The “Write About the Photo” question on the Duolingo English Test is straightforward. You just need to describe a picture.
What isn’t straightforward is how to get a great score on it — but don’t worry! By the end of this post, you’ll know exactly what you need to craft a high-scoring response.
Table of Contents
- What is the “Write About the Photo” question type?
- Tips to do well on the “Write About the Photo” question
- How to use the “5 W’s” strategy to get a great score
- How to practice “Write About the Photo” questions
What is the “Write About the Photo” question type?
The “Write About the Photo” question type looks like this:
You are given 1 minute to describe the image. Very simple!
This question counts toward your Literacy and Production subscores, and it appears 3 times on the test.
Tips to do well on the “Write About the Photo” question
Study the image carefully
The image you are given is quite small. Be sure to study it carefully to notice all important details.
Save time to edit your response
Although you only have 1 minute, you should save around 15 seconds to proofread your response. Look for obvious mistakes like typos and missing words, which will greatly lower your score.
Use a strategy to structure your response
In their official test guide, Duolingo recommends that you, "Try to go beyond simple labeling and describe the image in detail.”
By “simple labeling,” they mean just identifying objects in the picture. If you have a lot of sentences that start with “There is” you likely are just labelling. Relying upon a good strategy will help you describe the image in more detail and get a higher score.
Next, we will look at the best strategy for the “Write About the Photo” question type!
How to use the “5 W’s” strategy to get a great score
This is the 5 W’s strategy:
- What is happening in this photo?
- Who is doing what?
- Where are they doing it?
- When are they doing it?
- Why are they doing it?
When you come to a “Write About the Photo” question, you should ask yourself these questions. They will help you describe the image in great detail.
☝️You don’t want to answer the 5 W's questions in order in your response. Rather, these questions are intended to generate ideas for what to write about.
To make this clear, let’s use the 5 W's strategy to describe the following image:
- What is happening in this photo? ⇒ A man and a boy are walking down the sidewalk.
- Who is doing what? ⇒ The two are talking. The man is smiling.
- Where are they doing it? ⇒ They are in a town or a city.
- When are they doing it? ⇒ There are leaves on the ground, so this is likely autumn. The boy has a backpack, so it is either before or after school. The man has a bag as well, so maybe he is going to or leaving work.
- Why are they doing it? ⇒ Perhaps the man is the boy’s father and he is dropping his son off at school on his way to work.
Here is the full response:
In this photo, I see two people walking along the sidewalk, a man and a boy. They could be father and son. They appear to be having a conversation. Both of them have bags, so perhaps the father is dropping off his son at school on his way to work. There are orange and yellow leaves on the ground and they are wearing sweaters, so it is likely autumn.
How to practice “Write About the Photo” questions
Your responses to the 3 “Write About the Photo” questions count toward your Production subscore, in particular your ability to write.
To improve your written English, you need feedback on your grammar and vocabulary. That’s exactly what Arno provides!
Here is how you can use Arno to practice:
1) Go to duolingo.goarno.io. If you don’t already have one, just create a free account.
2) Go to the “Write About the Photo” question type and click the “Play” button (shown inside the red box below).
3) Use the 5 W’s strategy to answer the question.
4) When 20 seconds remain on the timer, finish typing your response and proofread it. Look for obvious mistakes like typos and missing words first, then make other edits if you have time.
5) Once you submit your response, you will receive a score instantly.
6) Click on the other buttons to see feedback on your response and learn how you can improve. For example, here is the grammar feedback:
And here are the Vocabulary Tips and Rewritten Version feedback sections:
In just seconds, you can get all this great feedback! Pretty cool 😎
7) Click the right arrow at the bottom to move to another practice question.
By now, you have a full understanding of the “Write About the Photo” question type as well as how you can approach it to get a great score.
Arno is a great tool to practice all the questions on the Duolingo English Test. Just click below to create your free account and get started.