Prepositions in Task 1 graphs

In the majority of Task 1 questions for the Academic Module, you will need to describe data using the correct prepositions. However, prepositions in Task 1 graphs can be quite tricky!

NOTE: this lesson only applies to the ACADEMIC MODULE, not the General Training Module.

In Task 1, you will need to be able to describe data using appropriate  prepositions. Here are some of the most common prepositions used when describing data:


Prepositions in Task 1 graphs

Let’s look at the each one for meaning as it is most commonly used in Task 1.

FROM: this is the beginning point of a trend. Often this is a point in time such as a year or month.

Sales increased from September.

TO: this is the end point of trend. Again, this is often a point in time such as a year or month.

Sales increased from September to November.

IN: this refers to a specific point in time.

Sales fell in December.

AT: this often refers to a specific time (not necessarily a beginning or end). It is also used to describe a specific amount,

There was a peak at 3am. / In 2012, sales peaked at $4000.

ON: this refers to a specific day or date.

The largest number of visitors was on Monday.

BY: in Task 1 IELTS, this is often to describe an amount of change between two different periods.

From 2013 to 2014, sales fell by 20%

OVER: this is used for something happening continuously in a longer period of time rather than a specific time. There is little difference here between OVER and DURING, except that OVER refers to the entire period, whereas one might use “during the weekend” to DURING refers more to one particular moment, not necessarily the whole period.

Over the next year, sales fell to their lowest level.

UNDER: this is used to talk about amounts that were less than something.

Over 2011, sales remained under $20,000 per month.

WITHIN: this is used to talk about something that has been completed before the end of a given time.

Sales rose to $100,000 but had fallen to $50,000 within two weeks. [meaning the fall took less than two weeks]

Test your skills by completing the description below using the correct preposition. THERE IS NO GRAPH FOR THIS EXERCISE!

(1)StartingJanuary, ABC’s production costs stood (2)$20 000. (3)the same time, net profits were $25 000 higher, (4)$45 000. (5)March, profits had risen (6)just over $120,000, the difference between cost and profits now being slightly above $45 000. However, costs increased (7)$10 000 a month over the following three months whereas profits decreased gradually (8)$11 000 over the quarter. (9)July, this had resulted in only a $5000 difference between cost and profit.
However, (10)three months this trend had reversed, with production costs falling back (11)$45 000 . Profits steadily increased to meet the March level (12)October. An extreme slump (13)the next month brought profit down to $75 000, a figure which remained until the end of the year. This was accompanied by an accelerating rise in production costs (14)October (15)December, finishing the year (16)just under $60 000.

Click here to read the answers


  1. IN
  2. AT
  3. AT
  4. AT
  5. BY
  6. TO
  7. BY
  8. TO
  9. BY
  10. WITHIN
  11. TO
  12. IN
  13. OVER
  14. FROM
  15. TO
  16. AT

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