offers hundreds of practice questions and video explanations. Go there now.

Sign up or log in to Magoosh IELTS Prep.

IELTS Writing Task 1: How to Describe a Bar Chart and Pie Chart

The IELTS Academic Writing Task 1 essay has you write a 150-word report about a bar chart, a diagram, a table, or a pie chart. In each of these formats, you will need to use slightly different language to describe what you see. If you’re not sure where to start, we’ll look at how to describe an IELTS Writing Task 1 bar chart, as well as an IELTS Writing Task 1 pie chart.

Table of Contents

What will you see in an IELTS Writing Task 1 bar chart?

A bar chart uses either horizontal or vertical bars to show comparisons among two or more categories. One axis of the chart shows the specific categories being compared, and the other axis represents a given value (usually a percentage or a dollar amount).

Example IELTS Writing Task 1 bar chart

Example IELTS Academic Bar Chart

Go back to the top of our post on the IELTS Writing Task 1 bar chart and the IELTS Writing Task 1 pie chart.

What to Look for in an IELTS Writing Task 1 Bar Chart

Read the Title

First and foremost, you should read the title. Often, I have students report on the essay in an inverted order because they didn’t read the bar chart title.

For example, an IELTS Writing Task 1 bar chart that I give students has the chart title “Expected City Visits by Country of Origin for 2018.” Yet I often get sample sentences back that read: “It is predicted that people from Paris will be the most likely to visit the United States in 2018.” The correct answer should be “It is predicted that Americans will choose Paris as their favorite city to visit in 2018.”

Look at the Time Frame

Look at the time frame given in the chart. Are you looking at a specific year? Are there multiple years being compared? Are we talking about something in the future? This will determine if you need to use past tense language, the language of change, or future tense language when discussing your data.

Decide What You Are Comparing

What titles are given to the Y- and X-axis? This important information will form the language that you will use in the essay and the corresponding synonyms you should also use.

For example, the bar chart above compares the gross earnings of fiction books in five categories (Young Adults, Classics, Mystery, Romance and Sci-Fi and Fantasy) between 2006 and 2010. (Incidentally, this sentence is exactly what you would say for your introduction!)

Go back to the top of our post on the IELTS Writing Task 1 bar chart and the IELTS Writing Task 1 pie chart.

How to Describe an IELTS Writing Task 1 Bar Chart

Now that you know what the IELTS Writing Task 1 bar chart is about, these are the vital elements to include in your essay:

  • Start with an introduction. The introduction explains what the chart is about, and gives an overview of the main points. Make sure you include one! Your introduction can be short, but it must be there. If you’ve spent time examining the chart this should be easy to write.
     
  • Look for the key data and make sure that you are comparing and contrasting the data, NOT just listing the data from one section to the next. If you just write about what happened to X, what happened to Y, and what happened to Z, without showing any relationship between them, you will not get a high score.
     
  • In the body paragraphs, make sure that you show the connection between the pie charts and the graph or bar chart rather than just listing the data from each separately. Focus on similarities and differences.

     
    To do this, you will need to look for similarities and differences when you first analyze the chart and you will need to decide what can logically be put together or not. This means that you don’t have to describe everything that you see in the bar chart, just the key points!

     
    For example, for the above chart, you might say: It is interesting to note that Romance novels earned the most income each year between 2006 and 2010 with sales ranging from $70,000 to $115,000. In contrast, Sci Fi and Fantasy novels were the poorest revenue generators of the five categories earning only $20,000 at its highest point in 2007 and a mere $10,000 at its lowest point in 2009.
     

  • Group the data together so that you have a well-organized and coherent answer. It is a good idea to divide your answer into two or three paragraphs so it is well organized. To do this, you should group similar ideas together into paragraphs or sections.
     
  • Use a wide variety of sentence structures. Include complex sentences and simple sentences.
     
  • It is equally important to use appropriate transitions between describing each data point.
     
