PTE ACADEMIC
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What to expect on the test day

What to expect

In part 1 you will be tested on your speaking and writing skills. The time given to this section is 77-93 minutes.

To assess speaking, your skills will be tested by your ability to produce spoken English in an academic environment.

The writing section will require you to write responses in academic English using correct grammar and spelling.

Understand each section and question in-depth

Personal Introduction

The personal introduction is an opportunity for you to give your selected institutions some information about yourself. You will have 25 seconds to read the prompt and prepare your response, and then 30 seconds to record your response. This item is not scored, but will be sent together with your score report to the institutions selected by you. You are only able to record your answer once.

For this item type you need to read a written text aloud.

The recording status box displays a countdown until the microphone opens. You have 30-40 seconds to prepare, depending on the length of the passage. You hear a short tone. After the tone, start speaking immediately. Do not start speaking before the microphone opens because your voice will not be recorded.

You should speak clearly. There is no need to rush.

Finish speaking before the progress bar reaches the end. The word “Recording” changes to “Completed”.

You are only able to record your response once.

TIP: If you remain silent for longer than 3 seconds, the recording will stop.

Test tips

Use punctuation to help you decide where to pause when you read
You have 30-40 seconds to look at the text before the microphone opens, so use this time to break the text up into meaningful chunks, using the punctuation as a guide. This will show you the places where you can make a tiny pause and alter your intonation – going up when you begin reading a chunk and falling a little when you end a chunk.

Using appropriate pausing helps you to read more fluently and give the full meaning of the text. This will improve your score. Look at where the pauses / are indicated in the example:

Photography’s gaze widened during the early years of the twentieth century / and, / as the snapshot camera became increasingly popular, / the making of photographs became increasingly available / to a wide cross-section of the public. / The British people grew accustomed to, / and were hungry for, / the photographic image.
Stress the words that carry important information
When you read the text, stress the words that help to convey meaning, by reading them in a slightly louder voice and adding emphasis to key syllables, e.g., development. Also use rising and falling intonation patterns to show how the ideas are linked or are coming to an end. Look at the patterns in this text; the stressed words are underlined, and the rising and falling intonation is marked by up and down arrows:

The development of easy-to-use statistical software has changed the way statistics is being taught and learned . Students can make transformations of variables , create graphs of distributions of variables , and select among statistical analyses all at the click of a button . However , even with these advancements , students sometimes find statistics to be an arduous task .
How this question is scored
Your score on Read Aloud is based on three factors:

Content: Does your response include all the words in the reading text and only these words?

Content is scored by counting the number of correct words in your response. Replacements insertions and omissions of words will negatively affect your score.

Oral fluency: Does your response demonstrate a smooth, effortless and natural rate of speech?

Oral fluency is scored by determining if your rhythm, phrasing and stress are smooth. The best responses are spoken at a constant and natural rate of speech with appropriate phrasing. Hesitations, repetitions and false starts will negatively affect your score.

Pronunciation: Does your response demonstrate your ability to produce speech sounds in a similar way to most regular speakers of the language?

Pronunciation is scored by determining if your speech is easily understandable to most regular speakers of the language. The best responses contain vowels and consonants pronounced in a native-like way, and stress words and phrases correctly. Responses should also be immediately understandable to a regular speaker of the language.

PTE Academic recognizes regional and national varieties of English pronunciation to the degree that they are understandable to most regular speakers of the language.

Note

  • This item type affects the scoring of the following: reading, speaking, oral fluency and pronunciation.
  • Your listening and writing skills are not tested by this item type.
  • For more information download the Score Guide.

For this item type you need to repeat the sentence you hear.

The audio begins to plays automatically. When the audio finishes, the microphone opens and the recording status box shows “Recording”. Speak into the microphone immediately (there is no short tone) and repeat exactly what you heard.

You should speak clearly. There is no need to rush.

Finish speaking before the progress bar reaches the end. The word “Recording” changes to “Completed”.

