PTE Preparation Tips

When non-native English speakers aspire to enter a college or university in the US, UK, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, they often choose to take the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic since it is accepted at some of the best universities including Ivy League institutions.

The fact is that if you want to thrive at a university in an English-speaking country, you need to be able to speak English at an extremely high level. Professors rarely sympathize with students who struggle with English, the rationale being that if they were worthy enough to get admitted in the first place, they will be judged in the same way as those who speak English as a native language.

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This test of English proficiency can be a challenge, but if you approach it the right way, there is no reason why you cannot succeed. The first thing you should do is download test preparation materials from the Pearson website. You can also purchase study guides as well.

It is also important to understand what PTE Academic entails so that you know how to prepare for it appropriately. In particular, you should know the format, how long each section takes, and ways to handle each of the 20 different types of tasks.

The exam is online-based and takes around 3 hours to complete. It is comprised of three sections: speaking and writing (as one section), listening and reading. There are 20 different ways in which you will be tested, among them essay writing, fill-in-the-blank, multiple choice.

PTE Test Structure



PART 1: SPEAKING & WRITING (77 – 93 minutes)

  • Introduce Yourself
  • Read aloud
  • Repeat sentence
  • Describe image
  • Restate lecture
  • Short answer question
  • One sentence
  • Paragraph
  • Essay (20mins)

PART 2: READING (32 – 41 minutes)

  • Multiple choice questions (x2)
  • Put paragraphs in proper order
  • Fill in the blanks (x2)
  • A ten minute break (optional)

PART 3: LISTENING (45 – 57 minutes)

  • Summarize spoken text
  • Multiple choice x2
  • Fill-the-blank-questions
  • Highlight the correct summary
  • Choose the missing word
  • Identify incorrect words
  • Write from dictation

Pte Academic Test Tips

For starters, look for ways to improve your weaknesses. If you struggle with writing essays, your best option is to develop your abilities by writing lots of essays! Practice writing as much as you can. Broadly speaking, you should also practice taking the exam multiple times. No only should you focus on the scores of these practice tests, you should also evaluate every question – whether you got it right or wrong – and determine how you can about your answer. Of course, it does you no good to practice the test if you are not doing it under the actual conditions that you”ll face on test day. This means timing it in the same way and not using materials to help you find the answers. If you do this enough, by the time you take the actual test it will feel like just another practice exam, which means there will be less pressure. 

Useful PTE Preparation Tips for the Test Day

General Tips

  • Arrive with plenty of time to spare. If you find yourself running into the test center, you will feel flustered and this is bound to affect your performance.
  • Write in complete sentences, use proper punctuation and capital letters. You will lose points if your writing does not look proper and academic.
  • Use variety in your vocabulary. Writing the same words over and over again will make your responses appear robotic.
  • If you have to guess at an answer, do not change it unless you are absolutely certain that your correction is right. Research has found that the first guess is almost always the correct one.

PTE preparation tips

PTE Preparation Tips for Writing Sections

Do not go over or under the word limits. Your answer when you summarize the written text should be one paragraph of 50-75 words and the essay should be between 200-300 words.

PTE Preparation Tips Reading Sections

  1. Again, time management is essential. You have 32 – 41 minutes to complete this section, so pace yourself accordingly.
  2. Read the multiple-choice questions carefully and deliberately. Yes, the answer is right in front of you, but if you misinterpret the question, you will be more likely to choose the wrong one!

PTE Preparation Tips for Listening Sections

  • If you choose to use the erasable note board booklet, be smart about it. Only use it if time permits you to transfer your answers onto the screen for certain tasks. Otherwise, just type your notes directly onto the screen.
  • Have we mentioned the importance of time management? If you find yourself struggling, move on to other questions that you can answer. The last thing you would want to do is leave easy questions blank as a result of spending too much time on the difficult ones. Note that the listening section is the longest of the test.

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Final Exam Tips

While the PTE Academic test was not designed to be easy, if you prepare for it the right way, there is no reason why you cannot succeed! Follow these suggestions:

  1. Do not allow yourself to get distracted: Always stay on task and do not let your thoughts stray too far. This applies whether you are taking practice exams or are sitting for the real deal.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the format and structure: For starters, be aware that you will be tested on listening, reading, speaking and writing. When getting ready for the test, a lot of test-takers are surprised to discover that it is completely computer-based. Your performance will be analyzed by a machine, not by a human. As a result, make sure to speak clearly.
  3. Listen carefully: As you are listening to the audio, be careful and deliberate. You want to be able to catch all of the words. An effective way to prep for this is to listen to a lot of audio and write down what you”ve heard. This will make it far easier when you have to take the actual test.
  4. Write only what is necessary: Do not use fillers or include irrelevant information. The purpose is to be concise and only write down the key points.
  5. Express yourself articulately: Use clear language and keep it as academic-sounding as possible. Build up your skills by reading popular newspapers and journals. Focus on grammar as well. Watch news videos on YouTube to familiarize yourself with modern English.
  6. Vary your word choices: Your writing will appear bland if you choose the same words repeatedly. Instead, learn synonyms and use them when appropriate.

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