The overview / summary is a very important part of your task 1 report. Many people have no trouble describing specific details, but they find it difficult to describe the general features of a graph, chart or diagram. So here are my tips on how to write a good overview:
- Always try to write two sentences. This forces you to describe two main or general features of the graph, chart or diagram.
- Don't put any numbers in your overview. Save specific numbers for the 'details' paragraphs.
- If the graph or chart shows a time period (e.g. years), look for the overall change from the beginning to the end of the period (e.g. from the first year to the last year).
- Look for overall trends, and ignore individual figures that don't fit the trend. For example, if a graph shows a rising trend overall, you can ignore a specific year when the figures decreased - save that year for your 'details' paragraphs.
- If no time period is shown, you can't look for trends. Instead, look for differences and similarities between items.
- Don't look for individual 'highest' or 'lowest' figures such as a 'peak' on a line graph. Instead, describe the highest and lowest items overall (e.g. which line on the graph was the highest for the whole or most of the period?).
- Start your overview with a simple phrase that clearly shows the examiner that this is your summary paragraph e.g. It is clear that... , It is noticeable that... , Overall we can see that...
- If there are two different charts, write one overview sentence about each chart.
- If there are more than two charts, they must be connected in some way, so look for two main features overall.
- If the task is to describe a diagram or map that compares things, you can mention the main differences and maybe the number of differences and / or similarities between the two diagrams.
- If the task is to describe a process diagram, you can mention the total number of stages in the process and say where or how the process begins and ends.
To get a much better understanding of this advice, go through my task 1 lessons here on the blog and analyse the second paragraph of any full answer that you find. Alternatively, watch my task 1 video lessons on this website.