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How to Write an IELTS Pie Chart

This lesson will provide you with tips and advice on how to write an IELTS pie chart for task 1.

To begin, take a look at the pie chart below, and then answer the quiz questions.

If you prefer or if you want extra tips you can also view this lesson in a video (but don't forget afterwards to do the quizzes on this page that give you the language practice!):

The Task:

You should spend about 20 minutes on this task.

The pie charts show the main reasons for migration to and from the UK in 2007.

Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features and make comparisons where relevant.

Write at least 150 words.

IELTS Pie Chart MigrationIELTS Pie Chart

Answer these questions about the IELTS pie chart:

  1. What is the best way to organize your answer?

    Write one paragraph about immigration and one about emigration

    Write about the pie charts together, comparing each of the reasons

  2. What tense should you use to write about the IELTS pie chart?



  3. Can you talk about ‘increases’ and ‘decreases’ when describing the information?



Now take a look at a model answer:


The pie charts illustrate the primary reasons that people came to and left the UK in 2007.  At first glance it is clear that the main factor influencing this decision was employment. 

Having a definite job accounted for 30 per cent of immigration to the UK, and this figure was very similar for emigration, at 29%.  A large number of people, 22%, also emigrated because they were looking for a job, though the proportion of people entering the UK for this purpose was noticeably lower at less than a fifth. 

Another major factor influencing a move to the UK was for formal study, with over a quarter of people immigrating for this reason.  However, interestingly, only a small minority, 4%, left for this.

The proportions of those moving to join a family member were quite similar for immigration and emigration, at 15% and 13% respectively.   Although a significant number of people (32%) gave ‘other’ reasons or did not give a reason why they emigrated, this accounted for only 17% with regards to immigration.

(173 words)

Choose the most important points to write about first

These will usually be the largest ones.  As you can see in the model answer, definite job, looking for work, and formal study were all written about first, in order of importance, as these are the main reasons that were chosen for moving.

Items such as ‘other’ are usually less important and account for small amounts, so can be left till the end.

Make it easy to read

When you write a task 1, you should always group information in a logical way to make it easy to follow and read.

With an IELTS pie chart, the most logical thing to do is usually to compare categories together across the charts, focusing on similarities and differences, rather than writing about each chart separately.

If you write about each one separately, the person reading it will have to keep looking between the paragraphs in order to see how each category differs.

Vary your language

As with any task 1, this is important.  You should not keep repeating the same structures.  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…"

However, you can also use other words and fractions. These are some examples from the model answer:

  • A large number of people
  • over a quarter of people
  • a small minority
  • A significant number of people
  • less than a fifth

This table presents some examples of how you can change percentages to fractions or ratios:

Percentage Fraction
80% four-fifths
75% three-quarters
70% seven in ten
65% two-thirds
60% three-fifths
55% more than half
50% half
45% more than two fifths
40% two-fifths
35% more than a third
30% less than a third
25% a quarter
20% a fifth
15% less than a fifth
10% one in ten
5% one in twenty

You can improve your flexibility in using these words or test your knowledge of them in this percentage and proportions quiz.

If the percentages are not exact as above, then you can use qualifiers to make sure your description remains accurate. Here are some examples:

Percentage Qualifier
77% just over three quarters
77% approximately three quarters
49% just under a half
49% nearly a half
32% almost a third

This table presents some examples of how you can change percentages to other phrases:

Percentage proportion / number / amount / majority / minority
75% - 85% a very large majority
65% - 75% a significant proportion
10% - 15% a minority
5% a very small number

The words above are interchangeable, though number is for countable nouns and amount is for uncountable nouns.

You can practice or test yourself with the language used to approximate figures in this online quiz.

< Graphs Over Time
Process Diagrams >

More Task 1 Academic Lessons:

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