PTE General 101: Everything You Need to Know about This Test + 20 Resources

PTE General 101: Everything You Need to Know about This Test + 20 Resources

Going to start PTE exam preparation? Great! We have plenty of useful information for you. Learn the essentials about the test format, its sections, and features.

In this article, you will find all you need to get the highest score. Even more: grab expert tips to boost your English language proficiency and make your exam preparation effective. And if you think that you’ll need more content to practice, you can find it in our essay database.

Let’s dive in!

What is PTE General.

What You Need to Know About PTE Test

At first sight, the PTE test (Pearson Language Test) might seem too complicated. Don’t worry! Below, we will break down the PTE test format, general information about the exam, and explain the PTE test score system.

Are you ready to learn more about PTE? Keep reading!

What is PTE Test?

Pearson Language Tests is a part of the Pearson PLC, one of the world’s leading learning companies. Before we proceed further on the test details, let us tell you about its history.

Back in 1982, the PTE General and PTE Young Learners were developed by the University of London. Later, the Examination Board of the University merged with the Business & Technological Council and became Edexcel, the education and examination body. In 2005, Pearson PLC acquired Edexcel, and now it is the only private examination body in the UK. Later, in 2009, Pearson Language Tests launched the PTE Academic, which 6,000+ organizations and government bodies recognize.

Today, Pearson Education Ltd offers 33 vocational and academic qualifications. In this article, we will consider two PTE test types:

  • PTE General (Pearson English International Certificate) is mostly used for English learning purposes and assesses all four language skills: reading, listening, speaking, and writing. The test isn’t recognized for immigration purposes—only for learning and, in some cases, work purposes.
  • PTE Academic is accepted both for study and immigration purposes. It also evaluates speaking, writing, listening, and reading skills.

Who accepts PTE General?

If you plan to study in the US, UK, Canada, or Australia, you should take the PTE Academic test. New Zealand and Australia recognize the results of this test for work and immigration visas.

In contrast, PTE General is mainly taken by English language learners to measure their language skills, track progress, and determine their weaknesses. Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Switzerland, Greece, Spain, Poland, and other countries accept PTE General for higher education and employment purposes.

What is the difference between PTE General and PTE Academic?

To tell the two tests apart more easily, check out the table below with all the essential information about them:

PTE General PTE Academic
Purposes Work and study mostly in non-English speaking European regions. Work, immigration, and study in English-speaking countries.
Validity Forever 2 years
Test Dates February, May, June, October, November, December Every month; depends on the test center
Registration Via the test centers Online via the Pearson official website
  • Spoken interview
  • Written section, evaluating listening, reading, and writing
  1. Speaking section
  2. Writing section
  3. Reading section
  4. Listening section
Duration 1.5 to 3 hours 3 hours

Please note that these tests have different assessment systems. Thus, during the PTE General, you write a paper and have an interview with a human. In contrast, the AI evaluates the PTE Academic version of the test.

How Is PTE Test Score Calculated?

PTE General and PTE Academic are scored differently. Below, we will show you how the score is calculated in both versions and the correlation between PTE Academic and IELTS band scores.

We already mentioned that PTE General has two parts: spoken and written. Both sections can give you a maximum of 100 score points: 20 for the speaking part and 80 points for the written component. In its turn, the spoken part has two tasks with a weighting of 10 points each. The PTE writing component has 40 reading, listening, and writing items with a weighting of 2 points each.

Check the table to see the distribution:

Task Number Skills Tested Task Type Items Score
Written part
One Listening 3-option picture-based multiple choice 8 16
Two Listening Match name to picture-based object 7 14
Three Reading Match question to answer 5 10
Four Reading Match revelation to picture 5 10
Five Reading Match word to picture 8 16
Six Reading and writing Fill gaps 7 14
Total 40 80
Spoken part
Seven Speaking Question and answer Minimum 2 10
Eight Speaking Short talk 1 10
Total Minimum 3 20
Total score 100

Now, let’s discuss PTE Academic scoring system. The first thing you need to know is that the test utilizes automated machine-based scoring.

The maximum score in PTE Academic is 90 points. This score is based on the performance of all test items. In fact, your score depends on two factors:

  • Communicative skills: includes reading, writing, speaking, and listening. This test contributor’s score ranges from 10 to 90 points.
  • Enabling skills: includes pronunciation, oral fluency, grammar, spelling, and written discourse. These skills are assessed on your performance in all four sections. The maximum score is 90 points.

