How to Describe Pie Charts in IELTS Writing Task 1

You can be given two pie charts to compare in IELTS writing task 1. Below are easy steps to write each paragraph in order to describe your pie chart in a complete report. Each step takes you through a paragraph practice and sample models.  Learn about the introduction, overview and body paragraphs for your pie chart.

IELTS pie chart lessonPie Chart Paragraphs Step by Step


You must paraphrase the information given at the top of the charts “The graph shows the main sources of energy for the USA in 1980 and 1990”. You cannot copy this, you must use your own language.


  • the graph = the pie chart
  • shows = illustrates
  • main sources of energy = energy production from different sources
  • for the USA = don’t change this
  • in 1980 and 1990 = in two different years (1980 and 1990)

Try writing your introduction before checking the model answer. Model

The pie charts illustrate the changes in energy production from five different sources (oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric power and nuclear power) for the USA in two different years (1980 and 1990).


The overview contains the key features of the charts. Answer the questions below to find the key features.

  1. What was the main source of energy in 1980?
  2. What was the main source of energy in 1990?
  3. Which produced the least energy in 1980?
  4. Which produced the least energy in 1990?
  5. Did the amount of energy produced by each source change a lot or just a little between the years?
  6. Did all types of energy increase by 1990?

Now write your overview before you check the model. Model

Overall, oil  constituted the main source of energy production in both years, while hydroelectric power  produced the least energy. There was a slight decrease in production from oil and natural gas, whereas an increase can be seen in the figures for coal and nuclear power.

Body Paragraph A

This paragraph will give details about oil and hydroelectric power, which we highlighted in the overview above.


  • You will need to write one sentence about oil comparing the percentage each year and then one sentence about hydroelectric power comparing the years.
  • You must add data (percentages and dates) to support each sentence

Here are two example sentences. Fill in the gaps with the right words.

The amount of energy produced by oil in the USA 1. ………………. 42% in 1980 and this, then, 2. ………………….. to a third (33%) in 1990. The proportion of energy from hydroelectric power, 3………………, remained constant in both years ………a mere 5%. Answers

  1. accounted for / comprised of / made up / was
  2. fell / declined / dropped / went down / decreased
  3. on the other hand / by contrast / in contrast ( we use a linker to highlight that this is opposing information to the previous sentence)
  4. at

Body Paragraph B

This paragraph will give detail about the other sources of energy in the pie charts.


  • which sources increased?
  • which sources decreased?
  • what were the percentages for each source?

Again, fill in the gaps in these model sentences.

The energy generated by natural gas, which was the second 1. …………… source of energy in the USA in 1980, fell 2. ………. 1% to a quarter of all energy produced in 1990. In contrast, production by coal 3. ……………… from 22% to 27% in 1990 4. …………….. there was a 5% rise in energy from nuclear power to reach 10% in the second year. Answers

  1.  largest / major
  2. by (this is used when writing about differences in amounts)
  3. increased / rose / went up / climbed / grew
  4. while / whereas


Recommended Lessons

IELTS PIE Chart Model
Practice Writing Task 1 Charts

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  1. Hi Liz,
    Is all of the pie chart exams double, or it’s just an example?
    can you give me a link of one pie chart only

    • You won’t get only one pie chart. But you might get one pie chart with a table, for example. You can also get two pie charts, three or four.

  2. mohaiminul says:

    liz only you can change my life. i will meet you after 6 years. its my promise.

  3. Hello, Liz. I really get Pleasure from your lessons…

  4. Thanks Liz for your great effort, actually your support is invaluable
    God bless you.

  5. chigozie kalu says:

    Hi Liz,
    You ‘re doing a great job. Your methods are easy to follow and consistent.
    Thank you.

  6. thanks mam for ur lessons.

  7. Jane Huang says:

    Hello, I was paid attention to your classes in youtube when I was prepared to the ILETS tests.
    I was writing this essay before the test day.

    The pie graph illustrates that dominant energy sources used in USA are oil, natural gas,coal, hydroelectric power and nuclear power in 1980 and 1990.

