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Graphs, Pie Charts, Bar Chart, Processes and Maps




You may be asked to describe a line graph or a series of graphs or a combination of line graphs and bar charts. With these types of question try to remember the following:


•        Try to summarise the information presented in one sentence


•        DON’T copy the words in the question. If you do, these words will be deducted from the number of words in your answer.


•        Practice rephrasing questions in your own words


•        Take a minute or two try to really understand the question – before you start writing, use the question paper to make some notes. Try to identify what the main points are before you. If you practice this often, you’ll be able to identify all the main points in a minute or so. See the example below:






Pie Charts



Remember, pie charts represent parts of a single whole. So we can make statements about the whole.


o   For example: “Of all the students studying at the school…”

Looking at the example above, we can identify some of the main points in the pie chart.


o   All the students at the school seem to come from European countries.


o   UK students represent more than half of all the students.


o   Non-UK students make up less than half, of which Germans make up the majority at 20%. French and Dutch students represent only 15 and 10 percent respectively (Tip, always write the word percent – instead of the symbol % - because the examiner will count it as a word!) 




Bar Charts



Bar charts present data much like graphs so many of the rules for graphs apply to bar charts.


•        When making comparisons, try to group things together when possible.


o   For example, in the above example we can say: “The students can be devided into two groups, UK students and non-UK students…”


•        Then compare the two groups:


o   For example, you could say: “Across all categories of study, UK students are more than double any of the non-UK students…”


•        Then you can try to identify some specific features within the groups.


o   For example: “For UK students, Arts subjects are most popular…”


•        Or you can identify similarities between different groups;


o   For example: “Arts subjects are most popular with British and French students, while engineering subjects tended to be more popular with German and Dutch students…”


•        Although the data displayed was collected in the past, you can either the simple present or simple past to describe the information. For example:


o   Simple past: “As we can see the number of cars increased/rose/decreased/shrank/contracted over time…”


o   Simple present: “it is obvious that over time the number of cars increases/rises/decreases/shrinks/contracts…”  





You may be asked to describe a process or other form of information in a picture. To complete this kind of task take an approach similar to the one used in describing data. Examine the information carefully and make sure you understand it. Look specifically at the beginning and the end of the process.


Things to remember when you start the task:


•        What is the overall purpose of the process? What is the end result


•        How many elements are involved?


•        What elements are involved – have you mentioned them all?


•        What is the relationship between the dfferent elements?


•        What additional information can you add about the role of each element?






·         When practicing process questions, pay special attention to adverbs:


o   First/firstly/first of all/then/after that/next/following/afterwards/subsequently/finally


·         Also, prepositions will be important:


o   At the beginning/in the middle/at the end


·         Try using some of the following conjunctions:


o   As soon as that is finished/after this process/immeadiately after/before this takes place/when this is completed




Look at the map above and practice making sentencesusing some of the location vocabulary below.


... directly opposite ... . .. stands outside ...

... on the right-hand side of ... ...halfway between ...

... in close proximity to ...

. .. in the bottom left-hand corner of ...

... to the left of ...

. .. at right angles to/perpendicular to ...

... to the right of ...

. .. roughly in the middle of...

... at the bottom of...

... on the left-hand side of...

... in the bottom right-hand corner of...

... surrounded by ... ... parallel to ...

... in the top left-hand corner of... the top of...

... exactly in the middle of... ... in the top right-hand corner of...











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