Pearson Test of English (PTE) is a completely computer-based test that requires one to attempt the test in a Pearson-authorised test centre. You will be given a computer and a pair of headphones to listen to, read and respond to questions.
PTE Academic analyses and assesses real-life, academic English; so you will hear excerpts from lectures and view graphs and charts in your test. You will hear a range of accents in the test, from British and American to non-native speakers, hence you will be exposed to the type of accents you are likely to encounter in everyday life.
During the three-hour test session, there are three main parts to the test: Speaking and Writing (integrated), Listening and Reading. An optional 10-minute break between the reading and listening parts can be availed.
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 speak English in an academic environment.
The writing section will require you to write responses in academic English using correct grammar, varied sentence structures and spellings.
- Personal introduction
The personal introduction is an opportunity for you to give your selected institutions some information about yourself. You will get 25 seconds to read the prompt and prepare your response, and then 30 seconds to record your response to the questions. 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.
- Read aloud
You need to read a written text aloud. There will be a recording status box displayed on the screen with a countdown until the microphone opens. You have 40 seconds to prepare. You get maximum 40 seconds to read and record the text. You hear a short tone. After the tone, start speaking immediately. Do not start speaking before the microphone opens as your voice will not be recorded. You are expected to speak clearly and naturally. 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, and your response will be submitted.
- Repeat sentence
You need to repeat the sentence you hear. The audio begins to plays automatically. After 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. The sentence is generally 10-15 words long.
You should speak complete sentence clearly. 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.
- Describe image
You need to describe an image. You are shown 05-07 images of different types one after the other. You get 25 seconds to study the image and prepare your response. The images vary from maps, pie graphs, bar graphs, Venn diagrams, processes, flowcharts, random scenes. You hear a short tone. After the tone, start speaking immediately. You will be able to see the image also while recording your response. Do not start speaking before the microphone opens as your voice will not be recorded.
You need to speak on the essential points of the image within 40 seconds. Finish speaking before the progress bar reaches the end. The word “Recording“ changes to “Completed“.
You are only able to record your response once.
- Re-tell lecture
You need to re-tell what you heard. The audio begins to play automatically. You may also see an image related to the audio. The audio is about 60-90 seconds long. You have 10 seconds to prepare after the audio finishes. A countdown displays on the recording status box until the microphone opens. You hear a short tone. After the tone, start speaking immediately. Do not speak before the microphone opens otherwise your voice will not be recorded. You get 40 seconds to record the lecture.
Finish speaking before the progress bar reaches the end. Once, finished, the word “Recording“ changes to “Completed“. You can only able to record your response once. While the audio is playing, you can take notes on the pad/ note-board provided.
- Answer short question
You need to reply to the question in one or a few words. The audio begins to play automatically. You may also get an image to be answered. The questions generally refer to some vocabulary item of English language. And at times, one may get a question that seem to be of general knowledge but actually this will be language-related question only. Once 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 in one or a few words. You should speak clearly. 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.
- Summarize written text
o You need to write a summary of the text in one sentence. You see a passage of around 200-250 words length. You get 10 minutes to write your summary. Make sure you include the main points of the reading passage in a full, single sentence using not more than 75 words. Therefore, it is very important to be very highly conscious of punctuation marks like Full Stop ( . ), Exclamation ( ! ) and Question Mark ( ? ) since these three are used to end a sentence. The Word Count at the bottom of the screen shows the number of words you write. There are also cut, copy and paste buttons which you may use to construct your summary better. But your response is judged on the quality of your paraphrasing/summarising the points not just cut-copy-paste response
o You need to write a 200-300 word argumentative essay in response to a prompt. You have 20 minutes to write your essay. Check the Word Count at the bottom of the screen to count the number of words you write. Make sure you write a minimum of 200 words, but no more than 300 words. Buttons for general functions such as cut, copy and paste are given which may help in structuring the essay.
