I recently wrote a post about how to analyse tables and it was so popular that I decided to do the same for pie charts, which lots of student also find very difficult to analyse.
So, again I will show you how to make simple notes, that will make analysing pie charts easier, helping you to recognise (see) and remember all of the important trends.
Here is a recent pie chart sample answer from the real test.
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Why Pie Charts are Difficult
It’s no surprise that students struggle with pie charts. After all, it is much easier to see the overall trend in a line chart or a bar graph than in a pie chart.
In a pie chart you are looking at two or three specific time points so you have to look carefully to identify (find) the trends.
And the chart in the real exam is ALWAYS in black and white, which makes it more difficult to see the trends and make comparisons quickly.
First you need to know what you are looking at. For the chart below, taken from a previous IELTS exam (Cambridge 8), you are looking at the same kind of data (total school spending), divided into five fields in three different years.
Make Notes about Figures
In the charts below you can see I’ve followed the charts for each of the five fields from 1981 via
(through) 1991 to 2001, and drawn an arrow to show the overall trends and calculated the overall changes.
For example, Insurance went from 2% to 3% to 8% so that is a clear upward trend, so I made a note on the final pie chart of x4 (four times), and I drew a straight upward arrow to show a clear large increase.
In contrast, Teachers’ salaries initially went up from 40% to 50% before falling to 45%, so it was an overall increase of 5% (or about 10% of the original 40%).
So I made a note on the final pie chart of +10% and I drew a fluctuating arrow but with a clear increase overall.
Make Notes about Positions
Next, in the chart below you can see I noted all the positions in the first and last years so I can clearly see any changes overall.
For example, in 1999 Other workers’ salaries was the 2nd largest area of school spending, whereas in 2001 it had dropped to the 3rd largest area.
So I wrote 2 and 3 next to that part of the pie chart for 2001, and I drew with an arrow to show the direction of the change.