In the IELTS exam, you may be asked to describe one of more of the following input types. Read about each one, and check that you know the meanings of the key words in bold.
- Pie charts
- Bar charts
- Line graphs
Pie charts are a very popular way of showing data. The circle (or pie) is equal to 100%, and the size of each segment (or slice of the pie) represents a percentage of the whole. Although pie charts do not give detailed information, they allow people to gain a quick overall impression.
How should I describe pie charts?
When describing a pie chart, you need to describe the segments and the values they have. You will compare and contrast the different segments. You should focus on key information, typically the largest and smallest segments. If you are given two or more pie charts, you should compare and contrast the information in the two, and/or describe changes if more than one time period is given.
Bar charts are often used to compare different groups of data. Each one has rectangular bars of the same width, and it is the length of these bars which shows the value of a particular category.
How should I describe bar charts?
Bar charts are typically used to compare two or more groups of data. A single bar chart can show the same information as several different pie charts. When describing a bar chart, you will compare and contrast the different categories. You will consider the tallest bar(s) and the smallest bar(s). If there are many bars, you may choose to group the information in the categories if they have the same or similar values. You may also be able to consider how values have changed over time or under different conditions.
Tables are useful ways of organizing and presenting data. In a table, you can easily compare categories and track changes. The information presented is similar to that in multiple pie charts or bar charts. The trends and patterns in the data can only be understood by looking across the numbers in the different rows as well as up and down the numbers in the columns.
How should I describe tables?
When describing a table, compare and contrast the information in the different categories, focus on the largest and smallest numbers, and discuss trends if several time periods are given.
A line graph is often the best way to display data that changes continuously over time. Line graphs have a horizontal x-axis along the bottom and a vertical y-axis, usually down the left-hand side. The x-axis typically shows the different time periods, and the y-axis shows that is being measured.
How should I describe line graphs?
When describing a line graph, focus on how the line changes over time. Think about the main trends, the main changes and differences, that you can see. Focus on the highest point and the lowest point. Highlight any periods of rapid change or periods of stability. If there is more than one line on the line graph, compare and contrast how they change over time.
Diagrams can show how a piece of equipment works, how something is made, how something happens, or how something is structured. Through a combination of words and pictures, a clear understanding of the process and/or structure can be understood.
How should I describe diagrams?
When describing this type of input, focus on the purpose of the diagram. If you are describing a process, be clear about the starting point and the end point. If there are two diagrams, compare and contrast the differences between them.Images: digitalart / renjith krishnan / Sujin Jetkasettakorn / Keerati / FreeDigitalPhotos.net