PTE Exam Format: Listening, Speaking, Writing & Reading

If you are planning on going abroad for a specific purpose like studying or working, you will need to pass some kind of English language test. It is especially relevant for those looking into colleges in English-speaking countries.

The picture contains the list of countries that accept PTE academic.

PTE exam is one of the best choices:

  • It was designed for effective and efficient testing of language knowledge
  • PTE is computer-based

This Custom-Writing article guides you through all the details about the format you might want to know about this test. Moreover, the PTE Academic exam is in demand at all times, so we focus more on this one here.

🎓 Why Taking PTE Academic?

In case you have doubts about this test, there is a list of its advantages. All the pros indeed prove why PTE seems to be the most popular choice! First of all, the main objective is to check the levels of language knowledge in those who wish to migrate or study around the world. Let’s see what is so great about Pearson exams?

✔️The use of AIArtificial Intelligence (AI) checks your answers, even speaking. You might doubt it, but, in fact, it helps to fight biases that sometimes occur with human markers.
✔️Computer-based approachSince they use special programming and a computer-based approach, you can quickly get your test results. Moreover, it doesn’t matter where you live!
✔️No limitations on the number of copiesUnlike some other tests, PTE doesn’t set limits on the copies of your results. Therefore, you can send it to as many organizations as you need, and it’s included in the price.
✔️The test is widely acceptedOne of the best advantages is that PTE is widely accepted around the world. Many academic institutions are happy to take it, and some of the countries allow it for the migration process.

🗺️ Who Accepts PTE?

All the most significant English-speaking countries (USA, UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand) accept the PTE exam. The standard list also includes Singapore and Ireland. There are a lot of colleges around the world that recognize PTE. However, some of the unique options are the giants such as Yale and Harvard Business School. Therefore, it gives you a nice variety to choose from.

At the same time, people who wish to move to Australia or New Zealand can also use the benefits of this test since the governments of these counties allow you to add it to visa applications. If you wish to find out whether the college of your dreams accepts the Pearson exam, you can go to their official website and use the search bar. It seems like PTE is doing quite well on the market and is only planning on expanding in the following years!

📖 PTE Exam Format

In general, the PTE exam should take around 3 hours. But don’t worry, time flies, so you won’t even notice it! In addition, there is a 10-minute break between the last two parts.

You will go through three parts of the exam:

  • Speaking and writing merged into one
  • Reading
  • Listening

Each of the sections contains a variety of question formats, so you won’t get bored! It allows you to test your English knowledge most optimally.

To pass the test, you need to attend one of the Pearson centers, even though it’s a computer-based exam. They need to make sure every tester is in identical conditions. Since PTE Academic aims to be as realistic as possible, audio from the listening part may be a recording of a live lecture. The accents vary as well. Some of them won’t even be native speakers. It is all intended to test the academic English you may face in everyday life.

Section NameTimingDescription
Speaking & Writing77-93 min.A variety of short tasks testing your speaking: introduce yourself, retell, repeat, answer shortly, read out loud, describe. And two writing tasks: summarize and write an essay.
Reading32-40 min.There are different texts which you need to read and understand to complete the tasks: answer multiple-choice questions, fill in the gaps, reorder sentences.
Listening45-57 min.It’s perhaps the most integrated part, asking you to work on different skills: sum up what you hear, answer multiple-choice questions, fill in the gaps, choose correct/incorrect, dictation.

🙊 PTE Speaking & Writing Section

Some students say it’s the most challenging part of the English exam, but remember that preparation is the key! Knowing the structure of the text and some details about each piece already gives you an advantage. Speaking and writing take up usually about 77 to 93 minutes. In the writing section, you will be asked to write in academic English, while in speaking, they would like to hear you using proper structures while talking.