You are not able to replay the audio. You are only able to record your response once.

Test tips

Listen to the phrasing of the sentence as it is read aloud
You will be scored on the correct word sequences that you produce for this item type, so the more phrases you understand, the better your reproduction of the sentence will be. For example, there are three phrases in this sentence, separated by /, and each one carries a separate message that has its own meaning:

Next week’s tutorial / on Tuesday / has been cancelled.

If you listen for meaningful phrases in the sentence, you will have a better chance of repeating what you hear accurately.

Copy the stress and intonation patterns of the sentence you hear
Make a mental note of the way the speaker uses stress and intonation on the recording. These patterns help to convey the meaning. Speak calmly and clearly, copying this stress and intonation. For example, look at the pattern in the example: the stressed words or syllables are underlined, and the falling intonation is marked by down arrows:

I’m going to attend the briefing for students .
How this question is scored
Your score on Repeat Sentence is based on three factors:

Content: Does your response include all the words in the sentence, and only these words?

Content is scored by counting the number of correct word sequences in your response. Having almost nothing from the prompt in your response will negatively affect your score.

Oral fluency: Does your response demonstrate a smooth, effortless and natural rate of Speech?

Oral fluency is scored by determining if your rhythm, phrasing and stress are smooth. The best responses are spoken at a constant and natural rate of speech with appropriate phrasing. Hesitations, repetitions and false starts will negatively affect your score.

Pronunciation: Does your response demonstrate your ability to produce speech sounds in a similar way to most regular speakers of the language?

Pronunciation is scored by determining if your speech is easily understandable to most regular speakers of the language. The best responses contain vowels and consonants pronounced in a native-like way, as well as words and phrases stressed correctly. Responses should also be immediately understandable to a regular speaker of the language.

PTE Academic recognizes regional and national varieties of English pronunciation to the degree that they are understandable to most regular speakers of the language.

Note

  • Partial credit scoring applies to Repeat Sentence. No credit is given for no response or an irrelevant response. This question type affects the scoring of the following: listening, speaking, oral fluency and pronunciation.
  • Your writing skills are not tested by this question type, and your reading skills are only used to read the instructions.
  • For more information download the Score Guide.

For this item type you need to describe an image.

The recording status box displays a countdown until the microphone opens. You have 25 seconds to study the image and prepare your response. You hear a short tone. After the tone, start speaking immediately. Do not start speaking before the microphone opens because your voice will not be recorded.

You should speak clearly. There is no need to rush.

Finish speaking before the progress bar reaches the end. The word “Recording” changes to “Completed’’.

You are only able to record your response once.

Test tips

Focus on the main information in the image
When you look at the image ask yourself ‘‘What is the main idea being shown by the image?’’ and ‘‘What are the details relating to the main ideas?’’. Use your erasable noteboard booklet to note down key ideas and phrases that relate to the main information and the explanatory details. These can be put into sentences when you start to speak:

Organize your description of the image
If you organize what you say, you will get a better score. This is because a well-organized answer is more likely to cover the main information as well as the additional details, and also talk about implications or conclusions based on the information. Look at how this sample description is organized:

How this question is scored
Your score on Describe Image is based on three factors:

Content: Does your response accurately and thoroughly describe the image?

Content is scored by determining if all aspects and elements of the image have been addressed in your response. Your description of relationships, possible developments and conclusions or implications based on details from the image is also scored. The best responses deal with all parts of the image, contain logical and specific information and include possible developments, conclusions or implications. Mentioning just a few disjointed ideas will negatively affect your score.

Oral fluency: Does your response demonstrate a smooth, effortless and natural rate of speech?
Oral fluency is scored by determining if your rhythm, phrasing and stress are smooth. The best responses are spoken at a constant and natural rate of speech with appropriate phrasing. Hesitations, repetitions and false starts will negatively affect your score.

