Today I'm going to explain my thinking process when I answer an IELTS Writing Task 1 question. We'll use this question (Cambridge IELTS 7, page 30):
The table below gives information on consumer spending on different items in five different countries in 2002.
Percentage of national consumer expenditure by category - 2002
Before I worry about what language to use, it's really important to understand the information, and decide how to organise it. This is what I'm thinking:
- I know that I can write a short introduction by paraphrasing the question.
- I look for an overall trend. I can see that the food/drinks/tobacco category has the highest percentages, and leisure/education has the lowest.
- Now I want to write two main body paragraphs. I need to select something to say about each country. Remember, there is no rule about what information you select; everyone will do this differently.
- I look for the highest figures in each category: I can see that Turkey has the highest figure for food/drinks/tobacco AND for education/leisure. Italy has the highest figure for clothing/footwear.
- So, I'll write a paragraph about Turkey and Italy.
- My final paragraph needs to talk about Ireland, Spain and Sweden.
- Maybe I'll point out that Ireland has a high figure for the first category, Spain has the lowest figure for education/leisure, and Sweden has the lowest figures for the first AND second categories.
- I don't need a conclusion because I have already mentioned a general trend in point 2.
Try writing an essay following these steps. You can compare your essay with mine next week.