Part 2 includes testing your reading skills. This single- timed section contains 15-20 independent and integrated skills items, that depend on the combination of items in a given test. Different response formats are designed to test your ability to read and write information as asked for in specific question-types provided. Being an integrated skill test, one item type in this part of the test assesses writing skills also.
- Multiple choice, choose single answer
You need to read the passage and answer the multiple-choice question. You need to read a passage around 150 words long. There will be one question on the passage with multiple options (generally four) but only one is correct. Use the left button of your mouse to select an option and click on it. If you wish to change your answer, click on the option again to deselect it or click on a different option. The option you select is highlighted in yellow.
- Multiple choice, choose multiple answers
You need to read the passage and answer the multiple-choice question. There is more than one correct response. You will need to read a passage around 200 words long. There will be a question on the passage with multiple options given. You need to select all the correct options which are more than one. You will have the option to change your options also. The options you select are highlighted in yellow.
- Re-order paragraphs
You need to restore the original order of the text by selecting text boxes and dragging them across the screen. You will see 05-06 short paragraphs (generally a sentence) placed in random order. You are expected to re-arrange those paragraphs in the correct order by dragging the boxes to the right. You will have the option to change the sequence as many times you want.
- Reading: Fill in the blanks
You need to drag and drop words across the screen to correctly fill in the gaps in the text. There is a passage of around 50-70 words with some words missing. Use the list of words in the blue box to fill the gaps in the text. There are more words than gaps, so you will not use all the words provided. Simply drag the word to the blank. You can change your words as many times you want.
- Reading & writing: Fill in the blanks
You need to select the most appropriate words from a drop-down list to restore the text. There is a passage of around 70-100 words with blanks. The correct option can be chosen by clicking on the option from the drop-down box which will have four options for the particular question. There is no limitation to the number of times any answer is changed.
Part 3 consists of questions that are based on audio clips which will begin to play automatically. You hear each audio clip only once, so listen carefully. You are allowed to take notes. This section has around 17-20 questions of various types.
- Summarize spoken text
You hear an audio recording and need to write a 50-70 words summary on what you heard. You have 10 minutes to write your summary. The audio begins to play automatically. The audio recording will only be played once. The duration of the audio varies from 60 to 90 seconds. The summary has to be written in maximum 70 words and it shall include all the necessary components of the talk.
- Multiple choice, choose multiple answer
You need to listen to the recording and answer the multiple-choice question. There is more than one correct response. The audio of 60-90 seconds duration begins to play automatically. You can listen to the audio recording only once. The audio is played after the question with its multiple options is displayed. Select the correct options which are more than one. You can change your options as many times you wish to. The options you select are highlighted in yellow.
- Fill in the blanks
You are presented with a transcript of the audio recording. However, some words are missing. Restore the transcript by typing in the missing words. A passage is displayed on the screen with some blanks. The audio plays automatically. You will hear the words to be filled in in the audio. The audio recording plays only once, so listen carefully. You need to type in the missing word. Ideally, you should first write the words on the notepad, then type the words in the blanks to avoid any error of judgement.
- Highlight correct summary
You need to select the summary that best matches the recording. On the screen, you see four options that are the summaries of the audio even before the audio begins to play automatically. The audio recording will be played only once. There are generally four options but only one is correct. The option you select is highlighted in yellow.
- Multiple choice, choose single answer
You need to listen to the recording and answer the multiple-choice question. You see a question with multiple options (generally four) even before the audio begins to play automatically. The audio recording will be played only once. You need to select the one correct option for the answer. The option you select is highlighted in yellow.
- Select missing word
Here, the last word or group of words in the recording has been replaced by a beep. Select the most appropriate option to complete the recording. You see 03-04 options − one word or a group of words - on the screen even before the audio of around 30-40 seconds duration begins to play automatically. The audio recording will not be played more than once. You need to select the correct option. The options are the concluding part of the spoken sentence. The option you select is highlighted in yellow.
