• Tips for the FCE English Exam: Describing Photographs

    One of ESOL’s most challenging sections for students in the oral exam is the photograph section.

    Let’s look at one together now.

    In this part of the test you have to speak for 1 minute without interruption. The examiner will give you two colour photographs and you have to compare and contrast them as well as talking about your reaction to them. Your partner will get a different set of photographs and has to do the same thing. When each of you has finished speaking, the other will be invited to comment on the topic of the photographs (for about 20 seconds).Have a look at the two photographs below which show people making music in different ways. Try to think of things you could say to compare them. In this example, the examiner asked the following question: ‘Why do you think the music is important to the different groups of people?’

    How would you compare these two photographs?

    These two photographs are






    They both show people enjoying themselves with music.

    They both display people making music together.

    How Would You Contrast These Two Photographs

    These photographs are…




    These photographs display people from different cultures playing music.

    The music played in the first photograph appears to be tribal while the second photograph is more likely to be classical music or jazz.

    Why do you think the music is important to the different groups of people?

    Music allows both sets of people to express themselves as individuals and as part of a group.

    It also enables both groups to spend time with people of similar interests.

    Music encourages both groups to engage with the cultural environment of their respective societies.

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