PTE Academic test is a test of English language proficiency just like IELTS. Unlike IELTS though PTE is administered on a computer and also scored entirely by a computer. It’s increasingly preferred by people looking to meet their visa requirements in Australia.
In this post, you will get to know everything about the PTE Academic Test.
Please note that a new updated PTE Academic Ultimate Guide is available now!
PTE Academic Test Sections
The test consists of four sections – Speaking, Writing, Reading and Listening and is given in three parts. The first part consists of Speaking and Writing, the second part has Reading and the final part is Listening. The first part also includes a Personal Introduction section but it is not considered for the overall score. You can have an optional break of 10 minutes during the test.
The Speaking section of the PTE Academic Test consists of 5 different question types and lasts for a total of 30~35 minutes.
The Writing section consists of two question types and lasts 50~60 minutes.
The Reading section consists of five question types and runs for 32~41 minutes.
Finally, the Listening sections consists of eight question types and is of 50~60 minutes duration.
PTE Academic Score
PTE Academic Test has a score band ranging from 10 to 90. A score of 10 indicates a level of English that is not sufficient for communication purposes. A score of above 85 on the other hand indicates an extremely high level of English.
PTE Academic Scores correspond to IELTS scores as shown in the following diagram:
86 – 90
83 – 86
79 – 83
73 – 79
65 – 73
58 – 65
50 – 58
43 – 50
36 – 43
30 – 36
You will often receive your PTE score report in a couple of days. This is very helpful for people who need to provide their test scores on an urgent basis.
Now let’s look into the different PTE Academic sections in some more detail.
PTE Speaking tests your speaking ability through an interesting mix of questions.
There are five question types in PTE Speaking. These are:
PTE Read Aloud question type consists of a written sentence that you have to read aloud. The sentences are up to 60 words long and there will be 6~7 questions of this type. You will have 40 seconds to read the sentence and prepare yourself. After that you will have to give a spoken response of up to 40 seconds.
PTE Repeat Sentence will check how well can you listen to a short English sentence and repeat it. The sentence will be 3~9 seconds long and you will have upto 15 seconds to give your response. You will find 11~12 questions of this type in your exam.
PTE Describe Image question type requires you to observe an image and describe it in the microphone. The image can be a graph, a map, a chart, a table, etc. You will get 25 seconds to observe the image and prepare yourself for the response. The response should be up to 40 seconds long. There are 6~7 questions of this type in the exam.
In the PTE Retell Lecture type of questions you will hear a lecture and will have to re-tell it as if to a friend. You should be able to capture the main theme and the key points in the lecture. The lectures can be up to 90 seconds long. Once the lecture ends you will have 10 seconds to organize your thoughts and give a response up to 40 seconds long. There will be 3~4 questions of this type in your exam.
Answer Short Question
The final question type in the Speaking section of the PTE Academic Test is the PTE Answer Short Question. You will hear a question and you will have to give an answer to it. No need to speak a full sentence here, a word or couple of words are good enough. Questions are usually on general everyday topics. You will attempt 10~12 questions of this type in the exam. Each question will be 3~9 seconds long and you will have up to 10 seconds to give a response.
To score well at Speaking questions you should be able to speak at a natural pace, come across as fluent, use correct intonation, pronunciation and stress while speaking. You should also be able to pick words and phrases according to the speaking context and use correct grammar throughout
The next section after Speaking is Writing. Through two question types PTE Academic Test will check your writing skills. Please note that your writing is also checked elsewhere in PTE. For example – In Listening you will attempt Summarize Spoken Text questions which are a test of writing along with listening. Similarly Write from Dictation and a Fill in the Blanks type from Reading will also test your writing skills.
The two question types are:
You will have 2~3 questions of the PTE Summarize Text type. It is test of your ability to read a text, comprehend it and then summarize the main points in writing. It is actually also a test of your reading skills. You will have 10 minutes in which to write your summary and your summary should be exactly one sentence long. The reading passage can be up to 300 words long and your summary should be between 5 and 75 words.
One of the most common question types in any language test is the Essay writing. In PTE Academic, you will get 1~2 questions of PTE Write Essay type. In 20 minutes, you will have to write an essay of 200 to 300 words.
To score well in Writing section you need to make sure that you capture the content accurately. For e.g. if the Essay topic asks you to compare the advantages and disadvantages of living in a big city but you talk only about one disadvantage such as high air pollution it will seem that you have written an Essay on air pollution instead. So, it is important to stick to the topic. Similarly, in summarize text your response should be able to capture the key points.
If you have captured the content correctly then you next need to show that you can combine ideas coherently, link sentences and paragraphs properly and essentially show good organization of the written content.
You should further be able to show a good linguistic range – ability to use a variety of complex sentences and vocabulary where required instead of similar simple sentences throughout your response.
And of course, do not forget grammar and spelling!
