This is the first in a series of postings about how to approach academic task 1 in the writing paper. The starting point is to be aware of the different types of charts and graphs you may see. The key point is that each chart and graph will require a different form of language.
The chart types
There are 4 different chart type you may see in the exam:
- the bar chart/line graph
- the pie chart
- the table
- the process/diagram
Static and dynamic charts
You should note that there are 2 major types of chart and graph: the static chart and the dynamic chart. The static chart shows only one period of time or has no time element. In contrast, the dynamic chart shows two or more periods of time or a change over a period of time.
It is essential to note this as static charts and dynamic charts require different language. You cannot use the famous “trend language” in static charts where there is no change in time. Many candidates focus exclusively on this language. That is a big mistake.
A video tutorial
In this video, I talk through the different chart types and describe some of the typical problems they present.
Are you from China?
Here is a Chinese friendly/non-Youtube version of the video.
The key language
What language do you need for academic task 1? It will depend on the chart/graph you see. These are the main possibilities:
topic specific language: if the graph is about leisure activities, you will need leisure activity language; if it is about employment, you will need employment language, etc. You should note that to get a reasonable score, you will need to vary the language in the question and the chart: it is not sufficient to copy that language.
comparison language: typically, you will need to compare and contrast in tables, charts and graphs. You will need this language whether the chart/graph is static or has a time element. To get a good score, you will need more than one comparison structure: it is not sufficient to repeat the same comparing structure every time.
trend/change language: this language is only appropriate in charts/graphs where there is a change of time. If there is no time element, or if there is only one period of time then you do not need this language.
process language: if you see a diagram or process, then you will need the language to describe processes (first, then, next etc)