To score practice essays for your students, you can follow these guidelines:

The PTE Academic Write Essay task is scored on seven traits, each representing a separate aspect of essay quality. The most important trait is Content, it has the highest maximum raw score (3 points) and if the score is 0 (zero) the whole essay is scored zero, because no attempt was made to perform the task as required.

It is important to stress that the traits for PTE Academic need to be scored independently. Human raters can best achieve this by scoring all essays consecutively for one single trait at the time, i.e., first rate all essays for Content. Subsequently score all essays for the Formal requirement, next for Development, Structure and Coherence, and so on, till the last trait.

A test taker’s essay will not be scored on any trait and will be awarded 0 (zero) in the following cases:

  • The response is irrelevant to the prompt.
  • The response is not in English.
  • The response is written in capitals.
  • There is no written response.

PTE Academic reports all scores on the Global Scale of English (GSE). To compute the essay score add points over all seven traits and look up the final score in the GSE transformation table at the end of this document. The GSE is directly related to the levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Council of Europe, 2001).

Item typeWrite essay
Response modeWritten
Item type descriptionTest takers are required to write an essay about a given topic.
Number of item traits7
Item traitsContent

Formal Requirement

Development, Structure and Coherence


General Linguistic Range

Vocabulary Range



Item trait 1Content
Item trait descriptionContent is scored by determining if all aspects of the topic have been addressed in the response and if provided details, examples and explanations are appropriately supporting the test taker’s point of view.
If the test taker does not address the topic, the response will be scored zero on all traits.
Rating scale3 The essay adequately deals with the prompt.

2 The essay deals with the prompt but omits to deal with one minor aspect.

1 The essay deals with the prompt but omits more than one aspect or one major aspect.

0 The essay does not properly deal with the prompt.

Maximum score3


Item trait 2Formal Requirement
Item trait descriptionFormal Requirement is scored by determining if the response meets the length requirement of 200-300 words.
If the test taker writes fewer than 120 or more than 380 words, the response will be scored zero on all traits.
Rating scale2 Length between 200 and 300 words

1 Length between 120 and 199 or between 301 and 380 words

0 Length less than 120 or more than 380 words. Essay contains no punctuation or consists only of bullet points or very short sentences.

Maximum score2


Item trait 3Development, Structure and Coherence
Item trait descriptionDevelopment, Structure and Coherence are scored according to the organization of the response demonstrating good development of ideas and a logic structure.
Rating scale2 The essay shows a good development and logical structure.

1 The essay incidentally is less well structured; some elements or paragraphs are poorly linked.

0 The essay lacks coherence, mainly consists of lists or loose elements.

Maximum score2


Item trait 4Grammar
Item trait descriptionGrammar is scored by examining if the response demonstrates correct grammatical usage.
Rating scale2 The essay shows consistent grammatical control of complex language. Errors are rare and difficult to spot.

1 The essay shows a relatively high degree of grammatical control, there are no mistakes which could lead to misunderstanding.

0 The essay contains mainly simple structures and/or several basic mistakes.

Maximum score2


Item trait 5General Linguistic Range
Item trait descriptionGeneral Linguistic Range is scored by determining if the language in the response accurately and precisely conveys the test taker’s ideas.
Rating scale2 The essay exhibits mastery of a wide range of language to formulate thoughts precisely, give emphasis, differentiate and eliminate ambiguity. There is no sign the test taker had to restrict what he/she wanted to say.

1 The essay shows a sufficient range of language to provide clear descriptions, to express viewpoints and to develop arguments.

0 The essay contains mainly basic language and lacks precision.

Maximum score2


Item trait 6Vocabulary Range
Item trait descriptionVocabulary Range is scored by determining if the response shows a good command of a broad lexical repertoire.
Rating scale2 The essay shows a good command of a broad lexical repertoire and a good command of idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms.

1 The essay shows a good range of vocabulary for matters connected to general academic topics. Evidently lexical shortcomings lead to circumlocution or some imprecision.

0 The essay contains mainly basic vocabulary insufficient to deal with the topic at the required level.

Maximum score2


Item trait 7Spelling
Item trait descriptionSpelling is scored by determining if the response shows correct spelling.
Rating scale2 Correct spelling, there may be one typing error.

1 Contains one spelling error and/or more than one typing error.

0 More than 1 spelling error and/or numerous typing errors.

Maximum score2


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