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IELTS Writing: Numbers and Pie Charts

IELTS Writing: Numbers and Pie Charts

Hi there. My name is Emma, and in
today’s video, I am going to talk a lot about the IELTS test,
specifically writing task one. I’m going to teach you
about a certain thing you might see on the IELTS, and that’s a pie
chart. I’m going to explain what a pie chart is, and ways to talk about pie charts in order
to improve your vocabulary mark for the IELTS. Many students get really, really confused
when they see graphs on the IELTS, and they get really confused trying to talk about numbers,
specifically. So, in this video, I’m also going to talk about: How do we describe
numbers when we’re looking at pie charts? How do we describe percentages?
You know, and how can we make our vocabulary very varied?
Okay? So, let’s get started. The first thing I want to do is
talk about: What is a pie chart? So, I have here three
different types of graphs. Three different graphs you
might see on the IELTS, in the writing section, in the very first part of
the writing section. Okay? You might see a picture like this, like this, or like this.
So, one of these looks like a pie, something you eat. Which one do you think
looks the most like pie? If you said this one,
you are correct. This is what we are going to be talking about
today. We can call it either a “pie chart” or a “pie graph”. Both are correct. You
might also see this one, this one is called a line graph; or you might see
this, which is called a bar graph. So, let me write that on the board. So,
“pie chart”, “line graph”, and “bar graph”. You might also see a process, a diagram, or maybe even a table on the IELTS.
But for today, we are only going to be focusing on pie charts. Okay, so what is a pie chart? A pie chart
shows us percentages. Okay? So, if we look down here, I have here what I spend my money
on. Okay? I want you to imagine each month, all the money I make, all my salary,
this is what I spend it on. I spend some of it on rent,
I spend some of it on food, I spend some of it on
transport or transportation, and I spend some of it on fun. Okay? So, on the
IELTS, you might have to describe something like this. It might be more complicated. Sometimes
you might actually have two pie graphs or pie charts that you might have to compare
and describe, but in this case, let’s start out a little bit easier. So, I want you to imagine you’re writing the
IELTS, and you’ve been told to describe this pie chart. What are you going
to say about it? Okay? Well, the very first thing you should do is you
should think about: What does it all mean? And by that, I mean: Think about how much percent is each thing? Okay? So,
for example, for cost of living, how much is this? What size does this look like? Although
we can’t be sure, because I’m not the best artist and this is not a perfect
circle, I would say this is about 50%. Okay? And this, what does it
look like to you? Maybe 25%. So, food is around 25%.
Transport we might say… Let’s say 15%. And fun, maybe 10%. Although,
we’re not sure. So, on the IELTS you might see something like this. You might
actually have the percentages written, so you already know what it is, or you might
actually have numbers. Okay? So, this might actually be money, and so it might actually
say, like, $500 to rent, $200 to food, and so forth. Okay, but the first thing to do is really
think about: What are the percentages, here? Okay, so to begin a sentence when we’re talking
about the pie chart, these are three different sentences that are very great… Really, really
good sentences to use on the IELTS when you’re talking about pie graphs. The first one is: “According to
the chart”, you can also say: “We can see from the chart”, or “We can see
from the pie chart”, “The chart shows that”, okay? So these are good ways to open up the
sentence, and then to actually talk about what you see here. Okay, so we’re now going to talk a little bit
about: How do we talk about percentages? So, I want you, again, to look at rent. We
decided this is about 50%. So, which of these three ways can I write this on the IELTS?
Should I write it: “fifty percent”, should I write it “fifty per cent”, with a space,
should I write it “50%” as a number, or should I write it as “half”, because
50% is half the total? What do you think is the
best way to write it? Well, the truth is all of these are good.
Okay? You will see percent written as one word, and also two words; both of these
are fine. You can write it as a number, or you can also write it as half. These are all
great ways to write about pie charts. So, let’s get a little bit more into how
to talk about numbers and pie charts. Okay, so let’s look at some good sentences you
can use when describing numbers and percents. So, again, we have the same pie chart. We
have rent at 50%, food is about a quarter, transportation is about 15%, and fun is at
about 10%. So, I’ve written up some sentences to describe rent. Okay? So, what I can say is:
“Rent makes up half of the living expenses.” And notice the verb I use, here. “Makes up”,
okay? So, this is a phrasal verb, “makes up” is great to use when you’re talking about
