In this Academic IELST Writing Task 1 lesson, you will practise ways of making predictions, from the simple ‘will’ to the more complex structures that add variety and increase your score.
IELTS Writing Task 1 ‘dynamic’ graphs (which show changes over time) are usually in the past tense. So most of the time my advice is just: use the Simple Past.
But sometimes there is a graph which asks you to analyse FUTURE trends or changes, like the one you can see below.
The expressions that you’ve learnt to describe change (It increased slowly, It fell gradually etc) are still essential.
Now you have to use them with the Future Tense.
Look at the Task below and write a few sentences about the ‘projected costings’ and ‘expected expenditure’ shown.
Then check what kind of Band Scores you’re achieving (see estimated grades below) and learn how to push up to the next Band Score.
Simple ways to make predictions
1. Use ‘will + verb’ (Band 5)
e.g ‘Costs will increase slowly’.
This is the easiest way to make predictions but it will limit you to 5 because it will become repetitive (as you will see in this sentence!) and the examiner will get bored!
2. Use ‘Going to’ (Band 5.5)
‘Going to’ is slightly more advanced, as you need to change the form of ‘be’ depending on singular or plural:
‘Costs are going to increase’.
‘The cost is going to increase’.
‘could/may/might + verb’
For some variety you could use modals – ‘Costs might/may/could increase slowly’.
3. It is predicted that (Band 6)
It is predicted that costs will increase.
It is expected that costs will increase.
It is likely that costs will increase.
Method 3 is simple, because you just learn the expression and add ‘will/going to’.
Advanced ways to make predictions
4. ‘be likely to + verb’ (Band 6.5)
Costs are/ The cost is
- likely to increase
- predicted to increase
- expected to increase
- set to increase.
5. ‘There will be a + adjective + noun’ (Band 7)
Sentences beginning with ‘There is/are/was/were etc’ add variety.
In the past tense it works like this:
Costs increased slowly = There was a slow increase in costs.
Sales fell dramatically = There was a dramatic fall in sales.
6. ‘There is likely to be a (adjective) (noun) in (costs)‘. (Band 7+)
Use the same phrase we learnt in #3:
It is likely that there will be a slow increase in cost(s).
Take it up a level by adding ‘There is likely to be a slow increase in costs’.
Practise using these structures
Look at the chart that I posted and try writing it before you look at the model below.
IELTS Writing Task 1 Top Tip: How to use Reading to improve your Writing
One of the best ways to get used to the more advanced structures is to read the news.
In the Members Academy, I post examples and analyse them for you.
Here’s one we did recently to help with a Task 2 writing about an ageing population.
See the full reading here.
As you can see, it shows a great deal of variety, using the simple ‘will’ form as well as the other options.
This news article has all the elements of a Band 8/9 Task 1 which I teach in the Academy:
- a variety of ways of handling data (Day 3)
- a variety of linking words (Day 13)
- a variety of comparisons (Day 15)
- the language of cause and effect (Day 24)
- the language of problems and solutions (Day 29)
- hedging language (Day 23)
- a variety of synonyms (Day 4)
Vastly improved life expectancy is set to be one of the great challenges of this century.
Between 2015 and 2020, over a period when the general population is expected to rise by 3%, the numbers aged over 65 are expected to increase by 12% (1.1 million).
A rise in the elderly population will place pressure on the public finances.
Welfare spending is forecast to increase by an average of £2.8 billion a year over the next five years, resulting in spending of £128 billion by 2019/20.
Growing numbers of elderly people will also have an impact on the NHS and social care expenditure.
Further fiscal pressure is likely to result from a decline in the working population relative to the number of pensioners (the ‘dependency ratio’).
Despite the recent increases in state pension age, it is expected that the pensioner population will continue to rise. In 2014 there were 3.2 people of working age for every person of pensionable age. This ratio is projected to fall to 2.7 by 2037.
Even after planned increases to the state pension age, the number of working age people per pensioner is expected to fall.
The Office for Budget Responsibility points out that without offsetting tax rises or spending cuts, the ageing population will cause a widening of budget deficits over time, eventually putting public sector debt on an unsustainable upward trajectory.
Dealing with the pressures of increased demand and requirements for enhanced services is likely to require both improvements in public sector productivity and increased taxation on the working population.
Policies that improve preventative healthcare, and help people to remain active and healthy in later life, could help increase the proportion of life spent in good health and reduce costs.
A healthier old-age population would also allow greater numbers to remain in the labour market for longer. This could increase tax receipts and limit public expenditure growth.
The dependency ratio could also be reduced by encouraging immigration of working-age individuals, although this is unlikely to be seen as a politically attractive option.
A larger workforce, with more people in work and earning, is likely to create its own demand.
Adapted from this UK Parliament Website (2020).
Predictions in IELTS Reading
This Reading lesson about The Water Crisis gives you good examples of predictions in context.
It shows how Reading, and analysing what you read, can help develop your Writing skills.
The grammar of predictions, will also help you match this paragraph with the correct heading!
34 Global warming is bound to affect rainfall patterns, though there is considerable disagreement about its precise effects. But it is likely that, as sea levels rise, countries in low-lying coastal areas will be hit by seawater penetration of groundwater. Other countries will experience changes in rainfall which could have a major impact on agricultural yield – either for better or for worse. In broad terms, it is thought that rainfall zones will shift northwards, adding to the water deficit in Africa, the Middle East and the Mediterranean – a grim prospect indeed.
Future Plans in IELTS Listening
The future tense is important in all areas of the IELTS Test.
In this Listening about a Theatre, the Multiple Choice distractors are all based on
- what has already been done
- what they are planning to do.
The language of future plans is important in this Listening e.g.
- We’ve already/just (done something)
- We haven’t (done something) yet.
- We’re planning to/about to/going to (do something)
- We’re looking into/considering (doing something).
- We’re looking into the possibility of opening a cafe in due course.
- Eventually we intend to run courses.