Top Tips for IELTS

The language to summarise two pie charts

In this lesson I talk you through some of problems when you have to summarise two pie charts in IELTS task 1. The emphasis here is on deciding what type of language you need. One idea is that if you choose the right language, then you will answer the task correctly. Otherwise the summary is:

you don’t just need the language of proportion and percentages for pie charts

the language you need varies on the pie charts you get -so read the titles carefully

A quick review of pie charts

Look at this pie chart and decide what type of language you need to describe it:

UK exports 2013 pie chart

 

You should see immediately that the language you need is the language of proportions. Some key words are

per cent (correctly spelled as two words)

percentage

proportion

amount

share

You will also of course need some language of comparison too – to say which country had the largest and smallest share etc. Some key words here are:

most/least

largest/smallest

more/less

greater/smaller

Two pie charts – a related topic and the same time frame

Sometimes – quite often in fact – you get more than one pie chart to summarise. What happens then? Do you need the same language? Look at the pie chart below that is about imported goods in the UK in 2013 – you could get this one with the one about exported goods.

Uk imports 2013

Yes. You still need the same language of proportion and comparison.

 One big difference though is that you now need to make comparisons between the two pie charts. This time you need to compare imports and exports too. More complex.

Two charts – the same topic but a different time frame

Now look at this pie chart. You should see immediately that if you get this with the first pie chart, you need some different language here and not just the language of proportion and comparison. This time it is about exports again but in 1983.

uk exports 1983 pie chart

Here you will need the language of change – trend language if you like. Why? You are comparing the same thing – share of exports in the UK over  a period of time from 1983 to 2013 – just like in some bar charts.

This is the most difficult task normally because you need to use all of this language:

proportion language – to describe percentages

comparison language – to describe the biggest and the smallest

trend language – to describe what changes over time

A quick summary

two pie charts on a different topic and the same time frame ⇒ language of proportion and comparison

two pie charts on a related topic and in a different time frame ⇒ language of proportion and comparison and change

Some tips

Never hurry task 1 – give yourself think time to decide what type of language you need before you start writing – 5 minutes is not too long for thinking and planning
Look carefully at the titles of the charts – are they about the same or related topics?
Look carefully at the titles of the charts – are they about the same or different time frames

Other problems – organisation

In this lesson I have concentrated only on the language you need if you get two or more pie charts. Another problem is to decide how to organise your summary. Two quick ideas to help you

you do want to have paragraphs in your summary – examiners look for this so don’t try and put it all in one paragraph

choose a simple paragraph structure – time is short in the test and if you choose a “clever” way to organise your answer you may confuse yourself and the examiner

   

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