PTE Exam Format 2022

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PTE Exam Format

The Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE) is a widely accepted English language certification test that is taken by students and professionals. Universities, corporations and governments recognize the PTE Academic as an unbiased measure of a candidate’s proficiency in the English language. While preparing for this exam, it is important that you are well acquainted with the exam format in order to understand the different test sections. So, in this blog, we will explore the major details of the PTE Exam Pattern, along with things that you must keep in your mind while undertaking the test. 

Exam Pearson Test of English (PTE)
Conducted by  Pearson Inc.
Types 1. PTE General [Conducted to reward excellent achievements in English language learning.

2. PTE Academic [As an English Proficiency Test for those aiming to work or study abroad]

Eligibility Criteria PTE General: None
PTE Academic- Age limit: 16 years and above
Exam Fee 15,900 INR
Mode Online

Latest Update for PTE Exam

PTE has launched a shorter version of PTE Test and PTE at Home which started from November 2021. From October 25, 2021, candidates can also book ‘PTE at Home’ as well as PTE Academic online test which started on November 16, 2021.

PTE Exam and Its Types

There are two types of PTE exams, i.e. PTE General and PTE Academic. PTE General is only conducted for rewarding brilliant achievements in English language learning and is not used as an English proficiency test. On the other hand, PTE Academic is the major exam that you can undertake if you are planning to work or study abroad. in addition to TOEFL and IELTS scores, the PTE Academic exam is accepted by a number of institutions in countries like the United States of America, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada among others. The PTE exam format is also the same for all institutions around the world, however, it’s better to check with the institution for preference.

Credit: PTE Academic

PTE Exam Registration Process

  • Visit the official website of PTE
  • Agree to the terms & conditions box and select your prefered test centre with date & time
  • You will be redirected to another page, enter the PTE appointment details and pay the fee
  • After paying the fees, take a printout and your registration process is complete

PTE Exam Format – At a Glance

The PTE Academic tests a candidate on his speaking, writing, reading and listening skills. Completing all of the sections on average takes around 2 hours. Take a look at the bifurcation of minutes and tasks for the three sections of the PTE Academic:

Section Duration Tasks
Speaking & Writing 54-67 Minutes Personal introduction
Repeat sentence
Read aloud
Re-tell lecture
Describe image
Summarize written text
Answer short question
Essay (20 mins)
Reading 29-30 Minutes Reading & writing: Fill in the blanks
Reading: Fill in the blanks
Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers
Multiple-choice, choose single answer
Re-order paragraphs
Listening 30-43 Minutes Summarize spoken text
Fill in the blanks
Multiple-choice, choose single answers
Multiple-choice, choose multiple answers
Select missing word
Highlight correct summary
Highlight incorrect words
Write from dictation

PTE Exam Format: Speaking and Writing (54 – 67 Minutes)

Source: E2 PTE Academic

In the PTE exam format, the speaking section examines your English proficiency skills in reading, writing, and listening. Here are the common elements in the speaking section:

Tasks Description
Personal Introduction In this section, candidates are required to speak about themselves. There are 25 seconds for preparation and 35 seconds for speaking. This section is not graded but it provides an opportunity to become familiar with the test environment.
Read Aloud A 60-word text appears on the prompt and a candidate is required to say the whole length of the text aloud after hearing the tone. You can record your response only once.
Repeat a Sentence A recording of a sentence is played into the headphones of the candidate and he needs to repeat it as clearly as possible
Re-tell a Lecture In this part of the PTE exam format, a lecture is shown or played on headphones. Test-takers are asked to speak aloud in their own words what they think about it.
Describe an Image Candidates during this phase need to describe an image shown on the prompter for around 40 seconds. They are given 25 seconds to prepare.
Answer Short Questions This short section requires a test-taker to answer a question in one or a few words.
Summarize Written Text The summation skills of a candidate are tested here when he/she is asked to write a sentence summary after reading a text of nearly 300 words.
Essay A topic-based essay of approximately 250 words is the requirement of this section. Candidates are given a total of 20 minutes of time to think, construct and present their ideas.

