PTE Exam Pattern & Syllabus: Everything You Need to Know About PTE Exam Pattern & Syllabus

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Yocket Editorial Team

Updated on Sep 15, 2021

Exams Know-how | 9 min read
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Global recognition and test accuracy makes PTE Academic a perfect standardised English language test for candidates applying to reputed global universities and institutions. This test recognises the international nature of English as a language. So, you can be from any country or have any dialect - getting a good PTE score is not difficult. Many students with average proficiency in English have scored good PTE scores. All it takes is dedication and intense preparation. And it should start with a clear understanding of the PTE exam pattern and syllabus.

The Skills PTE Academic Evaluates

Pearson Test of English verifies the following essential English language communication skills a student needs in university-level academic-context.

  • How to speak with fluency 

  • How to listen actively

  • How to write effectively

  • How to read meaningfully 

     The 3-hour test is segregated into three parts covering three skills segments:

  • Part 1 - Speaking & Writing (test duration 77 - 93 minutes)

  • Part 2 - Reading (test duration 32 - 40 minutes)

  • Part 3 - Listening (test duration - 45 - 57 minutes)

The minimum and maximum test duration for each part is indicative. It means test-takers cannot expect to get the maximum time duration for every test part or follow the minimum time limit. The duration is calculated by adding up the time to reading test prompts, preparing responses and recording the answer. PTE allocates time for each task as follows:

  • To read the test prompt for each test item,

  • To prepare the answer or response to a test item, and

  • To answer your response or record your response in case of Speaking skills test items.

Allocated time varies from item to item, depending on the question prompt’s text size or the ideal size of a response. On average, test-takers get 10 to 15 seconds to prepare or mentally construct their responses. Recording responses means saving text, recording voice or choosing options on the computer screen.

 Please understand, it is not difficult to give an appropriate response to any PTE test item, even with average English language skills. What is essential is to do that within the set time limit. Failure to complete responding within allocated time amounts to a loss of marks. So, time management is the key to test success, and test-takers can achieve it through practise and practise alone.

Language Characteristics of PTE Academic Exam

Language tonality and language style of test items in PTE Speaking & Writing, PTE Reading, and PTE Listening sections ensure that test-takers get a realistic experience of lives in any international university or institution.

  • Language usage scenarios used in the PTE are authentically-sourced and based on real-life experience.

  • The test includes different English accents like British, American, or other international accents for a truly global representation.

  • PTE exam syllabus uses scenarios from a university-level academic setting like classroom interactions, writing academic papers, communicating with peers and other similar instances.

PTE Academic Exam Structure

We have outlined the PTE Academic test pattern, different types of test items in each test section as per the PTE exam syllabus, the number of items to expect from each type, and the approximate allocated time for each item. The time limits may vary for different test tasks. But the data in the table will provide a broader clarity of what to expect.

The table also hughlights the marking rules for each item type - partial credit and correct/incorrect. Out of these two rules - correct/incorrect marking is more straightforward, you get marks for a correct response only. on the other hand, Partial Credit marking system depends on factors like the answer content, forms and other criteria.

PTE Speaking & Writing

It is the most significant section in PTE Academic in terms of the test duration. Also, PTE emphasises spoken fluency skill, which earns special recognition for the test worldwide. 

SPEAKING & WRITING

Test Items Types & Scoring rules

Number of items

Time limits

The time you get per item

Read aloud

Partial credit

6-7 items

 

 

 

30-35 minutes

 

 

 

1 minute per item

 

Repeat sentence

Partial credit

10-12 items

Describe image

Partial credit

6-7 items

Re-tell lecture

Partial credit

3-4 items

Short questions

Correct/incorrect

10-12 items

Summarise written text

Partial credit

2-3 items

20-30 minutes

10 minutes

Essay writing

Partial credit

1-2 items

20-40 minutes

20 minutes

PTE Reading

The test items in this section assess reading in relation to other skills like listening, vocabulary, grammatical correctness, writing discourse and others. The major challenge is to read quickly, comprehend and respond correctly.  

READING

Fill in the blanks - Reading & Writing

Partial credit (depending on how many blanks you filled correctly)

5-6 items

 

 

 

 

 

 

32-41 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.13 minutes

MCQ - multiple answers for each question

Partial credit

2-3

Re-order paragraph

Partial credit

2-3

Fill in the blanks - Reading

Partial credit

4-5

MCQ - single answer

Correct/incorrect

2-3

PTE Listening

This section emphasises on the ability to listen to and understand English in different accents and dialects. The time duration is 45-57 minutes and you need to listen to a lot of audio and video clips in that time.

LISTENING

Summarise text

Partial credit

2-3 items

20-30 minutes

10 minutes

MCQ - multiple answers for each question

Partial credit

2-3 items

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

23-28 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.53 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fill in the blanks

Partial credit

2-3 items

Highlight correct summary

Correct/incorrect

2-3 items

MCQ - single answer

Correct/incorrect

2-3 items

Select missing word

Correct/incorrect

2-3 items

Highlight incorrect word

Partial credit (depending on how many you highlighted correctly)

2-3 items

Write from diction

Partial credit

3-4 items

Now you have a structural understanding of the PTE Academic exam pattern and PTE syllabus. For every test-taker, it is essential to realise that PTE intends to assess the true language abilities necessary for students to succeed in any global university. It does not ask to follow any particular accent or a regional variety of English. So, test-takers only need to learn how to respond to test items in grammatically correct and intelligible English for a good PTE score.