Practical Application: Analyzing Bar Graphs & Pie Charts

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Reading and analyzing bar graphs and pie charts is useful not just in the math classroom but also in real life, both personal and business. Bar graphs and pie charts provide information that is readily understood with a quick glance.

Bar Graphs and Pie Charts

Businesses use both bar graphs and pie charts to present information, such as sales information, to customers as well as to employees and other businesses. People can also use bar graphs and pie charts for personal reasons, such as keeping track of finances.

Being able to read and analyze these graphs is a good skill to have because these graphs and charts are seen all the time in the real world. Sometimes, they are even shown in commercials. These graphs and charts can be particularly useful when shown to potential investors before they decide to invest in a company.

Analysis Questions

Use these questions as an aid to reading and analyzing bar graphs and pie charts

  • What is the title of the graph?
  • What intervals are being used on a bar graph?
  • What does each axis represent on a bar graph?
  • What does each slice or sector represent on a pie chart?
  • What is the most interesting point from the chart or graph?

The following are three scenarios to help you practice reading, analyzing, and evaluating bar graphs and pie charts.


A large publicly-owned pet store company is preparing its financial statements to release to all its stockholders. This financial report contains a bar graph that shows its sales activity each month for the past year.

bar graphs and pie charts

Looking at this bar graph, has the company done well this year?

To answer this question, let's use the analysis questions. The title of this bar graph is 'Annual Sales History'. The intervals are by month. The x-axis on this graph represents the months and the y-axis represents the amount of sales. The bars have two colors with the blue representing in-store sales and the orange online sales. The most interesting thing about this graph is that the best months are October, November, and December.

With all this information, it can be seen that yes, the company has done well this year. Its online segment seems to be growing as it gets bigger and bigger throughout the year. Yes, the company has a seasonal flow to it but overall, it has done well as it was able to catch up, so to speak, towards the end of the year.


A mother and wife is looking at how she spends her husband's hard-earned money on her family. She wants to save more money so she is looking for areas that she can cut back on. She keeps track of her spending using a finance app on her smartphone and it provides her with a pie chart to show how she spends her money. This is what she sees:

bar graphs and pie charts

What areas can this mom cut back on to save money?

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