In the chart below, you can convert PTE Score To IELTS Score and TOEFL iBT Score.

PTE Academic IELTS PTE Academic TOEFL iBT
86 and above 9 84 and above 120
83-85 8.5 78-83 113
79-82 8 72-77 105
73-78 7.5 68-71 99-100
65-72 7 64-67 94
59-64 6.5 59-63 87-88
51-58 6 53-58 79-80
43-50 5.5 50-52 74-75
35-42 5 46-49 65-66
30-34 4.5 42-45 54-56
38-41 40-44

PTE Test Dates

Depending on the test type, the dates will vary. Below, we will discuss both PTE versions in detail.

First, let’s talk about the PTE General. The test dates may vary depending on the location. Some centers offer test sessions in February, May, June, October, November, and December, while others can offer you only one or two dates.

If you decided to take PTE General, you can reach your local representative or send inquiry to the head office.

PTE Academic has a completely different registration system and you can choose the most convenient date. In most cases, you can find available test dates every month.

All you have to do is to register at the Pearson website, choose the nearest PTE test center, and book a convenient PTE test date.

PTE Test Format

The exam assesses four skills: speaking, writing, reading, and listening. Prepare to spend about three hours to fulfill the test.

PTE speaking tasks evaluate your communication and comprehension skills. In the PTE writing section, you will be asked to summarize the text and write an essay. The PTE reading assignments include multiple-choice questions, paragraph reordering, and filling the blanks tasks. Besides, you need to summarize spoken text, highlight summary, and select missing words in the PTE listening part.

Now, let’s clarify their details!

PTE Speaking tasks.

PTE Speaking: Practice Tips and Resources

PTE Speaking and Writing section will take from 70 to 90 minutes. This is the first section you will face at the exam. Want to find out what to expect?

Keep reading!

Before you start completing tasks, you should record a brief personal introduction. This task is not assessed and is for security purposes only.

Now, let’s take a closer look at all 5 types of speaking tasks:

  1. Read aloud
    In this task, you will see a short text passage that you have to read aloud and record it. You will have 30 seconds to prepare. The recording will stop after 40 seconds. However, if you remain silent, it will stop after 3 seconds.
  2. Repeat sentence
    You will listen to the recording and repeat the sentence you heard. No rush. Speak clearly and check the recording status.
  3. Describe an image
    You will see an image: a map, graph, chart, table, or picture. Your task is to study it and then describe it within 40 seconds. Make sure to include as many details as possible.
  4. Re-tell a lecture
    In this task, you should listen to the lecture, prepare a response for 10 seconds, and summarize what you heard with your own words. Similar to previous tasks, you are limited to 40 seconds.
  5. Answer short question
    Listen to the audio and answer the question. You can reply with one or a few words. You’ll have to think fast because the microphone will start recording after only one second. If you remain silent for three seconds, it will turn off.

To help you succeed on the test, we prepared few recommendations for you. Here they are:

  1. No rush. You will be limited by the time but this doesn’t mean that you should answer as quickly as you can. Practice normal speech speed.
  2. Learn to summarize. Practice retelling short lectures without paying attention to details. You won’t have much time, so learn to pay attention to crucial ideas.
  3. Avoid unnecessary pauses. Remember that microphone will turn off if you remain silent more than three seconds. Also, try not to speak before recording starts — your answer will not be recorded.
  4. Work on your vocabulary. You will need to explain an image with your own words. Make sure that you can find synonims to terms, know their meaning, and can use them properly to describe images.
  5. Practice speaking. Try to find English speaking clubs near you to practice speaking. If this option is not available, you may check the online resources and even take the tutoring sessions with native speakers.

Is it not enough?

Take a look at the following study materials and resources for PTE speaking test preparation:

  1. Preply
    On this website, you can choose among 19,000+ English tutors and book one-on-one session. Choose tutors who specialize in PTE preparation, select their country and schedule a meeting. The pricing varies depending on instructors.
  2. Verbling
    This platform is similar to Preply. You can choose the teacher or apply for a live online class. The pricing depends on the tutor’s level.
  3. PTE Academic Gold
    The PTE Academic Gold releases up-to-date videos that will familiarize you with the latest PTE tasks and answers. Watch the videos to understand what to expect and what you should learn. Here you will also find daily tips and techniques on every PTE section.
  4. Coeffee
    Coeffee gives an opportunity to learn new words and phrases in easy and fun way. Play games and expand your vocabulary. Moreover, you can practice English speaking skills chatting with peers from all over the world. The website is free, however, you need to register and complete the test to measure your vocabulary.
  5. Practise your PTE Academic Speaking Skills course by FutureLearn
    This free online course by MacQuarie University will help you to achieve the desired score on PTE exam. Enroll when you want and study at your own pace.
PTE Speaking tasks.