  • Always provide a short summary conclusion of what you included in your essay. One line is enough here. For example, It can be seen from the chart that overall, 2007 was the best year for book sales in all five categories.
     
  • Finally, make sure that you have written 150 words.

New Call-to-action

Go back to the top of our post on the IELTS Writing Task 1 bar chart and the IELTS Writing Task 1 pie chart.

What will you see in an IELTS Writing Task 1 pie chart?

A pie chart is a type of graph in which a circle is divided into sections, where each section represents a proportion of the whole. The various sections add up to 100%.

Example IELTS Writing Task 1 pie chart

Example IELTS Academic Pie Chart

Sometimes you will see the pie charts illustrated as above, without any percentage marks. When this happens, you will need to approximate the amount. I like to think of the pie chart like a clock and imagine that the part where each section ends corresponds to the minute hand of the clock.

For example, in the pie chart above, you can imagine that the long hand falls on the 20-minute mark between “bus” and “walk,” which is a third of an hour. Therefore, the percentage of bus travel would be 33%. Likewise, the percentage of walking travel makes up the rest of the time before the clock hand reaches the 30-minute mark, so through some simple math, we can see that the walking travel is roughly 17%.

Rarely will you have just one pie chart. You will usually be presented with two or more pie charts or you might have both a pie chart and a graph that are related that need to be compared and contrasted. In each, though, there will be the following language: “Summarize the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.”

Go back to the top of our post on the IELTS Writing Task 1 bar chart and the IELTS Writing Task 1 pie chart.

How to Describe an IELTS Writing Task 1 Pie Chart

  • First, take a few minutes to read the pie chart’s heading and data labels. Do the same with the graph if there is one. Make sure you know what the information is about and what detail is included.
     
  • When you write your introduction, show that you are looking at the IELTS Writing Task 1 pie chart with the relevant language (i.e. From the pie chart, it is clear/obvious/evident that…).
     
  • In the body paragraphs, make sure that you show the connection between the pie charts and the graph or bar chart rather than just listing the data from each separately. Focus on similarities and differences.
     
  • Try to relate a particular item in the IELTS Writing Task 1 pie chart to an aspect of the graph/chart by using language such as is related, is connected to, has an effect on.
     
  • Choose the most important points to write about first. Usually, these will be the largest pie slices. Items such as ‘other’ are usually less important and account for small amounts, so can be left until the end or excluded if you don’t have enough time or word count.
     
  • As with any Task 1, it is important to vary your language. You should not keep repeating the same words and phrases. The key language when you write about pie charts is proportions and percentages. Common phrases to see are “the proportion of…” or “the percentage of…”. Other phrases can include: a large number, a small minority, less than a fifth
     
  • Avoid drawing conclusions and stating opinions about information that is not in the charts. If you think that the bus travel is higher than car travel because you think the graph is representing a metropolitan city, it doesn’t matter. If it isn’t included in the data, do not mention it!
     
  • Think about what tense you will use to write your essay. Often your essay will be given a date in the past, so be sure to use the past tense when writing.
     
  • Finally, remember that practice makes perfect. Use Magoosh IELTS prep to not only improve your bar and pie chart descriptions, but to help increase your score across the test.

By the way, sign up for our 1-week free trial to try out Magoosh IELTS prep!Most Popular Resources   * IELTS Lessons  <https://ielts.magoosh.com/lessons/?utm_source=ieltsblog&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=popular&utm_term=endofpost&utm_content=lessons><noscript><img class=

No comments yet.


Magoosh blog comment policy: To create the best experience for our readers, we will only approve comments that are relevant to the article, general enough to be helpful to other students, concise, and well-written! 😄 Due to the high volume of comments across all of our blogs, we cannot promise that all comments will receive responses from our instructors.

We highly encourage students to help each other out and respond to other students' comments if you can!

If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. Thanks!

Leave a Reply