Answer these PTE Describe Image Practice Questions | Boost your score!

Note: This article follows on from How to Crack PTE Describe Image: Formula & FAQS

Kick-start your PTE Describe Image practice by using the 4-sentence formula to answer these tricky example questions!  

So, these questions are designed to test your speaking skills.

Remember that you only have 25 seconds to prepare for the PTE Describe Image. You need to understand an image, think quickly and deliver fluent, grammatical and relevant sentences within a 40 second timeframe. What a challenge!

Use the 4-sentence formula (explained in the previous article above) and attempt the following PTE Describe Image practice charts by speaking to the following types:

  • Process/cycle
  • Flowchart
  • Line graph
  • Table
  • Bar graph
  • Picture
pte describe image   Practice recording your answers! 
PTE Describe Image Practice: Example of a Process or Cycle

PTE describe imageYour turn. Describe the process above.

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The image shows the design process for a new house. The process begins when the client completes a questionnaire and ends when a light-filled comfortable house is created. After a free initial consultation the design phase begins. Next is the pre-construction phase which is followed by construction.  During the final phase the keys are handed over and there is a maintenance check. After this the clients can enjoy their new home.

Language for PTE Describe Image 

Make sure you are confident with the language for images and that you can pronounce key words correctly. Your correct use of grammar and vocabulary will drastically improve your overall score.

PTE describe image

PTE describe image

PTE describe image

PTE Describe Image Practice

You’ve got the language. You’ve got the techniques. Now to truly feel comfortable with this task, you need to practice.

Here are some images. You have 25 seconds to prepare and 40 seconds to speak.

Example 1 – Flowchart

PTE describe image

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The image shows the Enquiry Process and Terms of Reference for Australia in 2015. The process begins with the Terms of Reference and ends with the Government response. At the beginning there is initial research and consultation followed by an Issues Paper and a call for submissions. Then there is a Review of Submissions. Later a Discussion paper is produced. This is reviewed and after further consultation a final report is produced. This then goes to the government and a response is given which may involve a change in the law.

Example 2 – Line graph

PTE describe imagePossible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The line graph shows the crude death rate for infectious diseases in the US from 1900 to 1996. The highest rate of deaths was in 1920 whereas the lowest was in 1980. The number of deaths fell consistently over the period apart from the peak in 1920 and a rise after 1980. Possible reasons for the overall fall in deaths from infectious diseases may be related to the introduction of penicillin and vaccines.

Example 3 – Table

PTE describe image

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The table shows the demographic composition of white-tailed deer pre-hunting populations in North Carolina on a 30,000 acre area from 1965 to 2000. The largest total number of deer occurred in 1965 while the smallest number occurred in 1985. Numbers of males declined throughout the period while female numbers fluctuated, but were always higher than males. A possible reason for fluctuations in numbers may be related to climate conditions.

Example 4 – Bar chart

 PTE describe image

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The bar graph shows the distribution of vehicles by origin and type. The most common vehicles were sedans whereas the least common where hybrids.  The majority of sports cars and wagons came from Europe, but overall the largest numbers of cars came from Asia and the USA.  A possible reason for the popularity of the sedan may be that it is a family car and is suitable for a vast range of consumers. The hybrid may be the least popular because it is expensive.

Example 5 – Picture

 PTE describe image

Possible Response

Click to show/hide answer

The map shows the Republic of Cyprus. The largest region on the map is the Republic of Northern Cyprus while the smallest is Episkopi in the south. The island is in the Mediterranean Sea and the north and south are separated by a UN buffer zone. The Troodos Mountains run through the regions of Paphos and Limassol in the south. A possible reason for the UN buffer zone may be political differences.

Note: Be flexible with maps. An extra sentence was added before the conclusion in order to make 30 seconds.

There you have it! Some great PTE describe image practice questions that are similar to what you will get on test-day! Avoid these common PTE mistakes for PTE Speaking!

For more specific PTE task practice, try these PTE Repeat sentence practice activities from our blog! 

Follow our social media for more information on the PTE! 

Written by Melinda. 

How To Crack PTE Describe Image: Effective Formula & FAQs

This article for PTE describe image will feature methods and practice examples to prepare you for the trickiest PTE task on test-day! 

Unpacking PTE Describe Image

PTE describe image task seems to strike terror into even the most competent speaker. And, it’s not surprising!

