How To Write An Overview For IELTS Academic

The overview is the second paragraph you should write after the introduction. In this paragraph you are going to describe the main things that the visual data is showing us in just 2 sentences.

This paragraph should be easy to write if you have already selected the key features of your visual data using the process outlined here: How To Analyse And Select Key Features.

We are going to continue looking at the same example, so as a reminder, here is the question, visual data and key features that we identified in step 1.

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The graphs above give information about computer ownership as a percentage of the population between 2002 and 2010, and by level of education for the years 2002 and 2010.

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

Write at least 150 words.

The key features we identified:

  1. Computer ownership levels are steadily rising.
  2. The higher the level of education the higher ownership levels are.
  3. Computer ownership levels have approximately doubled for non high school diploma students and high school graduates.

Writing The Overview

The over view must clearly present the main features of the visual data. This is easy to do if the  main features you have already selected directly relate to the main purpose of the visual data.

A few things to avoid doing in your over view are:

  1. Do not give your opinion, it is not required.
  2. Do not give details such as numbers and figures from the data, except for dates.
  3. Do not write about too many different things, 2-4 is ideal.
  4. Do not add a conclusion.

Start your over view with the phrase 'Overall,...'. This is helpful as it clearly indicates to the examiners that you are indeed writing an over view.

So from our key features identified above we can combine them into the following two sentences:

Overall, levels of computer ownership have steadily increased between 2002 and 2010, and the more educated a person is the more likely they are to possess  a computer.  Ownership levels have also approximately doubled for both non high school diploma students and high school graduates over this time period.

Notice how general the sentences are, indicated by the use of words such as: 'approximately doubled', 'steadily increased' and 'more educated'. None of these phrases offer any specific details and just help paint the overall picture.

There are just 3 main points made with one complex sentence (the first sentence), and one simple sentence (the second sentence). Selecting more points than this may make it start to become too long, remembering that we only have 20 minutes to complete this process.

Next, we need to move onto writing the details paragraphs.