Pronunciation: Does your response demonstrate your ability to produce speech sounds in a similar way to most regular speakers of the language?

Pronunciation is scored by determining if your speech is easily understandable to most regular speakers of the language. The best responses contain vowels and consonants pronounced in a native-like way, and stress words and phrases correctly. Responses should also be immediately understandable to a regular speaker of the language.

PTE Academic recognizes regional and national varieties of English pronunciation to the degree that they are understandable to most regular speakers of the language.

Note

  • Partial credit scoring applies to Describe Image. No credit is given for no response or an irrelevant response. This question type affects the scoring of the following: speaking, oral fluency and pronunciation.
  • Your listening and writing skills are not tested by this question type, and your reading skills are only used to read the instructions.
  • For more information download the Score Guide.

For this item type you need to re-tell what you heard.

The audio begins to play automatically. You may also see an image related to the audio. After the audio finishes, you have 10 seconds to prepare.

The recording status box displays a countdown until the microphone opens. You hear a short tone. After the tone, start speaking immediately. Do not start speaking before the microphone opens because your voice will not be recorded.

You should speak clearly. There is no need to rush.

Finish speaking before the progress bar reaches the end. The word “Recording” changes to “Completed’’.

You are only able to record your response once.

Note: While the audio is playing, you can take notes on the erasable noteboard provided.

 

Test tips

Make good use of the image to predict the topic of the lecture
You have 3 seconds before you listen to the recording to quickly look at the image on the screen. Use this time to think about the vocabulary you might hear. This will give you an idea of the topic of the lecture and help you predict what you will hear when
the recording begins:

Make good use of the 40 seconds speaking time
You only have 40 seconds to speak and make sure that you include all the main points of the lecture. If you repeat ideas, correct yourself or hesitate, you will use up valuable time and lose score points. So keep talking and ignore any mistakes that you make.

How this question is scored
Your response for Re-tell Lecture is judged based on our ability to give a presentation on information from a lecture on an academic subject. Your score is based on three factors:

Content: Does your response accurately and thoroughly retell the information in the lecture?

Content is scored by determining how accurately and thoroughly you convey the situation, characters, aspects, actions and developments presented in the lecture. Your description of relationships, possible developments and conclusions or implications is also scored. The best responses retell all the main points of the lecture and include possible developments, conclusions or implications. Mentioning a few disjointed ideas will negatively affect your score.

Oral fluency: Does your response demonstrate a smooth, effortless and natural rate of speech?
Oral fluency is scored by determining if your rhythm, phrasing and stress are smooth. The best responses are spoken at a constant and natural rate of speech with appropriate phrasing. Hesitations, repetitions and false starts will negatively affect your score.

Pronunciation: Does your response demonstrate your ability to produce speech sounds in a similar way to most regular speakers of the language?

Pronunciation is scored by determining if your speech is easily understandable to most regular speakers of the language. The best responses contain vowels and consonants pronounced in a native-like way, and stress words and phrases correctly. Responses should also be immediately understandable to a regular speaker of the language.

PTE Academic recognizes regional and national varieties of English pronunciation to the degree that they are understandable to most regular speakers of the language.

Note

  • Partial credit scoring applies to Re-tell Lecture. No credit is given for no response or an irrelevant response.
  • This question type affects the scoring of the following: listening, speaking, oral fluency and pronunciation.
  • Your writing skills are not tested by this question type, and your reading skills are only used to read the instructions.
  • For more information download the Score Guide.

For this item type you need to reply to the question in one or a few words.

The audio begins to play automatically. You may also see an image.

When the audio finishes, the microphone opens and the recording status box shows “Recording”. Speak into the microphone immediately (there is no short tone) and answer the question with one or a few words.

You should speak clearly. There is no need to rush.

Finish speaking before the progress bar reaches the end. The word “Recording” changes to “Completed”.

You are not able to replay the audio. You are only able to record your response once.

