In this lesson we will focus on how we read a table. Tables usually give you too much information and this could be confusing, but in this lesson I will show you an easy way to deal with it.
Here’s how a table will look like:
The table below shows the entertainment preferences of a part of the population of Germany in relation to their age in millions.
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.
Preferences by age in millions
|Teens||20 – 30||31 – 40||41 – 50||51 – 65+|
It seems that it has too much information but really if you read it the right way, you will have no problem whatsoever. The first thing you do is to read carefully what is described and underline the important points. This will immediately familiarise you with the task. In this example, the key-words are already underlined.
Now, let’s have a look at the table: the vertical column shows the types of entertainment (watching TV, cinema, theatre, opera, clubbing). The horizontal line shows the age of the people. In this case, I think it is easier if we read the table by age.
Let’s check out the teenagers first: “What are the highest figures?” “Watching TV and Cinema”. “What are the lowest figures?” “Opera and Theatre”. If you ask yourself these questions, they will greatly help you to keep your thoughts organised. We do exactly the same for the rest of the age groups.
So, in our first paragraph after the introduction, that is the second paragraph, you do exactly that: you describe the information given, nothing more nothing less! You are not asked to state your opinion or make assumptions at this point, just state the highest and lowest values by age and your description is ready!
Now, in your next paragraph it is time to compare! As you can see, you cannot possibly compare everything! There is too much information going on here and you would need 500 words to describe all this, not just a paragraph. Thus, you will choose only a few things to compare: preferably, you can state something for every age group.
For example, you can start by saying that
“Watching TV is popular in all ages whereas opera has the lowest rates”
“Teenagers go to the cinema more than any other age group: when they reach their 20s clubbing is the most popular choice only to drop down considerably among the 30-40-year-olds. This can be easily explained as people during their 30s are usually interested in having a family so they seem to settle down”.
You can give explanations for a couple of things if you like.
Again, you don’t have to compare everything! These are just examples to help you. You can choose your own but remember that it will greatly help you if you start from the highest, the lowest, and the stable values. If you do that, then everything else will fall into place and come easily. Lastly, you write your conclusion and your report is ready! If you need to watch the video lesson, here you go: