Part 3: The Details
In Task 1 the candidate must describe the main features of the data.
We will look at the theory first and then see how it applies to the graph we looked at in the previous two posts.
If you understand the principle of how these questions must be done, you will be able to do anything you are given.
Look at the Public Band Descriptors at Band 7:
Look at the Public Band Descriptors at Band 6:
and finally at Band 5:
What does all this mean?
Band 7 and 5 tell us the most:
This means that the first thing to do is look for the trends and see if the data can be grouped some way. There is no single right way to group data. There are two possible approaches that will work most of the time:
This will allow you to group data together in some logical manner. If you do that, you are already way above Band 5 and possibly Band 6 if you get this right.
Let us apply this to the graphs below:
Actually, we have already done most of the work because we realized there were 3 important features when we looked at the overview.
We will use the METHOD 1: increasing, decreasing, stays the same.
Now put these three parts together into three body paragraphs.
There is a lot more to say about the way we have structured these paragraphs but this is already long so we will leave until next time.
Notice that I have left out all the minor detail EXCEPT the sharp rise in the unemployment rate in Japan at the very start. I did this because this change actually represented a 20% rise in a very short period of time, which makes it an interesting, though perhaps, minor feature of the data.
So, I have written about 200 words (a little long) and I have FIVE paragraphs!
Does this matter?
In my opinion, coming from writing for newpapers and magazines, it does not. Each paragraph has a different point to make and that is the reason they were invented. They help to make your writing clear.
If you don't like short paragraphs you can combine the introduction and overview into a single paragraph and then combine all the detail into another paragraph, so you would finish with a 2 paragraph essay. That would be fine.
Some teachers will tell you to put the overview at the end so it serves as a conclusion. That is also fine. This is a short esssay and examiners are not looking for a conclusion so you don't have to write one, but the overview sentence could be used to round off the essay.
There is no rule about where the overview goes, but if you leave it out, you will be scored maximum Band 5 for Task Achievement - the Public Band Descriptors are very clear about this.