    Overall, it is obvious that oil, natural gas, and coal is the most popular energy sources among the five major sources in USA during this decade. And the least popular energy sources are hydroelectric power as well as nuclear power. (it would be better to write both most and least popular ?)Besides, the oil and coal show have the biggest fluctuations compared with the rest of the others at this period.

    The primary energy source is oil which comprised of 42% in 1950, while it faced a strongly decreases of 9% to 42% in 1990. The dramatical fluctuations of oil are significant differences from the slight changes of natural gas and coal, the usage of natural gas is declined from 26% to 26% slightly, which is mere 1% decrease 10 years later. Coal is the only energy sources which increased from 22% to 27% among this three types of major energy sources. in 1990 and 1990.

    With regards to the remaining usages of least popular energy sources, there is 5% growth in nuclear power (5% in 1980 and 10% in 1990 respectively). The hydroelectric power is the only energy sources stay the same as the original(5%) among this five major energy sources in USA over the decade.

    Kindly give me your advice and mark this essay.
    Best Regards,

  8. hi liza madamgreeting for the day. which specific tense can be used for describing pie chart?

  9. santosh reddy says:

    Hey Liz !!
    I am getting confusion where to use commas and other indications. can you please help me out to use these type of indications.

  10. Hi Liz

    May I know do we need to include a comma before “while” / “whereas” ?

    • Yes, there should be.

      • And if a graph and a table is given, for the overall view, do we only mention what are the highest/largest? I’ve seen many examples but all of them only mention about the highest.

        Thank you!

        • When you have a lot of data, for example with two charts or a graph and a table, you need to make a decision about how much information you put in the overview. Of course the key features are usually the highest and lowest but you must decide if you want to include them both. You are being marked on your ability to select information.

  11. jagroop says:

    Hii Liz I m from india. I like your site very much and I learnt a lot from your site. my exam is on 18 june. wish me luck

  12. Hi madam, hope you are doing well.
    Would you mind giving your precious opinion on the following pie charts,

    The supplied pie charts illustrate information about the comparison of the US spending patterns from 1966 to 1996.

    The two stuffs on which the US highly spent in two different years were food and cars. They expended 44% on food and 23% on cars in 1966 but, the calculation almost reversed whereas, the expenditure on food fell down at 14% and it extended up at 45% on cars back in 1996.

    On the other hand, the US spent 7% on restaurants in 1966 but, such expenditure got a growth that marked double of it, 14% back in 1996. Similarly, spending on computers was only 1% in 1966 but they gave a bit importance on it as the expenditure augmented up at 10% in 1996.

    As opposed to, the expense on petrol had little difference between 1966 and 1996. Besides, furniture took 11% of their expenditure in 1966 but, it plunged by 2% in 1996. Moreover, it seems American lost their interest in books as they spent less on it than the other stuffs in two different years. The expenditure on book was 6% in 1966 whilst, it got the lowest point, 1% back in 1996.

    Overall, it can be summarized that according to the US spending patterns, they spent much of their expenditures on food and cars than the rest of the stuffs between 1966 and 1996.

    • Leonard says:

      Hello Liz came across this question
      Today in many countries old people are given insufficient respect.
      What is the reason?
      What problems can this bring in society?
      Now in this case how do u answer a discussion or an opinion?kindly advise thanks.

  13. Eduardo says:

    Dear Liz:
    Just a question, Why did you write about Oil and Hydroeletric power in paragraph A, and the others forms of energy in Paragraph B?
    What is the logical order?
    thank you so much

    • The overview explains the logic: …oil constituted the main source of energy production in both years while hydroelectric power produced the least energy. That means the two key features are put in one paragraph.

  14. babak zibaei says:

    hi liz
    Is this introduction can be correct?
    ( the pie chart illustrate the various shapes of energies in the USA during two years.(1980 and 1990))

  15. hi liz thanks a lot for your wonderful work.i am really thankful to you because i am learning so much from your lessons and i think you have the best teaching techniques so far .i am planing to take my exam in the next few weeks .wish me best of luck.

  16. in overall why you say” whereas an increase ” instand increased ?

