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IELTS Sample Task 1 writing

Sunday, May 17, 2009 Posted by Dominic

IELTS reports - analysing a table

The table below shows the proportion of different categories of families living in poverty in Australia in 1999.

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

Write at least 150 words

Family Type

Proportion of people from each household type living in poverty

single aged person

6% (54,000)

aged couple

4% (48,000)

single, no children

19% (359,000)

couple, no children

7% (211,000)

sole parent

21% (232,000)

couple with children

12% (933,000)

all households

11% (1,837,000)

Analysing the table

How can you summarise the figures?

As a first step you need to organise the information in the table. Here it is fairly easy there are 6 categories that can be broken down into 3 pairs:


no children


Each pair is divided in terms of marital status. Clearly, marital status is a key factor to be highlighted in the report.

Understanding the numbers

Always be careful with numbers. Here there are two sets of numbers and you need to refer to both sets. Note that only 12% of couples with children were in poverty, but this category accounts for half the total figure.

What comparisons can you make?

The next step is to see what comparisons you can make. Again, this is not too hard to see in this example.


no significant difference depending on marital status

the category least affected by poverty - account for a small proportion of the total

no children:

the largest differenceeither likely or unlikely to be in poverty depending on marital status

account for approximately a third of the total figure


a similar difference either considerably above the average or just on the average depending on marital status

much the largest category, accounting for well over a half of the total

How can you organise the report?

There is no one way to do this, but whatever you do must be logical and include the key facts and comparisons. Think how you can divide your report into paragraphs - one paragraph is not an option, it will look disorganised.

The obvious and simple solution is to divide the report into two main paragraphs. One paragraph relating to percentages, the other overall figures.

This table shows how age, children marital status affected how many Australians were living in poverty in 1999. In total 11% of households and 1,837,000 people were below the poverty line.

It is notable that older people were the least affected by poverty. On average, only 5% of elderly people were below the poverty line and there was little difference depending on marital status. For younger people, however, it would appear that marital status was an important factor. Both singles and lone parents were significantly above the average at 19% and 21% respectively. In contrast, married couples were much less likely to be in financial trouble at 7% and 12%.

We should also note that the 933,000 couples with children account for almost half of all people below the poverty line. The next highest figure is for single people without children at over 350,000. Once again the groups least affected by poverty are the single and married aged at approximately 50,000.

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