In IELTS writing task 1, you might be asked to describe a pie chart. In this article, I’m going to show you my sample answer to a pie chart about sources of electricity. We’ll look at how to analyse the charts, pick the right language, and structure a good answer.
Analysing an Electricity Pie Chart
Here is the pie chart that we will look at today:
The pie charts below show the sources of energy used to generate electricity in the United States in 2021.
Summarise the information by selecting and reporting the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.
As you can see, it is about electricity and specifically the sources of electricity. There are two pie charts, which is pretty normal, although sometimes you see three or four, and often you are given a pie chart and a table.
Above, the key thing to notice is that the chart on the left shows all the sources of energy and the one on the right breaks down the renewables section into further detail.
A common mistake here would be to think that wind power, for example, provided 47% of electricity. In fact, it is 47% of renewable energy, which is quite different.
When you have to describe pie charts, the most important thing is to know how to talk about percentages and proportions. Thus, you should be comfortable with numbers and fractions.
It is essential to avoid repetition and to not litter your essay with numbers, so you can vary your reporting of the data by using fractions. For example, 19% is “almost a fifth” and 47% is “just under half.”
You can read all about the necessary language for pie charts here.
For these specific pie charts, you don’t really need any specialist language, but you ought to be comfortable talking about electricity and energy. You should be familiar with terms like:
- energy sources / sources of energy
- generate / generation
- produce / production
- renewable energy
Beyond that, you don’t need much more language because you aren’t supposed to include extra information or opinions.
When it comes to IELTS writing task 1, you really should keep your structure simple. Just write an introduction that includes an overview, then one or two paragraphs that contain detail. Don’t try to do anything fancy.
Also, remember that you have been asked to “select and report the main features, and make comparisons where relevant.” That means you shouldn’t just list vast amounts of detail. You should pick only the important stuff, then present it carefully, with comparisons made if needed. Avoid including any pointless detail.
My structure will look like this:
|Introduction||Say what the pie chart is and then point out its main feature|
|Body paragraph #1||Give information about the first pie chart|
|Body paragraph #2||Give information about the second pie chart|
You can learn all about IELTS writing task 1 structures here.
Sample Band 9 Answer
The two pie charts give information about electricity production in the United States in 2021. The first shows the various energy sources that were used to produce electricity and the second gives more specific detail about the renewable sources. Overall, it can be seen that natural gas was by far the main source of electricity production and that, of the renewable sources, wind was the most important.
Looking at the total electricity production, natural gas was the main source of energy used, contributing more than a third of the total, with coal, renewables, and nuclear each adding another fifth. Together, these made up 99% of all the electricity in the U.S., with the remaining one percent listed as having come from other sources.
In terms of renewable energy, almost half of this was wind power. In fact, that contributed nearly twice as much as the next biggest contributor, hydropower, which provided a little more than a quarter of all renewable energy. Solar was next, while biomass and geothermal energy contributed relatively little.
This is a successful essay because it concisely presents the main ideas and does not simply list numbers. In fact, you can see that the only two numbers I have written are “2021” and “99%.” The rest is made up of words.
I have grouped my data sensibly and avoided the trap of giving every little detail. My language was accurate and I did not need any specialist vocabulary to convey my ideas.