  17. syed intisar says:

    The pie charts illustrates the five different sources of energy (oil,natural gas,coal,hydroelectric & nuclear power) for USA in two two different years (1980 &1990).
    over all ,oil was the main source in both years, however there was slight fluctuation in the nuclear power and furthermore there was uptrend in coal source and a small decrease in natural gas.
    In 1980 the major source of energy in the USA was oil which comprised of 42% but in next decade (1990) it decline to 33% although, it remain main source for both two periods
    The second largest source of energy was natural gas and proportion of natural gas was slightly reduced from (26% to 25%) in 1990.Moreover the percentage of hydro electric remained constant in both years.
    The coal was the third major source of energy in the USA which rose from ( 22% to 27%) in 1990.However there was also a rise of 5% in the energy of nuclear power which reached about 10% in 1990.

  18. Dear Liz,
    Thank you very much for your website. It helps me so much!

    One of the sentence in this lesson confuses me. In body paragraph 2, you wrote that “production increased from 22% to 27%”. But I looked for the dictionary and googled, I cannot find this usage. As far as I know, the word “increase” can be used in two ways: increases from number A to number B; or increases by xx%. Is this “increase from A% to B%” correct or just a typo?

    Thank you very much.

    • It can be used with either numbers or percentages. It is correct. The preposition “by” refers to the difference. For example “It increased from 22″ to 27”. Or “It increased from 22% by 5%”.

  19. Hi liz, You video and tips are too much helpful for me. But i am in confusing situation to write task 1 when it comprises two more graph (such as it comprises with bar, line, & pie chart). How can i complete this task easily? Pls give me some suggestions. I am waiting for your response. finally thanks for your excellent tips and videos.

  20. Can we change the structure to talk about 1980 trend in paragraph A and 1990 trend in paragraph B?

    • If you use that structure, you wouldn’t be comparing. These two pie charts need to be compared.
      All the best

      • Actually, when I wrote about 1990 in paragraph B I mentioned what are the changes in the percentages and compare them with that in 1980 .

  21. Mohammad Zakaria says:

    Thanks Liz for your valuable post.

    I have a question- In paragraph A you mentioned “………..dropper to a third(33%) in 1990.
    For another data If i use to a half(50%) or to a three forth(75%).

    Is it ok or not? If not why?
    Thanks in advance.

  22. Hi liz, Thank you for your terrific lesson here in your blog site, it helps me a lot for my incoming exam this oct…

    Can you please kindly check my overview if this still a good format… Please include an advice…

    Overall, Oil was the major source of power generation in both years in the USA, in contrast to hydroelectric power which had the lowest share of energy. Meanwhile natural gas and coal both constituted for approximately a quarter in two given years.

    Thanks you in adv.

  23. Ms. Liz

    So will there be 4 paragraphs? Or overview is included in PAragraph A?

  24. Thank you very much for the clear and helpful lesson.

  25. Xue Zhang says:

    Hi Liz,

    In the overview, it says “there is a slight decrease in production from oil…”. But the pie chart shows a drop from 42% to 33%. Comparing to other resources, this is the biggest change. Why do we choose to say “slight decrease”?

    Thank you,


  26. The pie chart gives information about the energy production from different sources, for USA in two given years{1980 and 1990}.

    Please, do I paraphrased it accurately or not?
    Kind regards,

  27. Hi Liz,i want to ask you about the correct methor of reporting facts n figures when there alot of variables.For example: The use of different fuel sources for energy production,in two different years,by two different countries.How shud we proceed with that kind os Task 1?shud we write one para about one country and describing the main trends in that country between two it so?

    • Yes, that’s right. Because there is so much information, you need to oerganise your report logically and simply to help the examiner. As each country has two pie charts showing change over time, put one country in one body paragraph (showing the increases and decreases) and then put the other country in a separate body paragraph. Paragraphing is all about logic.

  28. Hi Liz 😀

    Can I explain both the charts separately in 2 paras? Or do I have to combine and compare? I find it easier to explain separately but I’m not sure if that’s okay.

