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Interpreting graphs

Interpreting graphs

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Explainer Video

Tutor: Toby


Interpreting graphs

​​In a nutshell

Graphs allow information to be displayed in a way such that it is easier to digest and understand. Coordinate grids with two axes, for example ​xx- and yy-axes, allow quick connections to be made between two sets of information. By using one coordinate, the other coordinate can be located by reading off the graph.

Coordinates reminder

When reading coordinates, you read the xx-coordinate first, then the yy-coordinate. The xx-coordinate shows how far left or right a point is and the yy​-coordinate shows how far up or down a point is.

Example 1

(5,8)(5,8) has xx-coordinate 55 and yy-coordinate 88

The xx-coordinate is 55 places to the right of the origin, as it is positive.

The yy-coordinate is 88 places up from the origin, as it is positive.

Maths; Other graphs; KS3 Year 7; Interpreting graphs

Real-life graphs

Graphs are used to depict information, so are used in all sorts of real-life scenarios: for example tracking temperature against time, or distance against speed. Hence, being able to read a graph is crucial to their utility.



Each point on a line or curve on a graph will have a pair of coordinates (usually xx and yy, but they can essentially be any letters). Locate the point you are interested in.​


Read off its xx-coordinate (by looking at the horizontal axis and seeing which value on it the point is in-line with).


Read off its yy-coordinate (by looking at the vertical axis and seeing which value on it the point is in-line with).


You now have the coordinates of the point and can hence relate two pieces of information: the xx-value with the yy-value.​


Example 2

The graph below shows the relationship between time passed (tt​) and the temperature (TT) of a cup of coffee in °C\degree CWhat is the temperature of the coffee 44 minutes after it is made?

Maths; Other graphs; KS3 Year 7; Interpreting graphs

Firstly, look along the time (tt​) axis (horizontally) at 44 minutes. 

Move up until you meet the line of the graph. 

Finally, move across to read the temperature on the TT-axis.  

40°C\underline{40\degree C}​​

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What do coordinates on a graph mean?

Do graphs always use x and y?

How do you read a graph?


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