pie charts. If I wanted to talk about food, I could say: “Food makes up
25% of the living expenses.”, “Transport makes up 15% of
the living expenses.” Okay? We can also change the sentence around, so
that instead of “half” being in the middle, we start with the percent. “Half of the living
expenses are rent.” So, this is essentially the same sentence, but reversed. “Rent
makes up half of the living expenses.”, “Half of the living expenses are rent.” We can
also say: “Rent accounts for 50% of the total”, or “50% of the living expenses”. So, again,
we have a really, really nice verb that’s great whenever you’re describing a pie chart:
“accounts for”. It means the exact same as “makes up”, okay? Could I change this to “half”?
Yes. Could I write: “fifty percent”, not using numbers, but with letters? Yes, I could spell
out “fifty percent”. It’s all the same; it means the same thing. There is, however, one thing you should be
aware of. In English, we do not like to start sentences with numbers. So, for example: “50%
of the living expenses is rent.” This is… This is not good. We don’t like
to start out with a number. It would be better to
actually write it out. Okay? Just like that. Okay, excellent. So,
again, these are great sentences to use when you’re writing
about pie charts. So, now let’s look at some ways to talk about
numbers. We’ve already talked about 50%, we’ve talked about how it can be called half, and
how… The different spellings of 50%. So, now, let’s look at some other different ways
to talk about percents. I have down here the word “a third”. So, if this is my pie chart, a
third-there are three pieces-would be about this, which is around 30
to 35% is a third. Okay? I can also talk about “a quarter”, which would
be about 25%. Okay? If we looked up here, food is about a quarter. We can also talk
about “two-thirds”, this is where it gets a little bit confusing. So, a third is, like
I said, we have one out of three. Here we have two out of three, which is about 66%.
So, two-thirds would look like… One-third, two-third. Okay? So, this is
one-third and this is two-thirds. When we talk about quarters, we can also talk
about three quarters, where instead of talking about this little piece, we’re talking about
the rest of the pie. So, whereas this is one quarter, this in red is three quarters.
Okay? We can also talk about “a fifth”. So, if the pie has five
parts, 20% would be a fifth. Okay? So, in red is a fifth.
Or we can also talk about “a sixth”. If we have one, two,
three, four, five, six – six slices, six equal slices, if I colour in one of
these, that becomes a sixth. Now, one thing to note. When we talked about
“half”, we don’t use an article. We don’t say: “a half”. Okay? Notice there is no “a” here.
When we talk about “a third”, “a quarter”, “a sixth”, “a fifth” – we do have “a” there.
Okay? So, you don’t need “a” with “half”, but you do need it if you’re talking about “a
third”, “a quarter”, “a fifth”, or “a sixth”. Okay, excellent. So, now let’s
talk a little more about percents. Okay, so I made a little bit of a mistake
in one of my drawings. A fifth, I think I drew actually just four slices. Here,
there’s one, two, three, four, five. So, if I coloured
in one of these, this slice would be a fifth.
Okay? So, now what we’re going to do is we’re going to
talk about another way to boost your vocabulary mark when you’re talking about numbers and
pie charts. So, I have here a new pie chart. This is about what I like to drink, and what
I drank today. Okay? So, if you look over here, 42% of what I drank today was tea. I
love tea. 25% of what I drank was coffee, and 33% of what I drank was milk. To be honest,
I also drank water and juice, but to make this simple, we’ll just stick
with these three. Okay? So, imagine you get a pie chart like this.
Now, again, on the IELTS, usually they’re a little bit more complicated. But just to
learn from, imagine you were given a pie chart like this. How could we describe it?
Well, again, a great sentence to use is: “According to the pie chart”, or “As we can see
from the pie chart, tea”, okay? It says here 42%. “Tea accounts for 42 percent of the total”.
Okay? And again, if I want, I can write it as a number, I can even go like this and get
rid of the word “percent”. There’s different ways I can do it.
They’re all correct. Now, one thing you can do is you can add words
in order to… To be a little bit more specific, and to help your vocabulary score.
So, I have some words here: “exactly”, “precisely”, “around”,
“approximately”, “nearly”, and so forth. So, these can help you
with your vocabulary mark to get a higher score. So, if I’m talking about
tea at 42% and I say it’s 42%, I’m being exact. This is exactly what it is.
So, I can use the word: “According to the pie chart, tea
accounts for exactly 42% of the total.” I could also use the
word “precisely”: “According to the pie chart, tea accounts
for precisely 42% of the total.” Now, what if I’m just looking at this and 42%
is too specific; I just want to be a little bit more general? Well, if I don’t want to be exact,
I can use the words: “around”, “approximately”, “nearly”, “close to”, “roughly”. So, in this case, I’m not
