In some speaking exams you have to talk about photos or pictures. The video and tips below will help you to do really well in this type of speaking exam.


Here are our top tips for describing a photo or a picture in an exam.


  • Look at your picture carefully and take a few moments to think before you start talking.
  • Talk for all the time you are given. If you have one minute to do the task, use every second.
  • Practise the useful language below so you can explain which part of the picture you are talking about.


  • Panic if you don’t know the words for all the things in the picture. You don’t need to know all the words for everything in the picture if you know what to say when you don't know an exact word.  
  • Get distracted and start talking about something else. Focus on the photo or picture.
  • Panic if your mind goes blank. Take a deep breath, look at the picture and start again.

If you are asked to describe a photo or a picture in the exam, here is some language you can use:

What is in the picture?

In the picture I can see ...
s / There are ...
There isn’t a ... / There aren’t any ...

Say what is happening with the present continuous

The man is
The people are
It’s raining.

Where in the picture?

At the top/bottom of the picture ...
In the middle of the picture ...
On the left/right of the picture ...
next to
in front of
on top of

If something isn’t clear

It looks like a ...
It might be a ...
He could be
Maybe it’s a ...

Total votes: 1808
Language level: 


You can practise this at home with any picture or family photo. Tell us if this advice was helpful to you.


JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 26 July, 2016 - 11:47

Hi Huyquoc,
If you want to improve your English, you are in the right place. Don't worry - just start slowly working through some of the pages in the sections that are most interesting and useful to you. The more English you read and listen to, the more you will learn.
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

80 users have voted.
Forever_in__dream's picture
Forever_in__dream 8 June, 2016 - 19:22

Thank you for these tips. They help me very much! Your recommendations gave me confidence. But I'm taking an English exam (speaking) this Friday and I'm a bit of scared about it. I can't stop being nervious, so in this condition I always say something wrong with long pauses, and it annoys me. Can you suggest me anything to handle with it?

83 users have voted.
JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 9 June, 2016 - 10:14

Hi Forever_in_dream
Thanks for your comment. OK - first thing to remember is that everyone gets nervous for speaking exams. It's totally natural to feel nervous. Also, it's normal to make some mistakes. The examiners will not expect you to do the exam perfectly and they will get a good idea about your level of English even if you make some mistakes. If you make a mistake and you realise immediately, then go back and say it again. We all do this sometimes even when we are speaking our native language. Also it's normal to pause and think when you're speaking in your own language and in a foreign language, so try not to worry about that. 
So, take a deep breath before you start the exam and remember that these feelings are natural. In fact feeling a bit nervous sometimes helps you to do your best. 
Good luck! Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

85 users have voted.
Forever_in__dream's picture
Forever_in__dream 10 June, 2016 - 10:20

Thank you for these pieces of advice. I took my exam today and I tried them while I was doing my task. I don't want to say that I wasn't nervious but I realized that it was just a part of exam, so there wasn't anything very terrible. In fact it was not a face-to-face exam: computer recorded our answers. Hope to get a good mark... And now agonizing suspense of results is waiting for me in the near future...
By the way, thank you for your site. It's very helpful! I found a lot of interesting things here!

75 users have voted.
JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 11 June, 2016 - 07:55

Hi Forever_in_dream,
We're really happy to hear that your exam went well and it's great to know that you find our site useful too. Good luck with the results and your future studies. Let us know what mark you got! 
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

65 users have voted.
LuisBenavidez's picture
LuisBenavidez 5 May, 2016 - 01:00

This topic is useful for me because i didnt know how to describe a picture like the position of an object,what's happening and where is something i recommend read more

77 users have voted.
fcomorales's picture
fcomorales 5 May, 2016 - 00:40

I read the do and donts and all the others recommendations and actually help me to be prepared at the exam, my recommendation is that you have to do a little exam to yourself and think what you gone a say at the exam.

74 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 5 May, 2016 - 04:33

Hi fcomorales. That's a great tip! If you can rehearse what you are going to say before the exam, it should help. Thanks for sharing :)
Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

79 users have voted.
Muslimgirl65's picture
Muslimgirl65 11 February, 2016 - 20:03

İt is so useful for me but i have some speaking problems for example: i can speaking very fluently and i can explain one picture in my home but i cant do it in school even while i am speaking on the board my friends cant hear and understand me i dont know why but i try to speak loudly :/

87 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 16 June, 2015 - 04:40

Welcome to LearnEnglish Teens! I've deleted your Skype ID from your comment because one of our House Rules is:

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Please don't share your personal details online because then you could be contacted by anybody, including bad people. We hope you will enjoy using this website to practise and to make friends by writing comments. Best wishes :)

Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

115 users have voted.
StrawberryGirl's picture
StrawberryGirl 7 June, 2015 - 17:23

Thank you ! You are the best !

Because of you I know now how can the oral exam be like.

But maybe you have another tips for me by this things:
1. Role play
2. Describing words (like the game "tabu")

133 users have voted.
dearie's picture
dearie 22 February, 2013 - 16:31

hi all im wesam frome palestine, h have just joined you, thank you for this site actually i have allot experience thank you so much again

308 users have voted.
JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 22 February, 2013 - 19:46

Hi! Welcome to LearnEnglish Teens. I hope you'll find lots of useful texts and videos to help you practise your English.
Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

294 users have voted.