We’ve all been there: the butterflies in the stomach, the sweaty palms, the dry mouth. Test day is most people’s worst nightmare. But how can we feel as prepared as possible before PTE test-day?
Tips to follow on PTE test-day
1. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
It seems like an obvious thing to say, but it bears repeating. Whatever you don’t know at 8pm the evening before the PTE you aren’t likely to know the next morning. Break off from your preparations before dinner then try to relax. An early night wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. Waking up refreshed on PTE test-day can make all the difference in the world.
2. A little anxiety can be a good thing
Somewhere between the blind panic that grips most people on test day, and the over-relaxed “yeah, whatever!” attitude of a small minority sits the ideal, PTE test-day candidate’s disposition: a little nervous, clear-headed and well-prepared. It means you are less likely to be complacent or make silly mistakes on test-day.
3. Be aware of your weaknesses and play to your strengths
If you didn’t understand absolutely everything you heard in the talk for Retell Lecture or Summarise Spoken Text, try not to worry about the 20% you found confusing. Focus instead on the 80% you did understand. You will have plenty of material to draw from. And when you prepare your essay or Summarise the Written Text, demonstrate your writing talents by using commonly used conjunctions correctly rather than trying to force in words that you would never otherwise use. ‘Because’, ‘and’, ‘as’ and ‘but’ may not be dazzling, but they still serve a useful purpose.
4. The PTE is not IELTS
This might be a little obvious, perhaps, but it’s pretty common for candidates to start preparing for the PTE after failing to achieve their desired score on the IELTS. This is perfectly understandable, but don’t walk in on PTE test-day thinking you’re about to take ‘a high-tech version of the IELTS’. It categorically is not. Get familiar with the format of the tests, how long you have to do each section and the criteria that will be used to grade you.
Speaking of which, unlike the IELTS, the PTE does not use old-fashioned pencil and paper, so remember….
5. Check your Microphone
Time and again we hear complaints from E2Language candidates who have taken their PTE and failed the speaking. They are convinced that the microphone did not record them properly. If you are in any doubt on the day of the test, put your hand up right away and complain to the invigilator. Your chances of challenging the recording equipment after the test are virtually zero.
Also, understand this: Pearson make it clear that it’s almost impossible to review your score. As a matter of fact, it’s quite easy to lodge a challenge to your PTE score if you’re willing to pay for it, but you are strongly discouraged from doing so. We have had thousands of clients, past and present, and we can say that the number of people who have successfully challenged their PTE results can be counted on one hand.
6. Watch the Clock
We try our hardest to drill into you how important it is to respect the clock when describing an image or retelling a lecture. Most of you know this off by heart. Too many marks are lost in other parts of the PTE by candidates who get stuck into overlong analyses of texts that will end up eating into their overall time allocation for that section. You can’t ‘borrow’ time from one part of the test and add it onto another, so keep your wits about you! Don’t let the stress of PTE test-day make you overthink too much!
Knowing how much time you have makes a huge difference, question-by-question, and section-by-section.
7. You’re Writing on a computer: Take full advantage!
The old-fashioned pencil-and-paper tests are a challenge. (Who actually writes on paper anymore?!) The PTE is all done on a computer, which should delight those of you who find writing by hand – indeed, writing in general – a struggle.
If you usually spend too long writing your introduction, perhaps start with the second paragraph of your essay. Summarise Written Text requires you to come up with a 30-35 word sentence, but there’s no need to start at A and end at Z. Start with a basic, true idea and build it out, one clause at a time.
8. Headphones aren’t the best
If you’re used to listening to high-quality sound on your noise-excluding Bose earphones, you’re in for a nasty shock once you sit down for your PTE. There might be a couple of dozen other candidates surrounding you, and their priority is not your aural comfort.
Having said that, try to be as respectful of others as you would have them be to you. Don’t shout at the top of your lungs to drown out your neighbours. Apart from being profoundly inconsiderate, it will probably end up distorting your recording and bring your speaking score down.
A tip for diligent PTE candidates: practice your speaking at home with the radio on in the background, preferably in your native language. Make sure that the volume is turned up reasonably high. It will be distracting at first, but over time you’ll learn to blank it out and focus on the task at hand.
9. Remember our Methods!
We teach you the best methods for a reason: they work! Use them to your advantage on PTE test-day!
Written by: Colin