The picture contains the list of PTE speaking and writing tasks.
  1. It all starts with the introduction part. Here, you will be asked to read the assignment in 25 seconds, then record some information about yourself in accordance with the task in 30 seconds. There is only one chance to do it.
  2. Read aloud task. You will see a short text of no more than 60 words on the screen. There is a countdown status box for all the timings. It allows you to prepare for about half a minute. Then, there will be a sound indicating that the recording has started. Speak clearly, and when the time is out, the task is considered complete.
  3. Repeat what you have just heard. In this section, you will listen to a short audio of only a few seconds long. When you see the box changing its status to “Recording,” it’s the indication that you should start speaking. Just like with the previous tasks, everything is automatic, and you get only one chance to answer.
  4. Describe what you see. In this part, you will only have 25 seconds to prepare your response. When the time is up, you will hear a sound notifying that you can start describing the picture you saw on the screen.
  5. Retell the lecture. It seems like a lengthy task, but the prompt shouldn’t be longer than 90 seconds. Listen carefully and maybe take some notes. Then, you are given a few seconds to prepare. After a sound notification, you need to start talking. There is no need to rush in any of the speaking assignments. It’s true that you have a time limit, but it’s more important to keep speaking clearly.
  6. Reply with just a word or two. In this task, you will hear a short question and maybe see a picture. Immediately, you will be asked to answer it with a couple of words. The time limit is 10 seconds. Don’t forget that you can only do it once, so there is no chance to go back and make another attempt.
  7. It’s time for the writing part of the section. Here, your main objective is to write one sentence that can summarize a prompt paragraph. You will be given ten whole minutes to read the given passage of about 300 words and prepare the answer. It needs to be a sentence that is no longer than 75 words and contains the main points of the text.
  8. Write an essay. It is the last task which you should complete in 20 minutes. There will be a couple of sentences giving you the lead on the topic. Make sure you stay within 200-300 words. The countdown at the bottom of the screen will be helping you to track it.

PTE Speaking & Writing Tips

There are some tips that may help you go through this part of the test smoothly and with no issues:

  • As you have some time to prepare for speaking, notice the punctuation. It will help you decide where to either make a tiny pause or change the intonation.
  • The words that you think carry more meaning than the others can be highlighted with a louder voice.
  • Describing the image, try to focus on its main idea.
  • Keep talking even if you think you made a mistake.
  • For a short answer, use only one or two words, no more!
  • When writing a one-sentence answer, make sure it’s no more than one! Compound or complex structure may help.
  • Before writing an essay, study the requirements very carefully.

🙈 PTE Reading Section

Since PTE Academic is a test checking integrated skills, don’t be surprised to see some writing tasks in the reading section. However, usually, it’s the “click to select” type. Most of this exam part is compiled of different answer formats. You will be expected to spend no more than 32-40 minutes there. In case you want to know how much time you have for each task, you should visit their official webpage and check out the videos that present the examples. Depending on how the tasks are combined, expect to see 15 to 20 items to deal with. The reading section tests your ability to understand English texts.

The picture contains the list of PTE reading tasks.
  1. Fill in the blanks. Quite a typical type of task as for the reading section. You will see a text of around 300 words with some missing words. A good part is that you are given options. Whenever you see a gap, click there to reveal a list of words. Then, you need to choose the one that seems the most appropriate there. No worries, you can change your mind and simply left-click on another option if you want to.
  2. Read and answer multiple-choice questions. There will be a text of the same length as in the previous task. You need to read and understand it to complete this task. Each question has a list of options. However, you should remember that there are several correct answers, so choose all the options you think are accurate. The left button on your mouse allows you to select and remove the response. All your choices will be highlighted in yellow.
  3. Reorganize the sentences. You will see some text boxes on the screen, which make up about 150 words altogether. However, they are not in the correct order. It is your task to move them around and create an original coherent text. You are given two options to manipulate the text boxes: entirely with your mouse or with the help of arrow buttons.
  4. Fill in the gaps. It is pretty similar to the first task but with a few differences. First of all, the text is only around 80 words. Then, after reading, you need to check all the options to fill in the blanks available below. Mind that there may be a few extras that don’t fit anywhere, so leave them. To move the boxes around, just click on them and drag them around. If you change your mind, pull the word back to the blue box where all the other options are.
  5. Here, your main objective is to read and understand the text well enough to choose only one answer to each multiple-choice question. The text length is no longer than 300 words. Read through it and then focus on the problem related to it. There will be a few answer options per each question, but only one is correct. When you decide on the choice, simply click on it. Don’t worry. You have a chance to reselect it by clicking on it again.