You only have a few seconds to prepare for the PTE Describe Image and you need to understand an image, think quickly and deliver fluent, grammatical and relevant sentences within a 40 second timeframe. That’s clearly challenging.

So the big question is … are there any tricks or methods that will help? And the answer is ‘yes’ you can certainly reduce the difficulty; and you do this by reducing the decision making.

PTE describe image
Clever decision making will make the PTE describe image task more manageable. Let’s us show you how!

4-Sentence Formula 

Each image is different, but you can use a 4-sentence formula which will work for most images.

  1. Introduction
  2. Compare highest – lowest, most – least, maximum – minimum, and so on.
  3. Create a sentence about either similarities or about something unusual.
  4. Conclusion – summary, reason or prediction

This structure enables you to talk about three main features and if you keep your sentences simple, you’ll be able to do that in around 35 seconds.

Let’s break the four sentences down.

Sentence 1 – Introduction

Tell the listener what is at the top and bottom of the screen.

Instruction

Look at the graph below. In 25 seconds, please speak into the microphone and describe in detail what the graph is showing. You will have 40 seconds to give your response.

PTE describe image graph

Sentence 1: This line graph shows projected births in Australia from 2011 to 2101.

Sentence 2 – Body 1

Compare two things. This creates a complex sentence which is good for your fluency mark.

Sentence 2: The highest projected births are in 2101 whereas the lowest are in 2011.  

Don’t get too ambitious. Just stick to the formula. Don’t add information from the y axis because as soon as you start looking at numbers and trying to work out exactly what they mean, your fluency goes down.

[eg. “The lowest was in 2011 at 300 … no, maybe um, ah, 3 … 80. Yes 380. 380 what? Million? No. The lowest was in 2011 at 380 thousand. Yes.”] The Y axis is your enemy. Avoid it.

Sentence 3 – Body 2

Look for either similarities or something unusual. It doesn’t matter which. Go for whichever one you see first.

Sentence 3: Projections for Series C remain relatively steady throughout the period while Series B shows double the number of births by 2101 and series A has the highest increase.

Sentence 3 is the most challenging sentence. Sentences 1 and 2 are fairly formulaic. However, in sentence 3 you need to make some decisions.

You have an idea of what to look for (similarities or something unusual), but you need to decide what to talk about and how much to say. Be flexible here.

Sentence 4 – Conclusion

Keep this simple. For the conclusion, you can do one of three things:

Summary:

In conclusion the image shows that all predictions for birth rates in Australia show increases.

OR Reason:

A possible reason for the varied predictions may be that immigration figures will affect the growth.

OR Prediction:

It could be predicted that birth rates will continue to climb after 2101.

PTE describe image answer

Visit the article on PTE speaking preparation for expert speaking tips which will help boost your pronunciation and oral fluency skills.

Frequently Asked Questions for PTE Describe Image

PTE describe image
Got any questions about the PTE Describe Image task? Try some common FAQs below.

Q1. What should I do if I get stuck on content?

If you get stuck, go for fluency. It is better to say something relevant than to umm and err and say nothing much at all. If you are going for PTE 79, you will need to have strong content, but your fluency must also be high.

Q2. How can I get 5 out of 5 for content?

The criteria tell us that if you talk about all elements of an image you can get 4 or 5, if you talk about most elements, you can get 3 and if you talk about fewer, you can only score 1 – 2 for content.

What are the elements? They are not the things you see on the X or Y axis. They are the things in the legend.

In the image above, they are series A, B and C.  Note that in the example PTE Describe Image response above, the speaker mentioned all three elements.

So to get high content marks you need to aim to talk about all elements. Again you need to balance fluency and content, so if you can’t see how to group elements to cover all of them, go for fluency.

See what the common PTE speaking mistakes to avoid the same pitfalls.

Q3. How long should it be?

Anywhere between 30 and 40 seconds is fine.

Q4. What can I do for a process or a cycle?

These are a bit different. Use this structure.

Sentence 1: What are we looking at? – Title.

Sentence 2: Start and end of the process. The process begins with X and ends with Y.

Sentence/s 3/4 : Talk about some of the steps using some of the language on the image.

Sentence 4/5: What will happen next (after the last step on the image)?

Check out E2 PTE Channel for PTE Describe Image videos like this one below: 

Part 2 of PTE Describe Image will provide example questions that allow you to practice the 4-sentence formula.

In the meantime, check out a list of excellent PTE review materials and resources from E2Language! 

Be sure to follow our social media for more PTE resources and updates!

