A starting point to know how much you need to prepare for PTE Academic is to understand your current English proficiency level compared to the score goal you need to achieve.

If you have taken another English test recently and need to compare your performance on those tests with PTE Academic, we have an Understand Your Scores page which will give you an estimate of how your score would map from those tests to PTE Academic.

Alternatively, Pearson produce Scored Practice Tests for PTE Academic which will give you an indication of how ready you are for taking PTE Academic.

You can use your Scored Practice Test Score Report to determine the communicative skills (listening, reading, speaking and writing) that require further study to improve your English language ability.

Remember that your overall score is based on your performance on all test questions, so focus on your weaker communicative skills and plan how long you will need to study to increase your skills up to the desired level.

Know the test format

Make sure you’re familiar with how PTE Academic is structured. Understanding the test format and types of questions is crucial to obtaining a better result.

To improve your overall score it is important to:

Familiarize yourself with the test format

The test concists of: Speaking & Writing, Listening and Reading.

Understand Quantity

How many parts are included in the test? How many questions?

Understand Instructions

What task needs to be completed for each question type? How are responses recorded?

Length and timing

How long does each part of PTE Academic last? How much time is allowed for each question type?


How is each question presented on screen?

And question types

How are different question types presented on the screen? What tasks need to be completed? What skills are assessed? How are responses scored?

Part 1

Speaking and Writing

77 – 93 minutes
Part 2


32 – 40 minutes
Part 3


45 – 57 minutes

Understand how the test is scored

All questions in PTE Academic are 100% machine scored. Scores for some questions are based on correctness alone, while others are based on correctness, formal aspects and the quality of the response.

  • Formal aspects refer to the form of the response: for example, whether it is over or under the word limit for a particular question type.
  • The quality of the response is represented in the enabling skills: for example, in the question type Re-tell lecture, the response is scored on skills such as oral fluency and pronunciation.

Note: The enabling skills are used to rate performance in the productive skills of speaking and writing. Scores for enabling skills are based on performance on only those questions that assess these skills specifically. Questions testing communicative skills also test specific subskills. For integrated skills questions (that is, those assessing reading and speaking, listening and speaking, reading and writing, listening and writing, or listening and reading) the question score contributes to the score for the communicative skills that the question assesses.

The following tables give an overview of how each of the question types of the test are scored based on both the communicative skills and enabling skills for each of the three parts of the test.

Speaking and writing
Question typeScoringCommunicative skillsEnabling skills and
other traits scored
Read aloudPartial creditReading and speakingOral fluency, Pronunciation, ContentMake an attempt at unknown words.
Repeat sentencePartial creditListening and speakingOral fluency, Pronunciation, ContentDo not go back to correct yourself or hesitate.
Describe imagePartial creditSpeaking


Oral fluency, Pronunciation, ContentDescribe the general content of the image, then summarize the most significant points, referring to details for support.
Re-tell lecturePartial creditListening and speakingOral fluency, Pronunciation, ContentPay attention to the lecture and take notes.
Answer short questionCorrect/ incorrectListening and speakingVocabularyRespond with a single word or short phrase.
Summarize written textPartial creditReading and writingGrammar, Vocabulary, Content, FormCheck the content and length of the summary.
Write essayPartial creditWritingGrammar, Vocabulary, Spelling, Written discourse,
Content; development, structure and coherence; form, general linguistic range
Plan, draft, check and finalize
Question typeScoringCommunicative skillsEnabling skills and
other traits scored
Multiple-choice, choose single answerCorrect/ incorrectReadingN/AWhile reading do not focus too much on unfamiliar words.
Multiple-choice, choose multiple answersPartial credit (for each correct response. Points deducted for incorrect options chosen)ReadingN/ACheck the responses if you are not sure.
Re-order paragraphsPartial credit (for each correctly ordered, adjacent pair)ReadingN/AIt is better to attempt an item than to leave any text boxes unordered.
Reading: Fill in the blanksPartial credit (for each correctly completed blank)ReadingN/AFill in the blanks one by one.
Reading and writing: Fill in the blanksPartial credit (for each correctly completed blank)Reading and writingN/AUse language clues as well as word knowledge to fill in the blanks.
Question typeScoringCommunicative skillsEnabling skills and
other traits scored
Summarize spoken textPartial creditListening and writingGrammar, vocabulary, Spelling, Content, FormSummarize the lecture in your own words.
Multiple–choice, choose multiple answersPartial credit (for each correct response. Points deducted for incorrect options chosen)ListeningN/AContinue listening until the end of the recording.
Fill in the blanksPartial credit (each correct word spelled correctly)Listening and writingN/ADo not stop to re-read what you have typed until the recording have finished.
Highlight correct summaryCorrect/ incorrectListening and writingN/AConcentrate on what you hear and take notes.
Multiple-choice, choose single answerCorrect/ incorrectListeningN/AContinue listening until the end of the recording.
Select missing wordCorrect/ incorrectListeningN/AFocus on the general content of the recording.
Highlight incorrect wordsPartial credit (for each word. Points deducted for incorrect options chosen)Listening and readingN/AMove the cursor along the text while listening and be ready to click on any word that doesn’t match.
Write from dictationPartial credit (for each word spelled correctly)Listening and writingN/AWrite the sentence immediately and after finishing correct any mistakes.

Review our full Score Report Guide

Choose quality preparation materials

Utilize the growing range of free and paid preparation materials available from PTE Academic.

Work on your English test skills

Read the test preparation articles on this website where we provide a range of tips:

  • Review your test performance.
  • Understand the core English skills.
  • Learn how to improve your English speaking, listening, writing and reading skills.

Consider taking an English course

We all learn in different ways and perhaps using a coursebook by yourself might not be the most effective way of reaching your full potential. There are preparation courses offered around the world, both face-to-face and online, to help you familiarize with the test and improve your English skills. Pearson offer free associated online courses and have links to a range of providers.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Make the most of those spare minutes to practice your skills.

  • Complete 5 or 10 minute practice activities each day to keep building your knowledge.
  • Practice speaking English at your home, school or workplace.
  • Join English-speaking groups, they offer the opportunity to practice both speaking and listening skills.
  • Take every opportunity to write in English, for example; sending emails to friends or contacts and keeping a journal.
  • Read widely from sources like newspapers, magazines, academic journals and books.
  • Listen to English speaking media, like television (use English subtitles if available) and radio broadcasts.
  • Observe native speakers and listen to the language used in different contexts.

Tips for Test Day

Make the most of those spare minutes to practice your skills.

  • Make sure you have the correct documentation and ID to take with you to the test center as listed here.
  • Allow yourself plenty of time to reach the test center.
  • Read all test instructions carefully.
  • Use correct punctuation for writing tasks: full stops, capital letters, commas, etc.
  • Answer the question. If the question asks you to write or speak about sport, write or speak about ‘sport’ NOT ‘science’.
  • Keep strictly within the word limit given for writing tasks.
  • Respond quickly and keep speaking during speaking tasks. The microphone will close after 3 seconds of silence and stop recording.
  • Do not spend too much time on a single question.
  • Spend any available time checking your answers.