Writing a high-scoring overall trend is very difficult!

It is arguably the most difficult requirement for Academic IELTS writing.

Today we break down what is needed in the overall trend.

We also show you how to write the trend for one of the most complicated types of Task 1 charts.

If you don’t include an overall trend, your Task score will be 5 or lower.

This can be a huge time suck if you’re not clear on what should be included.

Today’s tips will save you time and simplify this!

Student question

This student is in our 3 Keys Facebook group.

I just want to clarify.

In part 1 essay (academic) in the overall, how many trends are we going to write?

Is 1 trend enough or need 2-3?

The student included a Task 1 chart with 3 different groups of information on railways.

  • dates railways opened
  • length of routes
  • number of passengers

It’s tricky to know how to share an overall trend for such a complicated static graph.

Is there one overall trend that always works?

Unfortunately, no!

It depends entirely on the type of graph or chart.

In general, there are two types.

  • Static
  • Change over time

The overall trend is different for each of these!

It’s vital that your overall trend be accurate for the information shown.

Static overall trend

A static graph or chart shows one snapshot in time.

It does not show how information changed over a period of time.

For these, you want to share the highest and lowest.

This, too, will be affected by what is on the graph.

If two lines or bars are very similar and both highest, share them both.

If there is no clear lowest, you can just share the highest.

Be flexible!

Share an overall idea of what the information shows.

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Static change over time trend

On the other hand, change over time shows just that.

It gives information and shows how it changes over a period of time.

For these, you will share the biggest increases and decreases.

Again, be flexible!

This will look different depending on the chart or graph.

Overall, every product experienced a rise in sales throughout the period.

You need to show what is the biggest change.

Higher level overall trend

The goal is a higher level overall trend.

This will take a bit more time.

Pay attention to your timing so you know if you can do this.

If you have time, your overall trend can be two sentences.

Overall, every product experienced a rise in sales throughout the period; moreover, women tended to purchase items at a markedly higher rate.

A complex Academic Task 1 graph

On the left, you have a list of big cities.

It then has the dates these cities opened their railway system.

It then has length of routes in kilometers.

Additionally, it shares numbers of passengers.

Part of the planning is knowing what are the most important numbers.

You can find details about this in our IELTS study course.

How to simplify this graph

Static essays are all about superlatives.

  • Highest
  • Oldest
  • Longest

On this chart, London has both the oldest train and the longest track.

However, we can’t ignore a whole category!

We must also share the overall trend of passenger numbers.

Tokyo carries the most passengers so this must also be included in the overall trend.

Overall, London is both the oldest and longest railway, while Tokyo transports the most individuals per annum.

Don’t waste time!

Students waste a lot of time looking for a correlation between numbers.

Often, there is none!

If you follow our 3 Keys strategies and circle the most important numbers, you will see a correlation if there is one.

You can then share that in the overall trend.

If there is no correlation, you’ll need to share information separately.

Review the two example sentences above to see how to do this in a high level way!


Once you have strategies, what to include in your overall trend is very straightforward!

This should take you very little time!

You will become familiar with the different types of graphs and charts.

You will also know what the trend should look like for each one.

If you are confused about this or have trouble, sign up for 3 Keys IELTS!

We have all the strategies you need to score 7+ on IELTS.

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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