Picture This

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Picture This is a Division B event that was last held nationally in 2016. It has also been run as a trial event in the past, being held at the 2018 Texas state tournament. It was also held at the 2019 Wisconsin state tournament as an official event.


Picture This is an event similar to Pictionary, except all words or phrases related to science. In Picture This, competitors have a maximum of 4 minutes to cover a set of 16 to 32 terms. Each person will take turns being a sketcher and guesser. Teams must have 2 people.

The sketcher may not sketch any numbers, letters, or symbols except the following:

  • (-) to shorten what the guesser(s) is/are saying
  • (+) to lengthen the word.
  • underlines (_) to equal the number of words in the terms (For example: _ _ for solar eclipse).

The supervisor will decide when the term has been guessed. Only plurals and singulars are acceptable.

Teams (either person) can pass on any term, but cannot return to the word once they have passed.


Teams receive one point for every term guessed correctly. Passes do not earn teams a point, and teams cannot return to those words once they have passed. The team who earns the most points by guessing the correct term wins. Violations of the rules may result in penalties.


  • The first tiebreaker is the team with the fewest passes.
  • The second is the team that used up the least amount of time.
  • The third is the team with the longest streak of consecutively correct terms.
  • The final tiebreaker would be the team who identified the first word in the list not correctly identified by the other team.


One very important and popular strategy is to make paths, where the drawer begins with a broad topic in order to narrow down their partner's responses. For example, for all words that do with atoms (atom, proton, neutron, electron, nucleus, etc), start by drawing an atom, then shade in what needs to be guessed. This is often done subconsciously, but it is a good strategy to focus on.

For two word clues, try drawing them separately. For example, for electron cloud, draw an electron and then a cloud. You can also use a plus sign in the middle if the event supervisor approves of this practice, but be careful, as some supervisors may use this as grounds for disqualification.

Finally, it is crucial that both participants know each other's thought processes well and are very comfortable working together. Many teams that compete in Picture This are made of two close friends, since they are already familiar with each other's thinking, and thus the teamwork comes more naturally.


Practice both with and without movements, since the supervisor may or may not allow them; only use simple, easily remembered and interpreted movements.

There's no way to know what words will be on the list, so textbook glossaries are very helpful. Words can be pulled out of any glossary in any science subject. One possible practice strategy is to make flash cards, with each one having one word from the glossary on it. Then mix them up, and use those as a practice list of words.

See Also

Picture This Words - A list of various words that can be used as practice.


hscmom's 2015 SSSS Notes
Picture This resources created by hftf
Practice Exercise
National Weather Service Glossary
Geology and Earth Science
Microscope Glossary
Biology Glossary
Random Science Word Lists