Written by Melinda.

10 PTE Repeat Sentence Practice Activities You Can Do Right Now!

A focused, methodical approach to PTE Repeat Sentence Practice is more important than you might realize. A lot of test-takers underestimate just how difficult it is to try and remember the exact formula of a sentence in their first language, let alone another language! 

To make matters worse, I have explored every corner of the internet to see what kinds of free PTE repeat sentence practice is actually available to PTE exam hopefuls- and I’m not very impressed with what I have seen. A lot of the repeat sentence examples and samples out there are flawed; they are usually either far too easy or far too difficult.

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice
When it comes to Repeat Sentence practice questions, you need the perfect balance!

The other (incredibly important!) point to consider is that it’s not enough to just practice PTE repeat sentence samples over and over again. Although practice is certainly key to success on this task, you also need to learn the right strategies for increasing your memory capacity and maintaining appropriate pronunciation and oral fluency.

First, Let’s Get You Prepared for the Repeat Sentence Task!

If you haven’t already, read our PTE Repeat Sentence Tips article before you attempt the practice questions below!

Check out Jay’s PTE Repeat Sentence SUPER STRATEGY class from our E2PTE Youtube Channel too!

By the way, you can fill out the form below to receive a free PTE study timetable and an E2Language PTE preparation course recommendation!


10 PTE Repeat Sentence Practice Activities

Okay, now that you’ve reviewed the tips and techniques for tackling this PTE speaking task, you’re ready for some practice. Click the audio boxes below to listen to the speaker. To reveal each sentence, click the “Answer” box.

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice
Listen carefully to the audio samples!

Make sure you listen carefully to each recording, some of them are quite tricky! You may also have to adjust to a different accent than you are accustomed to hearing. Don’t feel bad if you have to listen another time; this is just for practice!

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 1

Click to View Answer

I would prefer if you could call my cellphone rather than my landline next time.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 2

Click to View Answer

Solar power is going to replace coal and oil as our primary energy source in the near future.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 3

Click to View Answer

Please make sure that you collect all of your belongings and take them with you.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 4

Click to View Answer

Last winter, my heating bill was 3X the cost of the winter before AND I was still cold all the time!

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 5

Click to View Answer

The best advice a teacher ever gave me was to take organized and detailed notes in class.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 6

Click to View Answer

Cats are incredibly intelligent creatures, but nowhere near as friendly and affectionate as dogs.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 7

Click to View Answer

If you’re interested in free education, there are more opportunities than ever before to sign up for free online courses.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 8

Click to View Answer

Follow the signs directing you to the North parking lot and pick up a parking pass from the parking officer.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 9

Click to View Answer

It is estimated that over 500 sea turtles die as a result of plastic consumption every year.

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Practice 10

Click to View Answer

This year, you will not need a textbook because all required readings will be posted in the student portal.

 

Are you an expert at the PTE Repeat Sentence task yet? Be sure to let us know what your top strategies are in the comments! 

Be sure to follow our social media for more PTE resources and updates!

 

PTE Speaking Preparation Made Easy | Building Confidence for Success

Good PTE speaking preparation involves practicing your pronunciation skills and applying a strategy to each specific task. 

This article from E2Language explains what essential speaking skills you need to practice and how to improve these skills for test-day. 

Did you know that five different tasks contribute to your speaking score? However, PTE Describe Image is the only one that tests speaking alone. The others test both speaking and another skill.

PTE Speaking Test Overview

Speaking Listening Reading
Describe Image PTE
Read Aloud  
Repeat Sentence  
Re-tell Lecture  
Answer Short Question

There are strategies you can use to approach each PTE task that will help you to maximise your mark– and we’ll look at some of those later.

However, if your fundamental speaking skills are not strong, you will always score poorly. So you need to make sure that you are communicating effectively in English.

For speaking this involves your pronunciation, intonation, speed, word and sentence level stress and where you pause. Of course it also involves your confidence and anxiety levels.

For tips on increasing your oral fluency, read our PTE oral fluency blog!

PS: Would you like to receive a PTE preparation recommendation from E2Language?

Fill out the form below and we’ll email you with our recommendation for the right preparation course for you!

You need to work on all of these elements in your PTE speaking preparation.

Let’s look at each one of these elements in more detail!

PTE Speaking Preparation: How can you improve your pronunciation?

You need to identify any problem areas in your PTE pronunciation and oral fluency. This can be hard to do on your own. Asking a native speaker to help you can be very useful.

