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May 24, 2012


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The very first difference is that a chart that shows changes always has to do with a period of time. This is somehow always true because we need a time span to compare the changes over a period of time. On the other hand, as to charts that show comparison, these charts show differences between parties at a point of time. It is also worth noting that the language we use in these two main types of charts are different. Simon, could you teach us how we should vary the language? Thanks, Simon!

Thank you very much!

hi simon
my biggest problem is selecting main point in task 1.i took IELTS twice and i got 6 in writing becuse of task 1.students always think that is the easiest part but in real situation i panic and cant decide what points should i pick up.
please give some useful tips

hi Simon,
the first bar chart illustrates a decreasing trend, while the second bar chart show the difference between incidents and injuries!

In my opinion bar charts with time axis and line graphs are exactly equal in nature. In this case we can start our essays with : The bar chart (line graph)shows the changes in ......
In lack of time axis : The bar chart compares ......

Dear Simon

I want to shire you my answer for the above two bar charts.
my answer is:

A glance at the bar chart and the other bar chart attached to it shows that as an overall trend, the injury in 1997 outnumbered the ones in 2006.

In the year 1997, the injury rate decreased slightly from just over 120 to just below 120 three years later. From this time onwards, there was a dramatic decline in the injury rate to approximately 100 two years later. From this point onwards, the injury rate underwent a gradual falling trend until reached a trough of 85 in the year 2006.

On the other hand, light rail and bus had the same number of incidents in 2002 by 76. These figures were significantly higher than the corresponding figures of 51 in heavy rail and 20 in commuter rail. By contrast, bus and light rail reported 66 and 39 injuries, respectively. However, heavy rail had 35 injuries, whereas commuter rail claimed 17 injuries.

It is interesting to note that the demand response reported 225 incidents, compared with 173 injuries.

Dear simon

I wender if you give me your comment about this topic

The first bar chart shows the changes in injury rate over five year period starting from 1997. Overall, the injury rate declined gradually.

The second bar chart compares the numbers of incidents and injuries among commuter rail, heavy rail,light rail, bus and demand response. It is clear that demand response showed the highest numbers of incidents and injuries.

i think it is very different. while the first bar chart shows the change only in injury rate over 5 years (time series), the second bar chart shows the comparison between incidents and injuries by types (e.g computer rail, heavy rain ...) in special time (e.g 2002). So for the first chart, we have to describe general trend over period and its' changes year by year in detail. For the second chart, we discribe the general comparison between incidents and injuries first and then we compare the deviation of each types.

hi everyone.
These are different types quetsions of task1.
the first can be called 'timeful chart'
the second can be called 'timeless chart'.
that is the most significant discrepancy.

can someone help me with the meaning of PMT, VMT and demand response

Hi everyone,

You seem to have the right idea:

1. Charts show 'change' when we see TIME (usually years) on the x axis.

2. Charts show 'comparison' when the x axis has different ITEMS rather than time. You can't talk about 'increase/decrease' for this type of chart.

I'll use these charts again next Thursday. Don't worry about PMT and VMT for now - you are not expected to know what these mean.

Hello, Simon,
I want to know whether "the downard trend from ... to ... "is right, while i know "a fall or drop from .. to ..." is correct.
The injury rate saw a downward trend from 121 to 85 injuries for 100 million people.

is it possible to write "be likely to " in this kind of charts?

Incidents in bus and commuter rail were more likely to cause injuries than those in commuter rail and heavy rail.

thanks a lot if you give me some guidance.

This is indeed a good lesson because it reminds students to pay attention to tables and/or charts when reading the news!

There is really so much to learn when reading ANY English article, but it all depends on the effort that the student puts to analyze the details.

hello simon

i found that its quite difficult to select and group information together of bar charts and tables. when i see a bar chart with lots of information, i usually have no idea where to start and how to write a report.

are there any general rules about selecting detain information?

Hi Jessica,

Yes, both of your sentences are fine.


Hi Nicholas,

I usually look for things like
- the first and last years
- highest and lowest
- biggest change
- overall trend (change)
- one noticeable number for each item (country etc.)

You need to realise that Writing Task 1 is THE most predictable part of the entire IELTS test. There are only so many ways to interpret a bar chart or graph in 150 words. Take advantage of it and build up a repertoire of words and structures that are useful in analysing data. You can use and reuse that repertoire on just about anything they throw at you in Writing Task 1.

There's a subtle way to interpret "comparison-type" bar charts like the lower one, and you can use it every time you see such a chart. It might help make your response sound less mechanical and show the examiner that you capable of analysing. Forget about VMT and PMT for now. Look carefully at the statistics for "Commuter Rail" and "Bus".

How are they similar?

What does this tell you?

...It seems I failed to read the comments properly. Someone has already picked up on this!

Hi ochanh1993,

I have never heard of the words "timeful" and "timeless" being used in describing data. "Timeful" is an obsolete (meaning no longer commonly used) word. "Timeless" is typically used to describe something that possesses a quality or value that does not degrade with time. For example, you can say that a 1970's classic ballad is timeless. A magnificent work of art from the 19th century might be considered timeless. Wise words from an ancient philosopher can be timeless.

Also, please be careful when using the word "discrepancy" - it means more than "difference". I've tried to explain this in a comment on Simon's subsequent post, dated May 31, 2012.

Thank you so much Simon

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