Grammar and vocabulary tips for describing data in the essay at Studieprøven

Elena Sokolova, June 9th 2020

In this blog post, you will learn about how to write the title and the first sentence in the essay at Studieprøven. I give an overview of the terms used to represent data graphically. I provide examples of verb tenses you may need for data description and expressions for describing prediction and prognosis. You’ll learn about the tricky words for percentage, and that the Danish word procent is not the same as procentpoint. Many of the issues, discussed in this blog are also relevant for those, taking Danish B2 exam - Prøve i Dansk 3.

Essay title

You need to give your essay a title, and it is usually the same title as in the task. So you do not have to think much about it, rewrite it from the task sheet. Write the title without inverted commas, e.g.:

Introduction and the first sentence

Itroduction is not a compulsory part of the essay, but it makes a coherent start of your essay. It may be a general sentence that is relevant to the topic of the task. For example:

You can also get ideas to write an introductory sentence from the explanatory sentences under the data material, but never copy them directly, rendering of the view on the issue from them is ok, though.

You may also immediately incorporate the first general sentence into the description of data material in the first paragraph. For instance, write your introductory sentence about a study/a survey to presenting the essence of the data in general. In this way, you make it clear for the reader and yourself, what you are writing about, and the subject of the whole essay. Mind that it’s a good idea to use the same terms and formulations as in the data set/statistics. Check the title of the statistical representation or the explanatory sentences under the data set in search of terms and vocabulary. Do not invent terms if they are given in the text of the task. Mind the choice of the nouns’ definite and indefinite forms for referring to the data source. Use the definite form of nouns (undesøgelsen, faktainformationen, artiklen … ), when the title follows them.

E.g., my first sentence as based on the set from Studieprøven (November-December 2019) could be:

Ifølge spørgeskemaundersøgelsen ‘Danskernes opfattelse af kriminalitet i samfundet’ udgivet af Justitsministeriet i 2017 tror næsten halvdelen af de adspurgte fra tre aldersgrupper (16-24 år, 25-39 år, 40-74 år), at der er forekommet flere eller langt flere overtrædelser af straffeloven i perioden fra 2011 til 2016. (42 words)

Another example of initiate sentences:

Justitsministeriets statistik fra 2017 viser, hvordan danskerne fra tre aldersgrupper (16-24 år, 25-39 år, 40-74 år) opfatter ændringer i kriminalitetsniveauet i perioden fra 2011 til 2016. Det fremgår tydeligt af tabellen over fordelingen af de adspurgtes svar, at omkring halvdelen af de adspurgte i hver aldersgruppe tror, at der er forekommet flere eller langt flere overtrædelser af straffeloven i perioden fra 2011 til 2016. (62 words)

Mind that the time phrase (i perioden fra 2011 til 2016) or the year cannot be standing at the beginning of the subordinate clause. A subordinate clause normally starts with conjunction followed by a subject, or directly with a subject, if there is no conjunction).

Remember always to cite or mention the source of the data, e.g.:

… undersøgelsen foretaget af analysebureauet Ipsos; … artiklen publiceret/udgivet i Politiken; … rapporten udgivet/offentliggjort af Justitsministeriet.

Distinguish and cite precisely the title of the article/survey, the title of the data material, and the author or authority, even though they may contain similar terms.

Graphical representation of data material - what word to choose?

Since data or statistics can be given in different graphical representations, it’s essential to decide what graphical representation is applied in the task material. You cannot suddenly change the type of graphical representation in the middle of the paragraph to another term, so do not call ‘a diagram’ ‘a table’ or vice versa, the two are not interchangeable. It’s quite reasonable that you stick to the same term throughout the whole paragraph. Here below are some options you may choose from, depending on the exam materials:

Ifølge diagrammet/tabellen/histogrammet (eller søjlediagrammet)/figuren/cirkeldiagrammet = according to the diagram, table, histogram ( = the bar chart)/figure/circle diagram…

Et søjlediagram fra Wikipedia

Note grammatical forms:

et diagram (= a diagram), diagrammet (the diagram), diagrammer (diagrams), diagrammerne (the diagrams). You would usually use the definite form ‘the diagram’ (diagrammet), since you refer to the particular and unique diagram in a survey/study. Correspondingly, the definite forms for other types of data are tabellen, undersøgelsen, interviewet, resultatet, resultaterne af undersøgelsen.

