This podcast will help you because
- We review the essentials (and explain why going for Band 9 is a bad idea!)
- We cover two essential language components to include
- We review some authentic native English speaker material
- We cover how to find excellent material to use in your prep
- We share a solid model for you to follow in your graph description
Pie charts – Basic guide
In Task 1, the pie chart is one of the most common ways to present information for you to describe. Pie charts are not difficult to understand but it is a good idea to look at possible problems and the important language we must know to describe them well.
The idea of this lesson is to show how we can describe a pie chart in simple terms. We must also think about some possible problems pie charts present and the language we need to be able to describe them. Remember that in the IELTS exam, when pie charts are included, you will see two or more shown for you to make comparisons between data.
Pie chart essentials
Two key elements stand out in any pie chart:
- Percentages: the various parts of the “pie” will always be equal to 100%
- Comparisons: the chart gives a simple, clear view of the differences between its parts
So, the language we need for our description must include ways to write about figures and especially percentages or proportions as well as how to make comparisons.
Key language elements 1: percentages
Pie charts always show percentages. This is the case even where the numbers on the chart may not be expressed in percentages. If you look at these two charts they present the same data in two different ways.
All pie charts present information in percentage terms. To put it simply, the total sum of all the parts will be 100%. But it is
possible that numbers are shown in different ways. Look at this for example:
Real world examples are a great source https://www.commerce.gov/news/blog/2018/09/manufacturing-leads-top-sector-foreign-direct-investment-united-states
Number and percentage language: variations
It is important to show that you know how to write about numbers and percentages in different ways. This will help to give you a higher grade. The main ways include:
· the amount (uncountable)
· A number (countable)
· Fractions: a half, a third, a quarter, two-thirds a half/third/quarter etc.
· Figures: the numbers themselves
At the same time, you have to use language to describe the information in the chart. Numbers are important but not enough. Task 1 is asking you to show your ability to write about numbers and what they mean. The IELTS exam is a test of your language ability, in this case your ability to describe data.
Another point to remember is that you do not necessarily have to include so many details in your description. For example, if a percentage is shown as 48.5%, write it as the nearest easily understood whole number. We can say around/almost fifty percent. In that way, we are summarising essential, key information and not just repeating numbers.
Key language elements 2: comparisons
Obviously, the language we use to compare two or more aspects shown in the pie chart is extremely important in our description. We know that the chart gives us a clear view of the different aspects and we will probably want to mention in our written summary:
• Significant similarities between the items shown
• The highest or lowest figures, the greatest or lowest numbers
This means we need to be very confident using comparative and superlative forms. It is absolutely essential that you know how to use these structures.
Essay planning and structure
In any Task 1, the challenge is to present the data in a logical and coherent way. How you do that will depend on the data, but here are two pointers if you are describing a pie chart by itself in one paragraph
· Organise your paragraphs around one main idea – this will normally involve rephrasing the title of the pie chart
· start with the highest amount and move to the lowest
· group similar items together
Try not to make your report a simple list, rather try to organise it around main points.
What makes a very good Task 1 answer is our ability to present information in a coherent, logical sequence. There is no one way to do this as much depends on the data in the charts; however, there are some important points to remember:
1. Find the overall trends in the chart and organise your essay around them.
2. Begin by saying what the aim of the chart or charts is
3. Then go on to describe and interpret the most relevant information
4. It is a good idea to group similar items together
5. End by reviewing your work.
For more help with your Academic Task 1, take a look at some of our latest tutorials:
- Sample IELTS Academic Task 1 Essays
- How to describe a natural process
- How to get Band 9 for IELTS Academic Task 1
You can download or listen to the audio version here: