Academic Writing Task 1 #7 Line Graph – Aging Population

The graph shows the percentage of people aged over 60 in Canada, Finland and Korea between 1950 and 2050.
Summarise the information in the charts and make comparisons where appropriate.


The graph shows the percentage of people aged 60 and over in Canada, Finland and Korea between 1950 and 2050.

The number of people aged above 60 in Canada and Finland follows a remarkably similar trend. In 1950 both countries had 7-9% of their population aged 60 or above and the percentage increased steadily until 2050 when both countries are expected to have around 25% of their population aged 60 or above.

In contrast, Korea had only 5% of its population aged 60 or over in 1950. This number dropped slightly in the subsequent years and only recovered to the original level of 5% in 2000. Between 2000 and 2020 the number of people aged 60 or over in Korea increased more rapidly and is expected to reach 9% in 2020. After 2020 the aged population is expected to increase very rapidly
overtaking Canada and Finland in around 2035 and reaching 30% by 2050.

The lower initial aged population of Korea can be attributed to the lower development of Korea in the early part of the 20th century, but rapid development and healthy diets in the second half of the 20th century are probably the cause of the increased longevity in Korea.

Essay Notes

The aim of a strong Task 1 response is to allow a reader who has not seen the graph to reproduce the graph from the text. The focus should be on describing key trends rather than providing many numbers. In this question tense presents a challenge because students are expected to describe both historical data and forecast (future) data. When describing trends that start in the past
and extend into the future, the correct tense for the initial value and the trend is simple past because the initial value occurred in the past and the trend began in the past. For future values the correct phrasing is “is expected to”, which is also simple past tense. It should be noted that the expectation occurred in the past, but the expectation is for future values. Many students use “will reach/be” for future values; however, this wording is incorrect because it implies certainty and does not allow for the possibility that the forecast value may be different from what actually occurs.

The introduction should be a single sentence that describes the type of graph, the axes of the graph and the three countries that are mentioned. After reading the first sentence of the essay the reader should be able to draw and label the axes and put a title to the graph.

A key decision is to divide the data into two or three logical parts. In this response the decision has been made to divide the data into two paragraphs. The first body paragraph covers Canada and Finland because the shape of these graphs is similar. Grouping these two countries allows the graphs to be described in detail using efficient and simple language. This paragraph is also presented to the reader first because the initial values are higher than that of Korea.

The shape of the Korean graph is quite different and in the second body paragraph there is also the opportunity to contrast this set of data with the data for the other two countries. It should be noted that the Korean graph changes shape and as a consequence the graph has been divided into three sections (1950-2000, 2000-2020 and 2020-2050). For each of these sections the start and end points are provided along with a description of the trend in each section of the graph. Only the key features of the graphs are described, however the reader should be able to draw the graph from the text without assistance.

The final paragraph in the essay does not describe the graph but the reasons that the graph could be the shape it is. This is not required by the examiners but gives the passage a more authentic feel as data is usually analysed not just described. In this case it helps lengthen the essay and ensure that it is longer than the minimum word length.