Comprehensive Guide to PTE Academic

In recent years, Pearson Test of English (PTE) has emerged as the most popular English proficiency exam for Australian PR applicants. Some say that it is not as difficult as the IELTS test, however, you still need to prepare well to make sure that you can get the highest points for SkillSelect. If you need help preparing for the PTE Academic test then this comprehensive guide is for you.

PTE Academic At A Glance


PTE Academic Fees (AUD)

The exam fees for PTE Academic test is $375 (including GST). You can pay by credit card.


Results Available (hours)

PTE Academic results are typically available within just 48 hours of taking the test.


Max. Visa Points

You can claim 20 points for English proficiency in the points-based PR application for Australia if you score at least 79 for each of the four PTE test components.

If you score at least 65 for each component then you get 10 points.

PTE Academic Exam Format

What is the PTE Academic?

Pearson Test of English (PTE) is the English test for people who are willing to study abroad and immigrate for career and business purposes. It is an international computer-based exam, and the result typically is available within five business days. The review offers the measure of the language ability required for the education institutions, government, and other professional organisations in different countries. These organisations demand a standard proficiency with the English language as they onboard people for the admission process.

Various tasks involved in PTE Academics determine the score for the exam. You will be evaluated in different aspects of the language, and the scores will be provided.

Which English proficiency skills are tested in PTE Academic?

PTE Academic evaluates four primary skills – Listening, Writing, Reading, and Speaking. The test is usually conducted for three hours. It will also include an untimed introduction for the analysis and an optional break of 10 minutes. You will be given the general introduction for the test. It covers the understanding of what to expect and what each part of the test will look like. Because each part of the test contains a certain number of sections, and each of them is individually timed. Overall the PTE academic features 20 different items, each assessing one or more language skills.

What types of questions are asked in Speaking section of PTE?

There are 5 item types under speaking which includes

  • Read Aloud
  • Repeat sentence
  • Describe Image
  • Re-Tell Lecture
  • Answer the questions

In the speaking section, you are required to respond orally to questions using native English speech or close to it. The fluency, correct intonation, stress on the syllable, and pronunciation are essential elements that you need to focus while preparing for speaking and reading. PTE Academic identifies different English pronunciation and regional usage; therefore, the estimated time to understand and respond is given the high priority over here. Even though these assessment sections are not time individually, there is no going back to correct the mistakes anywhere.

What types of questions are asked in Writing section of PTE?

There are mainly two item types checked under the writing section

  • Summarise written text
  • Write an essay

Writing is usually tested to check your ability to answer the question in standard academic English. Using the correct grammar and spelling here is one of the most important things that the evaluators will look for. PTE Academic accepts various country standards when it comes to English spelling: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. You can choose to spell using any country standard but make sure that the spelling convention is followed consistently.

Even though there is a time constraint with this section, there are different combinations. For example, the test provided may require two summaries and one essay to be completed in 40 minutes. There may also be three summaries and one essay in 50 minutes or two summaries and two essays in an hour.

What types of questions are asked in reading section of PTE?

The Reading section assesses your comprehension skills with authentic English text from any academic source. The reading section is an integrated system testing for both writing and reading overall. However, the item types in this section majorly evaluate reading skills even though writing is also part of it. The item types for the reading section will include:

  • Multi-choice question – Choose a single answer
  • Multi-choice question – Choose Multiple answers
  • Rearrange the order in Paragraphs
  • Fill in the Blanks
  • Integrated exam – Fill in the blanks: Reading and writing

The total time provided for reading assessment is approximately 32-41 minutes. Similar to writing, the reading assessment will depend on the combinations provided at the test. 

The authentic texts provided to you will be from the academic subjects like psychology, humanities, social science, and natural science. The theme is not highly complicated, and mostly you will be familiar with the topics presented. All the information required to answer the items is already there in the provided text.

What types of questions are asked in listening section of PTE?

Listening items test your ability to understand spoken English. An audio or video is played from an authentic lecture. This may sometimes be a presentation or dialogue from an academic source of any acclaimed university. The total time given to complete the listening skills is 45-47 minutes. Here also you have an integrated system of analysis to evaluate reading and writing along with majorly listening skills. You need to be careful with the grammar and spelling in this section of the PTE Academic.

There are usually seven item types under the listening section, namely:

  • Multi-choice – choose multiple answers
  • Fill in the Blanks
  • Identify the correct summary
  • Multi-choice – choose Single answer
  • Select the missing word
  • Highlight the incorrect words
  • Write from the dictation

Top Tips for PTE Academic

Thinking of taking PTE Academic test for Australian visa points? This comprehensive guide is for you.


Read Aloud

This section is quite straight forward. You will get around 7-8 questions in this section. Use the 30-40 seconds that you are given to read through the text to identify the difficult words where you might struggle. Pay attention to the punctuation marks in the sentences such as full stops and commas. Try to read the sentences like a news reader with some intonation and purpose. Download the templates below to help you structure your answer.


Repeat Sentence

You get around 8-10 questions in this section. Just concentrate on the sentence and try to repeat as many words in the right order as possible without any major pauses. Practice taking short notes. It is practically impossible to write every word while listening to the recording. So the focus should be on writing down short forms and key words and relying on your memory to connect the words to formulate a coherent sentence. Again, practice helps you here. Cm up w ur own shrt cts 🙂


Describe Image

You get around 6-8 questions in this section. This section can be quite daunting for many candidates as there were two much information to comprehend in a short span of time (35-40 sec) before you start speaking. Try to pick 2-3 key features from the image and talk about them in an organised manner rather than sharing (all/most of) the information haphazardly. You may get maps, graphs (line-charts; bar graphs; pie-charts; trend graphs etc). Again templates can help you in this section.


Re-tell Lecture

This is yet another demanding section. Luckily you get around 2-3 questions in this section. Look at the image for some clues about about the narration. Try to note the key points and do not waste time on minor details too much. Understand the main theme of the lecture and try to start with that. Structure your answer using a topic sentence, references or examples if any and conclusion in 40 secs.


Short Answer Questions

There are around 10 questions of this type. Few questions are straight forward. For example, “If time period before noon is called ante meridian, what is the time after noon called". But, there are some questions where you might need to go through a process flow diagram or a chart to answer the short question. Just try to see and understand the give picture and answer.


Summarise Text

The trick is to write in ONE sentence. Try using transition words. The main strategy for this section is to understand what the given paragraph is trying to convey. Be objective, do not dwell over finer details. Try to use as many synonyms and substitutions as possible rather than repeating words form the paragraph.

Free PTE Level Check

Take our 5-minute PTE level check and receive a detailed report highlighting the areas where you need to improve the most to achieve your target PTE score.

Good luck to you with the PTE Academic exam as well as with your journey to becoming a permanent resident and citizen of Australia.

Still need more help? Contact our PTE Academic experts who will guide you step by step in preparing for the test.