IELTS Task 1 Charts Sample Answer (UK Telephone Calls)

Here is a band 9 sample answer for you and question analysis.

Question: The chart below shows the total number of minutes (in billions) of telephone call in the UK, divided into three categories, from 1995-2002.

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

IELTS writing task 1 bar chart UK telephone calls


The bar graph shows the combined time spent in billions of minutes, on three different kinds of phone call in the United Kingdom, from 1995-2002.  

Overall, local calls were the most popular over the whole period, with national and international calls and calls on mobiles second and third respectively. However, the number of minutes spent on international and national calls and mobiles both increased over the period; with mobile minutes increasing dramatically, thus narrowing the gap between the three categories by 2002.

Minutes spent on local calls fluctuated over the time period, with just over 70 billion minutes in 1995, peaking at approximately 90 billion in 1999 and then steadily decreasing to just over 70 billion minutes in 2002.  

National and international calls increased steadily year on year, from just under 40 billion minutes in 1995 to a peak of just over 60 billion in 2002. Mobile minutes increased at a very rapid pace from approximately 3 billion in 1995 to around 45 billion in 2002. Mobile phone usage nearly doubled from approximately 22 billion minutes in 2000 to 40 billion in 2001.  

You will notice that there are four paragraphs in this answer and each paragraph has a purpose. I advise all of my students to use this four paragraph structure.

Let’s look at it in more detail.

Paragraph 1

Paraphrase question. This should be one sentence only and it is how you should start all of your essays. Paraphrasing is just writing the sentence again so that it has the same meaning but with different words. See my post on how to paraphrase for more detailed information on how to do this.

In this example I have changed phrases like ‘total number of minutes’ to ‘combined time spent’ and ‘divided into three categories’ to ‘three different kinds’.

Paragraph 2

In this paragraph we outline the general trends or most noticeable general things about the chart. This is our overview and the examiner will be looking for this. It is very difficult to get a high band score without one. Notice that I have not included any numbers in this paragraph and instead used very general language to show what is happening overall.

Overall, local calls remain the most popular, despite a bit of fluctuation, and the other two also show a general increase. We are not really looking for what happens between years in this paragraph and instead we take a very broad view of the data. We can then move on to describing these general trends in more detail in the next two paragraphs.

Paragraphs 3 and 4

These paragraphs are our details paragraphs and it is here that we describe the general trends. This is where we have to use the data.

You will notice that I have taken the first sentence in paragraph 2 and described it in more detail in paragraph 3.

Then I have taken the second sentence from paragraph 2 and described it in more detail in paragraph 4. This is a very logical way to order the information, will boost your marks for coherence and cohesion and also make it easier for you to organise your thoughts and save you time in the essay.

For a more detailed post on how to answer IELTS task 1 chart questions, please click the link.

You may also find my grammar guide for IELTS task 1 useful. It has lots of phrases to help you describe data.

The best way to keep up to date with posts like this is to like us on Facebook.

Click here to return to the homepage, or click one of the links below to check out more great IELTS stuff.

Writing Task 1

Writing Task 2






You might also like More from author


  1. sara do says

    Thank you very much for your help!

  2. Pham Huu Bang says

    I also want to thank to you, your helpful things make me feel it is really easy to write Task 1 without the misunderstanding.

  3. Lemuelle Bryan says

    Sir Chris please check my work.. Thanks 🙂

    The bar chart illustrates the combined spend of billions in minutes of 3 different types of phone lines in the United Kingdom, from 1995 to 2002.

    Overall, it is clearly can be seen that the local line was the most popular within the 8-year period. The National and International calls and calls on mobile came in second and third respectively. However mobile lines increase dramatically over the whole period, thus decreasing the gap of the three categories.
    Local call spent in minutes fluctuated over the whole period, with just over 70 billion minutes in 1995 and reached a peak of 90 billion minutes in 1999 and then steadily decreasing the minutes spent using the local lines, with just over 70 billion minutes in 2002.

    Minutes spent in National and International calls increased steadily, with just less than 40 billion minutes in 1995 and then by 2002 it reaches over 60 billion minutes. Minutes spent in mobile calls was the least popular in 1995, with just under 10 billion minutes and in 2000, it doubles the total minutes spent, with over 20 billion minutes. By 2002, it closes the gap between the local, national and international calls, with just over 40 billion minutes.

    1. christopherpell444 says

      Lemuelle, you have really improved. Sorry, I can not give you feedback on all your efforts, I’m really busy. Good luck with your IELTS test.

      1. Lemuelle Bryan says

        It is all because of your very detailed blog and easy to comprehend. 🙂 Thank you so much for all the help. I really never thought how very easy to make a paragraph, until you fall from heaven and started teaching English for free..

  4. Quan Dang says

    Thank you for sharing your expertise! I have some questions
    1) In the first sentence of the second paragraph, you wrote “local calls were the most popular over the whole period”. I can see that the superlative “most popular” is acting as a noun here, isn’t it? Can I use superlatives as nouns in my IELTS writings to make them more concise; and if so, will it positively affect the band score? For example, can the noun “one” be dropped in the following sentence: “Tan Son Nhat airport remained the most visited (one) over the time period.”?

    2) In the same sentence, are you omitting the word “ranking”, as follow: “with national and international calls and calls on mobiles (ranking) second and third respectively.?

    Thank you!

    1. christopherpell444 says

      Hi again. ‘Most popular’ is not a noun it is an adjective. Don’t use superlatives as nouns. The word ‘ranking’ does not need to be included because it is clear from the context and we have included the word ‘respectively’.

      Grammatical accuracy is important but it is only one of many things that you have to do well in the test. Make sure you are not too focused on grammar at the expense of everything else.

Leave a Reply