This lesson looks in detail at one way to organise your answer when describing a chart or graph in part 1. The suggestion is that you should try and look for patterns in the data. When you write , you report those patterns and note any exceptions to them. This works on several levels:
- your writing becomes more coherent – linking ideas together
- you are more likely to identify the key points
- the report becomes easier to write
To help you do this, you will find a bar chart with a sample answer below. I also show you one way how to identify patterns in bar charts.
The bar chart below shows the different types of accommodation chosen by the British when they went on holiday in 2012. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant
Analysing the key details
The first step is to analyse the chart – carefully. Don’t rush this stage. One way to do this is by asking yourself some simple questions. Ask yourself which is the biggest/longest? Are there any patterns? As you do this I suggest that you
don’t worry about names of countries and types of accommodation. Think colours and lengths. Look don’t read.
look at each element one by one. It can be very confusing of you look at the chart as a whole.
look at the extremes (the biggest/the smallest) first – they are almost always important
look for patterns – these are also important. Note that a pattern can have exceptions.
note exceptions – these are also details you want to include.
Try this brief quiz to analyse the y axis. As you go through the test, you should notice how I ask simple questions. What is the biggest? Are they the same, different or similar? Does any one bar look different from the rest? Remember that you are looking for patterns.
Reading a bar chart
My conclusion from this is that we must state:
- hotels were the most common form of accommodation at over 50%
- self-catering was second most popular (just below 30%) but there is one major exception
- caravan and camping holidays were typically least popular (around 10%) but again there was an exception
- England, Scotland and Wales follow a broadly similar pattern (Scotland is only slightly different)
- the popularity of caravanning in Northern Ireland needs to be highlighted
Organising the report – choose the simplest option
There is always more than one way to organise a report. In the exam you are under time pressure, so it makes sense to choose the simplest option. Here the 2 main choices you have are:
- go through each type of accommodation (the y axis option)
- go through the countries (the x axis option)
My choice would be to use the countries. There are only 4 of them and 3 of those are very similar and it seems natural and easy to group England, Scotland and Wales together. Northern Ireland is the odd one out.
A sample answer
This answer is not perfect. It is not meant to be. Rather you should note how it is logically organised, grouping similar information together. There is one paragraph for England, Scotland and Wales showing the main pattern. I start by noting the most evident feature of the chart. I also use England as a model and then compare the situation in Wales and Scotland. Then there is a separate paragraph for Northern Ireland, highlighting the key exception.
More task 1 help
This bar chart shows illustrates the holiday accommodation chosen by people in the United Kingdom in 2010. Generally, it is possible to say that the English, Scottish, Northern and Welsh made very similar choices and that hotels were much the most popular form of accommodation.
In all four countries approximately half the people chose to stay in hotels. This figure was highest in England at around 55%, almost twice the number of people who cooked for themselves (27% of the sample) and far greater than the number who stayed in campsites (12%) and finally caravans (6%). A similar pattern was repeated for the Scots and the Welsh. In each case, around 50% of holidaymakers went to hotels with around 30% in self-catering apartments. The one difference being that caravan holidays at 12% were twice as popular as camping holidays in Scotland, while the opposite pattern could be seen in Wales.
The one country that shows a different pattern is Northern Ireland. It is notable how there just over 30% of the population chose caravan holidays in preference to self-catering accommodation and camping (both around 12%).