This lesson is to give you more practice in describing numbers in task 1 and to show you the different possible variations. This is an important area to practise as there is a very common problem where candidates simply repeat all the figures in the graph as they are given. This is a mistake as you need to remember that this is primarily an English language task and you need to be able to show you have a range of vocabulary.
Do you see the problem?
Take a look at this chart and the description of it below. What is the problem?
This chart shows that Indian food was the most popular form of take away food in York in 2011 with 43% of the inhabitants preferring it. The next most popular was pizza at 23%, followed by Chinese food at 18% and fish and chips at 11%. The least popular form of take away food was kebabs at only 5%.
I hope you can see the problem. There is an awful lot of repetition here. This is partly the word “popular” but also the “%”. This is an easy trap to fall into. To avoid doing this you need to learn some variations.
I suggest below 4 different, yet connected, ways you can learn to vary your language. I believe that it helps to analyse and practise these different methods consistently if you want to be able to use it in the exam.
1. Think comparisons
If you compare two items, you do not need to repeat all the numbers. The point is that if you give one number, you do not need to give another number if you compare:
The most popular take away food was Indian food at 43% and this was almost twice as many as chose pizza.
Pizza at 23% was only slightly more popular than Chinese food.
You should also remember there a number of different ways you can make comparisons and this gives you even more flexibility:
- not as/as
2. Think fractions
Another way to avoid using too many numbers is to think about fractions: here too the benefit is that you start to use more language.
While 43% preferred Indian food, just under a quarter chose pizza.
You will find a more complete list of number words and phrases in my lesson describing numbers.
3. Think other words, not just percentage
There are other useful words that you can use instead of “percentage”. So you can write:
A slightly smaller proportion of people chose to eat Chinese food than fish and chips.
Some of the words you can use like this are:
- one in ten/four in ten
4. Think word order and group information together
Another possibility is simply to change the order of information in the sentence and group similar items together. You will probably use comparison language as you do this:
Chinese food and pizza were both considerably less popular than Indian food at 18% and 23% respectively.
Indian food at 43% was more than twice as popular than both Chinese food and pizza.
As I mentioned above this is an area that needs practice if you are to get it right. Here is my suggestion. Look at the chart above and try and find 4 different ways to describe kebabs.
I will post some possibilities myself as a comment below. If you want to post your variations, I will take a look and add my comments.