How to describe a picture

During English tests for pilots it’s common to have to describe a picture. Sometimes the picture might be of an accident or sometimes it might be of a bad weather situation, or sometimes it can be of a more common, ‘normal’ situation. What’s the best way to describe a picture? Is there a process that you can use for all types of picture?

Yes there is! Using our process to describe pictures below, you’ll be able to describe a picture without difficulty, the only other thing you’ll need, is practice!

Picture Description Process

Pt. 1) Describe the picture in one sentence, give only the most important information at this stage. You can start the description like this; this is a picture of …

Pt. 2) Describe the details in the picture, start with the most important details and then the less important ones. This is a good opportunity to use lots of vocabulary and show the examiner what you know.

Pt. 3) Make deductions about what you can’t see in the picture. Often this relates to part 2, when you describe details you can make deductions at the same time. Use the language of speculation (this could/ might be etc…)

Deductions often relate to; passengers (where they are & how they feel), the cause of the incident/ situation, what you think is going to happen next, the weather and how it influenced the situation, how the situation you describe will affect the area around it (the airport usually).

How to describe a picture

Picture Description Example

Pt. 1 – This is a picture of a 737 which is parked on its stand (gate).

Pt. 2 & 3 – We can see that pushback tractor is close to the plane. (Pt.3) It’s probably preparing for departure. In the midground the jetway is connected to the plane (Pt.3) and the passengers might be boarding the plane at the moment.

There is a no parking area indicated by the red markings on the ground. This is the area where the jetway moves and as we can see in the picture, there is nothing in this area. There are three people around the plane. One of them is moving the tow bar into position to connect it to the pushback tractor.

(Pt. 3) I can’t see them, but the pilots might be in the cockpit preparing the flight. Normally at this stage during a flight, they’re programming the computer for the flight and performing other checks. This is usually a very busy time for them.

The weather looks nice in the picture, it’s sunny and I can see a shadows of the plane, the jetway and in the foreground I can see what I think is the shadow of the terminal building.
I think that in about fifteen minutes this plane is going to pushback, taxi to the runway and then takeoff. That’s all.

Note 1: In this picture, this is a ‘normal’ situation so there is less speculation about what caused it, although you can still speculate about what’s happening at the moment and what’s going to happen next.

Note 2: When describing a picture, imagine you are looking out of a window and this is what you see. For things in progress in the picture, you should use the present continuous, for things before this moment use the past and for things after this moment use future tenses.

Note 3: You can use, ‘that’s all’ to indicate you are finished describing your picture. You can also use this phrase to indicate you’re finished talking about any other question.

Identifying specific areas of a picture

Look at the following flashcards which can help you identify specific areas of a picture when describing it.

If you enjoyed this content share it with people you think will find it useful and if you want more great material why not start a course with us!

Follow us on Twitter here or Facebook here for more great content!

7 thoughts on “How to describe a picture

  1. It’s very good

    1. Sometimes too difficult

      1. It takes time, patience and lots of practice to improve your picture descriptions. Fortunately, I know a place where you can do classes focused on exactly this 😉

  2. Your notes are very important to describe any picture for interview thanks a lot send me more please
    Sincerly reza

  3. I can help to more example can you help me?

  4. good description

  5. In this picture i can see morrow body airliner, a B737 that is connected to a air bridge in its stand for loading or disembarking the PAX. the fuselage is panted in white and the tail and the wing tips in red. the name of the air liner is written in the fuselage. in the foreground there is a tow truck by the nose of the aircraft ready to be used for the push back . there are ground personnel wearing high light vest moving a round the apron. i can also see some trash bins near the red marking on the ground. in the foreground i can see one part of the maneuvering area, but there are no stands numbers. further in the foreground the is the grass area and in between i can see the concrete strip winch is the runway. ground operation is very crucial for airliners. among other operations, the aircraft needs to be refueled, supplied withe food by the catering service, cleaned and charged with oxygen. and all this have to be performed on time to avoid insignificant delays.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.