IELTS Bar Graph: Overview, Answering Strategies and Tips, Vocabulary and Samples

Bar graph in IELTS academic writing task 1

Bar graph is one of the most common questions in IELTS academic writing task 1. You will be presented with a graph and asked to describe the bar chart in IELTS. You have to complete this task in 20 mins and should write a minimum of 150 words.

Bar graph in IELTS writing assess your skills in data analysis and task achievement with grammatical accuracy and vocabulary.  It is to remember, you should not evaluate or respond to a statistical bar graph, you should only interpret it and report.

Now, let’s see what we are going to cover in this article.

  • What is a Bar Graph?
  • How to describe a bar chart in IELTS?
  • Tips and strategies
  • IELTS bar graph vocabulary
  • IELTS bar graph sample question with answer
  • FAQs

What is a Bar Graph?

A Bar Graph (or Bar Chart) represents categorical data with comparison. A Bar Graph can be horizontal or vertical while plotting. In general, you find rectangular bars with lengths or heights. In simple terms, IELTS bar graph represents a diagrammatic comparison of distinct variables. A Bar Graph is different from Histogram.

How to describe a bar chart in IELTS?

In IELTS Academic Bar Graph, you need to structure your response within the time and word limits. Let us discuss some essentials that help you complete Bar Graph in IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 with a best score.

Describing a Bar chart in IELTS involves 2 steps;

  1. To gather the data
  2. To interpret the data

Steps to gather data from bar graph

  • The first thing to be done is to understand the data and segregate it according to the task.
  • Analyze the task and data type(static data or moving date) including time scales
  • What do the axes define and the units?
  • Group the data
  • Identify the key features

IELTS bar graph structure

Once you are ready with complete information, it is time to answer the task.

  • Introduction
  • Overview
  • Body paragraph
  • Summary

Strategies and Tips for Describing Bar Graph in IELTS Writing Task

  • Read and understand the question
  • Identify and note the key information
  • Start with Paraphrasing the question
  • Use numeric data and explain in detail
  • Keep a watch on your word count and time
  • Use proper vocabulary and grammar
  • Maintain Continuity with Transition Words
  • Don’t give your opinion

Read and Understand the Question:

Obviously, you have a graph in front of you containing certain information. Yet, do not go straight to answer the task. 

Read the instructions carefully and understand what is asked to do.

Identify and Note the Key Information:

After you read the requirement of the question, you ought to gather the key information for an effective task achievement.

Collect all the numerical data and plan according to the question.

Start with Paraphrasing the question:

Make sure that your introduction is simple and objective. Just paraphrase the information in the question.  Possibly, it is only 1 sentence.

Choose the key concepts of the graph to explain with an overview. Write about the high and low limits as well as the similarities and contrasts in the representation.

Remember, the overview is very crucial and the graders look for this as it contributes 25% of the score.

Explain in Detail and Use Numeric Data:

You may plan to write one body paragraph. But, the general preference is 2 body paragraphs. Here, you have to divide the information in a logical hierarchy which makes a complete sense. Organize the data with wit so that it conveys clear information.

Important, sentences in the body paragraphs must be supported by some relevant numeric data. If you do not support your sentences with sufficient numbers, you may be awarded a bit less for the task achievement. So, don’t overlook supporting data.

Keep a watch on your word count and time:

Always, time management skills play an important role in any examination. So, keep an eye on the time limit (i.e. 20 minutes) in co-ordinance with the prescribed word count (which is minimum 150 words).

Use proper vocabulary and grammar:

It is important to use a variety of sentence structures with a good range of vocabulary. This would boost up your lexical score. Make sure you maintain grammatical accuracy which is one more marking criteria. Grammar and vocabulary are 2 of 4 marking parameters that the IELTS graders consider. 

Complex sentences play a vital role in promoting your abilities to the grader. After all, the IELTS exam is a language proficiency test you must learn to structure the sentences. The sentence structures you use are definitely examined.

Maintain Continuity with Transition Words:

You must use linking words to maintain the continuity of your sentences. Besides, linking words help the reader by giving a lead to anticipate what’s coming next in the discussion. Words such as in comparison with, compared to, opposing, while, whereas etc. will allow you to gain coherence and cohesion in your writing. Remember, linking words contribute 25% of the marks. But, make sure you use them suitably with relevance to enhance the meaning of the paragraphs.

Don’t express your opinion:

Often, most of the candidates are confused here, the IELTS Academic Task 1 considers your task achievement and Task 2 takes your task response to assess your abilities. So, remember not to evaluate or express your opinions about the given task. 

Here, you are expected to analyse the given representation and describe it in your own words.

Follow these IELTS Academic writing tips and tricks to score good in this section.

IELTS Bar Graph Vocabulary:

To score high within the limited instructions makes the task a bit challenging. In the minimum of 150 words, you have to repeat numbers and certain words again and again. But, it creates a lack of interest in the reader.

In order to rectify this, you should be good at vocabulary. You must use a variety of words which would not only describe, but also enhance and compare the subject. Use strong words that explain your clear intention.

IELTS bar chart vocabulary generally consists of up verbs, down verbs, adjectives and adverbs of degree and steady adjectives. Take a look over some of the example words.

Up VerbsDown VerbsAdjectivesAdverbsSteady Adjectives
RiseBack downTremendousTremendouslyUniform

IELTS Bar Graph Sample Answer

Let us go through a sample bar chart for IELTS.

The bar graph gives information about the share of adults in the United States who use the internet sorted by age groups in the year 2019.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Sample of bar chart in IELTS

Bar Graph Interpretation:

We can see the share of adults in the US using the internet in 2019 sorted by the age group of 18-29, 30-49, 50-64 and above 65 years.

The statistics clearly illustrate that 100% of the US adults of 18-29 age group are internet users. And the internet user population gradually decreases with respect to the increase in age group.

As it is shown, 18-29 age group being the highest internet using populace, we find 30-49 age group to be the second highest with a populace percentage of 97%.

Whereas, the internet user population further decreases in the case of 50-64 age group to a percentage of 88% which gradually further lowers to 73% with respect to the age group above 65.

It’s clear that in the US, every youngster used the internet in the year 2019. And, as we consider people above 30 and the middle aged citizens, the user percentage has lowered to 97% and 88% respectively with citizens above 64 having the least internet user percentage of 73%.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bar Graphs in IELTS

1) How many words should we use to describe bar graphs in IELTS?

You have to write a minimum of 150 words or a bit more. The ideal word length is 160-180 words.

2) How to identify key features from bar graph?

Well, the first step should be defining the axes. Often, key features in a graph generally include fields, measuring units and numerical data. 

3) Where to note the key features of bar graph?

You will be provided with a paper and you can use a pen or pencil to note the key features in the IELTS Writing test.

4) What tense should we use while describing bar graph?

You have to use the right tense according to the context. Crucially the usage of tense depends on the time frame of the graph.

5) Should we conclude or give opinion on bar graph data?

No, you are not supposed to give any opinion on the bar graph. It is statistics and needs to be interpreted not evaluated. In addition, the graders consider your task achievement (not task response).

6) By concluding the data can we get high marks?

Of course not! Besides, it is a waste of time. Conclusion is another form of overview relatively short. Overview is important for a good score.

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