Bar Graph Interpretation Essay

A bar chart or bar graph is a chart that uses either horizontal or vertical bars to show comparisons among categories. One axis of the chart shows the specific categories being compared, and the other axis represents a discrete value. Some bar graphs present bars clustered in groups of more than one (grouped bar graphs), and others show the bars divided into subparts to show cumulate effect (stacked bar graphs).

  • 50. Female unemployment rates in each country of the UK

    The graph shows female unemployment rates in each country of the United Kingdom in 2013 and 2014.

    [Model Answer]

  • 49. Percentage who watch reality shows and game shows

    The charts show the number and genres of TV programmes watched by men and women and four different age groups in Australia.

    [Model Answer]

  • 48. Shares of expenditures for selected categories, United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Japan, 2009

    The bar chart shows shares of expenditures for five major categories in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Japan in the year 2009.

    [Model Answer]

  • 47. International graduates, Canadian universities, 2001 and 2006

    The chart shows the percentage change in the share of international students among university graduates in different Canadian provinces between 2001 and 2006.

    [Model Answer]

  • 46. Percentage of population aged 65 and over

    The chart gives information about the UK's ageing population in 1985 and makes predictions for 2035.

    [Model Answer]

  • 45. Percentage of pupulation in urban areas

    The bar chart gives information about the percentage of the population living in urban areas in the world and in different continents.

    [Model Answer]

  • 44. Urban populations in different world regions

    The graphs provide information on global population figures and figures for urban populations in different world regions.

    [Model Answer]

  • 43. The percentage of male and female teachers

    The chart shows the percentage of male and female teachers in six different types of educational setting in the UK in 2010.

    [Model Answer]

  • 42. Home and International Students

    The bar chart gives information about the number of students studying Computer Science at a UK university between 2010 and 2012.

    [Model Answer]

  • 41. Finland's telephone calls, by category, 1995-2004

    The chart shows the total number of minutes (in millions) of telephone calls in Finland, divided into three categories, from 1995 – 2004.

    [Model Answer]

  • Writing task one: bar graphs

    You will be given one or more bar graphs. Your task is to describe the information given in the graph by writing a 150 word report. You are not asked to give your opinion. You should spend around 20 minutes on the task.

    What is being tested is your ability to:

    • objectively describe some graphic information
    • compare and contrast
    • report on an impersonal topic without the use of opinion
    • use the language of graph description

    Sample task


    You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

    Write a report for a university lecturer describing the information in the graph below.

    Write at least 150 words.

    Your task
    Complete the task one report writing exercise above. Spend only 20 minutes. Then look at the guidelines and the sample answer below.

    Guidelines for a good answer


    Does the report have a suitable structure?

    • Does it have an introduction, body and conclusion?
    • Does it include connective words to make the writing cohesive within sentences and paragraphs?

    Does the report use suitable grammar and vocabulary?

    • Does it include a variety of sentence structures?
    • Does it include a range of appropriate vocabulary?

    Does the report meet the requirements of the task?

    • Does it meet the word limit requirements?
    • Does it describe the whole graph adequately?
    • Does it focus on the important trends presented in the graphic information?

    Now read sample answer one. How well does it follow the guidelines?

    Sample answer 1


    The graphs compare the number of deaths caused by six diseases in Someland in 1990 with the amount of research funding allocated to each of those diseases. It can be clearly seen that the amount of research funding in many cases did not correlate with the seriousness of the disease in terms of numbers of deaths.

    In 1990 there were around 0.2 million deaths from AIDS, 0.1 million deaths from leprosy, 0.3 million deaths from tropical diseases, 0.5 million deaths from diarrhoea, 0.4 million deaths from malaria and 1.8 million deaths from TB. These figures can be contrasted with the amount of funding allocated for each disease. In 1990 AIDS received 180 million dollars in research funding, leprosy 80 million dollars in research funding, tropical diseases 79 million dollars in research funding, diarrhoea 60 million dollars in research funding, malaria 50 million dollars and TB 20 million dollars in research funding.

    In conclusion it is clear that funding allocation for disease research in Someland is not wholly determined by the number of deaths for which each disease is responsible in a given year.

    Strategies for improving your IELTS score


    Selecting information
    In completing this task, it is important that you fully describe all of the graphic information given. However, this does not mean that you should note every detail. In most cases there will be too much information for you to mention each figure. You will therefore need to summarise the graph in meaningful segments. In other words, you will describe the significant trends in your report.

    Report structure
    Like the line graphs, your report should be structured simply with an introduction, body and conclusion. Tenses should be used appropriately.

    Use two standard opening sentences to introduce the graph and your report. These opening sentences should make up the first paragraph. Sentence one should define what the graph is about, that is, the date, location, what is being described in the graph etc. For example:

    The graphs compare the number of deaths caused by six diseases in Someland in 1990 with the amount of research funding allocated to each of those diseases.

    Notice that in the single line graph we said that ‘the graph shows… but with two bar graphs we can more accurately say ‘the graphs compare … ’.

    Notice that the Simple Past tense used. Even though it describes information from the past, the graph shows the information in the present time.

    Notice that the sample opening sentence does not simply copy the words used on the graphic material. Copied sentences will not be assessed by the examiner and so you waste your time including them.

    Sentence two (and possibly three) might sum up the overall trend. For example:

    It can be clearly seen that the amount of research funding in many cases did not correlate with the seriousness of the disease in terms of numbers of deaths.

    Notice the tense used. Here we are talking about 1990.

    The body of the report will describe the graph or graphs in detail. You will need to decide on the most clear and logical order to present the material. In this case it might be best to work through the diseases one by one.

    Ideally your report should end with one or two sentences which summarise your report or draw a relevant conclusion.

    Grammar and vocabulary


    You will receive a higher mark if your writing uses a range of structures and vocabulary correctly rather than a limited number.

    When describing some bar graphs you will sometimes use the same language as the line graphs. This will be the case if one axis of the bar graph gives a time scale. In that case, your report will generally describe the information in terms of time from the earliest event to the latest. For example:

    In 1990 X fell.
    In 1990 there was a rise in X.

    Look at the following graph and read the description.

    In this graph of Electro Inc’s television sales between 1996 and 1999, we can see that purchases of televisions went up in 1996 and continued to rise steadily until 1998 when they dropped slightly.

    In some cases, however, it will not be appropriate to describe the bar graphs in terms of time and different language will need to be used. For example, in the following graph we could not say:

    In 1990 there was a rise in holiday makers from Indonesia.

    because the word ‘rise’ implies that the graph also shows a lower number of holiday makers at an earlier time, which in fact it doesn’t.

    In this case we can say:

    Someland was the most popular destination for holiday makers from Indonesia.

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