The language to compare two pie charts
Summarising two pie charts for an IELTS Academic Task 1 needs careful preparation. Here, I am going to focus on deciding the language we need to do this because if we use the correct language, then we have a good chance to obtain a high band score.
Now we need to handle the language of percentages and proportions and, of course, the language we need will vary according to the topic and content of the pie charts. That is one reason why it is vital to study the title and any sub-headings of the charts.
Pie chart review
Take this example and decide what type of language we will need to describe it.
Naturally we need in the first place language to describe proportions. Some key words are:
- per cent (correctly spelled as two words)
At the same time, we must be able to use language of comparison – to say which country had the largest and smallest share etc. Some key words here are:
Two pie charts: related topics, one time frame
Usually, Task 1 will not be just one pie chart to describe but two or maybe more. This might involve two pie charts related in terms of “opposition” but static in the sense that both refer to the same time frame, normally a year. Look at the following which present for the year 2108 the principal European Union trade partners in terms of food and drink: the first chart concerns export partners and the second, import.
In this case, what kind of language do we need?
Of course, we still need the same language of proportion and comparison.
The major difference is the need to make comparisons between the two pie charts comparing exports with imports, making the task more complex.
Two pie charts: one topic only at different times
Now look at these pie charts. There are of course similarities with the first set. We will always need language to describe proportions and to compare items.
This set refers to agricultural exports from the USA to Cuba in 2005 and then in 2014. In other words, we have just one topic shown over time.
Therefore, we need to use language describing change and trends.
This may be more complex because we have to handle all of the following:
proportion language – to describe percentages
comparison language – to describe the biggest and the smallest
trend language – to describe what changes over time
- two pie charts on a different topic and the same time frame ⇒ language of proportion and comparison
- two pie charts on a related topic and in a different time frame ⇒ language of proportion and comparison and change
- Do not start writing before giving yourself enough time to think. First decide the language you will need in your answer. Give yourself 5 minutes to look, think and plan.
- Study the charts carefully: the titles for example to check if they deal with the same or connected topics.
- Check the time frames very carefully in the charts and plan how time differences will affect your choice of verb tenses.
Here we have focused on the language we need when we see 2 or more pie charts to write about. The other issue is organization, how to structure and sequence our answer. Here are a couple of ideas:
How many paragraphs do we need – one paragraph is never enough. In fact, we are encouraged to write in paragraphs.Decide on a simple paragraph structure – there’s only 20 minutes for this. The best is the traditional “introduction”,summary “body”, structure with the main “body” part perhaps divided into 2 paragraphs.
For more help with academic task 1
You can download or listen to the audio version here: