- See the big picture: do not get lost in the detail – it is a summarising task
- Learn to identify the correct details to support the main points
- Think about the correct language to use by reading the question carefully – often this language is explaining and comparing language
- Decide how to organise the information
The following pie charts show the results of a survey into the most popular leisure activities in the United States of America in 1999 and 2009.
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.
Step 1 What to include
There are 16 different numbersyou can include. This is too many. The task is to select and report the most important details. This will include naming all the activities, but not all the numbers. To do this, try looking for:
- the biggest number
- the smallest number
- what’s gone up
- what’s gone down
- what hasn’t changed
- what’s new
Putting this together, we need these details:
- walking is most popular in both periods
- yoga disappears and weightlifting is new
- swimming doubles
- aerobics, jogging and cycling all fall
- soccer and camping don’t change much
Step 2: organise your report
This will vary from task to task, but typically you will be looking at two content paragraphs. As you write your paragraphs, you want to think of three key ideas:
- highlight the main points – they come first
- group similar ideas together
- find a logical structure to present the points
These two charts illustrate how the preferred leisure activities of Americans changed between 1999 and 2009.Overall, walking isthe most popular in both years, weightlifting became popular in 2009 replacing yoga.
It is immediately evident that walking was by some distance the most popular pastime in both years,accounting for just under a third of the preferences expressed. Of equal note is that by 2009, yoga had disappeared from the list of preferred activities and had been replaced by weightlifting, which was chosen by one in ten Americans.
Among the less popular activities, the most notable development was that the proportion of people who went swimming doubled, making it equal second in popularity with soccer at 18%. In stark contrast, around as half as many Americans went cycling in 2009 as compared to ten years earlier, with the result that it became less popular than camping, at 7% and 9% respectively. Likewise, the number of people who went jogging and did aerobics also dropped significantly, with less than 5% of respondents to the survey choosing them.