It is also helpful to look at common errors made by speakers of your first language. Some examples are listed below.

Arabic speakers: frequently have problems with v/f, b/f and with the long /a/ sound in ‘came’

Hindi speakers: v/w, t/d,s/z

Mandarin speakers: l/n and l/r as well as several vowel sounds

Cantonese speakers: l/r, /v/f, s/z, th/s,th/f, th/s, th/d

Urdu speakers: ch/k, ch/sh, c/s

Check to see if you are making errors typical for speakers of your first language.

You can also watch this E2Language Pronunciation Video on Word Stress and Emphasis!

Intonation

Can imitating native English speakers help your intonation?

Yes. ‘Shadowing’ is a useful way to manage this.

  • Find a TED talk on a topic that you enjoy.
  • Listen to the speaker for a minute.
  • Then click the ‘interactive transcript’ button below the video.
  • Read the script aloud.
  • Next play the video again and speak at the same time as the speaker (shadow the speaker).

It’s not easy, but it will help you to focus on when the voice goes up and down. Good intonation will help your speaking sound more English-like.

You can find some short TED talks here. You only need to use a paragraph at a time.

Speed of Speaking

Is speaking too fast a barrier for your communication?

If you already have problems with your speaking, then speaking quickly will make it even harder for other people to understand you. It adds another barrier to communication.

The normal speaking speed for a native English speaker is between 140 and 180 words per minute. Some people speak more quickly, but even with a fast native English speaker, the listener needs to work hard to catch it all.

In some languages, such as Hindi the ‘normal’ rate is much faster than English. So, when a Hindi speaker speaks English, they need to consciously slow down.

How can you slow down?

To slow down your speaking read a paragraph aloud and record it while you are reading normally. Then record it again while you deliberately slow down. Check it.

Does it sound better? Usually there is an immediate improvement to your communication as soon as you learn to slow down.

You need to practice this. It is achievable.

Word and Sentence Level Stress

Does stress really matter?

Yes! Incorrect stress is definitely a barrier to communication and many experts believe it is more important than pronunciation. It is a key part of your PTE speaking preparation.

Word Stress

Imagine you create a sentence like;

The water DEEpens as you go out further. (correct word stress)

If you mis-stress the key word, the listener will become confused.

The water deePENS as you go out further. (incorrect word stress)

The listener will be thinking, the water depends on what?

There are some basic rules for word stress. For example most two-syllable nouns and adjectives are usually stressed on the first syllable (CLImate, KNOWledge) while most two-syllable verbs are stressed on the second syllable (deCIDE, reQUIRE). The rules are not perfect, but they cover a lot of situations.

Do you want to learn more tips for PTE speaking preparation? View the E2Language Core Skills Pronunciation video here: 

Sentence Level Stress

English is a stress-timed language as opposed to a syllable-timed language. In some languages such as Cantonese, each syllable in a sentence is equally important and is stressed.

However, in English we only stress the words that carry the meaning. We don’t stress words that are structural (eg. of, the, and). Sentence level stress helps convey a lot of the meaning in English.

Look at the sentence below which shows the words a native speaker would stress. Non-stressed words are spoken more quickly while stressed words are louder and longer. Practice saying it. Does it sound natural to you?

“The RAINFALL in the last MONTH has been much HIGHER than would NORMALLY be expected at this time of year. In PAST years this has been quite a DRY MONTH.”

Pauses

How do I know when to pause?

You need to pause at every comma and full stop, but if they are the only places you stop, you will soon run out of breath. So you also need to stop after each unit of meaning or phrase. This helps you to manage long pieces of text, but importantly, it also helps the listener to follow you. If you don’t pause, the listener has problems understanding.

You can practice this by using the ‘interactive transcript’ for a TED talk (the button below the large picture and descriptive paragraph). Print out the transcript and mark where you think the pauses should be. Then listen to the speaker to see if you are right. Develop a feel for where the pauses should be.

Look at the text below to see where a native speaker would pause.

“Cats were first domesticated / thousands of years ago in Egypt. / It was a symbiotic relationship. / The cats benefited from living with humans / because it meant that they were fed / and had warmth and shelter. / People benefited from the relationship too / because the cats were useful for catching mice. / This meant that stored grains / and food supplies generally / were safer.”

Confidence and Anxiety Levels

What can you do to increase confidence and reduce anxiety?