Speaking and Writing Exam Pattern 

Tasks Question Per Task Duration Per Task
Personal Introduction 1 55 seconds
Read Aloud 6-7 30 – 40 seconds
Repeat a Sentence 10-12 15 seconds
Retell a Lecture 1-2 90 seconds
Describe an Image 3-4 25 Seconds
Answer Short Questions 5-6 20 Seconds
Summarize Written Text 1 Sentence Summary 10 Minutes
Essay 1 essay 20 Minutes
Total Questions 28 – 36 Time: 54 – 67 Minutes

PTE Exam Format: Reading (29 – 30 Minutes)

Source: E2 PTE Academic

Below elaborated are the tasks included under the PTE exam format for the reading section:

Tasks Descriptions
Fill in the Blanks In this section, incomplete and gap-filled sentences appear on the screen in front of the candidate. You are required to select suitable words from the words displayed to complete the sentence in a correct manner. There is another question on fill-in-the-blanks which is a shorter version. An 80-word text with gaps needs to be filled with the right combination of words displayed separately.
Multiple Choices, Multiple Answers A passage is displayed on the screen. Based on the reading of the passage, the candidate has to answer a question having multiple correct answers.
Re-order Paragraphs This is a common question on many English tests. Multiple boxes with phrases appear on the screen which need to be arranged in the correct order to form a grammatically coherent sentence. Read every text before rearranging them.
Multiples Choices, Single Answer In this section of the PTE exam format, the examinee is shown a long text of approximately 250 words. After careful reading, you are required to attempt a multiple-choice question with a single correct answer.
Reading and Writing Fill in the Blanks In this section, a text appears on the screen with several gaps and you need to drag words from the box below to fill the gaps

Reading Exam Pattern 

Tasks Questions Per Task Duration Per Task
Fill in the blanks – Reading & Writing 5 – 6  Read 300 words of text
Multiple Choice, Multiple Answers 1 – 2 Read 300 words of text
Re-order Paragraph 2 – 3 Read 300 words of text
Fill in the blanks – Reading 4 – 5 Read 300 words of text
Multiple Choice, Single Answer 1 – 2 Read 300 words of text
Total Questions 13 – 18 Time: 29 – 30 Minutes

PTE Exam Format: Listening (30 – 43 Minutes)

Source: E2 PTE Academic

For the final section of the PTE Academic format, here are the major 8 tasks that it contains:

Tasks Description
Summarize Spoken Test An audio recording is played. Candidates are required to write a 50-70 word summary of the recording on their understanding of the recording. A total of 10 minutes are allotted for this task.
Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer On the basis of a short recording, the candidate is questioned on any aspect of it through a multiple-choice question. This question can have multiple right answers so make sure to listen intently.
Fill in the Blanks A gap-filled transcript of a recording is displayed on the screen. Based on the recording played, the gap needs to be filled with the appropriate word. The option of taking notes is provided for this part of the PTE exam format.
Highlight the Correct Summary A recording is played for you. Based on its content, the candidate is asked to choose the paragraph that closely reflects the summary of the recording.
Multiple Choice, Single Answer Based on the understanding of the recording, a multiple-choice question with a single correct answer is put forward. Candidates need to select the option that best reflects the meaning and sense of the played recording.
Select the Missing Word According to the audio recording, the candidate needs to select a suitable word from the displayed choices.
Highlight the Incorrect Word The transcript of the audio played in the above section is then displayed. Select those words that are not correct in the transcript.
Write From Dictation The recording plays a short sentence. You are expected to rewrite the sentence correctly.

Listening Exam Pattern 

Tasks Questions Per Task Duration Per Task
Summarize Spoken Test 1 – 2 60 – 90 seconds to retain 50 – 70 words, 10 minutes to write
Multiple Choice, Multiple Answers 1 – 2 40 – 90 seconds to prompt
Fill in the Blanks 2 – 3 30 – 60 seconds
Highlight Correct Summary 1 – 2 30 – 90 seconds
Multiple Choice, Single Answer 1 – 2 30 – 60 seconds
Select Missing Word 1 – 2 20 – 70 seconds
Highlight Incorrect Word 2 – 3 15 – 50 seconds
Write from Dictation 3 – 4 3 – 5 seconds
Total Questions 12 – 20 Time: 30 – 43 Minutes

PTE Exam Format for General Test

Though only utilised as a language proficiency test by a few select countries and not accepted for visa and immigration purposes, the PTE General test is mainly undertaken by those aiming to evaluate one’s ability to communicate in English. The PTE exam pattern for the General Test comprises two sections, i.e written and spoken tests that analyze the reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills of the test-taker. There are six levels of proficiency under the PTE General, i.e. Foundation level (A1), Level 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, and are linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Refer to the table below for a better understanding:

