This lesson gives you a sample task one report when you need to describe 3 different charts/graphs. This may look tough, but the principle is the same – organise your writing by selecting and reporting the main features in paragraphs. If you can do that, the writing is not so hard.
To help you, I talk you through the process of organising your report into coherent paragraphs with a series of mini tasks. You can also download the report to read my writing notes.
Understanding the question
The question is always the same for these charts and graphs:
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, making comparisons where relevant.
This means that when you look at the charts for the first time, you should ask yourself:
- what are the main features?
- how can I summarise them?
- what are the comparisons?
How many paragraphs? – Normally two
Before you write you want to decide how to organise the report. This means deciding how many major paragraphs you will write. The answer is almost always going to be two. If you only write one main paragraph, you won’t be able to make the main points clear. If you write three main paras, you are almost certainly writing too much.
Here it should be clear that the line graph describes one kind of data and the two pie charts another. Therefore you should write one para for the line graph and another for the pie charts.
Finding the main points
This is the key stage. Remember the task is to summarise the main points and this means “selecting” and not including absolutely everything. Very often the main points are simple to see – obvious things. Typically,there will only be 2/3 main points per chart.
Look at the line graph and select the main points that you will use to organise your writing. At this stage you are not looking for numbers, just patterns. The tip is to think visually here, look for:
- extremes (highs and lows) (beginnings and endings)
- major changes (beginnings and endings again)
- comparisons (what is the same,what different) (which is greater,which smaller)
- twice as many dairy farms as arable farms (the blue line is higher)
- difference between the two narrowed (look at the beginning and end)
- both fluctuated and the pattern was different (look at the lines overall)
Finding supporting detail
The next step is to decide what details you want to include. Again, you want to select here and not include all the detail. The details you choose should support the main points.
Which numbers will you include in the report? These should support the main points above.
- twice as many dairy farms as arable farms – approximate numbers 1000 and 2000 and the years 2006 and 2011
- difference between the two narrowed – fall to around 1900, rise to just under 1000
- both fluctuated and the pattern was different – perhaps major fall in 2007 compared to rise in 2009
Finding the main points
When you have two charts with similar data, you should automatically look for comparisons between the two. The main questions to be asked are:
- What has changed?
- What is the same?
- five crops – all should be named
- potatoes and barley do not change
- rape seed rose dramatically
- corn and wheat both fell slightly
- corn and wheat were highest in 2006
- rape seed almost at same level in 2011
The details – grouping information
The challenge here is not to simply list all the data.One way to do this is to group similar bits of info together. In this case,
- potatoes and barley belong together
- wheat and corn belong together
Read and download the report and notes
These charts show the changes in the number of dairy and arable farms in the UK and the changes in the arable crops grown between 2006 and 2011
The line graphs show that there were almost twice as many dairy farms as arable farms throughout this period, with the numbers fluctuating around 2000 farms and 1000 farms respectively. However, this difference did narrow by 2011, when the number of dairy farms had fallen from 2000 to approximately 1900, while arable farms had risen slightly to just under 1000. Although arable farming fluctuated only slightly, there was a steady decrease in dairy farms from 2007 onwards from a high of around 2050.
The pie charts show that while there were the same five main crops in 2006 and 2011, there was a notable change in the proportion of these crops. In 2006, wheat and corn accounted for just over and under one third of arable farming respectively, with potatoes, rape seed and barley all around 10%. By 2011, however, almost a quarter of arable farmland was devoted to rape seed and corn and wheat were around 5% less common than before. There was little or no change in potatoes and barley.
In conclusion, the main changes were the growth of rape seed farming and the fall in dairy farms.
Download version with notes
On this download you will find notes on:
- number language
- trend language
- approximation language