There are two main things you can do:

Firstly, work on the general skills we have been talking about, and PTE Read Aloud is a great way to do that. Take a paragraph of text and read it aloud. Check your speed; especially if your first language is a fast language like Hindi. Then work on other areas like pronunciation, intonation and word stress. Focus on the areas you do need to improve.

Secondly, prepare carefully for the various PTE tasks. Understand the techniques and practise them.

PTE Speaking Preparation For Specific Tasks

Let’s look at PTE Speaking Test tasks now.

PTE Repeat Sentence

A good place to start is the marking criteria. There are 13 possible marks.

PTE speaking preparation

Note that to get 3 marks for content you need to get all of the words, but if you can’t, don’t panic! Any two words in row that are correct can count toward the 50% which will enable you to get 2 marks out of 3.

Top Tips

#1 Memorize the phrases

#2 Relax and focus

Watch this video from the E2 PTE Academic playlist for more ideas!

PTE Describe Image

Take note of the marking criteria:

PTE speaking preparation

You will be given 6 or 7 different images to describe which may include:

  • bar charts
  • line charts
  • pie charts
  • two different charts in one image
  • tables
  • pictures
  • processes
  • maps

Top tips

#1 Break it down into 3: introduction, body and conclusion

# 2 Introduction – describe title and x-axis

#3 Body – talk about differences (high/low) & either similarities or something interesting

#4 Conclusion – can be a summary, reason or prediction

#5 Speak for 30 – 35 seconds.

#6 Remain calm

#7 Be flexible

#8 Do lots of practice so you can be confident

PTE Describe Image Example

Try this example, then check the answer below:

PTE Speaking PreparationPossible Answer

“This image represents sugar cane production in Queensland from 1997 to 2003. The highest amount of sugarcane was produced in 1997 whereas the lowest amount was produced in 2001. Cane production figures fluctuated throughout the period but remained in a low range from 1998 through to 2001. A possible reason for the lows in this period may be related to drought or other weather conditions prevailing at the time.”

Learn more PTE speaking preparation tips by watching this PTE Describe Image video!

Be sure study hard on PTE speaking preparation, both general and task specific, in order to improve your communication in general and your PTE speaking test skills in particular.

Follow our social media for more information on the PTE! 

 

 

Written by Melinda G. 

 

PTE Repeat Sentence Tips

Note: You can hover your mouse/cursor over a red word to see its definition.

Many of our E2Language students have difficulty with the PTE Repeat Sentence task, which is certainly not as straightforward as it appears!

What’s important to understand is that this task is not just about pronunciation; it’s about memory as well. As a general rule, humans can only keep about seven small pieces of information in their short-term memory at one time, and (rather inconveniently!) the ‘Repeat Sentence’ task generally contains over 7 words.

This article will outline some tips that will help you work on sharpening up both your memory capacity and your pronunciation skills.

PTE Repeat Sentence
Perhaps healthy short-term memory is the missing puzzle piece to your PTE Repeat Sentence success…

PTE Repeat Sentence Tips for Pronunciation:

Among other skills, the PTE Speaking tasks assess your fluency and pronunciation, and these particular skills are especially important for the PTE ‘Repeat Sentence’ task. Many people who speak English in their everyday lives are surprised when they score low on pronunciation and fluency, and they can get quite discouraged with their abilities. The truth is, most ESL learners develop their own pronunciation habits and speed/rhythm without realizing it- and it’s hard for them to break these habits because they are totally unaware of them!

For instance, we currently have a student from Bangladesh who has the vocabulary of an experienced college professor but he speaks so darn fast that it’s incredibly difficult for a native speaker to understand him! Many of our students also have a habit of blending words together because they think this demonstrates fluency in English. For example: “He said I should explaimysituatioimmediatelyto my teacher.” Unfortunately, the PTE evaluators are looking for good enunciation, and the “blending” trick doesn’t work too well for test-takers.

So, besides practicing our awesome PTE oral fluency and pronunciation activities, what can be done?

Listen to a podcast, audiobook, radio show etc. in English every single day. Make sure that you are listening to a native speaker talk about a topic, and pay special attention to their intonation, speed and rhythm.

Go to Ted.com and watch one of the excellent “Ted Talks” provided there. Download the transcript for the video you are watching and read along, making notes of words you are unsure how to pronounce. Listen to how the speaker pronounces these words. Then, try recording yourself pronouncing the word or the sentence around it. Listen back to the original and compare it with your version.

