Improve your PTE Academic score

The starting point for achieving a better score on PTE Academic is understanding your current English proficiency level.

You can use your previous Test Taker Score Report to determine the enabling skills (grammar, oral fluency, pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary, and written discourse) and 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 the weaker areas and plan how long you’ll 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

    • Speaking & Writing
    • Listening
    • Reading
  • Length and timing: how long does each part of PTE Academic last? How much time is allowed for each question type?
  • Quantity: How many parts are included in the test? How many questions?
  • Layout: How is each question presented on screen?
  • Instructions: What task needs to be completed for each question type? How are responses recorded?
  • 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?

Understand the 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
Strategies
Read aloudPartial credit Reading and speakingOral fluency, Pronunciation, ContentMake an attempt at unknown words.
Repeat sentencePartial credit Listening and speakingOral fluency, Pronunciation, ContentDo not go back to correct yourself or hesitate.
Describe imagePartial credit Speaking

Oral fluency, Pronunciation, ContentDescribe the general content of the image, then summarize the most significant points, referring to details for support.
Re-tell lecturePartial credit Listening and speakingOral fluency, Pronunciation, ContentPay attention to the lecture and take notes.
Answer short question Correct/ incorrectListening and speaking Vocabulary Respond with a single word or short phrase.
Summarize written textPartial credit Reading and writing Grammar, Vocabulary, Content, FormCheck the content and length of the summary.
Write essayPartial credit Writing Grammar, Vocabulary, Spelling, Written discourse,
Content; development, structure and coherence; form, general linguistic range
Plan, draft, check and finalize
Reading
Question typeScoringCommunicative skillsEnabling skills and
other traits scored
Strategies
Multiple-choice, choose single answerCorrect/ incorrect Reading N/AWhile reading do not focus too much on unfamiliar words.
Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers Partial credit (for each correct response. Points deducted for incorrect options chosen) Reading N/ACheck the responses if you are not sure.
Re-order paragraphsPartial credit (for each correctly ordered, adjacent pair)Reading N/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) Reading N/AFill in the blanks one by one.
Reading and writing: Fill in the blanks Partial credit (for each correctly completed blank)Reading and writingN/AUse language clues as well as word knowledge to fill in the blanks.
Listening
Question typeScoringCommunicative skillsEnabling skills and
other traits scored
Strategies
Summarize spoken textPartial credit Listening and writing Grammar, 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) Listening N/AContinue listening until the end of the recording.
Fill in the blanksPartial credit (each correct word spelled correctly)Listening and writing N/ADo not stop to re-read what you have typed until the recording have finished.
Highlight correct summaryCorrect/ incorrect Listening and writing N/AConcentrate on what you hear and take notes.
Multiple-choice, choose single answerCorrect/ incorrectListening N/AContinue listening until the end of the recording.
Select missing wordCorrect/ incorrectListening N/AFocus on the general content of the recording.
Highlight incorrect words Partial 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 dictation Partial 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.

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 all around the world ranging from intensive week-long courses, to courses that last for up to six months, to help you familiarize with the test and improve your English skills.

Please note, Pearson do not endorse or accredit any of the courses listed here.

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.

General test-taking tips

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.

Are you ready?

After taking the proper preparation and practice it is time to book your next test!

You can take PTE Academic in any of our 200 + test centers located in over 50 countries around the world.

Book Now

Preparation Path

Tackle part one of the test.

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Tackle part two of the test.

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Tackle part three of the test.

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Learn how to approach the test.

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Are you ready for the test?

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Get organized for test day.

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For the ultimate preparation!