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PTE

PTE is Pearson Test of English. The reference here is to PTE (Academic Test). It is different from PTE (General). It consists of six tests at different levels (A1, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) designed to assess general English language proficiency. Both the test types are intended for test takers who are speakers of other languages (ESOL).

Like IELTS and TOEFL, PTE (Academic) is designed to assess the English language skill of candidates who want to study in an English Speaking Country. However, PTE is different from IELTS and TOEFL in several important respects.

  • First and foremost, unlike IETLS but like TOEFL, PTE is an online internet based test.
  • More importantly, PTE is totally free of human intervention; it is a Computer-based Computer-assessed test.
  • All the items in PTE (Academic) are machine scored.
  • In a way, PTE is the new age language ability test that is free of any cultural or native skill bias.
  • An indirect but equally important benefit of the computer-based computer-assessed interface of PTE (Academic) is that the assessment is instantaneous.
  • The result can be made available to the student immediately after the test.
  • Unlike IELTS and TOEFL that assess the test-taker for communicative skills only (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing), PTE also assesses the test-taker for enabling skills (Grammar, Oral, Fluency, Pronunciation, Spelling, Vocabulary, Written Discourse). Apart from the composite score, PTE (Academic) rates the test taker separately on each of these parameters (4+6), to a Scale of 10-90.

NOTE:  The test takes approximately three hours to complete. This includes an un-timed introduction to the test and an optional scheduled break of up to 10 minutes.

Parameter IELTS TOEFL PTE
Registration time 15 Days 7 Days 48 Hours
Result 13 Days 14 Days 5 Business Days
Time between two attempts 2 weeks 2 weeks 5 Days
Test duration 2 Days 4 Hours 3 Hours (single sitting)
Test dates Fixed Fixed Flexible

Comparison of IELTS/TOEFL/PTE Scores

Source: www.pearsonpte.com/test-takers/result/

PTE (Academic) Structure

There are three parts as below that are separately timed:

  • Speaking and Writing
  • Reading (Optional Break)
  • Listening

The test structure can be represented by a brief graphical outline as shown below:

Total Test Time

Speaking and Writing Number of Items Total Time = 77 – 93 minutes
Introduction 1 1 minutes
Read Aloud (6–7) 30-35 minutes
Repeat Sentence (10–12) 30-35 minutes
Describe Image (6–7) 30-35 minutes
Re-Lecture (3-4) 30-35 minutes
Answer Short Question (10–12) 30-35 minutes
Summarize Written Text (2–3) 20–40 minutes
Write Essay (1-2) 20–40 minutes
Reading Number of Items Total Time = 32 – 41 minutes
Multiple-choice, Single answer (2–3)
Multiple-choice, Multiple-answer (2–3)
Re-order Paragraphs (2–3)
Reading: Fill in the Blanks (4–5)
Reading & Writing: Fill Blanks (5–6)
Listening Number of Items Total Time = 77 – 93 minutes
Summarize Spoken Text: (2–3) 20–30 minutes
Multiple-choice, Multiple-answer (2–3) 23–28 minutes
Fill in the Blanks (2–3) 23–28 minutes
Highlight correct summary (2–3) 23–28 minutes
Multiple-choice, Single answer (2–3) 23–28 minutes
Select missing word (2–3) 23–28 minutes
Highlight correct word (2–3) 23–28 minutes
Write from dictation (3–4) 23–28 minutes

PTE Score

PTE (Academic) provides the taker composite or overall score as well as a separate score for each of the communicative and enabling skills.

Overall Score

The composite score is based on the test taker’s performance on all test items (70–91 items of 20 different types). The score given for each item contributes to the overall score. The score range, for each parameter as well as overall, is 10–90 points.

Communicative Skills Scores

The communicative skills measured are listening, reading, speaking and writing. Items testing these communicative skills also test specific enabling skills. For items integrating various communicative skills, the score contributes to such different communicative skills are involved. The score range for each skill is 10 – 90.

