Essay Report Based On Graph

I previously wrote about how to get a 7 or over on a Task 1 essay. My main point was about the overview/summary paragraph which should identify 2 main trends, patterns or features of the graph(s), rather than just describing the labels of the graph(s).

I had written a comparison between 2 versions of the overview paragraph. Here is my full sample model essay for that same question.

The tables and pie chart show in percentage terms the results of a survey of a new shopping complex in London.

Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant. Write at least 150 words.


Here is my essay:

The tables and pie chart show the findings of a customer satisfaction survey conducted at a new shopping mall in London.

Overall, the majority of shoppers were satisfied or very satisfied with the shops, restaurants and design of the new mall. In general, both men and women felt similarly about the shops, while more males were satisfied with the restaurants compared to women.

When asked about the design of the complex, 62% of  both sexes were satisfied and 17% were very satisfied, leaving only 11% and 10% for those who were dissatisfied or had no comment. When asked about the shops, both sexes gave their approval with 62% of males and 71% of females either satisfied or very satisfied. Interestingly enough, exactly 20% of both males and females were dissatisfied.

Views differed most when asked about restaurants. Males were more positive, with 80% satisfied or very satisfied and just 5% dissatisfied. Females, on the other hand, were less positive with 59% approval ratings and a much more noticeable 21% disapproval rate.

(171 words)

Useful words and expressions used:

  • findings – results of a survey or research
  • approval/disapproval ratings, approval/disapproval rate –
  • shopping mall – shopping complex

Take note of the organization and how I followed my two important features that I identified in my overview paragraph:

  1. Paragraph 1 – introduction – rephrased the question & title of the graphs
  2. Paragraph 2 – overview paragraph – 1) Majority of both sexes were satisfied or very satisfied in all 3 charts. 2) Men & women had similar opinions on the shops but differed with the restaurants – more men were happy with the restaurants
  3. Paragraph 3 – Details on majority being satisfied or very satisfied with the design & with the shops
  4. Paragraph 4 – Details on the difference in opinion on the restaurants.

Posted in IELTS Writing, Writing Task 1 Tagged with: IELTS Writing, sample essay, sample test questions, Writing Task 1




Introduction to describing graphs and tables

A pie chart

In many subject areas you may need to refer to numbers, statistics and other data during the course of your studies. This is likely to be data collected by other people which you will use to support your written work, but it may be data that you have collected yourself as part of your studies. Data is generally presented in the form of tables, charts and graphs, which makes it easier for readers to understand. However, it is often necessary to reproduce and refer to this type of information in words, as part of a report or written assignment. If you include a graph, chart or table in your writing, you must explain very clearly what the data in it means, and why it is relevant to your report or assignment.

In the following activities you will consider how data should be presented within your writing, and you will examine and practise the language used to describe and refer to data in a graph. Much of the vocabulary is similar, whether you are referring to a graph, table or chart.

Activity 1: Understanding how to present a graph

When you write a report or an assignment, it may be necessary to include some data, for example, in a graph. This data should be included within the body of your text. In this activity, you are going to consider how data, such as a graph, should be presented in your writing.


Look at the example graph below. Can you correctly name the different parts of the graph? Drag and drop the items into place to give them their correct label. Then read the feedback.


Horizontal axis

Horizontal axis label


Vertical axis

Vertical axis label

Here are the answers:

Vertical axis label


Horizontal axis

Vertical axis

Horizontal axis label


All of these features are important to include if you are using graphs in your written work.

The caption on a graph, table, chart or image should describe the kind of information displayed in the graph so that readers immediately understand the information being presented to them.

The key gives important information about the data in the graph and helps readers to understand the data.

The axis labels also give important information which is crucial to understanding the data correctly.

The caption, the key and the axis labels must always be included when using graphs in your writing (when writing about tables or charts, you are unlikely to need axis labels but you must include a caption and key). This helps readers to understand the data that you are writing about. It also helps to support the credibility of your argument or report by showing that you have a good knowledge and understanding of your subject.

Activity 2: Understanding information in a graph

In this activity, you are going to examine the graph from Activity 1 in more detail. It gives some information about an IT (Information Technology) company's hardware and software sales. You are then going to consider the meaning of the data it shows.


Study the line graph and then read the statements below. Decide if they are true or false and select the appropriate button. Then read the feedback.

 The graph shows annual sales of hardware and software over a period of ten years.

The graph shows annual sales of hardware and software over a period of ten years, from 1992 to 2002.

 The horizontal axis on the graph shows the number of units sold.

The horizontal axis shows the years.

 The vertical axis shows the number of units sold and is measured in numbers which go up by 5000 at each level.

The numbers on the vertical axis start at 0 and then increase by 5000 at each level: 0, 5000, 10000, 15000 etc.

 The graph only shows where sales have increased.

The graph shows where sales have increased and decreased (gone up and down).

 It would be fair to say that sales figures have gone up and down over the period described.

The graph seems to show that sales figures have fluctuated (gone up and down) over the period described.

Activity 3: Describing a graph

Once you are confident that you understand the data described in a graph or table you are in a position to be able to write about it and refer to the data it contains.


Read the following text, which describes the graph below. Select the words that are needed to complete the text from the dropdown lists. Then read the feedback.

The graph the sales figures for two products from 1992 to 2002. The axis represents years and the axis represents units sold. The graph both the and the in sales for both products, as sales during the ten-year period.

The graph shows the sales figures for two products from 1992 to 2002. The horizontal axis represents years and the vertical axis represents units of sales. The graph presents both the increase and decline in sales for both products, as sales fluctuated during the ten-year period.

Activity 4: Writing about a graph

In this activity, you are going to study a graph showing data about international student numbers on a particular course at a UK university, and then practise writing a simple description of the data it shows.


Study the graph below. Write a brief paragraph in the box describing the data shown in the graph. Then read the feedback.

Here is an example paragraph describing the graph:
The graph shows the number of international students on a pre-sessional course, at Southfield University, from 2000 to 2008. The horizontal axis presents the years and the vertical axis shows student numbers. The graph indicates that numbers of international students on the course each year have fluctuated. There was a decline in student numbers from 2001-2002, and 2005-2006, but generally, student numbers have increased over the period.

© eLanguages, Modern Languages, University of Southampton, 2014. All rights reserved.

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