DESCRIBING INFORMATION FROM TABLES
Tables compare data and may also show changes over time as well. They are often used when there is quite a lot of information, so it is important to select the key features to describe. Understanding the data Read the writing task below and look at the table. Answer these questions to help you understand the information given.
1. What two main areas does the table show figures for? 2. How is each main area subdivided? 3.

What main difference do the figures show within each area?
4. How many years does the table deal with?
5. What are the main trends over time?
6. What kind of language can you use when describing the data?
Describing the data
a. Use the information in the table in Exercise 1 to complete these sentences with a word or number. 1.
In all three years, more ………………………….. applied for such courses than ………………………….., although their numbers ………………………….. considerably, from 3,400 in 2000 to ………………………….. in 2002. 2. Female ………………………….. reached a little more than a quarter of the figures for ………………………….. in 2000 and 2001, and they ………………………….. to 750 in 2002. 3. Total applications ………………………….. during the period. 4. Many more ………………………….. and ………………………….. applied for these courses than were accepted throughout the three years. 5. However, the ………………………….. of applications which were accepted ………………………….. from about 15% in 2000 to over ………………………….. in 2002, even though the total number ………………………….. only slightly. 6. Many more ………………………….. were accepted than ………………………….. in all three years. 7. While total applications ………………………….., the ………………………….. of those accepted ………………………….. considerably.
b. Now look back at your paragraph outline in Exercise 2 and group the sentences into paragraphs 2, 3, 4.
To link ideas in a text and avoid unnecessary repetition, writers use a variety of reference links. Find the words in italics in sentences 1-7 in Exercise 4 and write down what each refers to. 1. such courses: ………………………….. 6: the three years: ………………………….. 2. their numbers: ………………………….. 7. which: ………………………….. 3. they: ………………………….. 8. all three years: ………………………….. 4. the period: ………………………….. 9. those: ………………………….. 5. these courses: …………………………..
Speed writing practice Now do the writing task below. Remember to include editing time in the 20 minutes given.
Remember:
• Don’t copy your introduction from the Writing task. • Briefly describe the main features or trends and use figures to support these. Don’t describe every change. • End with a summary of the data.
• Write at least 150 words.
The table below gives information about the use of different modes of transport in Shanghai in 1996, and one possible projection (high motorization scenario) for their use in 2020.
Write a report for a university lecturer describing the information below.
Write at least 150 words.
Percentage of passenger-kilometers by different modes of transport in Shanghai.
|Mode of Transport |1996 |2020 (projection) |
|Walking |7% |3% |
|Bicycle |27% |3%
|Scooter |12% |7% |
|Bus |39% |22% |
|Train |- |13% |
|Car |15% |52% |

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