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More and more of my students are reporting that they have to describe multiple charts in their Task 1 exam, so you need to be prepared for these kinds of questions.

You can see from the examples below that sometimes the charts are the same e.g. two tables or two bar graphs, but other times, it will be a mixture of different types e.g. a pie chart and table, or a line graph and bar chart.

Sometimes there is a close link between the charts so you need to make comparisons. Other times the relationship is not as close so you’re not expected to compare them directly.

Often multiple chart questions are more difficult because it takes longer to understand all the data but you still only have 20 minutes to complete the task.

You still need to describe all the main trends and key details so you have to be more selective about what you describe.

Let’s look at some examples:

1. Pie Charts

Multiple charts are common with pie charts.

In the example below, you have to describe changes to the age of the population over a period of fifty years in Italy and Yemen.

The four pie charts below are closely related so you will need to compare them directly.

2. Bar Charts

Multiple bar charts are also common in Task 1 writing.

 In the example below, you have to compare changes in three fields (average length of schooling, numbers of scientists and technicians, and spending on research and development) in developed and developing countries between 1980 and 1990.

Each bar chart focuses on a separate data field so you will only make some indirect comparisons between the charts, unlike in the pie chart example above.

Do not try to compare them too closely because they are not closely related. Instead,  put them in separate paragraphs with separate general overviews.

3. Mixed Charts – Pie Chart vs Table

Task 1 questions with more than one kind of chart are quite common.

In the example below, you have to describe the main causes of global land degradation and compare changes in three regions during the 1990s.

Each bar chart focuses on a separate data field so you will only make some indirect comparisons between the charts.

Do not try to compare them too closely because they are not closely related. Instead,  put them in separate paragraphs with separate general overviews.

4. Mixed Charts – Bar Chart vs Line Graph

In the example below, you have to describe changes to the number of overseas Japanese tourists between 1985 and 1995, and the percentage of those going to Australia between 1984 and 1994.

Each bar chart focuses on a separate data field so you will only make some indirect comparisons between the charts.

Do not try to compare them too closely because they are not closely related. Instead,  put them in separate paragraphs with separate general overviews.

Study Tips for Multiple Charts

Multiple charts are becoming more and more common so you need to make sure you understand them and have practised them for your writing exam.

As you can see from the examples above, sometimes the charts are the same type and sometimes not.

Sometimes you can make direct comparisons, and at other times it is a more indirect relationship.

Remember, you still have only 20 mins, but there is probably more data to analyse, so you may have to be even more selective about what you describe.

Now it’s your turn! Put your answers in the comments.

Do you think Task 1 questions with multiple charts are difficult?

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