giving the exact number; I’m giving near that number. So, instead
of saying 42%, which tea is, I can change this to 40%, if I add one of these words, because it’s
not 40% exactly, but it’s close enough. So, I can say: “According to the pie chart, tea
accounts for around 40% of the total”, or “nearly 40% of the total”,
“close to 40% of the total”. One thing to note, here, on the IELTS spelling
is very, very important. So, if you use the word “approximately”, make sure you can spell
it, because I know this is a tough word. If you think you’re going to panic and make a
mistake, use “close to”, it’s easier, and not only that, but you actually get-one, two-two
words added to the word count for this. So, you could say: “close to 40%”. We could also say, if we’re not being exact,
we can say: “slightly above” or “just over”. 42% is a bit more than 40%.
So, we can say: “According to the pie chart, tea
accounts for slightly above 40%”, or “just over 40%”. Okay? So,
again, this shows that not only do you understand the numbers, but you’re
also using some very good vocabulary. Now, imagine if I estimated a little bit higher,
and I said this was… It’s around 45%. What I can say is that: “According to the pie chart, tea
accounts for slightly below 45%”, or “just under 45%”. Okay? So, these are all great words to use
to add when you’re talking about percentages. Now let’s talk about…
A little bit more about percentages. Okay, so now let’s look at some general ways
to talk about percent. We’ve already talked about specific, using words like “50%”, “half”,
“a third”. What about if you don’t really want to speak so specifically? Well, I have
here some different expressions you can use. So, before we get to those, I have a new pie
chart. Now, again, you will not see something this simple on the IELTS. This is very simple
to help you learn. So, imagine if this red, little slice, if this represents coffee, and
imagine if this green represents tea, and this is how much… You know, how much I drink
in a day. So, I drink very little coffee, and I drink lots and lots of tea. Okay? And
you have to describe this. So, instead of saying the specifics… Okay? You know, what
we can tell from this is that this is a small amount, coffee is a small amount,
and tea is a very large amount. So if we wanted to talk about this, we could use the
words: “a small fraction”. So, this is a small fraction. “A small fraction of the total is coffee.”
Okay? We could also say: “a small percentage”. We’re not saying specifically what it is.
“A small percentage is coffee.”, “A small number is coffee.”, “The lowest percentage
is coffee.”, “A very small percentage is coffee.”, and “A very small proportion is coffee.” These,
essentially, all mean the same thing. They’re different ways to say a small amount.
Okay? Or a small percent. So, we can also change up the sentence structure
a little bit. Okay? So, for example, if I start with coffee, I can say: “According to the pie chart, coffee makes
up a small fraction of the total.”, “Coffee makes up a small percentage of the total.”,
“Coffee makes up a small number of the total.”, “Coffee makes up the lowest
percentage of the total.”, “Coffee makes up a very small
percentage of the total.”, and finally, “Coffee makes up a very small
proportion of the total.” I can also add the percent, if I want to, here.
Okay? So it is good to be specific where you can, so you can always put in brackets,
and the actual number. Imagine if coffee is 10%. At the end of the sentence, I can put:
“(10%)”. Or, I can write the word “at 10%”. I could actually write out the word “ten percent”,
and say: “of the total at ten percent”. Or, if they didn’t give me any percents, but imagine
if this says two cups a day, and this says 20 cups a day, what I could also do is write
down specifically if they gave you a number, what that number is. So, sometimes they won’t
give you a percent, but they’ll actually say an amount. If they say an amount, you can
actually write in that amount. So, for example, if they said two cups
a day, I could say: “Coffee makes up a small fraction of the total
at two cups a day.” So that’s also possible. Now, what about if we wanted to talk about
tea? Tea is a large fraction. So, we can use the exact same vocabulary, but
change the word “small” to “large”. So, we can say: “A large
fraction of the total is tea.”, “A large percentage is tea.”, “Tea makes up a large
number of the total.”, “Tea makes up the lowest…” or “the
highest”… In this case, we’re not talking about large, but the opposite of “lowest”
is “highest”. “A very… A very large percentage of the total is tea.”, and “A very large proportion
is tea.” Okay? So, these are great expressions to use when you are describing
percents and percentages. Okay, so thank you for
watching this video. I would like to invite you to come
visit our website at www.engvid.com. There, you can actually do more
practice questions and actually test yourself by taking our quiz to make sure
that you understand this video, as well as so you can practice using some of
these percentages and numbers. Thank you again for watching,
and until next time, take care.