 

Test tips

Do not pause for too long when you answer the question
You hear a short question and then the recording status box will change to recording.

Start your answer as soon as this happens. If you wait for more than 3 seconds, recording will stop and the item status will change to ‘completed’, which means that you have lost your chance to give your answer.

When you have started talking, don’t stop for more than a second or two until you have finished. ,strong>If you stop for 3 seconds whilst speaking, the recording status will change to ‘completed’ even if you haven’t finished, and you won’t be able to continue answering.

If the status changes to ‘completed’, you have to click ‘Next’ to move on to the next item. This also applies to speaking item types Read aloud, Repeat sentence, Describe image and Re-tell lecture.

Do not try to give a long answer
The instructions for this item type tell you how to answer the question:

There is no point in saying more than you need to say. Marks are awarded for a short, accurate answer. There are no extra marks for additional words.

For example, for this question: ‘What type of periodical is published on a daily basis?’, both these answers would score the same marks:

How this question is scored
Your response for Answer Short Question is judged on our ability to understand a question presented in a recording and provide a brief and accurate response. Your response is scored as either correct or incorrect based on the appropriacy of the words in your response. No credit is given for no response or an incorrect response.

Note

  • This question type affects the scoring of the following: listening, speaking and vocabulary.
  • Your writing skills are not tested by this question type, and your reading skills are only used to read the instructions.
  • For more information download the Score Guide.

For this item type you need to write a summary of the text in one sentence.

You have 10 minutes to write your summary. Make sure to include the main points of the reading passage in a full, single sentence of no more than 75 words.

The Word Count at the bottom of the screen counts the number of words you write. There are also cut, copy and paste buttons which you may use while constructing your summary.

Cut: Select text from your answer that you wish to remove and left-click “Cut”.

Copy: Select text from your answer that you wish to copy and left-click “Copy”.

Paste: Place the cursor where you wish to paste the cut/copied text and left-click “Paste”.

 

Test tips

Make sure your response is in the correct form
When you have written your response, check to make sure that it is only one sentence, with a capital letter at the beginning and only one full stop at the end.

Your response must be between 5 and 75 words so check the word count using the ‘Total Word Count’ counter below the response box. If you write fewer than five words or more than 75 words, your response will not be scored:

Practice using compound and complex sentences
Your response must be expressed within one sentence, so you will need to use a complex or compound sentence to be able to summarize the main point of the passage and also briefly mention the supporting detail. For example, look at the clause structures used in these summaries to link supporting ideas to the main point:

How this question is scored
Content: Does your response summarize the main points in the passage?

Content is scored by determining if all key points of the passage have been addressed without misrepresenting the purpose or topic. If your summary misinterprets the topic or the purpose of the passage, you will not receive any score points for your summary on any of the four factors. Your summary will be scored zero. The best responses clearly summarize the main idea and condense essential supporting points. They focus on the topic, including only key information and essential supporting points.

Form: Does your response meet the requirements of a one-sentence summary? If your summary contains fewer than five words or more than 75 words, you will not receive any score points for your summary on any of the four factors. Your summary will be scored zero.

Grammar: Does your response demonstrate correct grammatical usage?

Grammar is scored by determining if the basic structure of the sentence is correct. The best responses usually consist of a main clause and subordinate clause.

Vocabulary: Does your response demonstrate correct and appropriate word choice and usage?

Vocabulary is scored according to its relevance to the passage and its appropriateness in an academic environment. The appropriate use of synonyms is also scored. The best responses use words from the passage appropriately, demonstrate an understanding of the context and use synonyms effectively to show variety in language use.

Note

  • Your response is scored as either correct or incorrect based on the appropriacy of the words in your response. No credit is given for no response or an incorrect response.
  • Your listening and speaking skills are not tested by this question type.
  • For more information download the Score Guide.

For this item type you need to write a 200-300 word argumentative essay in response to a prompt.

You have 20 minutes to write your essay.

