PTE Academic Speaking Overview & Question Types

Instructor: Jessica Keys
The PTE Academic Test consists of three parts and assesses your skills in four different English skills. The first part of the test includes the speaking exercises. How are these tasks administered and what will you be expected to know? Check out this article for an in-depth look at this important part of the PTE!

PTE Academic Test Speaking Section

The first section of the PTE Academic Test is a practical examination of your English speaking and writing skills. The speaking portion is divided into several computer-assisted exercises, which take up the majority of the testing time allotted for this section.

Speaking Section Breakdown

The speaking exercises make use of a computer microphone and audio recording equipment. Before the exam, you will get the chance to test your equipment and make sure everything is working properly.

  • Note that you will only get one opportunity to record your answers for each exercise! If you are feeling a bit nervous about this section, you won't want to miss's online lessons about PTE Academic Test: Speaking Tasks. It offers great pointers about pacing, improving your speaking and how to stay cool if you make a mistake!

Personal Introduction: This section is not scored. Rather, it will let you get used to the test format while allowing you to introduce yourself to any institutions who will be considering your results.

  • When you get to this section, you'll see a box in the middle of the screen labeled Recorded Answer.
  • The box will display a 25-second countdown. Use this time to prepare your answer. Suggested topics are also provided, like your hobbies and interests, why you have decided to learn English and your study or career goals.
  • When the countdown is complete, you will hear a tone and the status on the box will change to Recording. A progress bar will also begin inching towards its end. You will have 30 seconds to say your answer into the microphone. Remember to relax and stay focused so your response comes out clearly.
  • When the progress bar reaches the end, the recording status will change to Completed. This means the computer has stopped recording. Try to finish speaking before then, so the computer does not cut off your sentence.

Each scored speaking section works in a similar way, with a limited amount of time to prepare and record your responses.

Read Aloud: In this section, you are given a short passage of text. You'll also have 30-40 seconds to read this text to yourself, as shown on the recording box countdown. Then, a tone will sound and the microphone will begin recording; now you can read the text out loud. Try to read as much of it as possible before the recording box status says Completed. Speak clearly and evenly. Don't rush!

Repeat Sentence: After a brief countdown, you will hear a recording of somebody saying a sentence in English. As soon as this sentence is finished, the microphone will begin recording right away. (You will not get a tone to prompt you this time.) Now you must exactly repeat the sentence you just heard, before recording is completed.

Describe Image: At the start of this section, you will be given 25 seconds to study the image presented to you on the screen. This time, you will hear a tone when the microphone begins recording. Describe the image to the best of your ability, but keep in mind that you have a limited amount of time to record your answer before the status box says completed and recording ends.

Re-Tell Lecture: You will listen to a short academic lecture on a given topic, during which time you can take notes. After the lecture is finished, you are given ten seconds to prepare a simple summary of the lecture. What was the lecture about? What was its main point? When the microphone begins recording, summarize the lecture in a brief sentence or two. Again, time is limited, so try to finish speaking before recording is completed.

Answer Short Question: Finally, the test will ask you a question out loud. (You may also get an image, if relevant.) You will not have much time to prepare a response, as the microphone begins recording your answer immediately after the question is asked, without a tone prompt. You will not have much time to reply, but it's okay to keep your answer to one or two words.

Additional Resources

If you're looking for some additional resources to help develop your speaking abilities ahead of the PTE Academic test, check out these ESL Flashcards to review vocabulary related to everything from education and business to sports and the weather. You can also check out the comprehensive PTE Academic Test: Practice & Study Guide to prepare for the writing, listening and reading tasks.

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