Most Important IELTS Pie Chart Vocabulary

Step 1 – Prepare

  • Look for the biggest and smallest sections of your pie charts – What do they represent? What is the percentage?
  • Make a quick analysis – note down the times, dates and measurements.
  • See the big picture, avoid getting lost in the details. After all this is a summarizing task.
  • When you are confident you have selected the main features, carry on to step 2.

Step 2 – Organise your findings into two groups

When organising the information into two separate groups focus on these topics for your pie charts:

  • Major trends
  • Major groups
  • Exceptions
  • Group information
  • Other similar ideas

Step 3 – Structure everything into this four paragraph model

Paragraph 1

Write one sentence explaining what the graphs shows. You can paraphrase the title.


Pie Chart title: Holiday destinations chosen by Welsh people 1955-2005.

Your first sentence: The pie chart shows the vacation preferences of Welsh people over a fifty year period starting in 1955 and finishing in 2005.

Paragraph 2

Talk about the information that you have separated in step 2. Focus on the first group.

Paragraph 3

Talk about the information that you have separated in step 2. Focus on the second group.

Paragraph 4

Two sentences summarising your description. (What are the major overall trends, changes, etc.)

1. Tips for interpreting pie charts in IELTS

We will begin by giving you some general tips for interpreting a pie chart in your IELTS academic writing task.

These tips are good to keep in mind from the moment you take the first look at the pie charts given to you, to the moment you finish your writing task 1:

  • If you cannot compare the information of your pie charts, don’t panic. In such a case giving a summary of each picture is fine. Make comparisons where relevant. Take a look at our tutorial on how to compare pie charts here.
  • Avoid giving personal opinions at all costs. (E.g. If the graph shows rising prices and you know it’s because of a war in Middle East, do not say anything. Your personal opinion must not be mentioned.)
  • Always pay attention to the time frame of your pie charts and use the appropriate tense (past, present or future).
  • Focus on getting all of the appropriate data from the pie charts/graphs into your writing.
  • These are quick tips, if you are still struggling you should consider enrolling in an online course to prepare for IELTS.
  • For pie chart interpretation examples and model essays, click here.

2. Vocabulary for IELTS pie charts

Now that you have an understanding of how to structure your description of pie charts and graphs for IELTS writing task 1, let’s talk about the language you should use.

Here are a few examples of good wording for the largest section of your pie charts:

  • It is clear that ____represents the largest portion of _____, whereas _____ is undoubtedly the smallest.
  • Sales of _____ stood at __% in 1925, which is the majority of_____.
  • (If the percentage is around 60%) – Nearly a third…
  • (If the percentage is around 52%) – Over a half of all respondents…

Here are a few examples of good wording for the smallest section of your pie chart:

A small fraction…

Exactly 30% of students…

(If the percentage is around 25%)  Roughly a quarter of respondents

whereas sales for _____ were just 10%.

In 1955 approximately three quarters were ____, whereas in 1960 this had fallen to just under a fifth.

Written formPercentageFraction
a half50%1/2
a third33%1/3
two thirds66%2/3
three quarters75%3/4
a quarter25%1/4

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)
  • percentage
  • proportion
  • amount
  • share

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:

  • most/least
  • largest/smallest
  • more/less
  • greater/smaller

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