PTE Writing Tips and Resources

PTE Writing section will take approximately 30 minutes. You will have to complete two tasks:

  • Summarize written text. This task requires you to create a summary of a given text. You need to write only one sentence that is no longer than 75 words. Include the key points and make it concise. You will have only ten minutes to complete the task.
  • Write an essay. Some students consider this part the hardest. You are required to write 300 words argumentative essay within 20 minutes. You will get the prompt and should express whether you agree or disagree with the statement. Develop your point of view and support it with evidence or examples from your experience.

Wondering how to master these assignments? Check some tips below:

  1. Avoid slang. You should write an essay using academic language. Using slang in your writing (and speaking section too!) would seem out of place.
  2. Pay attention to spelling, punctuation and grammar. Every error in writing section means you get less points for the task. We recommend you to read academic texts and practice rewriting them. Pay attention to spelling and grammar.
  3. Write argumentative essays. The best way to learn how to write an essay is to write them every day. Check out some university guides to learn more about academic paper writing. By the way, daily writing practice can improve your reading skills and expand vocabulary too.
  4. Practice to write complex sentences. The Summarize Written Text task will require you to write a summary in only one sentence. You should learn how to use connector words and extract the text’s main idea.
  5. Learn the limits. Your summary sentence must meet the limit between 5 and 75 words while essay should contain 300 words. If you write beyond the word limit, you won’t get the points. That’s why we suggest you to practice writing according to these limitations.

How about some useful materials to practice PTE writing skills? Try the following educational resources:

  1. English Grammar in Use
    These books are #1 choice for language learners. English Grammar in Use covers all the grammar you need at your level: from A1 to C2. Every book is developed for self-study and you can work out with the grammar you find too difficult. 
  2. Quizlet
    This is a powerful tool to learn new words. You can find flashcards on every topic or create your own deck. Quizlet has online apps for both iOS and Android, so you can work on your vocabulary on the go. Moreover, you can learn word pronunciations from native speakers.
  3. StudyCorgi Essay Database
    Yes, we have plenty of argumentative essay samples here. Choose the subject and read papers on various topics. Find out more about the structure, transition between paragraphs, arguments and evidence. The access is free and requires no registration.
  4. EnglishClub
    This website contains plenty of useful resources to boost your vocabulary and improve grammar. Here you will find lists with words on various topics, grammar articles, games and e-books.
  5. Grammarly blog
    You might have heard about this powerful app that makes your texts shine. Use the app to correct the grammar and spelling in your writing. Every time you click on the highlighted text, you will see the explanation of the mistake. We also recommend you to bookmark their blog. Here you will learn about academic writing, grammar, and get some actionable tips.
PTE Reading Tasks.

PTE Reading Section: Tips and Resources

PTE reading section has five types of tasks. Here they are:

  • Multiple Choice Questions (select a single option) requires you to read a prompt and answer the questions. You have to choose only one correct answer. Make sure you won’t spend more than three minutes on answering PTE reading questions.
  • Multiple Choice Questions (select multiple options) format is similar to the previous one, but you have to pick more than one answer. Try to spend maximum 3-4 minutes on these questions.
  • Re-order Paragraphs task will test your ability to sequence sentences and paragraphs in a logical manner.
  • Fill in the Blanks would suggest you to drag the correct words to their corresponding spaces in the text. Remember that you shouldn’t leave any field without an answer.
  • Reading and Writing: Fill in the Blanks task is similar to the previous one. You will have to read a 300-word text with some missing keywords.

Wondering how to prepare for this section?

