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A summary of a line graph

Learn how to describe a line graph.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and tips and do the exercises.

Reading text

The graph below shows how people buy music. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

The graph illustrates trends in music buying habits between 2011 and 2018. It presents three different methods: streaming, downloading and buying CDs.

Overall, both downloads and physical sales of music have steadily declined. The latter has slumped since 2011, while the downturn for the former began in 2014. However, there has been a sharp rise in people streaming music since 2013.

In 2011, the majority of music sales were of CDs, at 55% of all sales. In contrast, streaming was not common at all at only 5%. Also, although people had started to download music, it only represented 35% of sales. As sales of CDs began to fall, downloads started to rise. They rose steadily and downloads overtook physical sales in mid-2013. During the same period, streaming doubled to 10% but then it started to grow more dramatically.

Downloads peaked in 2014 at about 43% of sales but fell to 30% by 2018. This was slightly higher than physical sales, which shrank to 25%. Streaming, on the other hand, overtook both of them and accounted for just over 40% of sales in 2018.

Please note: This page was designed for writing practice only. Information in the graph may not be accurate.


  1. Change the words in the question to introduce your answer, e.g. This graph shows = This graph illustrates.
  2. The second paragraph should give an overview of the main points the graph shows (imagine you're describing the results to someone who can't see the graph).
  3. The following paragraphs should describe the main patterns or trends in more detail.
  4. Use precise vocabulary like steadily declined and a sharp increase to describe trends. Use linking expressions like while and in contrast to make comparisons.
  5. The question asks you only to 'Summarise the information'. Don't give reasons why these trends might have occurred, or your personal preferences on the topic.



Language level

Upper intermediate: B2


I started to buy CDs in the mid-90s, physical sales probably peaked around 2000.
Downloads increased steadily during the 00's. In contrast, CDs' purchase began to fall in this same period and decreased more dramatically by the end of this decade. Around 2010 streaming started to suddenly rise and overtook both CDs and downloads.

There's a video with tips on the "road to ielts" website, that says the overall statement should be the last paragraph. Which one is correct? Second or last paragraph? Or could be both?

Hello aluizaalthoff,
While we do not comment on others sites' material, I can tell you that there is no single way to organise the text. The important thing is that all the required information is included and is organised in a logical way. The model on this page presents one possible way to do this, not the only possible way.
You can read more about writing for IELTS on our dedicated site, TakeIELTS:
The LearnEnglish Team

If I'm honest,I assume the trends which i have been buying and listening to music in the recent years are streams

Quite challenging for me. I did appreciate though.

Was able to complete this exercise within 15 minutes.