Level Time Duration Explanation
Foundation Level 1 hour 15 minutes Suited for beginners, and tests the writing and speaking skills
Level 1 1 hour 35 minutes Suited for beginners, and tests the writing and speaking skills
Level 2 1 hour 35 minutes Suited for intermediate candidates, and tests the writing and speaking skills
Level 3 2 hours Suited for intermediate candidates, and tests the writing and speaking skills
Level 4 2 hours 30 minutes Suited for higher education candidates, and tests the writing and speaking skills
Level 5 2 hours 55 minutes Suited for higher education candidates, and tests the writing and speaking skills

Also Read: PTE Exam Syllabus

 PTE Components

Here are the major components of the PTE exam pattern:

  1. Question: For this, you are given time to read your prompt. It depends on the length of the question. The length is measurable in words or sentences. 
  2. Prepare to Answer: In this, you can take time to think about the answers. On average, you get 10 to 15 minutes to answer the questions. You should relax and think for a while about the question.
  3. Answer: Time to share your answers. This is the total duration you get to answer the questions. The answer is recorded when you speak, saved as text when you write and selected in options of multiple choice.

PTE Mock Test

Here is a Mock test of the PTE exam that you could take and check your preparedness levels:

Source: E2 PTE Academic

PTE Exam Validity

When it comes to the validity of English proficiency tests, there is not much difference in TOEFL, IELTS, and PTE. Just like the former 2, PTE exam scores are valid for two years from the date of the test. Furthermore, an important advantage that the PTE Exam has over the TOEFL is that it provides the candidates with the option to send their scores to as many institutions as they want.

PTE Exam Pattern for Australian PR

For attaining Australian PR students must have the required PTE score, knowing the exam pattern beforehand will help you understand the exam pattern and scheme better.

Part 1: Speaking & Writing

  1. Personal information
  2. Repeat sentence
  3. Answer short question
  4. Summary Writing
  5. Essay

Part 2: Reading

  1. Fill in the blanks
  2. Jumbled Words

Part 3: Listening

  1. Summarize spoken text
  2. Fill in the blanks
  3. Highlight correct summary
  4. Missing word
  5. Write from dictation

PTE Test at Home

You are not allowed to appear for PTE exam at home, the exam is computer-based and requires to you take the test from the authorized exam centre. In other words, you need to do the test on a Pearson computer in a Pearson-secured test room

PTE Exam Preparation

  1. Make a Study Plan: To crack any competitive exam, it is imperative to draft a study plan and schedule that ensures your timely preparation for the exam. Your study plan to crack the PTE must be carefully devised while keeping in mind, the concepts you need to strengthen as well as the ones you are good at
  2. Improve your vocabulary: In order to enhance your vocabulary, you must read a newspaper daily as well as inculcate the habit to learn a few new words every day. Highlight the new words you come across while reading a book or newspaper and look out for their meanings in a monolingual dictionary
  3. Improve fluency and pronunciation: No matter how well you focus on accentuating your writing and reading, the Speaking section emphasises on assessing your fluency, pronunciation and impromptu response.

PTE Results & Score

PTE Results are announced within 48 hours. You will receive your PTE scorecard which will include a Score Report and a Skills Profile that will help you in understanding test scores, language skill levels, and areas of improvement. Although every university has different requirements for PTE scores, in general, your undergraduate score should range between 51-60 and postgraduate courses should range between 57-67. Here is a comparison of PTE scores with IELTS and TOEFL.

PTE Exam
Credits: PTE


What is the format of PTE?

For the two types of PTE exams, the paper pattern is slightly different. The PTE General Test consists of two sections, namely the written and spoken tests. The PTE Academic comprises three sections, i.e. Speaking & Writing, Reading, and Listening which one needs to complete in 3 hours and an optional 10-minute break is also allowed between the reading and listening sections. 

Is the PTE exam easier than IELTS?

PTE and IELTS are quite different in the type of questions and assessments they include though the exam pattern is slightly similar. PTE is considered easier by candidates but IELTS is a more widely accepted one as an English Language Proficiency Test across the top academic institutions and countries around the world.

What is the PTE exam for Australia?

PTE Academic is amongst the major English Language Proficiency Tests accepted by the Australian government for their visa application process.

How many questions are there in PTE?

There are 20 different types of question formats comprised under PTE Academic.

The PTE exam format is a comprehensive one and aims to test your overall grasp of the English language. Skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening are thoroughly tested in the exam. If you are preparing for the PTE exam, Leverage Edu experts can assist you with practicing and mastering every section of the exam with the right knowledge and tips.

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