PTE Exam Format

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 13,300 INR
Mode Online

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 Academic Exam Format & Pattern

The PTE Academic tests a candidate on his speaking, writing, reading and listening skills. Completing all of the sections on an average takes around 3 hours. Take a look at the bifurcation of minutes and tasks for the three sections of the PTE Academic:

Section Duration Tasks
Speaking & Writing 77-93 Minutes Personal introduction
Repeat sentence
Read aloud
Re-tell lecture
Describe image
Summarize written text
Answer short question
Essay (20 mins)
Reading 32-40 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 45-57 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

Speaking and Writing

In the PTE exam format, the speaking section examines your English proficiency skills in reading, writing, and listening. Here are the common elements on 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 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 into the 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.
Summarise 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 time to think, construct and present their ideas.
Tasks Number of Items Scoring Prompt Length Skills Assessed Time to Answer
Personal Introduction 1 Partial Credit 25 seconds Speaking 30 seconds
Read Aloud 6-7 Partial Credit Text upto 60 words Reading and Speaking Varies
Repeat a Sentence 10-12 Partial Credit 3-9 seconds Listening and Speaking 15 seconds
Re-tell a Lecture 3-4 Partial Credit Upto 90 seconds Listening and Speaking 40 seconds
Describe an Image 6-7 Partial Credit N/A Speaking 40 Seconds
Answer Short Questions 10-12 Correct/ Incorrect 3-9 seconds Listening and Speaking 10 Seconds
Summarise Written Text 1 Sentence summary Partial Credit Text upto 300 words Reading and Writing 10 Minutes
Essay 1 essay Partial Credit 2-3 sentences Writing 20 Minutes


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 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 needs 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 screen with several gaps and you need to drag words from the box below to fill the gaps
Tasks Number of Items Scoring Prompt Length Skills Assessed
Fill in the Blanks 4-5 Credit Text upto 80 words Reading
Multiple Choices, Multiple Answers 2-3 Credit Text upto 300 words Reading
Re-order Paragraphs 2-3 Credit Text upto 150 words Reading
Multiples Choices, Single Answer 2-3 Correct/ Incorrect Text upto 110 words Reading
Reading and Writing Fill in the Blanks 5-6 Credit Text upto 300 words Reading and Writing


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 to 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 the 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.
Tasks Task Scoring Prompt Length Skills Assessed
Summarize Spoken Test 2-3 Partial Credit 60-90 seconds Listening and Writing
Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer 2-3 Partial Credit 40-90 seconds Listening
Fill in the Blanks 2-3 Partial Credit 30-60 seconds Listening and Writing
Highlight the Correct Summary 2-3 Correct/ Incorrect 30-90 seconds Listening and Reading
Multiple Choice, Single Answer 2-3 Correct/ Incorrect 30-60 seconds Listening
Select the Missing Word 2-3 Correct/ Incorrect 30-60 seconds Listening
Highlight the Incorrect Word 2-3 Partial Credit 20-70 seconds Listening
Write From Dictation 3-4 Partial Credit 3-5 seconds Listening and Writing

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).

 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 an average, you get 10 to 15 minutes to answer the questions. You should relax and think for a while on 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 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.


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 written and spoken test. 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 section. 

Is 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 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 format 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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