First you need an IPA transcription of the word, in the relevant dialect. Then for English you need a translation table of sorts so that you know the phonological descriptive terms, for example a list of the IPA letters sorted into tense versus lax, high versus mid versus low and so on. Both of these should be in your textbook. It is possible that the instructor expects everyone to be a native speaker of a specific dialect of English so that it isn't necessary to give a transcription of [bɛt], [fid] and so on, but people cannot agree on whether "late" is [let] or [lɛit], so the instructor needs to specify what convention he is following, i.e. has to tell you which way to transcribe it. If you don't have that information, you have to get it.