It can certainly be daunting (intimidating) looking at a graph you’ve never seen before, interpret the data, then write a clear overview and explanation of the data at an academic level… all within 20 minutes.
You don’t need to feel intimidated though – not when you’ve got a solid plan of attack and lots of practice.
Here’s your approach to the task:
- Look at the graph carefully and take note of the title, all the labels, and any details given. Make sure you clearly understand what you’re looking at.
- Identify the main patterns or trends – find 2 important ones you will focus on in your essay. You are often comparing data with each other. Look for similarities or differences, peaks/jumps, lows/drops, or shifts/cross-overs. Is there a significant increase in one area whereas another area drops sharply?
Once you have interpreted the data by identifying an OVERVIEW of trends/patterns, you can start to write your essay. Your essay will have 4 pagaraphs.
Paragraph 1: Introduction – This is really one or two sentences that paraphrases the title of the chart, graph or map. (See post on How to Write the Introduction Quickly)
Paragraph 2: Overview/Summary – This should be 2 – 4 sentences that clearly identify overall trends or patterns. This shows the examiner that you have taken raw data and interpreted it into some meaningful information. (See post on How to Write the Overview/Summary Paragraph)
Paragraph 3: Details for first trend/pattern. Describe the trend using descriptive and accurate details. (See post on How to describe and compare data in a detail paragraph)
Paragraph 4: Details for second trend/pattern. Describe the trend using descriptive and accurate details.