In this lesson I show you a way to identify the main points in a line graph when you have two lines. A very common mistake here is to miss key details and/or to write a confused summary just focusing on vocabulary. So how do you get it right?
Look at the question and see the possible problems
Remember that your task is to write a summary of this graph. You need to summarise accurately what happens to each line and to make a comparison between the two lines. There is a lot of information here – about 20 pieces of data – so don’t try and understand it all at once. Break the problem down. Before you write you need to know:
- what happens to the blue line
- what happens to there green line
- how the two lines compare
So why not look at each of these in turn? That way you can be sure of identifying the key points.
Remember that the key points are likely to be found by looking at
the start and the end – this gives you an overall trend
the high points and low points – these are almost always key
where the lines cross – these are important for comparison
periods of no change – don’t ignore these!!!!
where the lines change direction – these points of change
Test your skills
Look at this graph. It should look much easier now. Do not try and describe the whole line – that is not the task. Instead look for 4/5 details you want to include and think about the overall trend. Look at the icons on the line below and see if you can see why I have marked them. Then click on them and you’ll see my notes.
Try again – a bit harder this time
This is the same exercise. Again just look for the key points and the overall trend. I’ve made it a little harder by not showing you where the notes are. See if you can identify the main points for yourself. You’ll find my notes by moving your mouse/finger over the line. Do you agree with my notes?
And again – this time just look for comparisons
Now you should have a good idea about what the main points are. But remember you need to compare – the question always asks you to compare. To do this, you need to look
at the beginning and end
where the lines cross
any big differences between the lines
A sample answer
Points to note in this answer are how it is carefully organised into paragraphs and that the key points are identified. The first paragraph summarises the topic and main trends (both go up/house prices went up more and were higher at the end). The second paragraph summarises the rise in rental accommodation. The third paragraph looks at house prices and also makes the key comparisons.
Note that I do not describe all the details of the lines.
This chart shows how the rate of increase in the cost of buying a home and renting accommodation rose in the three years between January 2013 and January 2016. It is immediately apparent that, while both increased, the rate for house prices went up more and by the end of the period was higher than the rate for rentals even though it started at a lower point.
Although the cost of renting rose consistently throughout this period, the rate of increase remained comparatively steady throughout this period going up from approximately 4% to just under 4.5% by 2016. This upward trend was only interrupted by two fairly minor dips in the first quarter of 2013 and the second half of 2014.
The rate of increase of house prices was much less steady and fluctuated considerably after an initial sharp increase. During 2013 and into early 2014 it rose from just 3% to about 5% and was almost a full percentage point higher than for renting. After this high there was a lengthy period of fluctuation with the peak of around 5% being reached in early 2014 and a low of 4.2% at the end of year. It is of note that during 2015 rental accommodation was rising a very similar rate.Get more help with task 1 See a similar exercise with pie chartsThe words you need to write about main points