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Understanding pie charts

Pie charts can sometimes be confusing. ​

In writing task 1, it is important to report accurate information. In fact, the score for task achievement is strongly influenced by the accuracy of the data you report.

Therefore, it is very important to understand pie charts very clearly.

The good news is that all pie charts are not confusing. For example, in the diagram above, it is clear that the person has eaten about 25% of the pie.... ( and it looks pretty tasty, too!)

Let's look at one example of a pie chart that sometimes causes confusion.

Now, this pie chart might not be confusing to you. In my experience, however, this kind of question, which appeared recently on the real IELTS exam, sometimes causes confusion to some students.

Let's think consider Europeans...

Which of the following do you think is correct?

a) 60% of Europeans visit South Africa

b) 60% of the visitors to South Africa are European

Now, you may quickly find the correct answer... and if you do, that's GREAT. In fact, this may seem quite easy to you. If you find it easy to understand, you might be surprised that a significant number of students actually get it wrong on the real test. Of course, the reason for this may be just because of the time factor... that students have little time to write both task 1 and task 2 and therefore may feel rushed. In this case, it may be easy to confuse the data

Anyway, the correct answer is b)

So here's the TIP:

When looking at a PIE CHART, always think about the TOPIC, or what the TOTAL (100%) of the PIE represents. In this case, the TOPIC is VISITORS to SOUTH AFRICA.

Therefore, Europeans make up (account for) 60% of the people who visit South Africa and the correct answer is b).

EXERCISE: Can you write any more sentences about the pie chart above?

Put your answers in the COMMENTS BOX and I will correct or comment if necessary.

Click here to see IELTS EXAM questions:

writing task 1 writing task 2

Click here for a free sample of an analysis of a students' writing. This sample has valuable information of how IELTS examiners consider each part of their scoring criteria: Task achievement, coherence and cohesion, vocabulary and grammar


Click the following if you want personal help with your writing:


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