How to Write about IELTS Pie Charts

By | September 4, 2015

Do IELTS pie charts make you nervous? Do you worry that you have nothing to write about? There’s no need to panic. You can easily write about pie charts. The secret is in knowing how to talk about percentages and fractions and how to compare the sections of the chart. In this lesson, you will learn how to do both. A bonus tip to get a higher score is also given at the end.

What are percentages and fractions?

  • Percentages are numbers out of a hundred (e.g, 25% or 37%).
  • Fractions are parts of a whole (e.g, half or two-thirds).

Look at the pie chart below about government spending.

IELTS pie chart with 9 sections

Answer these questions to help you understand this pie chart.

QUESTIONS

  1. How many sections does this pie chart have?
  2. What do the numbers mean?
  3. Does the chart tell you how much money the government spends in each area?
  4. Which is the largest section?
  5. Which is the smallest section?
  6. Which pieces are similar?
  7. Does this pie chart show change?

ANSWERS

  1. 9
  2. The numbers on this pie chart are percentages (e.g., 29%, 4%, etc.).
  3. No, the chart gives you only the percentage of all spending.
  4. Military (29%)
  5. Environment (3%)
  6. Other and Pensions are the same at 7%. Environment, Education and Law Enforcement are similar at around 5%.
  7. No, this pie chart only tells about one year of government spending.

How to write about the sections of a pie chart

To write about each section of the pie chart, use the words below. For a higher score, use two or three of these words.

  • segment
  • share
  • proportion
  • slice
  • category
  • sector

PRACTICE EXERCISE

Here are some example sentences about the pie chart above. Fill in the missing blanks and then check your answers.

  • The pie chart is divided into _____ areas of spending, including military, education and health care.
  • The largest area of spending in 1995 was for the _____, while the smallest area of spending was on the _____.
  • Pensions and other expenses took up the same percentage of government spending at _____%.
  • Spending for the environment, _____, and law enforcement each accounted for a low percentage of spending, at around 5%.

ANSWERS

  • The pie chart is divided into nine areas of spending, including military, education and health care.
  • The largest area of spending in 1995 was for the military, while the smallest area of spending was on the environment.
  • Pensions and other expenses took up the same percentage of government spending at 7%.
  • Spending for the environment, education, and law enforcement each accounted for a low percentage of spending, at around 5%.

Use ‘proportion’ or ‘percentage’ to describe pie charts.

  • Military spending enjoyed the largest percentage of the government’s budget.
  • A small proportion of government funds went to environment and education.
  • Health care and debt reduction also received a significant proportion of funds, making up a third of the government’s budget.

Use comparative and superlative adjectives

You must compare the sections of the pie chart. Use comparative and superlative adjectives to compare them. Here are some common comparative and superlative adjectives to use in  your IELTS summary.

Ielts Blog - Comparative & Superlative Adjectives - Pie Charts - IELTS High Score

Example sentences using comparative and superlative adjectives

  • We can see that the greatest proportion of spending was on the military, equalling about a third of the budget.
  • According to the pie chart, the smallest percentage of the government’s budget was for the environment.
  • As seen in the pie chart, the largest proportion of spending was for military, health care and debt reduction.
  • Law Enforcement, pensions, education and other received a smaller portion of government funds, with their combined percentages making up less than military spending alone.
  • The highest percentage of spending was for military while the lowest percentage was for the environment.
  • Military spending enjoyed the highest percentage of government spending at 29%.

More words to describe pie charts

  • significant

A significant percentage of spending was also allotted for debt reduction, welfare and health care.

  • remainder

Military, health care and debt reduction enjoyed significant spending, with the remainder accounting for around 40 percent of the budget.

  • remaining

Military, health care and debt reduction received significant funds, while the remaining sectors received a smaller proportion of the budget.

BONUS IELTS TIP – Writing about Two Slices

Many students don’t know this easy way to add words to their pie chart summary. An easy way to add to the word count and get a higher score is to write about two or more slices that make up the equal of another slice. Knowing how to do this will give you an extra sentence and more confidence on what to write about. Here is an example on how to write about two slices.

  • Pensions, other and law enforcement made up a low percentage of spending, roughly equaling that of debt reduction.

YOUR TURN 

Practice these IELTS tips to write your own summary for the pie chart on government spending. Share your IELTS summary with other readers!

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