One of the key language skills is the ability to look at a visual and understand it and describe it to others. In your studies or in your work you will often find yourself in situations where you have to interpret visual data. For example, you might be required to make a presentation, with some graphs and charts in it. Or you might have to understand a map and explain it to others.
This is essentially what the PTE Describe Image question type is about. You will see an image on your screen and then describe what it is about. The software will assess your response on a number of parameters.
The question type can appear quite daunting in the beginning, but with a well-developed strategy and well-practiced method and templates, you can soon start doing very well at it.
For this task, you will be prompted to give a verbal response to a single or more images, occasionally the question would also come with text. The response length should be at a minimum of 25 seconds long and up to a maximum of 40 seconds. Additionally, it should be noted that in some rare circumstances, the image can be very odd or even bizarre which may catch students off guard.
It is important that you speak about the key information in the image. This is not a test of your analytical skills, so don’t worry about capturing each and everything.
Your response to PTE Describe Image questions should follow a proper structure and your speaking should display good quality of pronunciation and fluency.
1. Content is not as important as Pronunciation or Fluency
Whether you understand the graph or not, the most important thing to keep in mind is that it is a speaking task so you have to speak and show that you can speak. You should mainly focus on pronunciation and oral fluency.
2. You are not expected to explain every detail within the image
The image that carries a lot of information within, you need to explain the overview of it. There is no need to explain every detail mentioned in the image. You are expected to focus on the striking features or the features that can be distinguished.
Too many test takers try so hard to capture every detail in the image that they lose focus and fail to deliver a strong response. You don’t have rush yourself to read the whole list of figures or 12 different segments within a pie chart, as you have no spare time nor it is necessary. Capture a few points, connect them properly and deliver them in a well-structured manner. That will get you a much better score.
3. Try to speak more than 30 seconds.
Test takers are expected to speak more than 25s if you are after 65+ and speak more than 30s if you are after 79+. Content is not as important as pronunciation or fluency; however, it must be relevant to the graph.
4. Organize your description of the image
If you organize what you say, you will get a better score. This is because a well-organized answer is more likely to cover the main information, additional details, as well as conclusions.
Description should cover “Introduction + main body + conclusion”. Each image is different, but you can use a 4-sentence structure which will work for most images.
- Describe the most distinguishing feature of the image: address highest – lowest, most – least, maximum – minimum, increase-decrease etc
- Mention more aspect or feature of the image
This structure enables you to talk about 2-3 most identifiable features and if you keep your sentences simple, you’ll be able to do that in around 35 seconds.
Let’s break the four sentences down with the example below
Sentence 1 – Introduction
Usually the image will come with a title or headline, so we can start with “The image describes browser usage on Wikimedia in October 2011”
Sentence 2 – Body sentence
“The browser usage is classified into different categories including Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Android, I.E. as well as others in percentage.”
Sentence 3- Body sentence
“It can be clearly seen that category I.E. contributes the maximum, which is 34.2%, whereas Android contributes the minimum which is 1.9%.”
Sentence 4 – Conclusion
Keep this simple. For the conclusion, what you need to do is re-emphasize the topic, which means you only need to fit the headline into myPTE Describe Image template to give your conclusion.
“After analysing the key aspects, it can be concluded that this pie chart shows the crucial information about browser usage on Wikimedia in October 2011 which is strongly supported by the data and facts.”
5. Types of Images
There are different types of images including in Describe Image Section, including bar-charts, line-charts, pie-charts, tables, maps and pictures.
Above are seven types of images that can be asked in the Describe Image Task within PTE Speaking. Sometimes two of these types can also be combined and asked as a single question, where both will be related and you will have to provide your response correspondingly.
6. Timed practice is more EFFICIENT
Always make sure that you practice in a timed environment. Responding to a describe image question in 2 minutes is very different from responding in 40 seconds. The quality of your response depends directly on the time you spend on preparation and responding. So, if you want the best outcome from your practice, you need to get your stopwatch ready and time yourself while practicing.
7. Focus more effort in Describe Image
Describe Images has the highest weight in Speaking Module and it is followed by Retell Lecture, so please focus more effort on this section if you are lacking scores in Speaking module.
The best way to improve is to practice all of Describe Images questions within the study pack, including Six Main categories Bar Chart, Pie Chart, Flow Chart, Table, Map, Line Chart as well as random images. When you practice, work hard at improving three assessable elements: pronunciation, fluency and content. Use the “Introduction + Main Body + Conclusion” Structure to organise your ideas, and practice to a point where it sounds natural and fluent.