For this item type you need to describe an image.

The recording status box displays a countdown until the microphone opens. You have 25 seconds to study the image and prepare your response. You hear a short tone. After the tone, start speaking immediately. Do not start speaking before the microphone opens because your voice will not be recorded.

You should speak clearly. There is no need to rush.

Finish speaking before the progress bar reaches the end. The word “Recording” changes to “Completed’’.

You are only able to record your response once.

Test tips

Focus on the main information in the image

When you look at the image ask yourself ‘‘What is the main idea being shown by the image?’’ and ‘‘What are the details relating to the main ideas?’’. Use your erasable noteboard booklet to note down key ideas and phrases that relate to the main information and the explanatory details. These can be put into sentences when you start to speak:

Organize your description of the image

If you organize what you say, you will get a better score. This is because a well-organized answer is more likely to cover the main information as well as the additional details, and also talk about implications or conclusions based on the information. Look at how this sample description is organized:

How this question is scored

Your score on Describe Image is based on three factors:

Content: Does your response accurately and thoroughly describe the image?

Content is scored by determining if all aspects and elements of the image have been addressed in your response. Your description of relationships, possible developments and conclusions or implications based on details from the image is also scored. The best responses deal with all parts of the image, contain logical and specific information and include possible developments, conclusions or implications. Mentioning just a few disjointed ideas will negatively affect your score.

Oral fluency: Does your response demonstrate a smooth, effortless and natural rate of speech?
Oral fluency is scored by determining if your rhythm, phrasing and stress are smooth. The best responses are spoken at a constant and natural rate of speech with appropriate phrasing. Hesitations, repetitions and false starts will negatively affect your score.

Pronunciation: Does your response demonstrate your ability to produce speech sounds in a similar way to most regular speakers of the language?

Pronunciation is scored by determining if your speech is easily understandable to most regular speakers of the language. The best responses contain vowels and consonants pronounced in a native-like way, and stress words and phrases correctly. Responses should also be immediately understandable to a regular speaker of the language.

PTE Academic recognizes regional and national varieties of English pronunciation to the degree that they are understandable to most regular speakers of the language.


  • Partial credit scoring applies to Describe Image. No credit is given for no response or an irrelevant response. This question type affects the scoring of the following: speaking, oral fluency and pronunciation.
  • Your listening and writing skills are not tested by this question type, and your reading skills are only used to read the instructions.
  • For more information download the Score Guide.