You are here

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


Trends change over the last five years

it's notorious the musical trends have changed a lot in the last five years. The reason of that is the sharp increase of the streaming. Before, we bought CDs, LPs and listen radios. Actually, we listen the new trends, launch music on the smartphone. The way of we listen to music has changed over the last few years. There’s no way: sometime let’s use the Spotify. It’s a fact. What do the market say about? The specialize companies have done research to understand how we consume music. The answer is not surprising: we listen music on the smartphone and on the web through the youtube or Spotify.
The paper illustrated that the costumers prefer to do everything on the smartphone. Consequently, the sale of the CD starting steadily declined in 2011, while the downloads has rising. In contrast, streaming was not common at all and represented in this period only 5%. As sales of CD began to fall, downloads started to rise. However, in 2013, downloads was in peak and streaming started appear. In 2014, streaming overtook downloads music, reaching 43% the share. Now a days, downloads shrank and streaming continuous rising, representing more 50$ of sales in 2018.

What are the trends in the way you have been buying and listening to music over the last five to ten years?

Ten years ago, my method to listening to music was download. Then, little by little, I started to use streaming in websites like Youtube. However, currently, I use more streaming but in my smartphone with differents APPs (Spotify, YT music...).

Since 2010, my music life has been changing a lot thanks to internet. I could hear lots kind of music online: English songs, Korean bands and limited Vietnamese songs... etc. Listening music became easier and economical to me when I could download songs to my flash player disk - a cheap faked Ipod, and listened anywhere. Beside of music, I learned listening English by that way too.
However, at this moment internet speed was slow. It was still good enough for listening music, downloading small things or doing some low-broadband work but not for HD videos requiring a high volume of bandwidth. Numbers of CD shops started shrinking because fewer people went to buy CD music which they can download online; they just bought videos.
The speed of internet increased steadily from 2010 to 2014 when high speed hyper internet replaced gradually low speed broadband internet. This trend peaked at a faithful moment in 2014 when the high speed internet came to most houses nationwide. Everyone can enjoy hyper speed internet.
Following this internet trend, my trend of buying and listen to music changed sharply as well. Streaming music and videos on internet overtook totally my thought of going out to buy a CD. The dramatic disappearance of the CD shops accounted for the overwhelming of streaming. Every thing is on internet! Especially in a lawless country like mine and our big 'guy' neighborhood, you can find mostly any song and movies you like if you know how. Thanks to internet again.

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.