Exams Know-how

PTE Exam Preparation 2021: Everything You Need To Know About PTE Exam Preparation

Yocket Editorial Team

In the quest to write and ace English language proficiency tests like PTE, all candidates ask the big question of: how to prepare for the PTE exam?

Planning a comprehensive preparation strategy for the PTE Academic exam is essential to achieve your target score and beyond. At the outset it is recommended for test-takers to take a mock test to check the current skill level, strengths and weaknesses. If you haven’t done too well in the mock test and have the luxury of time, you could even start by taking an English course which will help you build the foundational skills.

Before we move into test preparation strategy, let's quickly revise the PTE Academic exam pattern.

PTE Academic Pattern Overview:

The PTE exam has three broad sections as follows:

  1. PTE Speaking & Writing

  2. PTE Reading

  3. PTE Listening

The table below summarizes the PTE exam sections mapped to the core skills tested:

Skills Tested

Section Overview

Question Types


PTE Listening section varies between 45 and 57 minutes and test-takers need to answer a series of questions which are based on audio and video clips.

  • Summarize Spoken Text

  • MCQs (Single and Multiple Answer)

  • Fill in The Blanks

  • Highlight Correct Summary

  • Select Missing Word

  • Highlight Incorrect Words

  • Writing Dictation


PTE Reading section varies between 32 to 40 minutes and test-takers complete objective exercises such as MCQs, filling up blanks and sequencing paragraphs of texts

  • MCQs (Single and Multiple Answer)

  • Re-Order Paragraphs

  • Reading: Fill in The Blanks

  • Reading and Writing: Fill in The Blanks

Speaking and Writing

Two skill sections are merged in the PTE Speaking & Writing and span over a period of 77 to 93 minutes.  Test-takers have to complete diverse tasks such as introducing themselves, reading aloud, describing images, summarizing texts, writing an essay among others.

  • Read Aloud

  • Repeat Sentence

  • Describe Image

  • Retell Structure

  • Answer Short Question

  • Summarize Written Text

  • Essay Writing

Timing Your PTE Exam Preparation:

Another question that poses a challenge to applicants is: what should be the preparation time window for PTE? If you are looking to apply for Fall 2022 and meet the deadlines of November- December 2021 it is advised to finish the PTE by no later than May. This could help provide ample time to reattempt the test if required. Leaving PTE till the monsoon season may invite challenges such as non-availability of PTE centres, monsoon related delays especially if you live in a city where it rains heavily and has a tendency to flood.

Similarly, if you are looking for a Spring 2023 intake application then you would want to take the PTE no later than February 2022 for you to meet the application deadlines well in advance.

Ideally, the preparation time for PTE can be four to six weeks to cover all the skill areas. The last few weeks can be used to give mock tests and develop the temperament for the test day itself.

Thus, if you are planning for Fall intake try to take the mock test by early April if possible, and crack the PTE exam by May end or early June. This opens up a lot of time to prepare a robust CV, plan essays and universities before the admissions window opens.

Tips for Study Abroad

Should I Prepare for The PTE Exam at Home or With Coaching?

Aspirants often struggle to decide whether they should study by themselves at home or should they choose a coaching institute for the same. Some of the considerations to keep in mind when making the choice are as follows:

  1. If you have fared at par or higher than your expectations in the mock test then you may want to avoid coaching and plan your studies at home.

  2. More importantly if you are someone who can hold yourself accountable and stay disciplined to dedicate time everyday then you should definitely go in for PTE preparation at home.

  3. If you have a time constraint due to a rigorous college or university schedule then preparing at home might be a wiser option.

  4. Think back to all the times you have taken coaching or test preparation support over the years. If you have been able to extract the best out of attending a coaching institute then you can definitely consider going for coaching.

  5. If you feel highly underprepared with your basic English skills and for some reason are sure that your school and college education hasn’t prepared you for the rigor level that you encountered in the mock test then it might be worth taking coaching.

Actionable Tips to Steer Your PTE Exam Preparation:

With the student’s academic achievement in mind, we believe that a strategic plan based on the analysis of the mock test performance can help you succeed in the test. Test-takers should strategically plan their preparation over a period of at least 4 to 6 weeks.

The following PTE preparation tips will help you plan the overall process of going about your studies:

  1. Through the mock test identify which question types and sections are challenging.

  2. Identify standard PTE preparation resources which are especially recommended for the areas of difficulty

  3. Spend the first three weeks of preparation focusing on solving the questions types which you find challenging. Spend 75% of the time on the task types identified in Step-One and the rest to ensure that practice continues for the other question types.

  4. Mark the difficult questions from each day’s practice and revise them at least thrice after the first attempt.

  5. Allocate the last two weeks to giving at least two to three mock tests, analyzing performance and working on the improvement of areas of difficulty.

Vocabulary Tips for PTE:

Although vocabulary is not tested as rigorously for the PTE like it is for GRE, basic vocabulary for PTE will play a game changing role especially in Reading Comprehension, Speaking and Writing. To enhance your vocabulary, we recommend you identify a standard resource which you can utilize throughout your preparation and dedicate about thirty minutes every day towards PTE vocabulary.

Some of our key recommendations are:

  • Go over the meaning and usage of about 15-20 words each day

  • Note down the words which are difficult to remember and require extra effort to understand.

  • Begin each day’s revision by starting with the difficult words from the previous days

  • Utilize the words in the writing practice during your PTE preparation.

  • Continuously add to the words you find difficult and spend more time (up to 20 minutes a day) with this list in the last two weeks.

The ultimate goal of working on vocabulary is to ensure that you have the firepower for the four core skills to be tested. A steady preparation will help you develop the temperament to crack the PTE exam.

Preparation Tips for The PTE Examination Day:

This video covers the minutest details on preparing for your PTE Exam day.

Beyond all the groundwork that goes into the preparation phase, it is essential that on the test day things function smoothly to crack the PTE exam.  The list below will serve as a mental checklist for you to maximize your score on test day.

  • Carry all documents and ID needed to the test center as listed here.

  • Reach the test center well in advance.

  • Skim through the questions for the first one minute especially in Reading

  • Be direct when answering the question on hand. If the question asks you to write or speak about Science, write or speak about ‘Science’ and not on ‘Religion’

  • Maintain the word limit given for the writing tasks.

  • Respond quickly and keep speaking during speaking tasks.

  • Avoid spending too much time on just one question.

  • Allocate a few minutes to the end of each section to check answers and revise.

Most importantly, despite the core actionable steps that we recommend, cracking the PTE exam hinges on the key factor of coaching one’s mindset successfully to excel on the examination day. To succeed requires believing in yourself and coaching your mind to accept that you have already succeeded. This key strategic mindset shift will enable you to set yourself up for success by cracking the PTE exam and gaining admission to the university of your aspiration.

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