Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today you’ll find out how to use the very native phrase, “the 1%.”

This is ripped straight from the headlines, as you’ll see it in the news all the time.

We’ll also share some high level vocabulary to use when describing numbers and amounts.

This information can’t be found in a textbook, so take notes!

Breaking news!

IELTS is offering an online exam called the IELTS Indicator.

Check with the organization requiring your scores to find out if you qualify.

Also, we have created a 4th practice test!

This is based on Jessica’s 14 years of Examiner experience.

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The 1% and the 99%

A student posted in our 3 Keys IELTS Facebook group asking about the expression “the 1%.”

She had noticed that with most percentages there is no article.

  • 32 percent of survey responders said they exercise every day.

However, with the expressions “the 1%” and “the 99%”, an article is used.

She wanted to know why!

the 1%: an expression used to refer to the wealthiest 1% of people

the 99%: expression for everyone else; those not in the 1%

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Where can these phrases come up on IELTS?

Task 2 questions often deal with money and the economy.

  • Does wealth disparity exist?
  • What problems are caused by having a wealth gap between upper and lower classes, and what are some solutions?
  • Do you feel that this is a problem?
  • Consumerism topics, asking if money equates to power.
  • Do you feel this is a just way to distribute power?

Speaking Part 3 often has related questions

  • consumerism
  • debt
  • shopping
  • purchasing power

An idiom that is related is “keeping up with the Joneses.”

Keeping up with the Joneses: making purchases and incurring debt in order to appear wealthy

My neighbor bought a boat to keep up with the Joneses.

Percent vs. Percentage

We see students make mistakes with these 2 words on Task 1 Academic essays all the time!

When stating the number, you use “percent.”

Use the % symbol to save time!

Only use “percentage” when you aren’t providing a specific number.

Over 54% of Americans have a gym membership.

The percentage of Americans with gym memberships has risen drastically.

We also see students use the word “percentile” incorrectly.

percentile: on a scale of 1 to 100, where something fits on the scale

We recommend you do not use “percentile” on Task 1 essays, as it has very specific usage and it’s so easy to make mistakes with it!


You need to be able to describe numbers, amounts and percentages on the IELTS exam!

Topics come up often in Speaking and Writing which require you to discuss prosperity and consumerism.

Practice today’s vocabulary so you will be ready!

For access to our newly released 4th practice test, join

You’ll immediately be added to our exclusive Facebook group so you can get prompt answers to all your IELTS questions.

We answer all these questions and we are IELTS experts, so you know they can be trusted!

Do people keep up with the Joneses in your culture?

Leave a comment and let us know!

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