Analysing Data For IELTS Writing Part One


The IELTS academic writing exam involves analysing data from tables, line graphs, bar charts, process charts and so on. One of the first steps in mastering this part of the writing exam lies in understanding facts and statistics that are represented in diverse visual formats. Once you have trained your eye and mind to understand the bigger picture as well as finer details of visual data, learning how to express this in writing becomes so much easier.

Here is the first in a series of writing lessons using Google Public Data.

This is an amazing resource that transforms authentic public data into infographics. We can look at the same data through diverse formats to enhance understanding and practice describing the types of information presented.

Here is an example of some public data from a bubble chart that I embedded from Google.

Can you make sense of it at first sight?


Here are some key words from the related Google report.


If you are new to IELTS and writing about visual data, you may find both the graph and word cloud confusing, or else you might feel that it’s impossible to write about such complex data.
Success lie in simplifying the complex.

Task one for Beginners

Look at the key words in the word cloud.

1) What is it the subject matter or topic of information represented?

2) Why do you think some words are larger than others?

3) Can you write one sentence based on the largest key words that could express the topic of this report?

4) Can you think of one phrase that summarises the subject of this visualisation?

Task one for more experienced IELTS students.

If you have already written a number of reports and are practising for a higher band score, you can try writing an introductory paragraph for this report, based on the chart above and the word cloud key words.


View the same data in different formats.

Here is a line graph representing the same information.

Is it easier or harder to analyse than the previous chart? Which of the charts below do you think best depicts the date to be described?




Although we may have preferences for how data can be depicted clearly, the IELTS writing task will feature just one type for you to analyse and describe in your exam. Therefore, it’s important to be familiar with different forms of visual representation and infographics.

Apart from exam training, it’s also important to know how to interpret, present and create your own visuals in the world of business.


Read this short report from the Google Public Date page.

Living longer with fewer children

This chart correlates life expectancy and number of children per woman for each country in the world. The bubbles are sized by population and colored by region. Over time, most countries have moved towards the bottom right corner of the chart, corresponding to long lives and low fertility. Note the progression of the bubble for China- in the late 60’s and 70’s life expectancy rose quickly, then the implementation of the one-child policy caused a drop in the number of children per woman.

1) How is this similar to or different from the kinds of reports you are expected to write for IELTS reports?

2) How can you expand upon it?

4) How would you plan a detailed report in 3 or 4 paragraphs?

Use this essay mapping tool from Readwritethink to help you plan your ideas.

Use Wordle to create key word visualisations.


Play with the Google public Date page.

1) Browse through different topics and types of infographics and charts.

2) Search for topics that interest you.

3) For each topic create a mindmap or word cloud of key words, or just jot some notes into a notebook. Maps and word clouds are good for revision archives that you can refer to closer to the exam.

4) You can make up your own key words, then use key words from the Google examples and compare your notes with the official report.

Now you are ready for the next lesson. It will show you how to plan in detail and also give you excellent tips for developing vocabulary, phrases and sophisticated sentence construction.

Stay posted.

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Sylvia is is an online teacher & writer with a background in English Literature, history and education. She is also an award winning blogger featured by The British Council, online teacher, official blogger for WiziQ, professional development organiser, and passionate researcher into creative learning via Educational Technology @Eslbrain. She is currently focusing on ELT publishing and children’s publishing. Her personal projects for 2014 include writing ELT books through story-telling, comics, poetry, and social and emotional learning, while continually creating and sharing brain-friendly learning materials and ideas online. Her other main interests are art, writing, poetry, and psychology, which which help her to create fun quality time with her children and add colour to her language lessons. When she's not teaching online, she's writing course books, blogging or running her English language Facebook groups.