PTE Reading Tips

Some helpful tips about reading tasks can maximize your chances to get the highest score:

  • Always look through the texts to get the general idea of the topic.
  • To save some time on choosing the correct word, read before and after the gap.
  • Find repeated words in the answer options that match the words in the text to know where to check.
  • Read all the options available before answering.
  • For the reordering task, it’s better to find the topic sentence first.
  • Look out for grammar, as it helps you choose the correct answer that matches the sentence.
  • Know the collocations (words that you often use together).
  • Answering the question, note keywords that help you find the correct passage in the text quickly.
  • Think about how likely a specific option can be the correct answer.

🙉 PTE Listening Section

The last section is all about listening. However, once again, this exam includes integrated-skills tasks, so don’t panic if you see some writing assignments here too. You should expect a variety of videos and audio tracks but be mindful that they start playing automatically. It would take about 45-57 minutes, and you can take notes throughout the process. If you feel like the volume is not enough, you can easily adjust it with the control bar on the screen for each task. Remember that throughout the whole test, the audios are played automatically.

The picture contains the list of PTE listening tasks.
  1. Hear and summarize. For the first task, you will hear one-minute-long audio. Then, you will have 10 minutes to prepare and write down a short summary of what you just heard. It should be no longer than 70 words.
  2. After hearing the audio, answer the questions. 40 to 90 seconds of the audio will play automatically. Then, go ahead and answer multiple-choice questions. In this task, there is more than one correct option. You can change your mind and select other ones too.
  3. Listen and fill in the gaps. There will be both the audio and its transcript. However, some words are missing there. Your task is to type them in, restoring the original text based on the recording. Remember that you will only hear the audio once, so pay attention.
  4. Choose the most appropriate option. You will hear a 30-90-second-long prompt. After that, you have to choose the summary that fits it the best. The audio will be played only once, but you are allowed to take notes.
  5. Listen and answer the questions. This task resembles one of the previous ones. However, there is a difference. The audio is around one minute long, and there are multiple-choice questions to it. Here, only one option is correct. You may change your answer as long as there is still time.
  6. Choose what’s missing. This assignment tests your general understanding of English. You will hear audio of approximately the same length as in the previous tasks. However, the last chunk of it is missing. Your job is to find the most appropriate ending from several options. Only one is correct. As always, you are free to select a different choice if you change your mind.
  7. Find the incorrect. The lengths of the audio you will hear varies from 15 to 50 seconds. At the same time, there will be a transcript on the screen. Some of the words don’t match what the speaker says. The task is to select them. The ones you choose will be highlighted in yellow.
  8. Listen and write down. This task is similar to a dictation. There will only be one short sentence. You may take notes on the particular note board provided on the screen while you listen to the audio. Your task is to write down exactly what you hear. Don’t forget to check your spelling.

PTE Listening Tips

Since there a lot of writing incorporated into this section, you should know what to pay attention to:

  • Don’t forget to always check your grammar and spelling!
  • For the summary, include not only the main points but the supporting ones too.
  • Take notes of the main details as you listen to the recordings.
  • Even if the option has similar words to the audio, it may have a different meaning so pay attention.
  • Make use of the “erasable note board booklet.”
  • Whenever there is a transcript, look through it before the audio starts to find out the main idea (the same for multiple-choice questions).
  • Remember that there is always an option of choosing a different answer if you changed your mind.
  • In the tasks that provide a transcript, you can follow the audio with the cursor.

All in all, PTE Academic is an excellent choice for students and even people who wish to move to Australia. With this article, you will be plenty prepared for what’s waiting on you on the exam. When you know what to expect, you are much less worried so take advantage of it!