Get a speaking partner. I cannot stress this enough! If possible, set up meetings with a conversation partner who is a native speaker, either online or in person. Not only can you practice using your grammar and vocabulary, you can work on imitating your partner’s accent and receive valuable feedback from them about your pronunciation and fluency.

Our E2Language PTE courses offer an app called ‘E2Pronounce’, in which you are scored on your pronunciation and given useful feedback about where you are going wrong. We also provide an academic word list to help you target your pronunciation for the PTE. You can check out our course options here.

PTE Repeat Sentence
Use E2Pronounce if you want to see a big improvement in  your pronunciation skills.

PTE Repeat Sentence Tips For Improving Memory

As I mentioned before, a large part of succeeding on the PTE Repeat Sentence task is your capacity for memorization. Many of our students run into the issue of not being able to remember a full sentence because it’s too long to memorize efficiently. Some people try to remedy this problem by taking notes while they listen- but this rarely works. Sadly, there simply isn’t enough time to record the entire sentence accurately.

PTE Repeat Sentence gc

When I took the PTE, I found that the best strategy was to close my eyes and focus completely on the audio. Remember though, I had the advantage of being a native speaker and therefore the ability to predict certain words based on patterns I commonly hear in English. Most ESL learners do not have this luxury. Here is what I suggest:

Start practicing specific memory games or activities to develop your short term memory. Take a look at these suggestions, or play an online memory game like this one. Expanding your short-term memory capacity will help you take in more information and keep it in your mind for a longer period of time.

Try “chunking” words together as you listen. This strategy is a commonly used technique for improving memory, and it comes in handy for short sentences in particular. What you need to do is group words together rather than processing them individually. For example, if you hear the sentence: “Last week I was told something completely different”, you can group the words into phrases like so: “Last Week”, “I was told” “Something completely different”. Understanding the components of each sentence as “chunks” rather than listening for each individual word makes it easier to recall the sentence accurately.

Take a look at our “PTE Repeat Sentence: Secrets for Success” video for another example of this strategy:

Practice, practice, practice! The more you hear examples of sentences like the ones you will hear in the real PTE exam, the more your brain will adapt to memorizing this information. You can use the Ted Talk strategy I mentioned above for pronunciation to help you here. Listen to the speaker in a video say a sentence, then pause the video and try to write down the sentence exactly as it was said. Rewind and check your answer, or check the transcripts for the video if you are still unsure. And if you haven’t already, sign up for our PTE free trial course and try out our practice questions. We have a lot of them!

Overall, the PTE Repeat Sentence task is all about practice. Make sure you check out our 10 free PTE Repeat Sentence Practice activities! You must practice imitating native speakers to improve pronunciation and fluency, and you must practice sample tasks in order to improve your memory capacity and technique. A lot of people fail this task simply because they think it will be one of the easier speaking tasks and they don’t bother brushing up on the skills it tests. Make sure you don’t make the same mistake!

Do you have any tips for ‘Repeat Sentence’? If so, we’d love it if you would share them with us below!

Follow our social media for more PTE resources and updates:

 

 

Written by Kaia.

5 Ways South Asians Can Improve Their PTE Speaking Score

This PTE speaking score improvement article contains several complex vocabulary words and expressions.These words are hyperlinked to their definitions to help you if necessary. Make sure you click on a word or expression if you do not understand it!

Over the life of this blog, there have been several excellent articles aimed at helping future PTE test takers improve their marks in the speaking section of the test. Kaia addressed these issues when she wrote entertainingly about her experience with the speaking section in her first PTE, and published another in which she gave some insight into how to improve one’s oral fluency.

Are you falling short on your PTE speaking score?

Issues arising from the speaking section, while relevant for all test takers, have special resonance for people from South Asia. It is all too common for people from the sub-continent to score well in the other three areas yet fall short – and often very short! – when it comes to their spoken performance on the PTE.

PTE Speaking Score
A number of test takers from South Asia struggle with their PTE speaking score in particular.

As I wrote in my previous blog post about Priyanka’s PTE success story, this can be extremely vexing for such candidates: they speak English very well, use English every day, work in English, write in English, make calls in English and yet, mysteriously, they are getting 48 in the PTE. In that article, I mentioned five key areas that south Asians need to focus on to ensure success in their PTE speaking score.

1) Do not speak too quickly.

