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A model pie chart report step by step

This lesson gives you a step-by-step approach to dealing with pie charts in task 1. I talk you through how to identify the main points, select the supporting details and then structure your report. I then show you two model answers: one with standard vocabulary and then a much more advanced version with more vocabulary and grammar you can borrow.

The task
The following pie charts show the results of a survey into the most popular leisure activities in the United States of America in 1999 and 2009. Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.

Step 1: seeing the big picture


The first step is to identify the main points of the two charts. This is not just an important part of the task and your band score, it will also help you write your description. The main points are normally obvious. Sometimes they are so obvious that candidates ignore them. Look at these questions: 1. How many activities are there in each chart? Just count 2. Are the activities the same in each chart? Read the key 3. Are there any changes in popularity between the two years? Look at the colours You should get these answers: 1. There are 8 activities for each year 2. 7 of 8 activities are the same 3. There are a number of differences in popularity between the two years. All you need to do now is put that into English and you have the main points of the report. Adding in a short description of the task we have:

These two pie charts show the changes in popularity of different leisure activities in the United States of America between 1999 and 2009. We can see that the most popular leisure activities were almost the same in both periods, but there were a number of differences in popularity between the various activities.

Step 2: choose the details to include

There are 16 different figures you can include. This is too many. The task is to select and report the most important details. This will include naming all the activities, but not all the numbers. To do this, try looking for: 1. the biggest number 2. the smallest number These are generally important details to include. You should also consider what changes beween the two charts, not least because the task asks you to make comparisons. So, ask yourself: 1. whats gone up 2. whats gone down 3. what hasnt changed 4. whats new Putting this together, we need these details: 1. walking is most popular in both periods 2. yoga disappears and weightlifting is new 3. swimming doubles 4. aerobics, jogging and cycling all fall 5. soccer and camping dont change much

Step 3: organise your report

This will vary from task to task, but typically you will be looking at two content paragraphs. As you write your paragraphs, you want to think of three key ideas: highlight the main points they come first group similar ideas together find a logical structure to present the points In this case, I would go with this structure: Paragraph 1 walking is much the biggest slice of the pie in both years weightlifting is new and yoga has gone It is clear that walking was the most popular activity in both 1999 and 2009 with around 30% of Americans saying that they preferred it. Also, yoga was no longer among the preferred activities in 2009, but weightlifting was chosen by 10% of people. Paragraph 2 refer to the other activities in order of popularity in 2009 soccer and swimming first, jogging and aerobics last note the biggest changes cycling, jogging and aerobics all big fallers, swimming the big riser. The second most popular activity was soccer at just under 20% in both years, a figure that was matched by swimming in 2009, having almost doubled in popularity over the previous decade. Most of the other activities became less popular over the same period of time, with cycling, jogging and aerobics all falling by at least a half to under 10%. The one exception to this trend was camping which stayed almost unchanged at around 9%.

Step 4: get the vocabulary right

This is the big one and will take time to learn. To help you on your way, I show you two model answers with extensive vocabulary notes. My suggestion is start with the first one. Dont be worries that it looks too simple. it isnt. It is in fact

extremely good band score 9. The when you have that right, take a look at the second version which has some more advanced vocabulary.

A good version
This is the final report These two pie charts show the changes in popularity of different leisure activities in the United States of America between 1999 and 2009. We can see that the most popular leisure activities were almost the same in both periods, but there were a number of differences in popularity between the various activities. It is clear that walking was the most popular activity in both 1999 and 2009, with around 30% of Americans saying that they preferred it. Also, yoga was no longer among the preferred activities in 2009, but weightlifting was chosen by 10% of people. The second most popular activity was soccer at just under 20% in both years, a figure that was matched by swimming in 2009, having almost doubled in popularity over the previous decade. Most of the other activities became less popular over the same period of time, with cycling, jogging and aerobics all falling by at least a half to under 10%. The one exception to this trend was camping which stayed almost unchanged at around 9%.

Language notes

These two pie charts show the changes in popularity of different leisure activities in the United States of America between 1999 and 2009. We can see that the most popular leisure activities were almost the same in both periods, but there were a number of differences in popularity between the various activities. It is clear that walking was the most popular activity in both 1999 and 2009, with around 30% of Americans saying that they preferred it. Also, yoga was no longer among the preferred activities in 2009, butweightlifting was chosen by 10% of people. The second most popular activity was soccer at just under 20% in both years, a figure that was matched by swimming in 2009, having almost doubled in popularity over the previous decade. Most of the other activities became less popular over the same period of time, with cycling, jogging and aerobics all falling by at least a half to under 10%. The one exception to this trend was camping which stayed almost unchanged at around 9%.

Standard phrases
These two pie charts show: the normal phrase to describe what the chart/graph is about We can see that: a phrase to state a main point It is clear that: another phrase to identify a main point

Varying vocabulary
popular/popularity/preferred: you are going to repeat the word popular. That is not a problem, provided you also use some variations. One way to do this is to change the form of the word from popular to popularity. The other word I use in this report is preferred: you should note I vary this too, using it as an

adjective and a verb. Other variations include to express a preference and favourite. 1999/2009: another word you are going to repeat relates to time. Again, you want to make sure you have some variation here. Note these: between 1999 and 2009, in both periods, in both years, over the previous decade, over the same period of time.