The third section in PTE is the Reading. The Reading section runs for 32~41 minutes and has questions from five different types. Reading tests your ability to read and understand texts, implied meaning and draw logical correlations from the text.
The five question types in the reading section of PTE Academic Test are:
Multiple-choice, choose single answer
In the PTE Multiple choice single answer type of question, you will be presented with a passage of up to 300 words and you will have to answer a question based on that. The question can be on the content or on the tone of the passage. You will have 2~3 questions of this type.
Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers
Similar to the previous question type, in the PTE Multiple choice multiple answers type of question also you will answer a question based on a text up to 300 words. Your test will have 2~3 questions of this type. However, more than one options are correct and you have to select all correct options. A word of caution! This question type has negative marking. So, think twice before making a random guess.
In the PTE Reorder Paragraphs question type you will find several boxes of text from a single passage arranged in a random order. You have to arrange the boxes in right order. The passage is up to 150 words. You will find 2~3 questions of this type in your exam.
Fill in the blanks
In the PTE Fill in the blanks question type you will find a passage on your screen with several blanks in it. Below the passage you will find an area with words or phrases in it. You will have to find the right word or phrase for a blank and drag the word or phrase into the right blank. There will be a few extra words than the blanks. Each reading passage is up to 80 words and there are 4~5 questions of this kind in the exam.
Reading & Writing: Fill in the blanks
Similar to the earlier question type but with the difference that for each blank you will have a drop-down list with several options in it. You have to pick the right word from the list. The reading passage is up to 300 words. The PTE Reading Writing Fill in the blanks type also tests your writing skills.
To score well in Reading you should be able to identify the topic, theme and main ideas in a text. You should also be able to understand how words and sentences are connected to each other in context. Understanding explicit and implicit information is also key to success in this section.
The final section in the PTE Academic Test is Listening. This section has questions of eight different types and is of 45~57 minutes duration. The listening section tests your ability to listen and understand spoken English in different contexts.
The eight question types are:
Summarize spoken text
In the PTE Summarize spoken text type of question, you will listen to a recording and write a summary of it in 50~70 words. The recording will be of 60~90 seconds duration. There will be 2~3 summarize spoken text questions in the exam. This is also a test of your writing skills along with listening skills. You will have 10 minutes to write the summary.
Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers
This is similar to the multiple-choice, choose multiple answers question type on the Reading section. Here instead of reading you will listen to a recording and answer a question based on it. The question will have more than one correct answers and you must select all correct options to receive full marks. There is negative marking for selecting a wrong option and therefore you should be careful while making guesses. The recordings in PTE Listening Multiple choice multiple answers type are 40~90 seconds long and you will have 2~3 questions of this kind in the exam.
Fill in the blanks
In the PTE Listening Fill in the blanks type you will listen to a recording of 30~60 seconds duration and at the same time you will see its transcript on the screen. The transcript will have several blanks in it. You will have to fill in the blanks while listening to the recording. This question type also tests your writing skills in addition to listening. In the exam you will find 2~3 questions of this type.
Highlight correct summary
You will hear a recording of 60~90 seconds and then will have to select the right summary from a given list. The PTE Highlight correct summary is also a test of your reading skills along with the listening. This is somewhat similar to summarize spoken text but here you have to just identify the right summary from a few given options. There will be 2~3 questions of this type in the exam.
Multiple-choice, choose single answer
This is similar to the multiple-choice, choose multiple answers but with the difference that only one option is correct. The recordings in PTE Listening Multiple choice single answer question type are 30~60 seconds long and you will find 2~3 questions of this kind in the exam.
Select missing word
In the PTE Select missing word type of questions, you will hear a recording on a particular theme and then will have to select the missing word or group of words that completes the recording. The last word or few words of the recording will be beeped out. The recordings are 20~70 seconds long and you will attempt 2~3 questions of this type.
Highlight incorrect words
Similar to the Fill in the blanks question type, in the PTE Highlight incorrect words question also you will see a transcript on the screen and hear a recording at the same time. But instead of writing in the missing words you will have to identify the words that are wrong in the transcript and highlight them by clicking on them. The recordings in this question type are 15~50 seconds long. The exam will have 2~3 questions of this type.
Write from dictation
You will hear a short sentence of 3~5 seconds duration and then type what you have heard on the screen. You can chose to write at the same time as you listen or you can write once you have finished listening. In total you will attempt 2~3 questions of the PTE Write from dictation type in the exam.
To score well in Listening you should be able to identify the theme and key ideas from a recording. You should be able to identify how ideas are linked to each other in spoken English and the implicit or explicit meaning behind what you hear. Further, you should be capable of identifying the tone and intent of the speaker. Finally, your listening abilities should be developed enough to follow along English texts spoken at a normal pace.
There you have it! An in-depth overview of the PTE Academic Test. In subsequent posts, we will look into each section and each question type in much greater detail.