Pie Chart Ielts Essay Questions

Writing task one: pie charts

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You will be given one or more pie charts. You task is to describe the information given in the graph by writing a 150 word report. You are not asked to give your opinion. You should spend around 20 minutes on the task.

What is being tested is your ability to:

  • objectively describe some graphic information
  • compare and contrast
  • report on an impersonal topic without the use of opinion
  • use the language of graph description

Sample task


You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

Write a report for a university lecturer describing the information in the graphs below.

Write at least 150 words.

Your task
Complete the task one report writing exercise above. Spend only 20 minutes. Then look at the guidelines and the sample answer below.

Guidelines for a good answer


Does the report have a suitable structure?

  • Does it have an introduction, body and conclusion?
  • Does it include connective words to make the writing cohesive within sentences and paragraphs?

Does the report use suitable grammar and vocabulary?

  • Does it include a variety of sentence structures?
  • Does it include a range of appropriate vocabulary?

Does the report meet the requirements of the task?

  • Does it meet the word limit requirements?
  • Does it describe the whole graph adequately?
  • Does it focus on the important trends presented in the graphic information?

Now read sample answer one. How well does it follow the guidelines?

Sample answer 1


The pie charts compare the highest level of education achieved by women in Someland across two years, 1945 and 1995. It can be clearly seen that women received a much higher level of education in Someland in 1995 than they did in 1945.

In 1945 only 30% of women completed their secondary education and 1% went on to a first degree. No women had completed post-graduate studies. This situation had changed radically by 1995. In 1995, 90% of women in Someland had completed secondary education and of those, half had graduated from an initial degree and 20% had gone on to postgraduate studies. At the other end of the scale we can see that by 1995 all girls were completing lower secondary, although 10% ended their schooling at this point. This is in stark contrast with 1945 when only 30% of girls completed primary school, 35% had no schooling at all and 35% only completed the third grade.

In conclusion, we can see that in the 50 years from 1945 to 1995 there have been huge positive developments to the education levels of women in Someland.

Teacher's comments on the sample answer

“The report structure is clear and well organised with an introduction, body and conclusion. The candidate uses a variety of grammatical structures and vocabulary so that the writing is not repetitive. In terms of task requirements, the report meets the word limit. Although the candidate has not included every figure presented in the charts, the answer does accurately reflect the content of the graphic material and gives a strong impression of the trend of change in the education of women which is the main point of the comparison of those particular charts. The sample answer above is therefore a very good one.”

Strategies for improving your IELTS score


Selecting information
In completing this task, it is important that you fully describe all of the graphic information given. However, this does not mean that you should note every detail. In most cases there will be too much information for you to mention each figure. You will therefore need to summarise the graph in meaningful segments. In other words, you will describe the significant trends in your report.

Report structure
As in the line graphs task, your report should be structured simply with an introduction, body and conclusion. Tenses should be used appropriately.

Use two standard opening sentences to introduce the graph or graphs and your report. These opening sentences should make up the first paragraph. Sentence one should define what the graph is about, that is the date, location, what is being described in the graphs etc. For example:

The pie charts compare the highest level of education achieved by women in Someland across two years, 1945 and 1995.

Notice that in the single line graph we said that ‘the graph shows' but with two charts we can more accurately say ‘the pie charts compare’.

Note the tense used. Even though it describes information from the past, the graph shows the information in the present time.

Notice that the sample opening sentence does not simply copy the words used on the graphic material. Copied sentences will not be assessed by the examiner and so you waste your time including them.

Sentence two (and possibly three) might sum up the overall trend. For example:

It can be clearly seen that women received a much higher level of education in Someland in 1995 than they did in 1945.

Notice the Simple Past tense is used. Here we are talking about what happened in the past.

The body of the report will describe the chart or charts in detail. You will need to decide on the most clear and logical order to present the material. In this case it might be best to work through the charts one by one.

Ideally your report should end with one or two sentences which summarise your report or draw a relevant conclusion.

Grammar and vocabulary
You will receive a higher mark if your writing uses a range of structures and vocabulary correctly rather than a limited number.

Pie charts generally show figures in percentages and your language in writing the report should reflect this. You will talk about ‘the percentage of graduates’ or the ‘proportion of people who completed secondary school’.

Make sure that you are confident with comparatives and superlatives used to compare and contrast and the language used to describe pie charts.

Comparing and contrasting


One syllable
Adjectives with one syllable form their comparatives and superlatives like this:

PositiveComparativeSuperlative
cheapcheapercheapest
largelargerlargest
brightbrighterbrightest
Exceptions:
goodbetterbest
badworseworst

Two syllables
Some adjectives with two syllables form their comparatives and superlatives like this:

PositiveComparativeSuperlative
prettyprettierprettiest
happyhappierhappiest
But many form their comparatives and superlatives like this:
strikingmore strikingmost striking
Although some can form their comparatives and superlatives like this:
commonmore commonmost common
clevermore clever / cleverestmost clever / cleverest

Three or more syllables
All adjectives with three or more syllables form their comparatives and superlatives like this:

PositiveComparativeSuperlative
attractivemore attractivemost attractive
profitablemore profitablemost profitable
expensivemore expensivemost expensive

Exercise


What are the comparative and superlative forms of these adjectives:

PositiveComparativeSuperlative
accurate
useful
convenient
correct
dangerous
happy
likely
modern
new
possible
probable