Sometimes the word graf is used, which may contain a mathematical diagram, e.g., a curve (en kurv), which shows the connection between two or more variables. Sometimes a combination of both a histogram (et histogram) and a graf (en graf) can be used.

Note grammatical forms:

en graf, grafen, grafer, graferne over noget.

En graf over det gennemsnitlige antal ledige i procent måned for måned. (Fra

En figur can also be applicable in the description of the data as a general synonym for the word ‘diagram’ or any other visual representation of data. En figur is less specific than ‘tabel’, and works well in books.

Mælkebøtte er en flerårig urt med fjerfligede blade (se figuren side 11) (Fra

The words beregning or fremskrivning are often used to prognoses or predict data development.

Fremskrivningerne af arbejdsmarkedet viser, at der er stor risiko for mangel på uddannet arbejdskraft i Danmark. (Fra Arbejderbevægelsens Erhvervsråd)

Finally, it may be sometimes relevant to use the word opgørelse, if the data set is a final calculation or a final numerical result, e.g., in årsopgørelse, refusionsopgørelse, resultatopgørelse.

Ved opgørelse af de 120 sygedage medregnes samtlige sygedage fra datoen for sygemeldingen til raskmeldingen. (Fra

What grammatical tense of the verbs to use?

As based on the set from Studieprøven, November-December 2019, the following to examples are possible:

Ifølge tabellen fra ‘Danskernes opfattelse af kriminalitet i samfundet’ udgivet af Justitsministeriet i 2017 svarede næsten halvdelen af de adspurgte, at der var forekommet flere eller langt flere overtrædelser af straffeloven i perioden fra 2011 til 2016.

Det fremgår af tabellen baseret på undersøgelsen foretaget i 2016, at næsten halvdelen af de adspurgte fra tre aldersgrupper (16-24, 25-39, 40-74 år) tror, at der er forekommet flere eller langt flere overtrædelser af straffeloven i perioden fra 2011 til 2016.

You can both use as in example a) present indefinite (nutid) and as in b) past indefinite tense (datid). The latter is relevant, if the data comes from an interview or a study from previous years, especially long ago, and when you give the exact time indication (i 2009, i oktober 2018, i juni 2019). Be consistent inside the same sentence. Do not jump from present to past tenses inside the same sentence. Remember to switch from present perfect (førnutid) to past perfect (førdatid), while describing the data over a period in the preceding context.

It’s possible to use both past and present tenses, though in separate sentences, not in the same one. For example:

Tabellen viser fordelingen af svar blandt tre grupper fra et repræsentativt udsnit af befolkningen i 2016. Ifølge tabellen er/var der kun 13 pct. af de adspurgte i gruppen af 40-74 årige, som tror/troede, at der er/var forekommet færre eller meget færre overtrædelser af straffeloven i perioden fra 2011 til 2016.

Remember to use present perfect (førnutid) or past perfect (førdatid) if you describe data over a period. For example:

Det fremgår af tabellen baseret på undersøgelsen foretaget i 2016, at næsten halvdelen af de adspurgte fra tre aldersgrupper (16-24, 25-39, 40-74 år) tror, at der er forekommet/er sket flere eller langt flere overtrædelser af straffeloven i perioden fra 2011 til 2016.

The main verb fremgår is in the present tense, so all the following verbs are in either present or presest perfect tense.

Note another example:

I 2016 troede næsten halvdelen af de adspurgte fra tre aldersgrupper (16-24, 25-39, 40-74 år), at der var forekommet/var sket flere eller langt flere overtrædelser af straffeloven i perioden fra 2011 til 2016.

The main verb ‘fremgår’ is in the past tense in the latter example, so all the following verbs are in either past or past perfect tense.