Enabling Skills Score

The enabling skills—grammar, oral fluency, pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary and written discourse—are tested in related assessment items in speaking and writing. The score range for each skill is 10 – 90 points. No enabling skills score is awarded if the response for the related item is inappropriate in content or form. An essay write-up unrelated to the topic assigned, for example, will earn no score, even for the related enabling skills. In relation to form, if a task requires a one-sentence summary of a text and the response consists of a list of words, no score points for the response will be given.

Two Types of Scoring in PTE

There are two types of question items, and hence, two types of scores in PTE:

  • Correct/Incorrect Items (Full credit or zero credit)
  • Partial Credit Items (Correct/Partially Correct/Incorrect)

      The score for these items is based on

    • Correctness
    • Formal aspects (e.g., word limit)
    • Quality of response (assessment of enabling skills)

Essay Scoring System

  • First Check Point:
    Content: If score is 0 (no response or irrelevant response), no other aspect is checked and overall essay score is 0.
  • Second Check Point:
    From: (If a score is received for content)
    Appropriate length of essay: If score is 0 (much below or much above the word limit), no rating is done on vocabulary, spelling, grammar; development, structure, coherence, and general linguistic range.
  • Third Check Point:
    Enabling Skills: Score for content, form and enabling skills add up to the total essay score.

Machine Based Scoring System

Since the marking for all the communicative and enabling skill is machine based, PTE has well-defined system for scoring. The following is a summary of the defining criteria respect of various test items and the corresponding scores.

Speaking
Score Defining Criteria
Content For questions type where exact answers are required (Read Aloud, Repeat Sentence etc.), replacements, omission or insertions of words count as errors. For long answer type items, like Describe Image or Re-tell Lecture, the scoring is based on how many of the key elements in the image/lecture have been covered in the response.
Other Communicative Skills Other defining criteria are pronunciation and oral fluency (i.e. how natural and native-like they are). The important thing to note here is not to confuse pronunciation with accent. Native-like pronunciation means the correct way to pronounce the word, not the way it is accented by native of, say Britain or America (US)
Writing
Content:
Score Defining Criterion
3 Adequately deals with the prompt
2 Deals with the prompt but does not deal with one minor aspect
1 Deals with the prompt but omits a major aspect or more than one minor aspect
0 Does not deal properly with the prompt
Form:
Score Defining Criterion
2 Length is between 200 and 300 words
1 Length is between 120 and 199 or between 301 and 380 words
0 Length is less than 120 or more 380 words. Essay is written in capital letters, contains no punctuation or only consists of bullet points or very short sentence
Development, Structure and Coherence
Score Defining Criterion
2 Show good development and logical structure
1 Is less well structured; some elements/paragraphs are poorly linked
0 Lacks coherence and consists of lists or loose elements
Grammar:
Score Defining Criterion
2 Has correct grammatical structure
1 Contains grammatical errors but with no hindrance to communication
0 Has defective grammatical structure which could hinder communication
Vocabulary :
Score Defining Criterion
2 Has correct choice of words
1 Contains lexical errors but with no hindrance to communication
0 Has defective word choice which could hinder communication
Spelling:
Score Defining Criterion
2 Correct spelling
1 One spelling error
0 More than one spelling error
READING
Score Defining Criterion
Content For all the question types in the Reading Section, there are definitive right answers. But these are all, except the items on Multiple-choice, Choose Single Answer, partial credit items. For Multiple-choice, Choose Multiple Answers items, you get 1 credit for each correct response and – 1 for each incorrect response (subject to a minimum score of zero). For Fill in the Blank items, you get 1 credit for each correct response and 0 credit for each correct incorrect response. For Re-order Paragraph items, you get 1 credit for each correct adjacent pair and 0 credit for each incorrect pair. In Reading Section, Multiple-choice, Choose Multiple Answer is the only item type that attracts negative marking. So, you are free to guess your answer for all question types, except Multiple-choice, Choose Multiple Answers.
READING
Score Defining Criterion
Content For the Listening Section, there are 8 items in all. Foe Summarize Spoken Text, scoring system is identical to the one described above in respect of Writing Section. There are five items viz. Multiple-choice, Choose Single Answer, Highlight Correct Summary, Fill in the Blank, Select missing Word, and Write from Dictation where you get i credit for each correct response and 0 credit for each incorrect response. There are two other viz. Multiple-choice, Choose Multiple Answer and Highlighter Incorrect Words, where you get 1 credit for each correct response and 1 credit (negative marking) for each incorrect response. Here too, you are free to guess your answer for all question types, except these two.

