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PTE Speaking & Writing: Everything You Need to Know About PTE Speaking & Writing Test

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The importance of speaking and writing intelligibly in English does not require an introduction. International universities host teachers and students from different parts of the world with various dialect and language cultures. English being the lingua franca, skills in standardised English communication becomes critically important. As a reputed and accurate language proficiency test, PTE helps students improve their speaking and writing skills, which they need to succeed in any global academic career.

PTE Speaking & Writing Sub-Skills

 Speaking and Writing proficiency depend on language traits and sub-skills. The test items in PTE Speaking and Writing assess these traits and sub-skills.

  • Oral Fluency

  • Pronunciation

  • Writer's Style, Tone, Purpose, Or Attitude

  • Academic Vocabulary

  • Grammatical Correctness

  • Spelling Correctness

 It is essential to realise that the PTE Speaking and Writing section consider all the regional variations in spelling and pronunciation. So, as a test-taker, you do not need to imitate any particular regional variety of spelling or accent.

Types of PTE Speaking & Writing test items

 PTE uses different test items, and you need to respond to more than one item from each type. Marking rules for the items also vary depending on the test objectives.

Here is the structure of the PTE Speaking and Writing exam

Test Item Types

Number Of Items

Marking Rule

Read Aloud

6 - 7

Partial Credit

Repeat Sentence

10 - 12

Partial Credit

Describe Image

6 - 7

Partial Credit

Re-Tell Lecture

3 - 4

Partial Credit

Short Questions

10 - 12

Correct/Incorrect

Summarise Written Text

2 - 3

Partial Credit

Essay Writing

1 - 2

Partial Credit

 However, PTE Speaking and Writing test starts with ‘Personal Introduction’. It is not a scored item, and you do not get any marks for your response. PTE shares this response with your selected universities and institutions as a biometric marker with a PTE score report. You get 25 seconds to read the prompt and prepare. Record response in your voice in 30 seconds; after that, the microphone stops recording.

Details on Each PTE Speaking & Writing Test Item Type

Read Aloud

 PTE Speaking read aloud item checks how effectively a test-taker can read under time limitation along with speaking fluency. You need to read a text and record it in a clearly audible voice without missing any punctuation and maintaining the correct pace. The average text size is 60 words. You get 35 seconds to read the text and prepare mentally. The microphone auto-starts the recording at the end of preparation time. A progress bar tells you how much time is left. The microphone stops recording if you stay silent for more than 3 seconds, and there is no re-take.

Tips:

  • Practice recording and listening to your recorded voice repeatedly. It helps to improve oral fluency, accuracy and complexity.

  • Try reading unknown texts with a stopwatch and check your progress judiciously.

  • Do not rush. You need to stress on important words within the text.

 PTE Speaking read aloud items are scored based on content correctness, oral fluency and pronunciation. If a test-taker read incorrectly, no mark is assigned, and the other two traits are not scored.

Summarise Written Text

PTE summarise written text checks reading and writing skills. Test-takers need to read a text having multiple paragraphs and write a summary in only a single sentence. The text size is around 300 words, but the summary should not be more than 75 words and less than five words. The time to answer is 10 minutes. You can cut-copy-paste parts of the text in the answer text box to construct the summary.

Tips:

  • You need to understand the text as you read it. It saves time.

  • Copy and paste significant portions in your response text box.

  • Once you have finished reading and copy-pasting, start fine-tuning the response using grammatically correct compound and complex sentence structures.

  • For preparation, you should learn and practice writing compound and complex sentences without destroying its meaning and legibility.

 These items are scored based on content, form, grammar and vocabulary. Incorrect or incomplete summary amounts to no mark, and the AI-based PTE scoring system skips marking the response for other traits and sub-skills. 

Repeat Sentence

 It tests listening and spoken fluency. The test prompt’s audio length varies from 3 to 9 seconds, and the time to record your answer is 15 seconds. The challenge is to listen actively with complete attention.

Tips:

  • Try to identify phrases in the sentence and take note of them. It will help to repeat them correctly.

Describe Image

 The test is about speaking and comprehension skill. You get 25 seconds to study the image and prepare; 40 seconds to answer. The image involves graphs or some kind of data. Your response must have the crucial information conveyed through the image.

Tips:

  • Try to concentrate on and understand the crucial information conveyed through the image.

Re-Tell Lecture

It is about listening and watching a lecture video and re-telling in own words. So, you get tested for listening and speaking skills. The lecture video’s usual length is 90 seconds, the preparation time is 10 seconds, and the time to answer is 40 seconds. There is no option to re-record your response.

Tips:

  • Lecture audio comes with an associated image. You get 3 seconds before the audio starts. Use that time to understand the information shown in the image. It will give you an idea regarding the topic of the lecture.

Answer Short Questions

 It is another listening and speaking test. You need to listen to audio questions of 3 to 9 seconds. The time to answer each item is 10 second on average. You get only one chance to record your response. No retake.

Tips:

  • Start speaking your answer as soon as the question audio stops. It saves time. Besides, the microphone stops recording if you pause for more than 3 seconds. 

Essay Writing

 You need to write a 200 to 300 words essay on a given topic. It tests all the necessary writing skills and sub-skills in depth. The time to answer is 20 minutes. PTE is strict about the minimum and maximum word limits. The scoring of the test item depends on:

  • Correctness of the response

  • Logical structure of the response

  • Writing within word limits 

  • Precise use of language

So, practice writing on topics from newspapers within time and word limits.

Tips:

  • Follow the keywords in the test prompt and take note of them.

  • Identify the topic of the essay. Often test-takers mistakenly misunderstand the topic.

  • Give your point of view if the essay prompt asks for it.

General PTE Speaking & Writing Tips & Tricks

  • Do not practice taking mock-tests in a quiet place: In PTE Speaking patterns, every test-taker needs to speak aloud to record their responses. So, you cannot expect a pin-drop silence in a PTE test hall as there will be other test-takers. The use of desktop keyboards of other test-takers also generates low yet constant noise. If you have trouble concentrating, avoid taking mock tests in absolute quiet. A little noisy environment will be suitable for your practice tests.  

  • Do not forget to check your microphone before the test starts.

  • Allotted headphones are usable but not of the highest quality. So, do not practice with your music headsets.  

  • Never forget to keep track of the clock.

 Do not get overwhelmed by so many types of speaking & writing questions. PTE syllabus & pattern is designed to allocate maximum time for Speaking & Writing section because these skills are critical for any international student. The only way to overcome the PTE Speaking & Writing challenge is by taking mock tests and identifying loopholes in your skills. Try to identify the pattern. Fix the loopholes in your language skills instead of trying to learn English from the bottom up.