Language for Describing a Graph

Choosing the chart: 

When Trying to describe a graph or chart it is important to decide what kind of graph or chart your describing

A flow chart is a diagram showing the progress of material through the steps  of a manufacturing process  or the succession of operations in a complex activity A pie chart displays the size of each part as a percentage of a whole A (vertical or horizontal) bar chart is used to compare unlike items 
A line chart depicts changes over a period of time, showing data and trends  A table is a convenient way to show large amount of data   in a small space  A diagram is a drawing showing arrangements and situations, such as networks  distribution, fluctuation …

Presenting a Graph 

These are phrases that can be used to present a graph or chart:




This graph shows the results of our products … over 10 years.
The diagram outlines rates of economic growth … between 1990 and 1996.
This table lists the top ten agencies … in the industrial world.
This pie chart represents the company’s turnover … for this year in our sector.
This line chart depicts the changes in sales … over the past year.
This chart breaks down (ventile) … the sales of each salesman … during the past ten weeks.

Four Basic Trends

Generally speaking there are four basic trends that can be reported

  • Upward movement
  • Downward movement
  • No movement
  • Change in Direction

Describing an upward movement: 






(to) increase (to) increase (an) increase
(to) raise (to) rise (rose, risen) (a) raise (US), a rise (UK)
(to) push/put/step up (to) go/be up (an) upswing
(to) grow (a) growth
(to) extend, (to) expand (to) extend, (to) expand (an) extension, expansion
(to) progress (a) progression
(to) boom/soar/climb (a) boom
(to) jump, (to) skyrocket (a) jump
(to) reach a peak, (to) peak (a) peak
(to) reach an all-time high

Describing a Downward movement 






(to) decrease (to) decrease (a) decrease
(to) cut, (to) reduce (a) cut, (a) reduction
(to) fall (off)    (fall, fell, fallen) (a) fall
(to) plunge, to plummet (a) plunge
(to) drop (off) (a) drop
(to) go down (a) downswing
(to) decline (a) decline
(to) collapse (a) collapse (dramatic fall)
(to) slump, (to) go bust (a) slump
(to) bottom out

Describing No Movement 






(to) keep … stable (to) remain stable
(to) hold … constant (to) stay constant
(to) stabilize (to) stabilize stability

Indicating a change of direction 






(to) level off

(to) level off/out, to flatten out

(a) levelling-off

(to) stop falling/rising

(a) change

(to) stand at

(to) remain steady

(to) stop falling and start rising

(to) stop rising and start falling

Indicating the Degree or Speed of Change 

Describing change in a graph

Please complete the following exercises

Describing Graphs and Trends

Summary Completion

Format of the Question: 

In this kind of question you are asked to complete a summary of the reading passage by using words that you can select from a box, it is important to note that:

  1. There are more words in the box than questions.
  2. The words in box are usually not the same as in the reading passage.
  3. The summary may relate to the whole passage or only part of it.
  4. The text of the summary will generally follow the order of the text of the passage.


Suggested Procedure

  1. Read through the summary carefully and make sure you understand what you have read.
  2. Work out which section of the reading the summary comes from.
  3. Think about what forms will fit the sentence i.e. if there is an article there should be a noun.
  4. Look for words in the word box that fit grammatically
  5. Identify key words in the summary and see if you can find synonyms in the text
  6. Use the information you have found to help you work out the answer



Now use the above procedures and strategies on the attached reading task

Summary Completion ex 1 Summary Completion Ex 2


Sample Type 1 Questions

Now that you know the basic structure why don’t you try describing some of these different graphs. Remember to use the IOK structure  and also that your response should be at least 150 words

Good luck 🙂

As your working on your task please let me know how it is coming along so thatI can give you feed back

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Writing Task 1 (IELTS) Basic Structure

Here is the typical structure for a type 1 essay question for the IELTS exam along with a model answer. Remember that when describing a graph it is important to use the IOK structure. Start your writing by describing what the graph shows or contrasts, then begin the second paragraph by looking at the overall trend (at this point you may also want to talk about what the different bars or represent if your describing a chart or graph), then in the final paragraph spend some time describing key points in the graph, please remember that these points should support the overall trend of the chart or graph

Task 1 Structure