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5 expert tips for PTE Academic to help you succeed!

Top 5 Tips for PTE Academic from Pearson

Learn from our experts how to get your required PTE Academic scores in 2024

Reading Time: 5 minutes

PTE Academic is used to assess your speaking and writingreading and listening over two hours, so you can pursue your dreams to study or work abroad. It’s an important test, so to be confident on exam day you need to prepare well.

But what is the best way to succeed? While studying using books and doing practice exercises is a good place to start, integrating the test into your everyday life will give you the edge.

  1. Understand PTE and what it tests
  2. Speak and write on a wide range of topics
  3. Structure your answers but avoid using templates
  4. Use your own words and think critically
  5. Practice, practice, practice

1. Understand PTE and what it tests

The first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with the content of the exam. There are 20 question types in total, including things like Re-tell Lecture, Summarize Written Text, and Re-order Paragraphs.

Find more information about all the task types

To understand each question type, first make a list of them all. Then next to each one, write two things:

  1. The skills it tests
  2. Things you can do to practice these skills

Let’s look at an example. In the speaking section, you listen to a short lecture and then re-tell it in your own words. The skills it tests are:

  • Listening: You need to be able to understand the main ideas of the lecture accurately – a key skill for any student or professional.
  • Vocabulary: Rather than repeating what you have heard, put the lecture in your own words. This is something that people do every day in their studies or in workplace meetings.
  • Pronunciation: Other people need to be able to understand you. Every word you say should be clearly pronounced, and your sentence stress should accurately communicate your meaning.

Now that you know the skills to develop, how can you practice? Possible ideas include:

  • Watching short videos online and then summarizing them. Sites like BBC News or TED Talks have thousands of videos of different lengths, with a range of accents that you can practice with.
  • Talking to others in English. Listen to what you hear and try to briefly summarize what they say to you. They will tell you if your summary is accurate and easy to understand, or if you’ve made any mistakes. If you don’t have any English-speaking friends, sites like Italki or Hellotalk put thousands of learners in touch so they exchange language and learn together.

Follow this process for every question type. Find out what is being tested, then try to recreate those situations in your daily life. That way, you’ll be used to performing these tasks on the day of the test.

Learn more about PTE Academic in this video and have a go at summarizing it

2. Speak and write on a wide range of topics

As you learn the question types, you will notice that the test covers a wide range of topics.

You need to be able to understand what is being asked in each question and find related vocabulary to express yourself.

So how can your English be more versatile? The most important thing is to watch, read, and listen to as wide a range of materials as you can.

For example, don’t just watch the news in English because newsreaders use a limited range of formal words, but also try:

  • Documentaries
  • Dramas
  • Podcasts
  • Vlogs

When it comes to reading, access a variety of authentic sources such as:

  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Academic papers
  • Blogs and short stories.

3. Structure your answers but avoid using templates

Although the topics you’ll talk (or write) about might vary, you can try to structure your answers for certain tasks like Describe Image and Write Essay.

This will help you to think quickly, and to use appropriate English while under exam conditions. However, this is different from memorizing a script or a template (which we don’t recommend, as you won’t know what the question will be about before the test).

Here’s an example of how to structure your answer for the Describe Image task:

  1. Identify: As soon as you see the image you should quickly try to identify what type of graph it is and the main information it is showing. Refer to the title and the labels to help you with this. e.g. This pie chart shows what makes up a healthy balanced diet.
  2. Describe: Now that you know what the image shows, say what you see in more detail by referring to any numbers, colors or labels. e.g. A healthy diet consists of 33% carbohydrates, 33% fruit and vegetables, 15% dairy products, 12% proteins and 7% fats and sugars.
  3. Explain: Now that you have described the image, you should try to say what it might mean. e.g. This means you should mostly eat carbohydrates or fruits and vegetables, with smaller amounts of dairy products and proteins and hardly any food and drinks high in fats and sugar.
  4. Analyze: Finally, come to a conclusion. Why is the image important? When might it be useful to you or someone else? This is when you need to go beyond what you see on the screen and show that you really understand the meaning of the image. e.g. “People should follow this chart if they want to have a healthy and balanced diet”

An easy way to remember this structure is by using the first letter of each word to spell ‘IDEA’: Identify, Describe, Explain, Analyze.

Structuring your answer successfully will allow you to use a range of linking words and relevant vocabulary – helping you achieve your best scores!

Find more practice images like this on our Instagram channel.

4. Use your own words and think critically

The Write Essay task is another part of the exam where you should avoid using memorized scripts. Try to give a structured response in your own words making sure it’s relevant to the question you’re presented with on the day. If you use language you understand and are familiar with, you are less likely to make mistakes or sound unnatural.

To make this easier you can spend the first few minutes planning your answer using the Point, Illustrate, Explain (PIE) method:

  • Point: What is the point you want to make? Do you agree or disagree with the prompt?
  • Illustrate: Note down any examples that support your argument. For example, what are the other advantages to studying abroad? Make a list before you start.
  • Explain: This is where you need to say why the examples support your point. You won’t have time to go into detail during the planning, but you can write down any useful language you want to include for giving your opinion.

Writing a plan before you start will help you think (and write) more quickly and logically. However, remember that you only have 20 minutes total to write 200–300 words. So don’t run out of time!

🔗 Read more posts on this topic:

Discover more tips for the essay writing task.

5. Practice, practice, practice

Once it gets near the date of your exam, it’s now time to practice using official test materials.

We have lots of great resources to help you get the score you need:

  • Scored Practice Tests – Using past test content and our official scoring algorithms, our practice tests give you an indication of how you will perform on test day, helping you to feel calm and confident
  • PTE Question Bank – With 300 questions and answers broken down by each PTE Academic task type, you can work at your own pace to practice, and target the skills you most want to improve.
  • Official Guide to PTE for Test Takers – Find out everything you need to know to feel confident on test day.
  • Academic Collocation List – Download almost 2,500 of the most frequent word combinations in written academic English.

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