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Home » IELTS Graph Exercise: Using Language of Change

IELTS Graph Exercise: Using Language of Change

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Decide which word or words fit in the gap to create the correct language of change.

1. The number of registered voters in the district __________ by 15% between 2012 and 2016, reflecting a growing civic engagement.

has increased

was increasing




It’s the past simple for completed events/actions in the past (2012-2016).

2. The number of students pursuing online courses saw a remarkable __________, with a 30% increase from 2018 to 2020.






A noun is needed in the gap (note the ‘a’) so it is ‘surge’. This is a common graph over time structure: ‘Noun/noun phase + verb (e.g. saw/witnessed/experienced) + adjective + noun’.

3. During the years 2012 and 2016, GDP in India __________.

grows steadily

grew steadily

grew steady



It must be ‘grew’ as it is the past (2012-2016). ‘Steadily’ is the correct form of the adverb to modify the verb.

4. In the early 2000s, there was a __________ in the use of traditional mail services, as electronic communication methods gained prevalence.

sharp decline

sharply declined

sharply declining



The structure needed here is adjective + noun. This is another common structure for graphs over time: ‘There + to be + adjective + noun’.

5. The amount of carbon dioxide emitted by industrial facilities __________ from 2010 up to the present day.

gradually fell

had gradually fallen

has gradually fallen



We use the present perfect to describe events that started in the past and continue up to the current time. Graphs involving time are most often in the past only but you may for example get a graph from the past going into the future. This would thus also include whatever the current year is.

6. The period between 2013 and 2016 witnessed a __________ in consumer spending, with peaks corresponding to holiday seasons and troughs during economic downturns.

fluctuating pattern

fluctuating patterns

fluctuated pattern



‘Pattern’ can’t be plural as it is with ‘a’. The structure is adjective + noun, and ‘to fluctuate’ as an adjective is with -ing.

7. By 2019, the average household size ___________ sharply, with families opting for smaller living arrangements.

has declined

had declined




With the phrase “by + date (in the past)” we use the past perfect tense (used to show a point in time in the past up to another more recent time in the past). This is a great way to impress the examiner as they should spot your use of this tense!

8. The data illustrates a consistent upward trend in educational attainment, with the number of individuals holding degrees ___________ over the decade.

steadily rising

steadily rose

rose steadily



When the prepositions in, at, with, of, for, and about are used before a verb, the verb must use -ing (a noun may also appear before the verb). So ‘with’ in this context is followed by ‘(noun) + verb-ing’, so it can’t be ‘rose’, which is a main verb. Thus it is the present participle ‘rising’ preceded by the adverb ‘steadily’ (it could also be ‘rising steadily’).

9. The amount of rainfall in the region __________ in the 2000s, signalling a concerning trend in water scarcity.

significant decreased

decreasing significantly

decreased significantly



“The amount of…” or “The number of…” is usually followed by ‘noun + verb + adverb”. It’s past simple as ‘2000s’ is the past.

10. The data from 2005 to 2010 reveals a cyclic pattern in housing prices, __________ periods of growth and contraction.

with alternated

with alternating

with alternate



Remember a verb if following a preposition such as ‘with’ takes the -ing form, creating a present participle phase (‘alternating periods of growth and contraction’).

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