IELTS Writing Task 1 – Pie Chart (Material, Sample Writing and Exercise)

In the previous articles, we have discussed how line graph and bar graph are supposed to be described. Today, we are going to discuss the pie charts, which are also commonly used in IELTS Writing Task 1. In IELTS Writing Task 1, it is possible to have a single pie chart or two pie charts. As far as I know, it is pretty unlikely that we only have one pie chart, because it would mean that there is very little information to be written, making it nearly impossible to write 150 words.

So, normally, we have two pie charts or a pie chart and another graph. We’re not going to discuss a combination of pie chart and other graph today, since my initial plan was that I would explain every single graph in IELTS Writing Task 1, and then continue with combined graphs. Now, let’s take a look at sample pie charts below.

Pie Chart



The first thing that we need to figure out when doing IELTS Writing Task 1 is how the ideas are going to be structured. What information should be included in paragraph 1, paragraph 2 and paragraph 3? Before we start writing, it is very important to make a first draft. In this first draft, we only need to focus on the main ideas, because the detailed information will be given later. For IELTS Writing Task 1, the structure will look like this:



Paragraph 1

  • Introduction
  • Explaining variables
  • Explaining major trend

Paragraph 2

  • Giving detailed information of major trend 1 (percentage, proportion, lowest/highest, increase/decrease)

Paragraph 3

  • Giving detailed information of major trend 2 (percentage, proportion, lowest/highest, increase/decrease)

Okay, now let’s discuss how the pie charts should be described step by step.


Paragraph 1

Introduction

First, we have to write an introduction that will explain what the charts are about. This is done by par
aphrasing the original title. Take a look at an example below.


  • Average household expenditure in 2019 and 2020 (original title)


  • The pie charts compare the annual family spending in the year 2019 and 2020 (paraphrased title)


Explaining variables

This part of IELTS Writing Task 1 includes information about the unit of measurement (percentage), years, and the five types of household spending presented in the charts. We only need to explain this in the first paragraph since the rest of the writing will deal with the more detailed explanation of the charts. For the pie charts above, these are some of the additional information that must be written in the first paragraph:


There are five types of household spending presented in the charts, namely food, housing, healthcare, other goods and services, and education. Units are measured in percentage.


We don’t have to explain the year because we already did it in the first sentence. Always remember to avoid unnecessary repetition.


Explaining major trends

Major trends will enable us to arrange our ideas better and help us with the paragraphing. In most cases of two pie charts, the major trend would be increase and decrease. The major trend of the pie charts above can be written as follows:

The pie charts indicate that there was an increase in the allocation of money for healthcare and other products and services. In contrary, households allocated less money for food, education and housing.

The whole paragraph 1 will look like this:


The pie charts compare the annual family spending in the year 2019 and 2020. There are five types of household spending presented in the charts, namely food, housing, healthcare, other goods and services, and education. Units are measured in percentage.


Paragraph 2


Here, we have to give a detailed explanation on how family spending on healthcare and other goods and services experienced a growth.  Take a look at an example below.



In 2019, households only spent 5% of their budget for healthcare and 7% for other products and services. In the following year, healthcare spending makes up one fifth of household expenditure. The same trend is shown by the budget allocation for other goods and services that increased by 11% in 2020.



Note
To maximize our vocabulary range and accuracy score, we need to do a lot of paraphrasing and avoid repetition of certain words. For example, instead of over-using the word increase, we can use the word grow or climb. We can also use the words surge, skyrocket, or jump if there is a significant increase. I
f we already use a lot of Verbs, we can use Nouns as an alternative, such as growth (instead of grow). You may also notice that instead of using 2020, I use the phrase in the following year, which is another attempt to avoid repetition.


One may ask, “Do we really have to use vast vocabulary to demonstrate our mastery of the English language?”, to which I would most likely respond: “Yes, we do”. Well, trying our best to avoid repetition is the least the we can do. The purpose of English proficiency test like IELTS is to measure our mastery of the language, after all.

