Academic Writing task 1 | How to do an overview in a data question


man holding a tablet and data printouts

In a data question, usually the best way to write a good overview is to put the categories into groups. Ask yourself this question:

  • Which categories have the same general trend?

Try it with task below:


writing task 1 bar chart sample

Which categories have the same general trend?

China, the United States, Russia, Japan, India, Canada, France, Brazil and Korea. Rep. All these countries have more production than consumption.

Germany is the only country that has less production than consumption.

And...

China and the United States. These two countries have very high rates of production and consumption.

All the other countries have much less production and consumption.

By putting the countries into groups like this, I can use just a few words to talk about all the categories. Take a look at my overview:

"In general, we can see that the only country which consumed more electricity than it produced was Germany. Additionally, China and the United States had much higher rates of consumption and production than any other country."

Here's another example. Which categories have the same general trend? Put them into groups.


writing task 1 pie chart sample

Here's my answer:

  1. Refrigeration, other appliances and lighting. These categories have significantly less household energy use than greenhouse gas emissions.

  2. Heating has significantly more energy use than greenhouse gas emissions

  3. Water heating and cooling have roughly the same proportion of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

And my overview:

"In general, we can see that refrigeration, other appliances and lighting were responsible for significantly less household energy use than they were greenhouse gas emissions, while the opposite was true for heating. In contrast, cooling and water heating accounted for roughly the same proportion of energy use as they did greenhouse gas emissions."

Let's take a look at one last example. In the graph below we don't have many categories, so we can't really put them into groups.

When this happens, just describe each category in a very general way, without providing any figures.


writing task 1 bar chart sample 2

"In general, we can see that the percentage of households in owned accommodation increased for almost the whole period, before falling in the final ten years. Conversely, households in rented accommodation declined for most of the period and then increased in the last ten years."

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