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This article for PTE describe image will feature methods and practice examples to prepare you for the trickiest PTE task on test-day! 

Unpacking PTE Describe Image

PTE describes the image task seems to strike terror into even the most competent speaker. And, it’s not surprising!

You only have a few seconds to prepare for the PTE Describe Image and you need to understand an image, think quickly and deliver fluent, grammatical and relevant sentences within a 40-second timeframe. That’s clearly challenging.

So the big question is … are there any tricks or methods that will help? And the answer is ‘yes’ you can certainly reduce the difficulty, and you do this by reducing the decision making.

4-Sentence Formula 

Each image is different, but you can use a 4-sentence formula that will work for most images.

  1. Introduction
  2. Compare the highest – lowest, most – least, maximum-minimum, and so on.
  3. Create a sentence about either similarity or about something unusual.
  4. Conclusion – summary, reason or prediction

This structure enables you to talk about three main 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.

Describe Image Sentence 1 – Introduction

Tell the listener what is at the top and bottom of the screen.


Look at the graph below. In 25 seconds, please speak into the microphone and describe in detail what the graph is showing. You will have 40 seconds to give your response.

PTE describe image graph

Sentence 1: This line graph shows projected births in Australia from 2011 to 2101.

Describe Image Sentence 2 – Body 1

Compare two things. This creates a complex sentence that is good for your fluency mark.

Sentence 2: The highest projected births are in 2101 whereas the lowest are in 2011.  

Don’t get too ambitious. Just stick to the formula. Don’t add information from the y-axis because as soon as you start looking at numbers and trying to work out exactly what they mean, your fluency goes down.

[eg. “The lowest was in 2011 at 300 … no, maybe um, ah, 3 … 80. Yes, 380. 380 what? Million? No. The lowest was in 2011 at 380 thousand. Yes.”] The Y-axis is your enemy. Avoid it.

Describe Image Sentence 3 – Body 2

Look for either similarities or something unusual. It doesn’t matter which. Go for whichever one you see first.

Sentence 3: Projections for Series C remain relatively steady throughout the period while Series B shows double the number of births by 2101 and series A has the highest increase.

Sentence 3 is the most challenging sentence. Sentences 1 and 2 are fairly formulaic. However, in sentence 3 you need to make some decisions.

You have an idea of what to look for (similarities or something unusual), but you need to decide what to talk about and how much to say. Be flexible here.

Describe Image Sentence 4 – Conclusion

Keep this simple. For the conclusion, you can do one of three things:


In conclusion, the image shows that all predictions for birth rates in Australia show increases.

OR Reason:

A possible reason for the varied predictions may be that immigration figures will affect growth.

OR Prediction:

It could be predicted that birth rates will continue to climb after 2101.

PTE describe image answer

Visit the article on PTE speaking preparation for expert speaking tips which will help boost your pronunciation and oral fluency skills.

Frequently Asked Questions for PTE Describe Image

PTE describe image
Got any questions about the PTE Describe Image task? Try some common FAQs below.

Q1. What should I do if I get stuck on content?

If you get stuck, go for fluency. It is better to say something relevant than to umm and err and say nothing much at all. If you are going for PTE 79, you will need to have strong content, but your fluency must also be high.

Q2. How can I get 5 out of 5 for content?

The criteria tell us that if you talk about all elements of an image you can get 4 or 5, if you talk about most elements, you can get 3 and if you talk about fewer, you can only score 1 – 2 for content.

What are the elements? They are not the things you see on the X or Y-axis. They are the things in the legend.

In the image above, they are series A, B, and C.  Note that in the example PTE Describe Image response above, the speaker mentioned all three elements.

So to get high content marks you need to aim to talk about all elements. Again you need to balance fluency and content, so if you can’t see how to group elements to cover all of them, go for fluency.

See what the common PTE speaking mistakes to avoid the same pitfalls.

Q3. How long should it be?

Anywhere between 30 and 40 seconds is fine.

Q4. What can I do for a process or a cycle?

These are a bit different. Use this structure.

Sentence 1: What are we looking at? – Title.

Sentence 2: Start and end of the process. The process begins with X and ends with Y.

Sentence/s 3/4 : Talk about some of the steps using some of the language on the image.

Sentence 4/5: What will happen next (after the last step on the image)?

Check out E2 PTE Channel for PTE Describe Image videos like this one below: 

Part 2 of PTE Describe Image will provide example questions that allow you to practice the 4-sentence formula.

In the meantime, check out a list of excellent PTE review materials and resources from E2Language! 

Written by Melinda

All Comments 20
  • Emmanuel Edeigba says:

    Thanks so much Jay,indeed you are a blessing.
    My test is coming up on the 31st of October,please I don’t know if you will be having any other free class before then,will really appreciate it.

  • For the example question for describe image, the pronounce of ‘births’ I found is difficult to handle, especially for the plural “ths” in the end. can I ask what is the correct pronounce for this?

    • If I may answer you, it is the same as clothes… C-L-O-SSS… births… B-I-R-SSS… Any noun ending in -ths shoulb be read as a stressed “S”

  • Trinita Trinita says:

    Hi Jay,

    For describing image section, I saw you used the present tense in describing the chart. Can I know which tense should be used? Because what I did in IELTS Writing test task 1, past tense should be applied when describing the image. I hope you can help me to clarify it. Thank you


  • Thanks for the lessons. Great content and great advice. I was able to get my desired score thanks to the methods!!! Especially for describe image and retell lecture.

    P.S. I have contributed a little something on the paypal. Please keep up the great work!!!

  • It’s tough to bridge the gap from 25 secs to 40 sec in this assignment. The challenge is to pull out your best creativity in creating a comprehensive structured grammatically correct statement in 25 secs and deliver it in 40 seconds. That’s where my challenge lies. Can the team help me in this?

  • As it is possible to speak with different rate in 30 to 40 seconds, I wonder how much word you should say in average to cover a usual image in this task.

    • Definitely! It is possible! But we wouldn’t advise you to speak quickly. Remember fluency is graded on a person’s ‘native-like sound’. And that doesn’t equate to speed. Take your time to answer clearly and correctly. That is where you should focus.

  • ayca ozel sonmez says:

    I would like to thank John Thornton in advance. He is really a great teacher.
    I had a 1:1 tutorial for speaking via e2 language and many thanks to his valuable tips and guidance especially for Describe Image.
    My speaking scores were fluctuating from 35 to 70. After his lesson, I got 84 from speaking.

    • Hi!
      That’s so great to hear!! We take our English High-Stakes exam preparation seriously and so do our E2 Expert Teachers! 🙂 YOUR SUCCESS STORY is an inspiration! CONGRATULATIONS!

      We are sending you the warmest wishes!
      Olivia & The E2 Team

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