Describing a Bar Chart is possibly one of the tasks you will be asked to do in your IELTS Academic Writing Exam.
There are a couple of different structures you can follow when describing a Bar Chart. But today we will teach you a structure where you assign each sentence of your text to a topic – kind of the opposite of what you usually do when writing.
It may look a little confusing, but it works. Just follow our lead.
How to choose information from the Bar Chart?
The task requires you to write 150 words in total, and one sentence contains around 10 to 15 words. We can estimate that your description of the Bar Chart will be made out of 10 to 12 sentences.
For the sake of this example, let’s say our description will be made out of 10 sentences.
We can now assign each sentence for a specific task:
- One sentence for introduction.
- Two sentences with the superlative.
- A sentence with a comparison.
- A sentence grouping two data points because they are similar..
- A sentence noting an exception.
- A sentence describing some data in advanced manner.
- A sentence describing the data in a normal fashion.
- Two sentences for summary.
Note that these sentences don’t necessarily need to go in this particular order. You must write them in a way that makes your Bar Chart description flow naturally.
Example of how to describe a Bar Chart
Now that we have figured out what we want to write about in the description of the Bar Chart it’s time to put our Data Selection skills to use.
It is easy to get lost in all of the information provided by a Bar Chart as there can be so much data. That’s why it’s important to keep in mind what you are looking for when you are analyzing the chart.
Let’s begin with the analysis of this Bar Chart, and pick out the information that is relevant to our structure. See the example of a bar chart below:
The bar chart shows the caloric intake of UK males in three distinct age groups of 0-24, 25-49, and over 50 years old.
Dairy for the 0-24 age group was the highest source of calories, whilst the other categories each represented about 20% each. In the next age group dairy fell to around a quarter, and meat became the main source of calories, reaching half of the total intake.
Pulses and vegetables reached 10% and 15% respectively. Pulses in the final age group increased six fold to over 60%, whereas calories obtained from vegetables was 10%, half that of meat (20%), and even slightly less than dairy (15%).
The 50+ group shows the most marked preference out of all the groups. It also confirms the gradual decline in vegetable consumption as males become older.
Overall it is clear that each age group has a clear favourite which varies depending on age. However vegetables are consistently amongst the least popular, regardless of age.
Final tips on describing a Bar Chart
- After you have successfully written out your description with all of the information you wanted to include, go over it and replace some simpler words into more academic ones – this will gain you more marks.
- Check the whole text is free of errors and mistakes.
- Practise with different Bar Charts to improve.
- Review the superlatives -these are essential if you want to effectively describe the chart.
New tip: Draw conclusions from the bar chart, quoting specific results from the chart will help you gain marks as it shows that you can interpret and understand information given to you.
Video: How to Describe a Bar Chart
Audio Tutorial: Bar Chart Description for IELTS
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Useful Resources For Academic Quality Graph Description
Economist Daily Chart – This is collection of current graphs and charts, with descriptions. Visit the site and write out some of their graph descriptions on paper, then review them for useful words and phrases.
TheGuardian.com Data Blog – Similar to the Economist but with a less economic focus and definitely more creative graphs.
BBC Skills Wise – A great site for focussing on graph interpretation. If you can write perfect English but still struggle in IELTS Academic then you need this site. It’s perfect for improving your graph reading skills.
Prepare for your IELTS essay by getting your creative juices flowing. Browse through some essay samples here and get the inspiration you need to write your own.
Academic essay example
If you are taking your IELTS for academic purposes then you need to familiarise yourself with some academic styles of writing an essay by clicking here.
Sample Describing a Pie Chart Ebook