PTE: Syllabus, Eligibility, Pattern, Duration, Rules, Registration, Score, Preparation Tips

Updated on: Dec 2, 2022
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PTE (Pearson Test of English) is a computer-based English language test that assesses a candidate’s ability to read, write, speak, and listen to English. It’s available in two forms, General and Academic.  

PTE Academic is a popular English language assessment test for prospective international students as it is accepted by many universities worldwide.

The global recognition of PTE is continuing to grow, and there are test centers all over the globe.  

The exam takes a maximum of 3 hours 10-minutes and can be taken at your nearest PTE test center.

Here, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about PTE

PTE at a glance

PTE Full NamePearson Test of English Academic
Who can take the test?Anyone of 16 Years and above
Test Format
  • Speaking & writing skills (77-93 minutes)
  •  Reading skills (32-41 minutes)
  • Optional 10 minute break
  • Listening skills (45-57 minutes) 
Exam RegistrationRegister online at Pearson PTE Academic's official website.
PTE Test fee 

Fee dependent on location

  • Approx. 150 GBP in the UK (15,300 INR)
  • Approx. 11,600 INR in India (110 GBP)

Types of PTE Exam

There are three types of PTE exams — Academic, General, and Home.

Let’s deal with the latter first since it doesn’t apply to international students:

PTE Home is a UK Home Office-approved speaking and listening test. It’s used mainly by people applying for family or settlement visas in the UK.

PTE Academic (PTE-A)

The PTE Academic test is the most well-known of the tests, and it’s used chiefly (as the name suggests) by prospective international students. An increasing number of institutions, colleges, and schools accept PTE as proof of English ability.

Most crucially, it is accepted as proof of English proficiency by the Australian and New Zealand governments for immigration purposes.

PTE General - Also known as The International Certificate, PTE General consists of a written paper and interview. It is designed for vocational purposes, to reward positive achievement in English language study. On the other hand, No immigration authorities recognize this test.

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Which PTE exam should international students take?

International students should take the PTE Academic exam.

PTE Exam Eligibility

Candidates who wish to take the PTE Academic Exam must meet the following criteria:

Age requirements for PTE Academic

Candidates must be at least 16 years old to take the PTE Academic test.

Before taking the test, candidates under 18 must have a parental consent document signed by a parent or guardian. This consent form can be found on the official website.

Educational requirements

There are no specific educational requirements to take the PTE Academic Exam.

Pearson PLC Group, which administers the PTE Academic Exam, has not set any specific educational requirements for candidates who wish to take the PTE Academic exam.

PTE syllabus & exam pattern

The PTE syllabus and exam pattern consists of the following four areas: Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing.
                  
These four areas are covered in the following order:

  • Speaking & writing skills (together) - (77-93 minutes)
  • Reading skills - (32-41 minutes)
  • Optional 10 minute break
  • Listening skills - (45-57 minutes)

Here are the types of questions you can expect in each section:

Speaking and Writing

  1. Personal introduction based on a prompt
  2. Reading text aloud
  3. Listening to & repeating sentences
  4. Describing image
  5. Listening to & re-telling a lecture in your own words
  6. Answering a short question
  7. Summarizing a written text in one sentence
  8. Essay writing (200-300 words based on a prompt)               
     

Reading

  • Reading & writing: Fill in the blanks
  • Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers
  • Re-order paragraphs
  • Reading: Fill in the blanks
  • Multiple-choice, choose single answer

Listening

  • Summarize spoken text
  • Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Highlight correct summary
  • Multiple-choice, choose single answer
  • Select missing word
  • Highlight incorrect words
  • Write from dictation

PTE Speaking & Writing Section Breakdown               

As its name suggests, this section examines the candidate's verbal and written communication abilities.

In this section, you will be tested on your ability to speak and write on time. 77 to 93 minutes are permitted for the portion as a whole, while each segment is allotted the following time:

Patterns in the sectionBreakdown
Personal introduction55 seconds: 25 seconds for the prompt and 30 seconds for recording the prompt 
Read aloud30-40 seconds to prepare for reading out 60 words
Repeat sentenceA prompt lasts between 3 and 9 seconds; recording takes 15 seconds in total.
Describe imageYour response must be prepared in 25 seconds.
Re-tell lecture90 seconds for prompt length, 10 seconds to prepare, and 40 seconds to answer
Answer short question3-9 seconds for the prompt, 10 seconds for the response
Summarise written textResponse time of 10 minutes to a 300-word text prompt
Essay20 minutes to reply to text prompt of 2-3 sentences

PTE Reading Section Breakdown

This portion examines the candidates' ability to read and comprehend written instructions.

It is 32 to 41 minutes long. Here's a look at the time distribution of this part, broken down per segment:

Patterns in the sectionBreakdown
Reading & writing: Fill in the blanks300-word text 
Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers300-word text 
Re-order paragraphs into the correct order150-word text. 
Reading: Fill in the blanks80-word text
Multiple-choice, choose single answer300-word text

PTE Listening Section Breakdown

Candidates will be tested on their ability to understand spoken English. As a result, the student must pay close attention to the audio clip being played and recall what they have heard.

Listening lasts 45 to 57 minutes.

This portion is separated into eight segments, each of which is given the following amount of time:

Section PatternBreakdown
Summarise spoken text60-90 second prompt, 10 minutes to write a 50-70 word summary.
Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer40-90 prompt
Fill in the Blanks30-60 seconds prompt. Fill in the blanks on the transcript.
Highlight Correct Summary30-90 second prompt. Select the best summary paragraph. 
Multiple Choice, Single Answer30-60 second prompt
Select Missing Word20-70 second prompt
Highlight Incorrect Words15-50 second prompt. Choose incorrect words on the transcript. 
Write From Dictation3-5 second prompt. Type the sentence.