100 thoughts on “IELTS Writing: Numbers and Pie Charts

  1. please.. why do you have mentioned (are ) rent in a second sentence.. then you have mentioned (is) rent in a fourth sentence.

  2. I have a problems : why half of the living expenses are rent. and fifty percent of the living expenses is rent.

  3. Hi Emma,
    You are one of the best teacher. Please, I think here we can't say the highest or the lowest because we are comparing between two things.

  4. when you describe a pie chart should it be in past tense or present tense like " tea accounts/accounted'?? thank you

  5. Mam… Can you tell please how to make variation as we have to write 6-7 sentence in writing task .so how we can make more variation..like as in your video we can make 2-3 sentence .so how we make more variations when we are dealing with 3-4 pie charts simultaneously

  6. Hi Emma, thank you for your videos. You are an amazing teacher. I have a question, in the last part due to you are using only two proportion, can you say highest and lowest xx? 18:04 minutes.

  7. Hi Emma, I really enjoy your smart presentation besides, intelligence, beauty, and sincerity all meet in your personality , a friend from Iraq

  8. I am preparing for the ielts exams by myself and your videos are a great help! thank you Emma! You are a great teacher!

  9. Hello … excuse me ..why we put in the last sentence (50 percent of the living expenses ((is)) rent ) can we put ((are ))??

  10. I have a question, that is why are you use 'are' in this sentence:( half of the living expenses are rent ) but the sentence below we use "is" as a be. can anyone explain it for me, please?

  11. U look like so sexy….hence i always try my best to watch your videos all the time….actually i love u and your cute Body….. I am your well subscriber

  12. Hello Emma. I was just surfing around and got this incredible video of yours. I'm curious about your accent. You sound with american standard, splatted of Brit-Aussie. Are you from there?. As I said, just curiosity. Great work!

  13. Dear Emma!
    thank you so much for all you and your team are doing for these useful videos,I have learned a lot out of your videos.
    hope to ace the IELTS test one day.
    best wishes
    your students

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