Show Answers - Hide Answers

Describing one part of the chart


Starting with the adjective:

The highest

The greatest

The lowest

The most

A significant

The smallest

The largest

percentage of

proportion of

number of
women

cars sold

holiday makers
are employed in the X category

are red

come from Spain

Starting with the subject:

Red is the

Professional is the

Spain is the

most

second/third most

least
popular

prevalent

common
car colour

employment category

holiday destination

Describing two parts of the chart


Starting with the adjective:

As many

Twice as many

Three times as many

Not as many
red cars

women

holiday makers
are sold

are employed in X

come from X
as …
More

Far more

Much more

Many more

A lot more

Substantially more

Considerably more

Significantly more

Slightly more

Fractionally more

than

Starting with the subject:


Blue cars are

Women are

Spain is
as

quite as

just as

nearly as

almost as

not as
common

popular

prevalent
as …
more

much more

far more

substantially more

considerably more

slightly more

fractionally more

less

much less

far less

considerably less

fractionally less
women

cars sold

holiday makers
than

This post features a sample band 9 task 1 pie chart answer and examiner feedback.

Below is a writing task 1 pie chart question on the changing populations of two countries over time. This post will include:

  • example question
  • checklist
  • structure
  • sample answer
  • examiner’s report

You should try to answer the question before reading the sample answer and then compare what you have written. You can ask me any questions about this post on the IELTS Advantage Facebook Page. 

Question

The charts below give information on the ages of the populations of Yemen and Italy in 2000 and projections for 2050.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Checklist

In order to answer this task effectively we need to ask ourselves some questions beforehand. Below is a checklist which shows you how I think about IELTS writing task 1 chart questions.

  1. What kind of chart is it? This is a pie chart and we will therefore have to use different language sometimes as compared to other charts. For example, with pie charts we are more likely to use the language of proportions. See my task 1 grammar guide for more information.
  1. What does the title say about the chart? The title gives us all the basic information we need to answer the question. We should read this at least twice to make sure we fully understand the question.
  1. What information is contained on both axes? There are no axes in this question because it is a pie chart.
  1. What are the units of measurements? The units of measurements are principally ages and percentages. We will therefore have to use specific language for percentages.
  1. What groups are compared? There are two countries (Yemen and Italy) and three age groups.
  1. What is the time period? This is very important because it will affect the tense we use. There are two different time periods- 2000 and 2050. We will therefore have to use past and future tenses.
  1. What is the most obvious thing that the data shows you? The two most obvious things are that Italy had a much older population than Yemen in 2000 (or Yemen had a younger population) and both populations are predicted to be much older in the future.
  1. What is the most important or significant piece of information displayed? The fact that Yemen has a very small proportion of people over 60.
  1. Can any comparisons be made? Yes, the observations we made in points 7 and 8 above.
  1. Is it a static chart or dynamic chart? There are four static charts but put together and they are dynamic i.e. it changes over time and this will be reflected in the language you use.

I am not suggesting that you write these ten questions out in the exam, it would take too long, however I do tell my students to use this checklist when they are practicing. If you think about the ten things above, you have a much better chance of answering the question effectively. If you practice enough, you will mentally ask yourself these questions every time you answer a task 1 IELTS question.

Structure

For pie charts I advise my students to use a simple four paragraph structure.

Paragraph 1

Sentence 1- Paraphrase question  

Paragraph 2

Sentence 1- Overview of first main feature.

Sentence 2- Overview of second main feature.

Paragraph 3

2-3 sentences detailing first main feature.

Paragraph 4

2-3 sentences detailing second main feature.

Task

Try using the checklist and structure above to try and answer the question before looking at the answer below. This is a really useful exercise because you will identify the areas you need to work on and making mistakes and then fixing them is the key to success in IELTS.

Answer

The pie charts compare the proportions of Italian and Yemeni citizens in three age groups in 2000 and projections for 2050.

It is clear that Yemen had the younger population in the year 2000, and the same is predicted for the year 2050. The populations of both countries are predicted to get older over the 50 year period.

In 2000 just over half the Yemeni population were under 14, compared to just over 14% of Italians in the same age group. Only a very small percentage of people in Yemen were over 60 at 3.6%, in contrast to nearly a quarter of the Italian population. The largest group for Italy was the 15-59-year-olds with just over 60% while Yemen had 46.3% of its population in this category.

Yemen’s average age is set to increase with the proportion of over 60s increasing by just over 2% and the middle group rising by 11%, leaving the youngest group with a decrease of nearly 13%. It is envisaged that by 2050 the number of people in Italy over 60 will jump to 42.3%, the percentage of those in the youngest bracket will drop to 11.5% and the share in the middle category will decrease to 46.2%.

Examiner’s Report

The answer addresses the task, reporting the main features and reporting enough detail for the reader to be completely informed. Very clear comparisons are made between the two countries throughout the essay. A very clear overview is given that gives a general picture of both countries, all age groups and both times. The information is very well organised with good linking phrases such as ‘in contrast to’, ‘respectively’ and ‘It is envisaged’. Vocabulary is wide ranging and accurate with words such as ‘Yemeni’, ‘bracket’, ‘category’ and ‘proportion’. Data is described well with words and phrases such as ‘over half’, ‘just over’, ‘jump to’ and ‘drop to’ put to good use. The range of grammatical structures is both wide ranging and accurate with past, present and future tenses used effectively.

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