The PTE Academic assesses listening, reading, speaking, and writing all via computer in a single 3-hour test session. You will use a computer along with a headset to listen, read and respond to questions.
During the three-hour test session, there will be four main parts to the test: speaking, writing, listening, and reading. There are twenty different question formats, ranging from multiple choices to essay writing and interpreting information. Strategies to tackle each of these formats are covered in the upcoming sections.
PTE Academic assesses real-life, academic content, so you will hear excerpts from lectures and view graphs and charts. You will hear a range of accents in the test, from British and American to non-native speakers, so you will be exposed to the type of accents you will be encountering in everyday life.
An important thing to keep in mind is that the scoring and assessment is automated and done by a computer program. You are given an erasable notepad for taking notes during the exam. Below is how PTE classifies the exam and various question formats.
PART 1: SPEAKING & WRITING (77 – 93 minutes)
Answer short question
Summarize written text (one sentence)
Summarize written text (paragraph)
PART 2: READING (32 – 41 minutes)
Fill in the blanks
Reading writing fill in the blanks
Multiple choice single answers
A ten-minute break is optional
PART 3: LISTENING (45 – 57 minutes)
text multiple choice
Fill the blanks
Highlight the correct summary
Select missing word
Highlight incorrect words
Write from dictation
Note that you will get the speaking, writing, reading, and listening section in order. However, the order of the questions within each section can vary from test to test and could be different from the order above. For example, once the reading section begins you could get the ‘fill in the blank’ question type first instead of the ‘multiple choice question’ as shown above. This shouldn’t impact you in any way but is just something to be aware of so that it doesn’t surprise you in the exam
Overall exam strategy
The Exam is 3 hours long, and intense focus during the exam will help you avoid many mistakes.
It is time-bound, so the speed is a crucial factor as well. During the exam, there will be a timer displayed for each section. It is a good idea to keep an eye on it throughout the exam, so you know if you are lagging behind and need to speed up. You don’t want to spend too much time rechecking your answers and then have time to run out with questions to go.
You also need to be well versed and prepared for the different question types that you will be tested on. Nothing should come as a surprise during the exam.
The Pearson test is unique in the sense that, when they are assessing one of your communications skills they are not only looking at the section where you are primarily giving the task. For example, your reading scores are not only determined by the answers you give in the reading section of the exam. There are also certain other questions scored in reading like the ‘read aloud’ part of the speaking section
The ‘read aloud’ section not only rates your speaking score but also assigns a score to the reading section as well. I have given a chart below where you can see for each question of the exam which are the communicative skills you are scored on.