling of the adverbs. There is a particular problem with the word “dramatically:

  • dramatically – correct
  • dramaticly – wrong
  • dramaticaly – wrong

Adjectives of Degree

SignificantA significant changeSignificantlyChanged significantly
DramaticA dramatic shiftDramaticallySifts dramatically
SuddenA sudden riseSuddenlyHas risen suddenly
SubstantialA substantial gainSubstantiallyGained substantially
SharpA sharp decreaseSharplyHad decreased sharply


  • “sudden” and “sharp” can be used for relatively minor changes that happen quickly
  • “spectacular” and “dramatic” are very strong words only used for big changes

Steady Adjectives

ConsistentA consistent flowConsistentlyFlowed consistently
SteadyA steady movementSteadilyMoved steadily
ConstantConstant shiftConstantlySifted constantly

Small adjectives

SlightA slight riseSlightlyRose slightly
GradualA gradual fallGraduallyHas fallen gradually
MarginalA marginal changeMarginallyHad changed marginally
ModestA modest increaseModestlyIncreases modestly


“marginal” is a particularly useful word for describing very small changes

Other useful adjectives

These adjectives can be used to describes more general trends

UpwardBy looking at the five data points, there appears to be a clear upward pattern in prices
DownwardOver the past quarter century there is a downward trend in use of pesticides
OverallThe overall shift in the market seems to favour the use of nuclear power


“overall” can be used to describe changes in trend over the whole period: very useful in introductions and conclusions

“upward” and “downward” are adjectives: the adverbs are “upwards” and “downwards”

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