Unpacking PTE Describe Image
PTE describe 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.
Each image is different, but you can use a 4-sentence formula which will work for most images.
- Compare highest – lowest, most – least, maximum – minimum, and so on.
- Create a sentence about either similarities or about something unusual.
- 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.
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.
Sentence 1: This line graph shows projected births in Australia from 2011 to 2101.
Sentence 2 – Body 1
Compare two things. This creates a complex sentence which 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.
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.
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.
A possible reason for the varied predictions may be that immigration figures will affect the growth.
It could be predicted that birth rates will continue to climb after 2101.
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
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.