# Describing percentages and fractions in IELTS Writing Task 1

When you look at an IELTS Writing Task 1, it is often full of numbers and possibly percentages too. But how can you use a wide range of vocabulary when describing percentages?

In this blog post, I’ll be looking at different ways to describe percentages.

**Percent or percentage?**

Firstly, let’s look at the difference between **percent **and **percentage**.

Examples:

- 65
**percent**of people in the school prefer coffee. - 65
**%**of people in the school prefer coffee. - A large
**percentage**of people in the school prefer coffee.

As you can see, we use **percent **or **% **to give a specific amount.

We use **percentage **to give a more general idea of the amount.

**Pie charts**

Have a look at this pie chart about recycled materials:

(Click to enlarge)

Look at the figure for glass. A simple sentence would be:

- The amount of glass recycled was 26%.

But, what fraction is it close to?

That’s right – a quarter, which is 25%. The figure for glass is not exactly a quarter though, so we can use a phrase such as **just over**, **approximately** or **slightly more than **in our sentence.

- The amount of glass recycled in 2016 was
**just over a quarter**.

Similarly, we can also use **just under**, **approximately **or **slightly less than **if the figure is lower than the fraction or percentage.

**Approximately two thirds**of people prefer coffee in the office.

**Fractions**

What other fractions can we use in Writing Task 1?

- three quarters (75%)
- two thirds (66%)
- a half (50%)
- a third (33%)
- a quarter (25%)

There are, of course, other fractions, but these are the ones I’d recommend using. Remember, it’s not a mathematics exam!

Look back at chart 1. Which recycled material am I describing here?

- This material accounted for
**approximately a third**of all recycled material.

Remember: If there are percentages in your chart, try to use a mixture of percentages and fractions to demonstrate your range of vocabulary.

You can find more practice in IELTS Vocabulary up to Band 6.0, p120.

Now have a look at this pie chart:

(Click to enlarge)

Look at the figure for plastic. Which of the following sentences is NOT correct?

- Approximately half of the materials recycled were made of plastic.
- Recycling of plastic accounted for just under half of the total materials.
- The amount of plastic recycled was 48 percentage.
- The amount of plastic recycled was approximately 50%.

Good! The third sentence is incorrect because it uses percentage after a specific number.

Can you write two more sentences using fractions or percentages? Try one sentence for each chart.

I hope you have found this blog post useful and now feel more confident when describing percentages and fractions in pie charts. Let me know how you get on!

Peter

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