PTE Scoring

The PTE Academic test is machine-scored using Pearson’s automated scoring system.

Some questions are scored based on simple criteria of correct vs. incorrect, while others are judged as partially correct (for example, in multiple-choice and multiple answers). For correct answers, one point is awarded, while incorrect answers get zero points.

In other cases, scores are awarded for formal aspects as well as the quality of response for spoken and longer-form written answers. By formal aspects, we mean the form of the response you give (sticking to word limits, for example).

Your total score for all of the sections is given out of 90. Here is a breakdown of the factors that lead to each scoring band:

PTE ScoreAssessment Factors
85+
  • Read and understand written English with ease.
  • Understand spoken English.
  • The ability to summarise auditory and written information from a variety of sources.
  • Can communicate clearly and effectively in simple and complex situations.
76 - 84
  • Can read and understand a variety of complicated texts, including their hidden meaning, without difficulty.
  • No trouble expressing oneself.
  • Excellent Social, academic, and professional communication skills.
59 - 75
  • The ability to understand the major ideas of a difficult text.
  • Can converse with ease and spontaneity.
51 - 58
  • Has a good knowledge of the language, yet makes a lot of mistakes when communicating.
  • Understands basic spoken language without difficulty.
43 - 50
  • Can understand mainstream English used at work, school, and in leisure.
  • When speaking the language, can deal with ordinary circumstances that may emerge.
30 - 42
  • Can understand basic phrases and expressions on a variety of topics, including personal information, etc.
  • Can communicate in simple terms about their own background.
10 - 29
  • Comprehends basic phrases and idioms used in daily life.
  • Will be able to introduce themselves and ask people simple questions.
  • Interacts well with other individuals.

PTE registration & booking

To register for the PTE Academic exam, candidates must complete these easy steps:

Step 1: Create an online account on the official PTE Academic website.

Step 2: Fill out your personal profile, including test preferences, exam histories, and past score reports (if applicable).

N.B., make sure to complete personal details exactly as they appear on your passport.

Step 3: Select the most convenient or nearest PTE Test Center.

Step 4: Selecting an available test date at the PTE Test Center of your choice.

Step 5: Review your order before making payment.

Details about the type of examination, your test center, the price, and the tax, are included in your order.

You can find the upcoming PTE exam dates and fees, for 2022, here. 

The order confirmation will be sent to you via email.

If you wish to change the test date or location, you can do so at this point without incurring any additional costs. However, there is a small cost for these adjustments after payment has been made.

Step 6: Make payment once order confirmation has been received.

Candidates have the option of printing out their acknowledgment receipt. Account dashboards allow them access to the same data.

PTE preparation

PTE Preparation Tips

As a general rule, we’d always recommend getting started with exam preparation at least 6-8 weeks before your test day. The same applies to preparing for your PTE exam. This will give you plenty of time to study without stress, which we all know doesn’t help us study well.

For a complete detailed guide to PTE preparation, check out our article below:           
Read PTE Exam Preparation: The last guide you'll ever need

But in the meantime, here’s a sneak peek:

  • Get to know the structure of the test
  • Pick up a study guide (check out our article: The top 6 books for PTE to score HIGH!)
  • Complete practice tests (at least 1, ideally two or more) 
  • Make a study routine (and stick to it)
  • Turn studying into a game
  • Read new words and sentences you come across aloud for pronunciation.
  • Read our article on the PTE tools which makes your test prep much easier.
  • When reading texts, think about the difference between the “main idea” and “detailed information.”
  • Describe images you see when scrolling social media. Start in general terms before going into more details.  

PTE Practice Tests

Official practice tests, as well as academic question banks for your own practice, can be found via the Pearson PTE website.

These do come at an additional cost (approx. GBP 25 per test), but can be bought in discounted bundles. These tests are also scored by PTE themselves so can provide amazing insight into your progress.

We’d recommend doing at least one PTE practice test, but ideally, you’ll do two or more.

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On exam day

The only things you MUST bring with you are your passport, as well as a copy of it, as a form of ID. If you don't have a passport, contact your test center to find out about alternative forms of identification.

Try to arrive at least 30 minutes before your test starts so that you have time to check in with the administrator, go over rules and procedures. The staff will also take a photograph of you, get your signature, scan, and your palm for security purposes. You’ll then be able to store your possessions in a locker before proceeding to sit your test.  

Receiving your PTE score

As a rule, PTE results are announced within five days of the test.

You’ll receive an email alert as soon as your scores are available. To access them, simply log into your PTE account and select activity on the portal dashboard.

You can also use this dashboard to send your score to any organization or institution that needs it.

FAQs

What is the eligibility criteria for PTE Academic?

PTE Academic is open to students above the age of 16.

How many times can I attempt the PTE exam?

There is no restriction on the number of times a candidate can take the PTE Exam. You can book a test date five days after receiving a result.

Can I get my test rescored if I think I did better?

Yes, to request a rescore, you can contact Pearson customer services. You must do this within 14 days of receiving your results.

The rescore does come at a fee (approx. GBP 100), but if you get a higher score than given initially, this fee will be refunded to you in full.

However, there are some things you should consider before requesting a rescore for your PTE exam:

As a computer-graded test, the likelihood of any change is minimal           
Only your spoken responses and open-ended written answers are re-evaluated. There is no chance of computer error in closed answer formats, e.g., multiple-choice questions, gap fills, etc. 

If your score does change, it could go down as well as up. This new score, even if lower, will be reflected in your official results.

How long is the PTE certification valid?

PTE Academic scores are valid for two years.

How many days does it take to prepare for the PTE exam?

To prepare for the PTE, set aside at least six to eight weeks.

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