Besides avoiding the repetition of certain words, we also need to avoid over-using percentages, and try to find some other ways of explaining the proportion of the household spending. For example, I use difference in this sentence:

  • The same trend is shown by the budget allocation for other goods and services that increased by 11% in 2020


Actually, I could have written it like this:

  • The same trend is shown by the budget allocation for other goods and services that increased to 18% in 2020


However, I already used such explanation for healthcare, and this is why I tried to find another way to explain the budget allocation for other goods and services.

Other than difference, I also used fraction to replace percentage in this sentence:


  • In the following year, healthcare spending makes up one fifth of household expenditure


Actually, I could have written it like this:

  • In the following year, healthcare spending makes up 20% of household expenditure


Paragraph 3

The way we do paragraph 3 is the same as the way we do paragraph 2, only now we’re dealing with different trend. While the budget allocation for healthcare and other goods and services increased, the amount of money spent on food, housing, and education declined. Paragraph 3 will most likely look like this:


In contrast, households spend less and less money on food, housing and education. In 2019, more than a half of the budget was allocated for food. In 2020, the number was just a little above 40%. Albeit the decline of food consumption, food still has the largest proportion of household spending in 2020. Similarly, budget allocation for housing slightly decreased from 20% to 19%. Education experienced the most dramatic 11% budget reduction and only made up 2% of household expenditure in 2020.

Take a look at some of the paraphrased words (underlined) in paragraph 3.


In contrast, households spend less and less money on food, housing and education. In 2019, more than a half of the budget (which means that it made up more than 50%) was allocated for food. In 2020, the number was just a little above 40% (which means that it makes up 41%). Albeit the decline (instead of decrease) in its consumption, food still has the largest proportion of household spending in 2020. Similarly, budget allocation for housing slightly decreased from 20% to 19%. Education experienced the most dramatic 11% budget reduction (instead of significant decrease) and only made up 2% of household expenditure in 2020.


The whole writing will look like this:


The pie charts compare the annual family spending in the year 2019 and 2020. There are five types of household spending presented in the charts, namely food, housing, healthcare, other goods and services, and education. Units are measured in percentage.

The pie charts indicate that there was an increase in the allocation of money for healthcare and other products and services. In 2019, households only spent 5% of their budget for healthcare and 7% for other products and services. In the following year, healthcare spending makes up one fifth of household expenditure. The same trend is shown by the budget allocation for other goods and services that increased by 11% in 2020.

In contrast, households spend less and less money on food, housing and education. In 2019, more than a half of the budget was allocated for food. In 2020, the number was just a little above 40%. Albeit the decline of food consumption, food still has the largest proportion of household spending in 2020. Similarly, budget allocation for housing slightly decreased from 20% to 19%. Education experienced the most dramatic 11% budget reduction and only made up 2% of household expenditure in 2020.


Word count: 194



We have learned from the two previous articles (which you can find here and here) that IELTS Writing Task 1 should consist of 150 to 190 words. It means that I still have 4 extra words in my writing. Let’s see if I will be able to write more efficiently and write 190 words maximum in the next article.

Besides lexical items that we use in our writing, it is also important that we use cohesive devices to arrange our ideas logically. As you can see from the sample writing above, I used several connectors such as in contrast, albeit, and similarly. You may also notice that I always put the main idea of each paragraph first, and then give the more detailed information. Take a look at how I developed each of the main idea in the writing.


The pie charts compare the annual family spending in the year 2019 and 2020There are five types of household spending presented in the charts, namely food, housing, healthcare, other goods and services, and education. Units are measured in percentage.

The pie charts indicate that there was an increase in the allocation of money for healthcare and other products and servicesIn 2019, households only spent 5% of their budget for healthcare and 7% for other products and services. In the following year, healthcare spending makes up one fifth of household expenditure. The same trend is shown by the budget allocation for other goods and services that increased by 11% in 2020.


In contrast, households spend less and less money on food, housing and education. In 2019, more than a half of the budget was allocated for food. In 2020, the number was just a little above 40%. Albeit the decline of food consumption, food still has the largest proportion of household spending in 2020. Similarly, budget allocation for housing slightly decreased from 20% to 19%. Education experienced the most dramatic 11% budget reduction and only made up 2% of household expenditure in 2020.

The underlined sentences are the main ideas. Understanding how main ideas are developed and a good paragraphing will help you get high scores in Task Completion as well as Coherence and Cohesion marking criteria.


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