Here are a few of simple but still effective tips that will help you successfully pass the exam:

  1. Master time management. You will be limited by the time and will have up to 40 minutes for the entire PTE reading section. That’s why we suggest you to practice reading tasks and decrease the time you spend on each one of them.
  2. Learn grammar rules and practice vocabulary. It might seem obvious, but you won’t succeed without grammar essentials. Pay attention to collocations, common expressions, and idioms. You may use flashcards to memorize the rules and new words. 
  3. Read a lot. Simple yet effective technique will help you to boost your English reading skills. Try to read various texts: from newspapers to scholarly literature. Make sure that you can define the key idea of each paragraph and proceed with the details.

Want more?

We would like to help you improve your reading skills. Check out the following useful study sources:

  1. E2 PTE Academic
    Jay’s YouTube channel is entirely dedicated to PTE preparation. You will find plenty of advice regarding reading, speaking, and writing techniques that will help you to succeed on the exam.
  2. Dream English Education
    Another YouTube channel to learn how to get highest PTE score. Here, you will learn lots of new strategies and up-to-date techniques to boost the preparation process.
  3. International Certificate – Test Centre Handbook V7.7
    This is the official PTE General handbook to learn everything you need to know about the test. The book has a detailed description of each section, scoring, and test timing.
  4. PTE Tutorials App
    In case you don’t want to waste any free minute, you can install the PTE Tutorials app on your smartphone or tablet. You can answer the questions, practice speaking and reading just like the real test. The app is available both for iOS and Android operation systems.
  5. PTE Academic Official Practice App
    With this app, you will learn the detailed information about the exam, become familiar with question types, and complete interactive practice tasks. You can download the app from the App Store or Google Play.
PTE Listening Tasks.

PTE Listening: Strategies and Resources

PTE listening section can take up to 60 minutes, depending on tasks. You will listen to short recordings related to humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.

Some tasks are similar to those you face when working on reading section. We are talking about multiple choice questions and fill in the blanks. Let’s take a look at unique tasks:

  • Summarize spoken text. You will listen to a short recording for 1-1.5 minutes and write a brief summary of what you heard. Try to keep it short – within 50-70 words. Make sure you include the crucial points.
  • Highlight correct summary. The task is pretty simple: listen to the recording and choose the right answer that best summarizes the audio.
  • Select missing word. You will listen to the short audio for 20-70 seconds without last words and then choose the right ending for the recording.
  • Highlight incorrect words. This task will require you to listen to the audio and read the transcript. You need to find some of the words that speaker did not use in the recording.
  • Write from dictation. Simple: listen to the sentence and type it in the text box. You will get a point for every correct word.

Note that you can listen to the recordings only once, so make sure you are ready for the tasks and won’t miss anything. Now, let’s talk about strategies you can use to prepare for this section:

  1. Listen to native speakers. The best way to boost your listening skills is to listen to various speakers with different accents. We suggest you to pay attention to native speakers from the UK, US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Also, you can listen to non-native speakers from Europe, India, and China. This will help you learn the different pronunciations.
  2. Keep a diary. When listening recordings, write down the title and try to summarize each one of them. This will help you learn how to define key ideas of spoken passages.
  3. Take notes. This is a crucial skill that will come in handy on PTE exam and will work for every section. Learn to use symbols, abbreviations, and shortenings as you won’t have much time on the test.

Now, check out the following helpful PTE listening sources:

  1. Aussie English
    The best way to become familiar with Australian pronunciation is to listen to this podcast. Here you will learn more about Aussie slang, listen to interviews, and get some useful tips. You can listen episodes on the website, YouTube, Spotify, iTunes
  2. VoA Learning English
    If you are looking for American English, subscribe to VoA podcast. You will find plenty of topics from daily news to science and technology. The content is free and you can listen to the audio wherever you are.
  3. English We Speak by BBC
    The next podcast in our list is English We Speak provided by BBC World Service. Learn British pronunciation in easy and fun way. The duration of an episode is only 3-5 minutes.
  4. Culips Cutterbox
    Become familiar with Cadanian pronunciation with Culips podcast. You will find over 200 episodes on any topic: beauty, health care, news, interviews, and more. Choose any platform you like: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or watch episodes on YouTube.
  5. Live Online Radio
    If you love listening to the radio, then this platform is just for you. Choose any country you want, add a plugin to you browser or download an app and enjoy live streams.

All the websites we listed above are free and you can access them whenever you want. We recommend to practice listening daily.

Thank you for reading this short and comprehensive article. We hope it will help you to get the highest score in the PTE Academic and PTE General exams.

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