Describe a photo or picture

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.

Instructions

Watch the video of two students describing photos as part of a speaking exam. Then read the tips below.

Transcript

Examiner: OK. You each have a picture. You’ve got one minute to look at your picture. Describe all that you can see in the picture and explain what you think is happening.

……

Melissa: In the picture there is a man lying in the middle of the road and there is a car and a motorbike there. I believe there is a car accident and that guy is almost dying. And people are trying to save his life and in the bottom-right of the picture there’s a reporter holding a camera. And there is a policewoman or policeman and he’s trying to tell his partner to come, I think.

……

Examiner: OK. You each have a picture. You’ve got one minute to look at your picture. Describe all that you can see in the picture and explain what you think is happening.

……

Kelvin: So, in my picture there are three men. They’re holding water guns and shooting at each other. And they are laughing and I think they’re very excited about this. I think they could be celebrating some kind of festival because you know in Thailand they celebrate their New Year by splashing water on each other, so I think the two men in the photo are tourists. They have gone to Thailand to celebrate this festival. Yes.

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

Do:

  • 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.

Don’t:

  • 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 ...
There
s / There are ...
There isn’t a ... / There aren’t any ...

Say what is happening with the present continuous

The man is ...ing
The people are ...ing
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
behind
near
on top of
under

If something isn’t clear

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

Discussion

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

Average: 3.4 (26 votes)
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Comments

Submitted by yusufzenith on Fri, 03/15/2024 - 18:08

Awesome tips

Submitted by ExtremeBoka on Thu, 03/03/2022 - 17:07

Yes, these advices were helpful and now I feel confident about describing stuff.
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Submitted by Kalenkhoe on Tue, 08/18/2020 - 13:57

These tips are very effective.
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