- Highlight incorrect words
You are presented with a transcript of the audio recording. However, the transcript contains some errors. While listening and reading, select the words in the text that are different from what the speaker says. The text appears on the screen even before the audio (30-50 seconds long) begins to plays automatically. You need to click on the words that are spoken incorrect. The audio recording will not be played more than once. The option you select is highlighted in yellow.
- Write from dictation
You hear a short sentence. You type the sentence into the response box given at the bottom of the screen immediately after you hear it. The sentence is generally of 10-15 words long. The audio begins to play automatically. The audio recording will not be played more than once.
All items in PTE Academic are machine - scored using PTE Academic“s automated scoring system. There are two skills - Enabling Skills and Communication Skills - that are assessed and scored depending upon specific question types. For example, in Speaking, even listening skill is assessed while in Reading, the writing skill is also evaluated. In Listening, writing is also evaluated. There are questions where grammar, content, spellings, fluency, pronunciation, form (word limit), cohesion, sentence structure are tested and awarded scores.
Correct or Incorrect : A score of 1 score point will be given for correct responses and no score points are awarded for incorrect responses.
Partial Credit : There are item types where partial credit is given considering the requirement of that particular type. If responses to these items are correct, the maximum score points available for each item type will be awarded, but if these are partly correct, some score points will be given, that will be less than the maximum available for the item type. If responses are incorrect, no score points will be awarded.
The PTE scales are as follows :
|Speaking and Writing (77–93 minutes)|
|Item type||Time allowed||Number of items||Scoring||Communicative skills, enabling skills and other traits scored|
|Read aloud||30-35 minutes||6-7||Partial credit||Reading and speaking Oral fluency, pronunciation Content|
|Repeat sentence||10-12||Partial credit||Listening and speaking Oral fluency, pronunciation Content|
|Describe image||6-7||Partial credit||Speaking Oral fluency, pronunciation Content|
|Re-tell lecture||3-4||Partial credit||Listening and speaking Oral fluency, pronunciation Content|
|Answer short question||10-12||Correct/incorrect||Listening and speaking Vocabulary|
|Summarize written text||20-30 minutes||2-3||Partial credit||Reading and writing Grammar, vocabulary Content, form|
|Write essay||20-40 minutes||1-2||Partial credit||Writing Grammar, vocabulary, spelling, written discourse Content; development, structure and coherence form, general linguistic range|
|Reading (32–41 minutes)|
|Reading and writing: Fill in the blanks||32-41 minutes||5-6||Partial credit (for each correctly completed blank)||Reading and writing|
|Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers||2-3||Partial credit (for each correct response. Points deducted for incorrect options chosen)||Reading|
|Re-order paragraphs||2-3||Partial credit (for each correctly ordered, adjacent pair)||Reading|
|Reading: Fill in the blanks||4-5||Partial credit (for each correctly completed blank)||Reading|
|Multiple-choice, choose single answer||2-3||Correct/incorrect||Reading|
|Listening (45–57 minutes)|
|Summarize spoken text||20-30 minutes||2-3||Partial credit||Listening and writing Grammar, vocabulary, spelling Content, form|
|Multiple–choice, choose multiple answers||23-28 minutes||2-3||Partial credit (for each correct response. Points deducted for incorrect options chosen)||Listening|
|Fill in the blanks||2-3||Partial credit (each correct word spelled correctly)||Listening and writing|
|Highlight correct summary||2-3||Correct / incorrect||Listening and reading|
|Multiple-choice, choose single answer||2-3||Correct / incorrect||Listening|
|Select missing word||2-3||Correct / incorrect||Listening|
|Highlight incorrect words||2-3||Partial credit (for each word. Points deducted for incorrect options chosen)||Listening and reading|
|Write from dictation||3-4||Partial credit (for each word spelled correctly)||Listening and writing|
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