PTE - Academic Describe Image Task: Strategies & Tips That Work

For the Describe Image item type, you will have 25 seconds to prepare for the description and 40 seconds to deliver your response.

By addressing each of these questions in order, you can successfully generate enough language for the 40 seconds required.


Step 1: What is the general topic conveyed by this image? - (The populations of Spanish speaking people in various countries)

Step 2: What information is given on the x and y axes? (x axis = the countries, y axis = populations)

Step 3: What unit of measurement is used? (millions)

Step 4:  What significant information is conveyed by the image? (Most Spanish speaking countries are in Latin America, and Mexico has the greatest number of speakers.)

Descriptions of graphical images usually begin with a sentence that states the main topic, often paraphrased from the title, followed by facts from the x or y axis supported by statistics. If you can see a trend or an exception, you should comment on it and support what you say with some data.


If you are describing data that does not have an obvious trend, describe the graph from left to right, and start with the largest piece of the pie for pie charts.


Step 1: Outline the main information: What is the graph about? What is a summary of the information conveyed (15s)

Step 2: Provide additional details: Provide one or two examples (15s)

Step 3: Provide conclusion/implications: A general statement to show you understood what was shown (10s)

Miscellaneous Tips To Note

  1. Don’t hesitate or pause, just speak
  2. Don’t attempt correct yourself – just keep going.
  3. If you don’t know what the image is, just describe what you see within the 40s
  4. Some would say content doesn’t matter but it does – say the correct thing
  5. Stay high-level – The more you go into detail, the more you’ll stutter and the higher the tendency of outrunning your time
  6. Keep your eye on the timer – don’t get cut off mid- sentence. Remember, it's a computer that will grade you and it won't understand an incomplete sentence.
  7. Don’t speak too quickly – you will have enough time if you say the right things
  8. Include the statistics
  9. Don’t try to say it all – Just focus on the main details – what jumps at you the most?
  10. Read your graph from left to right.
  11. Once it’s 10s to the end, start concluding your delivery – There’s a penalty for incomplete sentences.
  12. Paraphrase the title – don’t just say it out the way it’s presented
  13. Use a range of vocabulary

·      Increased steadily

·      Increased slightly

·      Receded

·      Declined

·      In contrast

·      At just above X%

·      This was followed by…

·      Despite this…

·      The next largest in order are…

14. Use the 25s wisely

1.    Scan the title + x-axis + units of measure

2.    Look for patterns (Which element is the highest? Which one is the lowest? Which ones are equal?)

3.    The score for content is based on your ability to accurately and thoroughly describe the image. In other words, you need to describe all aspects and elements of the image. You can achieve this by merging your ideas – find an efficient way of saying what you want to say:

a. Instead of saying individually that, “the contribution of IT industry increased steadily from 1975 to 2000” and “the contribution of Service industry also increased steadily from 1975 to 2000”, find a more efficient way of saying it by combining both ideas, “the contribution of IT & the service industries both increased steadily from 1975 to 2000”

b. If you already said from 1975 to 2000 in your introduction, you can replace it with “over the same period” while elaborating instead of repeating yourself.

4.    Can’t find a pattern? Best to adopt a “descriptive strategy”

5.    Map out your plan by taking notes – Table style/Venn diagram style

Detail 1 & Detail 2

Detail 1 & Detail 2

For this example, you can say...

    Introduction: The line graph compares the rates at which Australian Teenagers consume fast foods from the year 1975 to 2000

          Provide Detail 1

               Provide Detail 2

                     In conclusion, the overall consumption of fast food has been on the rise, and teenagers should look to switch to healthier food.