Maximizing your Score with Machine Based Scoring System

Since the entire scoring system is machine-based (no human touch at any stage). It is essential to keep note of small details so as to avoid being penalized for any small deviation from prescribed norms. Such precautionary advice is given question-wise in the following chapters.

Is There any Negative Marking in PTE?

There is no negative marking in PTE (Academic) except in ‘Multiple-choice, Choose Multiple Answer’ and ‘Highlight Incorrect Words’ questions. So, for all the questions, except the two types as mentioned above, don’t leave a question unanswered even if you have to guess.

In ‘Multiple-choice, Choose Multiple Answer’ and in ‘Highlight Incorrect words’ questions, how-ever, you need to be careful. Your score is i for each correct option selected and (-) 1 for each incorrect option selected.

On the Test Day

Reach the designated PTE test center at least 30 minutes in advance, so as to pass security and get the documentation/check-in done. You need to bring only the acceptable ID. On arriving at the test center, you need to check-in with the test administrator.

  • You need to show your ID and ‘sign in’ digitally.
  • You get your digital photograph taken.
  • You also get your palm digitally scanned.

The test administrator then assigns a locker to check-in your belongings. No papers are allowed inside except the documents required. You are now ready to take your assigned seat in a secure cabin.

How is the Test Conducted?

You are also allowed time for equipment check. There is an untimed test introduction at the start that tells you what to expect in the test. The test takes approximately three hours to complete, including an untimed Personal Introduction and an optional break of up to 10 minutes. There are three timed parts, consisting of Speaking & Writing, Reading, and Listening, each of which will have a number of question types and a number of items under each question type.

FAQs

    What happens if there is a problem with my computer during the test?

    Raise your hand and tell the test administrator. They will do whatever they can to help and will ensure the problem is recorded and reported. Make sure you tell the test administrator about any problem you feel affect your ability to complete the test.

    Can I take notes during the test?

    You are given an erasable notepad (about 5 sheets of A4 paper). If you run out of space, you can ask for another notepad. Ensure that the pen given to you is also working properly.

    Can I correct my answer during the test?

    For other than spoken response—yes; but this should be before you move on to the next item. You can correct multiple-choice responses (click again to deselect your answer) and typed responses (use the cut, copy and paste option). For spoken responses, you can correct yourself in the same breath. But you cannot re-record any spoken response afterwards. The microphone will switch off automatically if you are silent for more than 3 seconds during an answer.

    Am I penalized for wrong answer?

    For most question types, there is no negative marking. So you must not leave a question even if you have to guess. However, for ‘multiple-choice, choose multiple answer’ and for highlight incorrect words’, there is indeed penalty for wrong option selected. So, you need to be more careful here.

    Are all communicative skills score (e.g. reading, writing) weighted equally?

    Yes all the score in PTE (Academic) are presented on a scale of 90. There is a composite or overall score in the range 10-90. Then there is a score for each of the communicative skills (Speaking, Writing, Reading and Listening) and each of the Enabling skills (Grammar, Oral Fluency, Pronunciation, Spelling, Vocabulary and Writing Discourse), again in the range 10 – 90.

    How long is my score report valid?

    Your score is valid and available online for two years.