What Is the PTE Academic Test?

Instructor: Bill Sands
The Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic is an assessment that measures a candidate's command of the English language. Keep reading for more information on the purpose and format of this exam.

What Is the PTE Academic?

The PTE Academic is a computer-based English test that measures a candidate's understanding of English. It is an exam that is taken primarily by students and prospective employees who would like to study abroad or immigrate to an English-speaking country such as, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.

Test Format

The PTE Academic includes three distinct sections that cover various components of the English language.

Part One: Speaking & Writing

For this portion of the test, candidates will need to demonstrate their ability to communicate verbally. The section begins with a personal introduction in which candidates provide basic biographical information. This information does not count toward a candidate's score; it exists simply to give academic institutions a general idea of each candidate's background.

Next, candidates will then need to complete a number of different speaking tasks, including:

  • Viewing a line of text on the computer and reading it aloud
  • Describing a photograph or image
  • Listening to a sentence and then repeating it
  • Providing short (one or two words) responses to questions

The section then concludes with a pair of writing tasks. Candidates will first read a passage of no more than 300 words, and then provide a one-sentence summary of the text. This part of the PTE Academic concludes with candidates writing a 200-300 word essay on a selected topic.

This section generally lasts between 77 and 93 minutes.

Part Two: Reading

This section of the PTE Academic exam tests candidates' reading comprehension skills. Candidates will read several passages and then respond to questions based on the content found in the text. Possible question types include:

  • Multiple Choice
  • Fill in the Blank
  • Re-order Paragraphs

This is the shortest part of the test. Candidates will only spend 32-41 minutes on this section.

Part Three: Listening

This section features numerous audio recordings, which candidates must listen to and then respond to questions about the content. Tasks for this section include:

  • Summarizing spoken text: Candidates will listen and then write a short summary of the information.
  • Multiple Choice: Candidates will be asked questions about a recording and will need to choose the correct answer from a list of potential responses. Some questions will contain only a single correct answer, while other questions may require candidates to choose more than one correct response.
  • Fill in the Blanks: Candidates will view a text with several words omitted. They will then listen to a spoken recording of the same text and fill in the blanks.
  • Highlight Correct Summary: Candidates will listen to a recording and then review several summaries. They must then select the summary that's the best choice.
  • Select Missing Word: Candidates will need to choose the missing word that most accurately fills the gap in an audio recording.
  • Highlight Incorrect Words: Candidates will view a text and then listen to a recording of the same text being read aloud, but with minor variations. Candidates will have to identify any words that have been changed or removed.
  • Write from Dictation: Candidates will hear a sentence and then transcribe the recording.

This section typically lasts 45 to 57 minutes.

PTE Scoring

Scores on the PTE are reported using the Global Scale of English, a scaling system that resembles a thermometer. Your score report will contain your overall score as well as your performance in the communicative and enabling skills categories.

Overall scores represent your proficiency with the English language and are calculated by examining your scores on all parts of the test. The Global Scale of English awards scores ranging from 10 to 90 points.

Your scores on the communicative (reading, listening, speaking and writing) and enabling (vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, oral fluency, spelling, and written discourse) focus on your performance for individual content areas and are determined by your performance on test questions related to each respective skill. Like overall scores, you will receive a score between 10 and 90 points for each of these two categories.

Studying for the PTE Academic Test

If you're planning on sitting for this assessment, you may benefit from the many study materials found on Study.com.

This PTE Academic Test: Practice & Study Guide is an excellent starting point and contains more than 60 lessons to help you get ready for the test.

Proper grammar skills are a must for any candidate looking to score well on the PTE Academic. This English Grammar Rules course and these Grammar Flashcards can help you brush up on your skills to prepare you for test day.

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