General vocabulary

a number of: a simple but exceptionally useful phrase. Avoid using phrases like lots of in IELTS various: a useful and more advanced variant for different exception to a trend: Learn this phrase. You will need to talk about things that do not follow the normal pattern.

Dealing with numbers

Numbers are very important in this task. I suggest you take a look at my lesson on dealing with numbers. around 30%: you will use per cent a lot in this task. You do need to include numbers, but you should avoid using too many of them. When you do use them, try to do what I have done here and use language too, around is good language for about a figure that was matched by: figure is an exceptionally useful word which can be used with numbers or percentages. This is a harder phrase that you could try for yourself when talking about two similar/identical numbers. at just under 20%: more good number language. This is very much better than 18%. having almost doubled: more approximate number language. Remember the language of maths: half, double etc. all falling by at least a half to under 10%: the phrase to note here is at least which stayed almost unchanged at around 9%: this is better variation of did not change

My band score 10 answer


The above report is exceptionally good. It covers all the right details (Task response), has a good range of grammar with relative clauses (Range and accuracy of grammar), is very coherent (well organised and linked) and has some range of vocabulary, even if some words are repeated (Lexical resource). This answer can help you by extending the range of vocabulary you use for: general words dealing with numbers linking These two charts illustrate how the preferred leisure activities of Americans changed between 1999 and 2009.Generally speaking, while the list of activities remained almost identical over the decade, there were a number of changes in their relative popularity. It is immediately evident that walking was by some distance the most popular pastime in both years,accounting for just under a third of the preferences expressed. Of equal note is that by 2009, yoga had disappeared from the list of preferred activities and had been replaced by weightlifting, which was chosen by one in ten Americans.

Among the less popular activities, the most notable development was that the proportion of people who went swimming doubled, making it equal second in popularity with soccer at 18%. In stark contrast, around as half as many Americans went cycling in 2009 as compared to ten years earlier, with the result that it became less popular than camping, at 7% and 9% respectively. Likewise, the number of people who went jogging and did aerobics also dropped significantly, with less than 5% of respondents to the survey choosing them.

Read about the vocabulary Language notes


These two charts illustrate how the preferred leisure activities of Americans changed between 1999 and 2009.Generally speaking, while the list of activities remained almost identical over the decade, there were a number of changes in their relative popularity. It is immediately evident that walking was by some distance the most popular pastime in both years,accounting for just under a third of the preferences expressed. Of equal note is that by 2009, yoga had disappeared from the list of preferred activities and had been replaced by weightlifting, which was chosen by one in ten Americans. Among the less popular activities, the most notable development was that the proportion of people who went swimming doubled, making it equal second in popularity with soccer at 18%. In stark contrast, around as half as many Americans went cycling in 2009 as compared to ten years earlier, with the result that it became less popular than camping, at 7% and 9% respectively. Likewise, the number of people who went jogging and did aerobics also dropped significantly, with less than 5% of respondents to the survey choosing them.

General vocabulary

illustrate: a useful alternative to the standard show remained almost identical: a variation of stayed the same The most notable development: development is a useful alternative to change and notable works in the same way as significant. respondents to the survey : one word you may find yourself repeating a lot is People. One way to avoid this is to use Americans. This is a more advanced version you respond to a survey and the people to respond to a survey are respondents.

Linking phrases

while: a useful and slightly more advanced variation of but Generally speaking,: an alternative to in general. It is a good habit to use a phrase like this in your summary paragraph. Note the comma. It is immediately evident that: a variation of the standard It is clear that. Again, it is a good habit to use a phrase like this when you are writing about the main points of the chart/graph. Of equal note: a useful linking phrase when you are joining two important main points. Among the less popular activities: this is good writing as it explains to the reader that this paragraph is about a different topic.This is a good structure to borrow. In stark contrast: this is a set phrase when you have a large contrast. Dont overuse it, it only works for big differences. Likewise: another very useful linking phrase. You use it between two sentences which are about similar ideas. Note the comma.

Dealing with numbers

accounting for just under a third: you could just say around 30%, but this way you use more language. Accounting/accounted for is a very useful phrase when dealing with numbers. Another example would be: Children under 14 account for almost a quarter of people who play golf regularly. by some distance the most: when you make a comparison, it is a good idea to try and qualify it in some way. if you say it is the biggest, ask yourself the question By how much?. Another alternative her would be significantly the most. one in ten Americans: one in ten is a very useful variation when you are talking about percentages. proportion: another key word for task 1 an excellent variation for percentage. dropped significantly: you should have a number of variations for saying rise and fall. Drop is quite a neutral word so you can qualify with adverbs like significantly

Grammar notes

had disappeared: think about tenses if you are given two charts relating to different periods in the past. Can you use a past perfect? which was chosen by : two points to consider here. The relative whichis a key piece of grammar and the passive, both of which are key pieces of grammar for this task. with the result that: note the structure here. The fall in popularity means that it has become less popular. This is an idea you can borrow.

http://www.dcielts.com/task-1-2/a-model-bar-chart-report-step-by-step/