PTE General

pte general

The Pearson Test of English is a worldwide accredited test of English for those wishing to immigrate to study abroad. The PTE General is geared specifically towards those planning on immigration. 

The test itself is not concerned with your ability to remember catchphrases, but actually prepares you for day to day life and communicating in English. 

The test is comprised of four skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing. These skills are assessed over two main sections: written and oral. 

Related Article: PTE Test Format – All You Need To Know

Practical Skills and Assessments 

The format of the test is as close to real-life occurrences as you can get. You will come across message writing, and general conversations. You will be put in everyday scenarios, and given a chance to flex your conversational English. 


Forget Standard Testing Formats 

Many tests are rigid and designed in an ‘all-or-nothing’ structure. This creates a pressure-filled environment counter-productive to positive test-taking. 

The PTE General is designed with the student in mind. The test is structured so that it is easy to identify your areas of strength, and areas that need improvement. The test allows you to concentrate on your personal goals. 


Common European Framework of Reference for language has a similar scoring of language proficiency accepted across Europe, and its popularity is increasing around the world. Some institutions will consider your PTE as a stand-in for a CEFR, so it’s good to know where you are applying, as this can increase the number of institutions available to you.

The equivalency goes as follows:


C1 : 85-90

C2 : 76-84

B2 : 59-75

B1 : 43-58

A2 : 30-42

A1 : 0-30


PTE General Levels

Foundation Level

The first level of the PTE General is the Foundation Level, which is the equivalent of the CEFR level A1. You will have an hour and 15 minutes for the written exam. The exam will have an all-over theme that is divided into 9 tasks. The tasks are formatted as a mixture of multiple-choice questions, writing, and open-ended questions. 

You will then have 5 minutes of the oral exam with an examiner. In these 5 minutes, you will go over a few minutes of sustained monologue.  You will be asked to describe a picture and do a role play with your assessor. 

Perfect for:

The Foundation Level of the PTE is designed for those looking to get by in social situations. Tasks are basic and brief and geared to encourage expression in English. 


Level 1

The second level of the PTE is Level 1, which is the equivalent to CEFR level A2. You will have one hour and 35 minutes to complete the exam. 

Like Foundation Level, the exam is in two sections, written and oral, with the written again being divided into 9 tasks. The only difference is the subject matter. In Level 1, the subject matter of your tasks will begin to get more specific. Instead of just asking general home things, they may ask about hobbies or other personalized subjects. 

Again, the oral exam is a total of 5 minutes and is divided into the sustained monologue, describe picture, and role play. 

Perfect for:

Level 1 is perfect for those looking to challenge themselves a level above basic English needed to get by day to day. Although it is very close to the Foundation Level, its reach is slightly higher. 


Level 2

Level 2 of the PTE is the intended equivalent of CEFR level B1. You will have one hour and 35 minutes to complete the exam. The written exam is divided into the standard 9 task format, with the oral portion 7 minutes long. 

The extended oral exam is due to an additional section. On top of sustained monologue, describe picture, and role play, you will also have a discussion section. 

Again, the content of the oral exam becomes more detailed, covering more areas of personal and general interest.

Perfect for:

Level 2 is designed to be ideal for conversational English but in a more academic setting. Although the PTE General is not considered an academic test, the level of the conversational language of Level 2 and up are more suited to environments like work and university above the general day to day English.


Level 3

Level 3 of the PTE is the equivalent of the CEFR Level B2. The exam takes two hours and is considered to be an intermediate level of English. Level 3 is broken up in the same way as Level 2 at the intermediate level. 

In the previous levels, the themes have gotten increasingly more specific. In Level 3 you will be expected to express more in-depth opinions and feelings. The language itself does not have to be intricate, but the ideas expressed will be more detailed and vivid.

It follows the standard format of written: 9 tasks, and an oral test of 7 minutes. Also included are the previous categories of sustained monologue, discussion, describe picture, and roleplay.

Perfect for:

Level 3 is for those planning on working or studying abroad who wish to express themselves with a more in-depth level of English. 


Level 4 

Level 4 of the PTE is the equivalent of the CEFR level C1. The Level 4 exam is 2.5 hours long and is intended for conversational use in a higher academic study setting. 

The oral exam makes up only 8 minutes of the whole test and consists of the usually sustained monologue, discussion, describe picture, and roleplay.

In Level 4 the written exam will take almost the full two hours. Although it is still in the 9 part structure, the questions require more in-depth, analytical answers, as well as a higher level of language. 

Perfect for:

The level 4 PTE is designed for those with specific tertiary education, or fields of work in mind. 


Level 5

Level 5 of the PTE is the highest level of the PTE General available and will take two hours and 55 minutes. The test is the standard structure of 8 minutes oral exam, and 9 written segments. 

As this is the highest level of the PTE General, you can expect the topics to be broad, spanning global and social issues, and the level of English to be high. 

Perfect for:

Anyone studying at a tertiary level, or looking to advance their careers abroad. 


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