    • These pie charts show change over a period of two different years. Your task is to highlight and report the changes – increases and decreases. You don’t need to compare them in the body paragraphs, just report the increases and decreases with data (percentages).

  29. Hi Liz,

    What word can be substituted for the word “part”? [like the largest “part” of the pie chart is oil] I only know several but still don’t know if they are correct: portion, respondent, percentage, rate, region
    And with this prompt, is it a good idea to include these in the overall paragraph: largest part + smallest part + how nuclear power was one of the least but increased the most in those 2 years instead?

    • Unfortunately, the list you gave are not synonyms and can’t all be used. Firstly, you must look at the subject of the pie chart, lets take energy produced by fuel source. You can write “the main fuel source is” or “the largest amount of fuel was produced by oil” or “the majority of fuel was generated by …” or “oil was the predominate fuel source”. If your pie charts show fields of work, you can write “the biggest sector was” or “the main field of work was” or “the majority of people were employed in..”. The word “percentage” can always be paraphrased by “proportion” or “rate”. The word “region” only refers to geography (countries or areas).

  30. Seyidali says:

    Hi Liz
    If they give us pie chart and bar chart together?

  31. Dr. Rehan says:

    Hi mam..plz check my work…

    The two pie charts depict the usage of main energy sources by the American people from 1980 to 1990 in five different grounds ( oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric and nuclear power)

    At the first glance, the pie charts give a clear view that both in 1980 and 1990 coal was mostly used energy source in comparison to hydroelectric power and nuclear power in 1980 and only hydroelectric power in 1990, which were the least usage energy in USA. Furthermore, it is seen that coal and nuclear power utilization had been increased whereas oil and natural gas usage had been decreased from 1980 to 1990. But the hydroelectric power consumption remained stationary over the 10 period time.

    Oil and natural gas utilization had been decreased by 9% and only 1% respectively in comparison to coal consumption which had been increased by 5% in 1990 from 1980.

    In case of hydroelectric power, consumption was not changed in 1990 (5%) but nuclear power energy usage rose to 10% in 1990.

    ( took 18 minutes and contained apporx. 160 words)

  32. Taking two different years(1980 and 1990, the two pie charts provide a background information on energy production for the USA from five different sources namely oil, natural gas, coal,hydroelectric power and nuclear power.

    According to the data, the proportion of energy produced was 42% in 1980, but it it suffer a slight decrease in 1990 by 39%.The amount of natural gas also decreased from 26% to 25% in that time. The percentage of hydroelectric power produced remained stable(5%) in both years given.

    Regarding nuclear power , there was a slight grown in it amount produced the figure standing at 22% in 1980 and 27% in 1990.However, the percentage of coal produced doubled from 5% in 1980 to 10% in 1990.

    Overall, it is noticeable that the amount of oil produced is higher in both years whereas hydroelectric power produced the least energy.The percentage of natural gas decreased slightly(26% in 1980) by 25% ten years after.
    That what I was able to do teacher. Please read it and help me to improve.

  33. Dear Liz, thank you again for you lessons. No words to describe how helpful they are! It would higly appreciate if you could check my pie chart description given below.

    Topic taken from sample pie charts here:

    The bar charts below illustrate six types of household expenses in a county in two different years (1950 and 2010).

    Overall, both in 1950 and 2010 housing and food expenditures were the most significant, accounted together in both years for over a half of all spendings. However, in 2010, the money spent on housing decreased considerably whereas increase can be seen in transportation, others and food expenditures, which became the most popular. Moreover, there was only a minimal change in health care and education spendings in both years.

    With regard to housing and food spendings, in 1950 the amonut of money spent on housing comprised of 72,9% while food expenditures represented only 11,2%. Otherwise in 2010, the difference between food and housing spendings balanced out, and the figures accounted for 34% and 22% consecutively.

    Furthermore, in 2010, there was a considerable growth in money spent on transportation (14%) and other expenses (19,2%) as opposed to year 1950 where those figures were over a three times lower and accounted for 3,3% and 4,4% respectively. Differently, there was just a slight 2,3% decrease in health care spendings, and decline of about a mere 0,2% in education expenditures.

