Describing the main features on charts in Academic IELTS Writing Task 1

In Academic Writing Task 1, you are asked to summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant. But what are the main features and how should you report them?

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In this blog post, we will be looking at the main features on bar and pie charts and how you should report them.

Introducing main features

When introducing main features, you can usually use one of a few different phrases:

  • Overall,
  • Generally,
  • In general,
  • The most noticeable feature(s) is/are


  • In general, the number of people attending concerts declined in 2020.

Main features – bar charts

Have a look at this simple bar chart:

Bar Chart

(Click to enlarge)

Looking at all of the months, what is the general trend? For this, it may be easier to look at the first and last months.

You can clearly see that the number of users has increased over the time period. In other words, there is an upward trend. Even though there is a slight drop in the month of September, the general trend is still upwards.


  • Overall, the number of users on MyBook website showed an upward trend through 2020.
  • The most noticeable feature of the bar chart is that users of the website generally increased over the year.

Note: When writing about general trends, we usually don’t give specific data, such as exact numbers or percentages – this information comes later in your answer.

Main features – pie charts

Now have a look at this pair of pie charts. What do you notice first about the data?

Pie Chart

(Click to enlarge)

You would probably notice the information about Facebook first, right?

Even though there are fewer users in 2020 in comparison to 2015, it remains the most used social media platform.

Have another look.

What do you notice about Pinterest and Twitter?

Yes, they have both increased their share of social media usage from 2015 to 2020.

So, what could your writing say about the main features of the pie charts?

How about this:


  • The most noticeable feature of the pie charts is that despite a drop, Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, while other social media platforms are increasing their popularity.

Note: When going into more detail and comparing particular features remember to include specific numbers and data.

Also consider: What does the category ‘Other’ tell you? Not much, so it’s probably not worth mentioning that in your answer.

Why are the main features important?

Main features are terribly important as they form part of what we call the overview.

In order to get a band 6 rather than a band 5 for Academic Writing Task 1, you must provide some kind of overview, which describes the main trends (or differences, or stages) in the data you have been given.

Where should the overview go?

Some IELTS professionals say the overview should go in the introduction of Academic Writing Task 1, whereas others say it should go at the end. There is no requirement in the assessment criteria, however.

Personally, I prefer the overview to go in the introduction, which is then followed by detailed comparisons (including figures!) in the main body.

I hope this has helped with identifying and reporting the main features in bar and pie charts.

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