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. 2. 3.

How many activities are there in each chart? – Just count Are the activities the same in each chart? – Read the key Are there any changes in popularity between the two years? – Look at the colours

This will include naming all the activities. To do this. 3. So. We can see that the most popular leisure activities were almost the same in both periods. All you need to do now is put that into English and you have the main points of the report. 4. 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. 4. As you write your paragraphs. 3. 2. There are 8 activities for each year 7 of 8 activities are the same There are a number of differences in popularity between the two years. but typically you will be looking at two content paragraphs. ask yourself: 1. what’s gone up what’s gone down what hasn’t changed what’s new Putting this together. 3. try looking for: 1. the biggest number the smallest number These are generally important details to include. 2. jogging and cycling all fall soccer and camping don’t change much Step 3: organise your report This will vary from task to task. This is too many. Step 2: choose the details to include There are 16 different figures you can include. 5. you want to think of three key ideas: . 2. we need these details: 1. 2. but there were a number of differences in popularity between the various activities. walking is most popular in both periods yoga disappears and weightlifting is new swimming doubles aerobics.You should get these answers: 1. but not all the numbers. You should also consider what changes beween the two charts. not least because the task asks you to make comparisons. The task is to select and report the most important details.

a figure that was matched by swimming in 2009. jogging and aerobics all falling by at least a half to under 10%. Step 4: get the vocabulary right This is the big one and will take time to learn. Also. having almost doubled in popularity over the previous decade. The when you have that right. The second most popular activity was soccer at just under 20% in both years. with around 30% of Americans saying that they preferred it. it isn’t. take a look at the second version which has some more advanced vocabulary. We can see that the most popular leisure activities were almost the same in both periods. Most of the other activities became less popular over the same period of time. Most of the other activities became less popular over the same period of time. having almost doubled in popularity over the previous decade. jogging and aerobics last note the biggest changes – cycling. My suggestion is start with the first one. swimming the big riser. The one exception to this trend was camping which stayed almost unchanged at around 9%. yoga was no longer among the preferred activities in 2009. I show you two model answers with extensive vocabulary notes. Read about the 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. The second most popular activity was soccer at just under 20% in both years.   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. 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%. with cycling. but weightlifting was chosen by 10% of people. It is clear that walking was the most popular activity in both 1999 and 2009. but there were a number of differences in popularity between the various activities. yoga was no longer among the preferred activities in 2009. jogging and aerobics all big fallers. a figure that was matched by swimming in 2009. Also. Paragraph 2 refer to the other activities in order of popularity in 2009 – soccer and swimming first. Don’t be worries that it looks too simple. but weightlifting was chosen by 10% of people. with cycling. It is in fact extremely good – band score 9. To help you on your way.

Most of the other activities became less popular over the same period of time. provided you also use some variations. Again. having almost doubled in popularity over the previous decade. You will need to talk about things that do not follow the normal pattern. The second most popular activity was soccer at just under 20% in both years. Avoid using phrases like “lots of ” in IELTS “various“: a useful and more advanced variant for “different” “exception to a trend“: Learn this phrase. butweightlifting was chosen by 10% of people. It is clear that walking was the most popular activity in both 1999 and 2009. Also. That is not a problem. I suggest you take a look at my lesson on dealing with numbers. “over the previous decade“. ”in both years“. Other variations include “to express a preference” and “favourite”. you want to make sure you have some variation here. General vocabulary “a number of“: a simple but exceptionally useful phrase. . “1999/2009“: another word you are going to repeat relates to time. Dealing with numbers Numbers are very important in this task. 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”. with around 30% of Americans saying that they preferred it. Note these: ”between 1999 and 2009“. a figure that was matched by swimming in 2009. using it as an adjective and a verb. but there were a number of differences in popularity between the various activities. with cycling. We can see that the most popular leisure activities were almost the same in both periods. The one exception to this trend was camping which stayed almost unchanged at around 9%. ”over the same period of time“. ”in both periods“. One way to do this is to change the form of the word from “popular” to “popularity”. yoga was no longer among the preferred activities in 2009.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. The other word I use in this report is “preferred”: you should note I vary this too. jogging and aerobics all falling by at least a half to under 10%.

making it equal second in popularity with soccer at 18%. but you should avoid using too many of them. “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. Of equal note is that by 2009. with the result that it became less popular than camping. It is immediately evident that walking was by some distance the most popular pastime in both years. yoga had disappeared from the list of preferred activities and had been replaced by weightlifting. It covers all the right details (Task response). while the list of activities remained almost identical over the decade.“around 30%“: you will use per cent a lot in this task. is very coherent (well organised and linked) and has some range of vocabulary. “at just under 20%“: more good number language. at 7% and 9% respectively. “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. Remember the language of maths: “half”. .Generally speaking. When you do use them. Likewise. the most notable development was that the proportion of people who went swimming doubled. try to do what I have done here and use language too. “having almost doubled“: more approximate number language. This is very much better than 18%.accounting for just under a third of the preferences expressed. which was chosen by one in ten Americans. This is a harder phrase that you could try for yourself when talking about two similar/identical numbers. there were a number of changes in their relative popularity. has a good range of grammar with relative clauses (Range and accuracy of grammar). 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. the number of people who went jogging and did aerobics also dropped significantly. with less than 5% of respondents to the survey choosing them. around as half as many Americans went cycling in 2009 as compared to ten years earlier. “double” etc. Among the less popular activities. You do need to include numbers. even if some words are repeated (Lexical resource). In stark contrast.

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