Bar Chart Lesson, analysis and model answer

How to write about a Bar Chart in IELTS, model answer and analysis

These are quite common in the academic writing part 1, so you need to be prepared in case you get one in your test. There are some things to be aware of, such as the correct structure to use, paraphrasing the introduction, a clear overview and reporting on the data accurately.

In this lesson we will look at a dynamic chart which shows changes over time. This bar chart is taken from the Cambridge IELTS 9 practice book (use only official IELTS material when practicing), I have given my own model answer followed by an analysis.

Remember in writing task 1 academic that you have to analyse the chart carefully, then decide if it is static data or dynamic data.  Static data shows one time period, which means ‘trends language’ will not be needed. In this lesson however, we will look at trends.

Writing task 1 is marked on 4 criteria:

  • Task Achievement (accurately write about the information presented)
  • Coherence and cohesion (easy to understand, clear and logical)
  • Grammatical range and accuracy (using the correct grammar to describe the trends, numbers, comparisons)
  • Lexical resource ( accurate clear vocabulary that is relevant to the task, good paraphrasing skills)

The Task

ilets writing task 1 bar chart

Source: Cambridge IELTS 9

Model Answer

The bar chart illustrates the total number of calls in the UK in billions of minutes, with three call types over an eight year period from 1995 to 2002.

Overall, local fixed line calls reached a peak by the middle of the period, then gradually declined. National and international calls showed a gradual rise over the whole period with mobile calls rising considerably toward the end of the period.

Regarding local fixed line calls, in 1995 they began at slightly over 70 billion minutes and rose gradually to a peak of 90 billion minutes by 1999. However, from 2000, the trend showed a gradual decline in numbers of calls, ending in 2002 at the same amount as the start of the period.

Turning to national, international fixed calls and mobile calls. Mobile calls in 1995 stood at around 2 billion minutes. Over the next 4 years they showed a gradual rise, with a considerable increase in call numbers from 2000 to 2002. International fixed calls showed a similar pattern, starting at just under 40 billion minutes of calls in 1995, then climbed steadily to around 60 billion minutes of calls in 2002.

190 words

 

Analysis

Word count:
Yes it’s a little bit long at 190 words, as long as you aim for around 180 words you should be fine. Just do not go below the word count of 150 words. You only have 20 minutes to do this task so keep it to around 160 to 180 words.

The Introduction

As is the case with all writing task 1 academic tasks, you need to write the introduction in your own words, or paraphrase it. So I changed the task question below.

Original question:

The chart below shows the total number of minutes (in billions) of telephone calls in the UK, divided into three categories, from 1995-2002.

Paraphrased:

The bar chart illustrates the total number of calls in the UK in billions of minutes with three call types over an eight year period from 1995 to 2002.

You do not need to paraphrase everything (always keep the word ‘chart’ ) you can also move the words around or change the grammatical structure of the sentence.

 

The Overview

As I mentioned before in other blog posts for academic task 1, the overview should not include numbers or statistics or too much detail. The point of the overview is to summarise the main features of the chart. Overviews often start with the word ‘Overall’

Overall, local fixed line calls reached a peak by the middle of the period, then gradually declined. National and international calls showed a gradual rise over the whole period with mobile calls rising considerably toward the end of the period.

In the overview above there are no numbers or even years, you can use trends language though. When describing a date range you can say:

  • at the beginning of the period
  • by the middle of the period
  • over the whole period 
  • at the end of the period.

The red text above  in the overview shows trends:

  • reached a peak
  • gradually declined
  • showed a gradual rise
  • rising considerably

 

The Body paragraphs

This is where you will need to group the information. Look at the chart and find 2 different trends and write about those in separate paragraphs.

Grouping the data is important for good coherence. In main Body one, I wrote about fixed line calls which rose then declined, in main Body two, I wrote about national, international and mobile calls which both went up, most notably, mobile calls which increased sharply near the end of the period.

 

 

Regarding local fixed line calls, in 1995 they began at slightly over 70 billion minutes and rose gradually to a peak of 90 billion minutes by 1999. However, from 2000, the trend showed a gradual decline in numbers of calls, ending in 2002 at the same amount as the start of the period.

Turning to national, international fixed calls and mobile calls. Mobile calls in 1995 stood at around 2 billion minutes. Over the next 4 years they showed a gradual rise, with a considerable increase in call numbers from 2000 to 2002. International fixed calls showed a similar pattern, starting at just under 40 billion minutes of calls in 1995, then climbed steadily, to around 60 billion minutes of calls in 2002.

 

To introduce the data I used ‘ Regarding’ and ‘Turning to..’  Look closely and you will notice that I have used the past tense in this report because it shows a time in the past.  Always check the date range in the task question, if it is a time in the past then make sure to use the past tense.


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