Writing a good answer to a combined / multiple/ mixed graph is always confusing for many IELTS candidates. In this Academic IELTS Writing Task 1 post we are looking at this problem in detail and finding solutions so that we can answer this kind of graph easily. The example picture is taken from Cambridge IELTS series 8 Test 1. You will also find a writing plan and a model answer in this post.
Let’s look at a combined / multiple/ mixed graph first.
The pie chart below shows the main reasons why agricultural land becomes less productive. The table shows how these causes affected three regions of the world during the 1990s.
If we have to answer this question, we need to understand the picture clearly and then make a solid plan quickly.
Here are a few problems that candidates face regularly when answering this type of question.
- The number of paragraphs to write: Candidates often get confused about the number of paragraphs to write for this question. Should it be 3/4/5 or more?
- Limiting the words: In this type of questions candidates often forget that they are writing too many words. Be cautious! You may write more than 150 words, but should not make your examiner irritated or bored!
- Making relevant comparisons: Candidates often get confused in deciding whether to compare the two or three given pictures.
- Providing all or some information in the body paragraph: Providing information can become tricky sometimes! Candidates also face this problem on a regular basis.
Solving the problems:
Here are a few suggestions to solve the above-mentioned problems.
- Paragraphing: Look at the question carefully. If it has two pictures, see if there is any headline for each picture. This may give you a hint about the discussed subject. In most cases, the pictures can never be compared when they are different. In this case, you have a pie chart and a table and the information they are providing are also quite dissimilar. So, you need to write a 4-paragraph answer (including a conclusion) or a 3-paragraph answer (excluding a conclusion).
- Word Limit: You should build up a habit of guessing the number of words that you have written every now and then. Thus, you can control your writing. You can also make a plan of how many words you want to write for each paragraph. This will limit your writing accurately.
- Making comparisons: If the pictures are similar, say, two or three pie charts, you need to check them carefully. If they present the same information at different times or periods, you must compare them in the same paragraph. However, for pictures like this one, a pie chart, and a table, where each picture presents information which does not match with the other, you need not compare.
- Providing data/information: In most combined or mixed graphs, you need not to provide all the data or information in your description because you need to write more than 150 words. So, you must make a good plan on the question beforehand to include only the necessary data or information.
Here is a plan that I’ve made for your better understanding of the model answer that I’ve prepared.
Now let’s have a look at the model answer.
The pie chart is a depiction of the prime reasons of low productive agricultural lands whereas the table illustrates the effects of these reasons in three regions of the earth during the 1990s.
As for the pie chart, excessive animal grazing and cutting down of trees cause 35% and 30% of the worldwide land dilapidation respectively. Over-cultivation accounts for 3% more than a quarter of the land degradation while other causes comprises of 7% collectively.
The table presents information on how these reasons differently affected three regions in the 1990s. Europe had the highest percentage of land clearance that was 23%. In the same period the lowest percentage of land degradation was in North America and it reached only 5%. The major cause of the problem was deforestation in Europe (9.8%) while in North America and Oceania the reasons were over-cultivation (3.3%) and over-grazing (11.3%) respectively. Moreover, deforestation in Europe was higher than in North America and Oceania combined. Though in Europe and North America over-cultivation was quite huge, no land was degraded for over-cultivation in Oceania.
Overall, it is clear that farmland degradation in Europe was a bigger problem than other regions and the main reasons were deforestation and over-cultivation.