Data showing prognosis or prediction: what tense and modality to choose?

Some data show the prediction of the trend development or a prognosis. It’s called fremskrivning. In this case, while describing the trends, the words en fremskrivning/en prognose can be used as synonyms. The modal verb ville in the present tense vil (nutid) is relevant for expressing prediction of possible events and the real future (realis). As for ‘kunne’ in the present tense kan, it rahter expresses a plausible scenario, so it’s better suited for the second question of the task where you are asked to reason about possible consequences of the issue status or its development.

Other examples of expressing prognosis may be:

Describing percentage: procent, procentdel/procentandel, procentpoint & procentvis

You will defintely need words procent, procentdel/procentandel, procentpoint and procentvis while describing the data material.

Note grammatical forms:

En procent (plural indefinite is also procent after a number: 30 procent), also 30 pct. You cannot use the plural form ‘procenter’, if you have a preceding numeral.*

See more examples with procent:

Ifølge tabellen er det lidt over 30 pct. af de adspurgte i hver aldersgruppe, der tror, at antallet af overtrædelser af straffeloven i perioden fra 2011 til 2016 ikke har ændret sig.

De tre lande tegner sig for ca. 28 procent af vores udenrigshandel. (Fra

Efter optælling af 70 procent af stemmerne i de 2487 valgdistrikter var den uofficielle styrkefordeling blandt de demokratiske kandidater. (Fra

Procentpoint expresses the difference in two percentage rates within a group/comparison element.

E.g., as based on the set from Studieprøven could be (November-December 2019):

Andelen af de 24-årige unge, der hverken er i beskæftigelse eller under uddannelse er steget fra ca. 12 pct. til 14 pct., dvs. med ca. 2 procentpoint i perioden fra 2008 til 2016.

Det fremgår tydeligt af søjlediagrammet, at andelen af unge, der ikke er i job eller under uddannelse er faldet for de 16-, 17- og 18-årige med 2 procentpoint i gennemsnit, men andelen af de ældre grupper af unge i undersøgelsen er steget ubetydelig.

Incorrect usage

De konservative mister 0,1 procent af stemmerne og taber dermed to mandater.

Sometimes you may see procent used instead of procentpoint, but this usage may be considered wrong.

There should have instead been used procentpoint. You can read more here:

Examples of correct usage

84,5 procent af vælgerne stemte ved folketingsvalget. Det er 1,3 procentpoint lavere end for fire år siden. (fra

Procentvis means ‘counted in percents’

Procentvis er kriminaliteten meget større i Christiania end i resten af samfundet, ligesom de sociale forskelle er større… (Fra


The two terms express the share of a whole number/unit/group, indicated in percent. The verb udgøre is often used with procentdel.

Den religiøse aktivitet, der angår folkekirken måles ofte som den procentdel af befolkningen, der går i kirke regelmæssigt. (Fra

Først beregner vi, hvor stor en procentdel af det samlede stemmetal hvert parti har fået. (Fra

For langt de fleste lande gælder det således, at der er en højere procentdel af arbejdsløse blandt de unge, der bor hjemme, end i aldersgruppen i al almindelighed. (fra

The verbs used with procent are often:

Note that sometimes the preposition with the word procent will be different for a noun combination. E.g. en stigning/et fald på 5%/en forskel/en ændring på 5%.

Antallet af/et antal

Finally, if you need to describe data in numbers, instead of percentage, you can use antal (for countables) or mængde (for uncountables). The defininte form antallet (the number of) requires the preposition af, and is usually followed by a noun in the indefininte form e.g.:

Antallet af boligsøgende er reduceret fra 28.000 til 18.400. (Fra

If you use antal in the indefinite form standing alone or with a preceeding adjective/participium, the form antallet af is incorrect. Use the indefinite or defintie article et/det instead, in front of antal, and use it without preposition af.

Der er et stort antal adspurgte, der fokuserer på dette tema. (Fra I det omfang et faldende antal konkurser er udtryk for et sundhedstegn i erhvervslivet … (Fra

Learn more about other tips for Studieprøven in my upcoming blogs

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