Interpreting Graphs & Data

Many exams or SACs will include at least one question where marks include interpreting data or trends from a graph. In H&HD, it is not enough to note the downward trend of a graph and answer “the graph indicates a decline”. Your interpreting must be specific and include examples of data from the graph, reference to the axes AND description of the trend to illustrate your point. To assist with this skill, this page will provide some examples of interpreting graphs poorly, and well.

Example 1


Q. Describe one trend shown in the graph, using data from the graph as evidence.

Bad answer: There is an upwards trend in the graph

Better answer: There is an upwards trend in the total healthcare spending in Switzerland, as evidenced by a rise from $3,000 per capita in 1998 to around $4,000 per capita in 2008.

The second answer is better as it describes the trend (“upward trend”), makes reference to what the graph is displaying (“total healthcare spending in Switzerland”) as well as the axes ($ per capita) and uses data selected from the graph ($3,000 in 1998 and $4,000 in 2008)