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How to Describe a Bar Chart & Bar Graph For IELTS 2024

Updated on 28 January, 2024

Akansha Semwal

Akansha Semwal

Study Abroad Expert

In the writing task section of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), test-takers are asked to explain a bar graph. It is the graphical representation of data between two axes with the use of horizontal or vertical bars. The size of the bar is used to show the volume of the variables. In the IELTS bar graph task, you have to interpret and describe the information presented in a given bar graph.

Sample: IELTS Writing Task 1 Bar Graph

Source: https://www.english-exam.org/IELTS/academic_writing_samples_task_1/1054/

The graph illustrates car journeys in the city centre taken by both residents and non-residents in ten years. In 1996, the residents took an average of around 10,000 car journeys each day. The non-residents took about half the number, which is 5000 journeys per day. It was almost the same for the residents in the subsequent three years. However, the journeys for the non-residents increased over the years and went to more than 8000 per day in 1999.

The graph shows that between 1999 and 2000, parking meters were introduced in the city centre. The result was resident traffic reducing to half with only a slight decrease in non-resident traffic. Towards the end of 2002, the number of the resident journey was steady, but the non-resident journeys rose to 8000, the same as in 1999. Westgate Street and Park Lane were closed to traffic at this point. It had its consequence of the decline in the non-resident traffic and slightly in the resident traffic too. After this point, the resident traffic more or less remained at the same level. The non-resident traffic showed an increase in level and reached around 5000 journeys each day in 2005.

Tips for Bar Graph

  • Read the question and identify key information.
  • Paraphrase the question and the title of the chart to give an overview.
  • Describe the numeric data from left to the right referring to the change in variable
  • Note key events and their effect on the variables
  • Include the numbers in your paragraph
  • Link sentences with words such as; while, compared to, along with, whereas, etc.

These tips and examples will aid you in preparing for the bar chart interpretation task. To score well in this exercise, you can go through some vocabulary words that accurately describe the data. With these steps, you will be able to get a high score on this task.

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IELTS Bar Graph Vocabulary

Test-takers should have a solid vocabulary to describe bar graph IELTS task 1 to score well in the IELTSThe IELTS bar graph vocabulary to describe the bar graph must stress the similarities, changes, and differences in the data presented in the bar graph. 

Here are examples of bar graph vocabulary: 

Verbs and nouns

  • Verbs used to describe upward trends: rise, increase, climb, grow, rocket, surge, soar
  • Verbs used to describe downward trends: decrease, drop, decline, fall, plummet, dip
  • Other vocabularies: fluctuate, peak, hit a low, remain stable, unchanged

Adjectives and Adverbs

  • Adverbs: steadily, gradually, steeply, slightly, significantly, considerably

Eg: The number of COVID cases in India is increasing steadily.

  • Adjectives: gradual, sharp, rapid, significant, slight, considerable 

Eg: Her rapid progress in learning English is amazing

Expressing Time

  • the final year
  • over the period
  • in the following three days
  • between... and ...
  • at the beginning

Read More:

IELTS EligibilityIELTS RegistrationIELTS Syllabus
Academic IELTSIELTS Band ScoreIELTS Writing Task 1
IELTS Writing Task 2IELTS Slot BookingIELTS Band Score Chart


Bar Graph IELTS Task 1 Sample Questions

Here are some bar graph IELTS task 1 sample questions:

  • This bar chart presents the percentage of people who consumed five portions of fruit & vegetables per day in the UK from 2001 to 2008
  • The bar chart here shows the hours per week that teenagers spend doing activities in Manchester from 2005-2010
  • The chart shows the global sales of different kinds of smartphones from 2000 to 2006
  • The bar graph below shows the population figures of tigers in India from 1990 to 2010
  • The graph below shows the number of goods imported to India from the UK from 1990 to 2022


In conclusion, effectively describing a bar graph or bar chart in the IELTS exam requires a clear understanding of the data presented, along with the ability to communicate this information accurately and coherently. The key lies in identifying significant trends, making comparisons where relevant, and articulating these observations with a good range of vocabulary and grammatical structures. For candidates preparing for IELTS 2024, mastering this skill involves not just familiarity with the format of bar graphs and charts but also the ability to analyze and synthesize information in a structured and logical manner. By honing these skills, test-takers can proficiently tackle the task of describing bar graphs and charts, effectively conveying complex data in a way that is both insightful and linguistically competent, thereby achieving a higher band score in the IELTS exam.

(Disclaimer: Sample questions are hypothetically structured and are for reference only. They are subject to change as per IELTS guidelines and structure)

Know More:

IELTS Score for UKIELTS Score for USAValidity of IELTS Score
IELTS Speaking TopicsIELTS Reading TipsIELTS Preparation Books
Types of IELTS ExamIELTS Academic vs GeneralIELTS Exam Pattern


Frequently Asked Questions

How to write a bar graph in IELTS task 1?

The steps to writing a bar graph in IELTS are: 

  1. Analyze the question
  2. Skim the main features
  3. Draft an introduction
  4. Write an overview
  5. Then write paragraphs

How to identify key features from a bar graph in IELTS?

In order to identify the key features from a bar graph, a candidate must minutely check the graph chart. Candidates must compare the groups presented in the graph chart and look for differences.

How many words should we use to describe IELTS writing task 1 bar graph?

Test-takers will have to write at least 150 words to describe bar graphs in IELTS. However, the essay can be extended to 180 words.

What criteria would a band 9 graph response satisfy?

Here are some criteria that a test-taker should follow while writing a bar graph IELTS Task 1: 

  1. Use correct words and synonyms
  2. Use a range of vocabulary
  3. Do not repeat words 
  4. Do not use the same word more than once
  5. Use correct grammar and accurate words

How do you summarize a bar graph?

Candidates will have to summarize a bar graph in IELTS by selecting information and writing the main features of the bar graph. Candidates will have to make comparisons where is needed while writing the essay.

How should I describe a bar chart in IELTS?

When describing a bar chart in IELTS, it's important to use appropriate language and structure to effectively communicate the information. Here are some steps you can follow:

  1. Introduce the chart and provide an overview of the main trends or patterns.
  2. Describe the axes and units of measurement.
  3. Provide specific details about the data, including any significant differences or similarities between the bars.
  4. Use appropriate language to describe trends and comparisons, such as "increase," "decrease," "higher," "lower," "the highest," "the lowest," etc.
  5. Use linking words and phrases to connect ideas and make the description coherent, such as "in addition," "similarly," "on the other hand," "however," etc.
  6. Conclude with a summary of the main points.

Are there any common mistakes to avoid when describing a bar chart in IELTS?

Some common mistakes to avoid when describing a bar chart in IELTS include providing too much or too little detail, failing to provide an overview of the main trends or patterns, using inappropriate language or grammar, and not organizing the information in a clear and logical manner. It's important to carefully read the instructions and task requirements and to practice describing charts in advance of the exam to avoid these mistakes.

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Akansha Semwal

Study Abroad Expert

Akansha Semwal is a content marketer at upGrad and has also worked as a social media marketer & sub-editor. Experienced in creating impressive Statement of Purpose, Essays, and LOR, she knows how to captivate the attention of Admissions Committee. Her research-driven;study-abroad articles helps aspirants to make the prudent decision. She holds a bachelor's & master's degree in Literature from the University of Delhi.

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The above tips are the Author's experiences. upGrad does not guarantee scores or admissions.