Writing Task 1 | Pie Charts Series

IELTS Lessons, written by Sam Morgan and Tom Speed

We will begin our pie chart task lessons with an analysis of an example pie chart task and a look at important vocabulary. In this lesson we will…
  • analyze data in pie charts.
  • think about the structure of an academic task 1 essay.
  • complete a model band 9 text.
  • study some useful vocabulary for dealing with this type of task.
Read the information below and study the two pie charts.
The pie charts show the spending habits of people in the UK in 1971 and 2001.
Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and making comparisons where relevant

Exercise 1

​The following true and false questions will help you to structure your essay and pick out the trends and details which you need to include.

Look at the charts and answer true or false

1. Both charts contain data about the past.
2. The data is about more than one country
3. You must use the past tense to describe the data
4. The data is in the form of percentages.
5. You should contrast the data and highlight major changes.
6. Less money was spent on cars, restaurants and computers at the end of the period.
7. In 2001 the percentage of money spent on food, petrol, furniture and books was less than in 1971.
8. The biggest increase in spending was on cars.
9. The biggest decrease in spending over the period was on food.
10. You should guess what the causes for the changes in the data are.
11. It is important to mention every single piece of data in your essay.
12. You should write 3 paragraphs
13. The first paragraph should contain an overview of the data.
14. One paragraph should focus on increases in spending and the other paragraph should focus on decreases in the percentage of spending.
15. You must write a conclusion at the end of the task.

Exercise 2

Here we have a model band 9 answer to the task above, but we must complete it by filling in the gaps. Select a word from the box, then select a gap to place it inside. 
doubled   ·  share   ·  accounted   ·  on   ·  illustrate   ·  only   ·  by   ·  at   ·  significantly   ·  made   ·  of   ·  example  
Click or touch a word above
1. The two charts the different items and activities that the UK public spent money on in 2 specific years in the past. In 2001 the greatest of spending was on cars whereas 30 years earlier it had been on food.
2. In 2001 cars were far the greatest expenditure 43% of the total, whereas, 30 years earlier cars had only for 22% of expenses. Other items that saw an increase in the share of spending over the period were computers, which rose from 2% to 12%, and restaurants, the spending on which from 7% to 14%.
3. In 1971 food up 44% of spending, which, interestingly, was the greatest amount spending on any item in either 1971 or 2001. However, this figure decreased and by 2001 food only accounted for 14% of spending. Spending on books also dropped dramatically from 6% to just 1% of the total. Spending petrol and furniture also dropped, but by less significant amounts. Spending on petrol, for , dropped from 10% to 8% and spending on furniture dropped from 9% to 8%.
Notice the structure in the sample task answer above. Paragraph 1 begins with a paraphrase of the original task description and finishes with a brief overview. Paragraph 2 talks about spending increases and paragraph 3 talks about spending drops. It is important that you spend time at the start of the test to decide how you will logically separate paragraphs 2 and 3. 

Now it is time for you to try your own task. Remember to keep to 20 minutes to do this, and check your word count is above 150.

Exercise 3

The pie charts show the nationality of foreign students on a business course at a university in the UK in 1991 and 2011.

Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and making comparisons where relevant.
Write 150 words.
Compare your answer to our model from exercise 2. Do you use a similar range of vocabulary? Are your grammatical structures similar to ours, especially regarding percentages? Do you have a similar 3 paragraph structure? If it is different, why is it different? (Make sure you have a logical answer for this question.)
Now that we have seen what a pie chart task looks like, in the next lesson we will look in more detail at how to pick out data and use vocabulary accurately.