It is a good idea to learn a range of vocabulary for comparing values on graphs, charts and tables. This can help test-takers avoid repetitive essays, which are usually awarded low scores for lexical resource (vocabulary).

The list below provides a range of options for comparing a value with others. Pay particular attention to the collocations, as examiners notice these more that single words.


Comparatively large

To be higher than
To be above 
To be greater than
To exceed
To be (adverb) more than - e.g. slightly more / significantly more

The same

To be equal to 
To be as (adjective) as
To match

Comparatively small

To be below 
To be under
To be less / fewer than
To be lower than 
To come in at less than (good for totals and costs
To not reach 
To fall short of
To not be as (adjective) as


The biggest

The highest 
The largest 
The most
The greatest
The majority 


The smallest

The lowest 
The smallest 
The fewest 
The least 
The minority 

The largest

The largest proportion

The largest amount/uncountable noun

The highest number of

The highest percentage

The greatest number/proportion

The smallest

The lowest number/amount of/proportion

The smallest number/amount of

The fewest number of/countable noun

The least amount of/uncountable noun

The minority 

Collocations with number/ amount 

A tiny number/amount of

A significant number/amount of

A huge number/amount of

A small number/amount of

An enormous number/amount of

A large number/amount of

An increasing number/amount of

A comparatively (adjective) number/amount of

There are examples of this vocabulary throughout the model essays that can be found here.

Of course, the best way to learn how to write an excellent Task One essay is to take my Writing Task One course, which looks at each type of diagram in great detail. There is no better way to prepare for your IELTS writing test!

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