What is a Sector Graph?

Instructor: Rayna Cummings

Rayna has taught Elementary Education for 12 years (in both 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades) and holds a M.Ed in Early Childhood Education from The Ohio State University

When you gather data and want to view the results, graphs are an extremely helpful tool in displaying the information in an easy to read and understand manner. In this lesson, you will learn what sector graphs are, how to create them, and how to compare data using them.

Eating It Up

Think about the smell and taste of your mother's or grandmother's favorite pie. Maybe it's apple or pumpkin pie. Whatever it may be, a sector graph is just like it. A sector graph is known as a pie graph or pie chart because it is circle-shaped, just like your favorite pie. Now think about eating a piece of that yummy pie. That piece is called a section of the pie, or sector. A sector graph has sections that make up different total values of the whole graph. Just like the yummy piece of pie cut for you is only one section of the whole pie.

Example of the shape of a sector graph in a pie cut into sectors - 1 for you, 1 for mom, and 1 for dad
Example of a sector graph

Parts of a Sector Graph

Example of a sector graph showing favorite pets
Favorite pet sector graph

Sector graphs have 3 parts:

  • Title - Shows what the topic of the graph is.
  • Scales - Numbers that show the units being used on the graph. These are usually in percentages, which are amounts that are part of a whole - the most used percentage amount is out of 100.
  • Categories - The categories represent the data collected. The data are represented by the sectors and can be labeled under the sector graph using different colors.

Uses of a Sector Graph

Sector graphs can be used to chart and compare data you have collected. For example, let's look at how we would create the 'Favorite Ice Cream Flavor' sector graph below.

First, you would ask each of your friends their favorite ice cream flavor. You would mark their answer in a table chart. Then you would add up all your friend's choices to get a total number of answers.

Because sector graphs show percentages, your next step is to do the math. For each flavor, you would divide the number of responses by the total number of responses to get a decimal answer. For example, as you can see in our chart, 10 people out of the 20 total responses chose chocolate as their favorite. Divide 10 by 20 and you get 0.5.

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