    Kind regards,


  34. Thank you liz. it helps me a lot for my IELTS praparation.

  35. Hi Liz, please…I need someone to guide me if Im doing the right thing. Here’s my version:

    The pie graph illustrates the comparison between five energy sources in USA (oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric power and nuclear power) for the year 1980 and 1990.
    Overall, America is relying on oil as its topmost energy supplier followed by coal and natural gas which provides approximately 50% of energy when both are combined. On the other hand, nuclear power and hydroelectric power sources shares the least energy contribution.
    Oil, though the highest energy provider among the five sources, dropped by 9% as it yield 42% of energy in the year 1980 to only 33% in 1990. Furthermore, natural gas and coal remained on a slight steady state since it only moved from 26% to 25% and 22% to 27% respectively for the two given years.
    Moreover, when nuclear power contributed 5% in 1980, it increased to 10% in 1990 unlike hydroelectric power which remained to 5% maintaining its rank to be the least source of energy in the US.

    Do i have incoherent and topsy turvy paragraphs? Thank you Liz. Your feedback will be a great help.

    • Your body paragraphs are fine but leave an empty line between paragraphs because they are difficult to see. Be careful of your grammar tense – in the overview you used “is relying on” – wrong tense. I wouldn’t use the linking device “Moreover” to start your second body paragraph. That paragraph actually contains opposite information (the lowest as opposed to the highest) so use “On the other hand” which is used for opposite meaning. Otherwise, it’s pretty good.

  36. Hi Miss Liz. Here’s my version. Would you be so kind enough to read this and give some opinions for improvement? Thank you. 🙂

    The pie charts illustrate the changes in proportion of sources from which the USA gets its energy from (oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric power and nuclear power) during the years 1980 and 1990.

    Overall, the energy produced by each source did not experience a major change between the years. Oil remained as the main source of energy in the years 1980 and 1990. On the contrary, hydroelectric and nuclear powers tied at being the least energy source in 1980, while in 1990, only hydroelectric power remained as producing the lowest amount of energy among all sources.

    In 1980, USA got 42% of the energy it needed from oil which then reduced to 33% in 1990. On the other hand, hydroelectric and nuclear powers generated only 5% of energy each in 1980. In 1990, nuclear power increased its energy production to 10% compared to that of hydroelectric power which stayed constant at 5%.

    Furthermore, energy from natural gas slightly declined from 26% in 1980 to 25% in 1990. This is in contrast to energy sourced out from coal which rose up by 5% over the years (from 22% to 27%).

  37. Hi Liz,
    The description of pie charts using a quarter,a third ,and others terms keep confusing me .I read one of your topics on it but cant seem to locate it anymore.Will you be kind enough to give me the link.

    • Hi Magnus,

      To find lessons based on specific topics or tasks, take a look at the tags which are used for more categorization at the end of each post. You can click on those tags for specific categories of lessons. Here’s a link to the tag for all pie chart lessons: I think the lesson you want is the second one.

      It’s very useful when you write about pie charts to use both descriptive language and accurate percentages. For example, almost one quarter (23%) or around one in four (26%). But always remember to put the percentages in brackets.
      All the best

  38. Dear Liz
    Thankful for your tips.
    Is it Important to choose ‘oil’ and ‘hydroelectric power’ in paragraph A? Or we can select other 2 energies.
    Sincerely Amin

    • Hi Amin,

      No, it can be organised differently. You could choose to have oil, coal and natural gas in the first body paragraph because they produced the most in both years. Alternatively, you could have coal and nuclear power together because they are the only two which increased over the two years. So, there are other ways to organise these two pie charts.
      All the best

  39. Dear Liz thank you so much for your tips.
    In task 1, I have noticed besides the line egraphs, Pie charts and Bar charts, the task can be about a table or a procces. It is different and a bit challanging, can you kindly show us how it’s done. 🙂

  40. is it compulsory one writes a conclusion in task one ?

  41. I realise that in your introductions ,the discription of the legends are always omitted .Is there a particular reason for this format of writing ?

  42. Very nice

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