The Word Count at the bottom of the screen counts the number of words you write. Make sure to write a minimum of 200 words, but no more than 300 words.

There are also cut, copy and paste buttons which you may choose to use while constructing your response.

Cut: Select text from your answer that you wish to remove and left-click “Cut”.

Copy: Select text from your answer that you wish to copy and left-click “Copy”.

Paste: Place the cursor where you wish to paste the cut/copied text and left-click “Paste”.

 

Test tips

Start by analyzing the task
Before you write anything, note key words in the prompt. Find out the topic, what key points you should focus on to answer the question and any points of view to present and discuss:

Analyze the essay prompt so you know how to answer
Essay prompts can be written in a number of ways. For example, you may need to discuss whether you agree or disagree with a statement:

You may have to consider how different groups of people might feel about a particular situation:

How this question is scored
Your response on Write Essay is judged on our ability to write a persuasive or argumentative essay on a given topic. Your score is based on seven factors:

Content: Does your response address the topic?

Content is scored by determining if all aspects of the topic have been addressed in your response. The appropriateness of the details, examples and explanations used to support your point of view is also scored. If your essay does not address the topic, you will not receive any score points for your essay on any of the seven factors. Your essay will be scored zero. The best responses are on topic, contain logical and specific information and answer any questions asked. They also support any arguments with details, examples and/or explanations.

Development, structure and coherence: Does your response demonstrate good development of ideas and a logical structure?

Development, structure and coherence are scored according to the organization of your response. A well-developed response uses a logical organizational pattern, connects ideas and explains these connections. The best responses contain multiple paragraphs and have a clear introduction, body and conclusion that relate to the topic of the essay. Within paragraphs, ideas are clearly presented and supported with details, examples and/or explanations. Transitions between paragraphs are smooth.

Form: Does your response meet the length requirement of between 200 and 300 words?

Form is scored by counting the number of words in your response. You will receive full credit if your essay is between 200 and 300 words. Writing less than 200 words or more than 300 words will decrease your score. If your essay contains less than 120 words or more than 380 words, you will not receive any score points for your essay on any of the seven factors. Your essay will be scored zero.

General linguistic range: Does your response use language that precisely conveys your ideas?

General linguistic range is scored by determining if the language in your response accurately communicates your ideas. This includes your ability to provide clear descriptions, change emphasis, eliminate ambiguity, express subtleties in meaning, and use stylistic features to communicate meaning. You are more likely to receive full credit if you use complex sentence structures and vocabulary correctly, rather than consistently using simple sentence structures and vocabulary. This is because complex ideas are often expressed with complex sentence structures and vocabulary. The best responses use language that highlights key ideas, creatively expresses opinions and ensures clear communication.

Grammar usage and mechanics: Does your response demonstrate correct grammatical usage and consistent control of standard written English?

Grammar usage and mechanics are scored by examining sentence structure, punctuation and capitalization. The best responses contain high proportions of grammatically correct complex sentences that clearly communicate the intended meaning.

Vocabulary range: Does your response demonstrate command of a broad vocabulary range?

Vocabulary range is scored according to the variety of words in your response and their appropriateness in an academic environment. Synonyms, idiomatic expressions and academic terms are also assessed if appropriate. The best responses use precise academic terms and avoid repetition by using synonyms and idioms where appropriate.

Spelling: Does your response demonstrate correct and consistent use of a single spelling convention?

PTE Academic recognizes English spelling conventions from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. However, one spelling convention should be used consistently in a given response.

Note

  • Partial credit scoring applies to Write Essay. No credit is given for no response or an irrelevant response.
  • This question type affects the scoring of the following: writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary and written discourse.
  • Your listening and speaking skills are not tested by this question type, and your reading skills are only used to read the instructions and the prompt.
  • For more information download the Score Guide.

Learn more about how each part works or start your test journey

Part 2

Reading

32 – 40 minutes
Part 3

Listening

45 – 57 minutes
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