It is essential that you adopt a speed which you can maintain for the duration of the test. Being an internet-based test, like the TOEFL, the PTE depends on your input to provide you with a score. But unlike the TOEFL, no human ears will hear your spoken submissions, meaning that every word you say must be recorded by the algorithm. You are not doing yourself any favours by prattling on like a lunatic.

The key to speaking in the PTE is quality rather than quantity. It is better that you say 40 or 50 words in 35 seconds and cover all the mains points than attempt to cover every single issue you have identified in a double graph, force out 100 words in 40 seconds and get cut off before your conclusion.

It is also very hard to sound natural if you are speaking too quickly, so just slow it down. A standard to measure yourself by is good quality news reading and high quality public speaking.

Check out Kaia’s “Common Questions” video for more tips about handling the time-limit and boosting your overall PTE speaking score.

2) Do not mumble.

If the computer cannot hear you, the computer cannot mark you. I hear from our students (and from Kaia!) that, out of respect for the people around them, they have tried to speak into the microphone in hushed tones when they are in the test centre. This simply will not do. Do not deny the computer the opportunity of hearing what you have got to say.

Many PTE test takers complain about how noisy the test centre can get during the test, especially during the speaking section. Well, it is what it is, and if you are having a problem with the noise remember that it is just as bad for everyone else. (Still, I think that noise-excluding headphones for everyone would be a very good idea.) A useful way of training for the test is to have a radio playing in the background while you are practicing your speaking. To make it even more annoying, make sure the background noise is in a language you understand, making it harder to tune it out. The more prepared you are for the realities of the PTE, the better your performance come test day. For more tips about adjusting to the noisy PTE testing environment, read our “PTE Exam Secrets” blog article.

3) Make sure your enunciation of words is clear.

Are you being clear about where one word ends and the next word begins? The careless blending of words, as opposed to the natural blending of words, needs to be dealt with. What does this mean for your speaking? Take, for example, the sentence: “We have been together for a long time.” Now, speaking naturally, this would come out something like: “Wiv bin tgethr fra long time.” Pronouncing every single phoneme would be forced and weird, but that is a little bit like the way you are meant to speak in the PTE.

When you practice on your own and recording your efforts, pay close attention to your enunciation. Are the words clear enough? If in doubt, re-record it as any times as it takes to make it clear as a bell. The PTE criteria ask test takers to speak clearly enough for a native speaker to understand you. I would go further and encourage you to speak clearly enough for a competent, non-native speaker to get every word. This will greatly help your PTE pronunciation and oral fluency scores.

Watch this video if you want to learn more about how an accent can affect your PTE speaking score.

4) Make sure your tone sounds natural.

You would probably agree that belting out your words at a mile a minute is a bad idea (see above), but you must not slow yourself down so that you end up talking like a robot from Star Wars! For example, saying “I-do-not-believe-that-there-is-any-good-reason-for-doing-this” would get you low marks, even though it’s grammatically correct. Why? Although you are pronouncing the words clearly, enunciating well, avoiding hesitations (see below) and speaking at the right pace, there is nothing natural about your delivery. Basically, keep it real!

PTE Speaking Score
Don’t be talking mechanically like a Star Wars Storm Trooper. Use the Force to maintain a natural balance… in your speaking, of course!

5) Avoid all hesitations, umms and aahs.

This is another part of normal, day-to-day speech that is totally unacceptable in the PTE. The most obvious thing you can do is slow down (see above). This will give your brain time to think of the words you are going to say next. Most of the time, words just tumble out of our mouths willy-nilly, so being fully aware of what you are saying can be a disturbing experience for many. It’s a bit like becoming aware of your breathing or blinking. Nevertheless, get used to doing this whenever you practice ahead of your test. It is a good idea to become self-conscious of this every time it happens. If you are recording yourself, go back to the start and try again. Do this, and you will notice a big difference in your PTE oral fluency score.

I promise you that making the most of these 5 suggestions will not only boost your PTE speaking score, but your overall confidence in spoken English too. Go ahead, try it out!

Follow our social media for more PTE resources and updates!

 

 

Written by Colin David.

How to Increase Your PTE Oral Fluency

Note: This PTE oral fluency article contains some complex English vocabulary. Many of these vocabulary words are linked to dictionary.com so that you can check their meaning while you read. Make sure you click on a hyperlinked word if you don’t understand its meaning.

Lately E2Language has received a lot of questions from students asking how to increase their PTE oral fluency score and their PTE speaking score in general. The good news is that fluency is easy to build; you just have to persevere through your insecurities. And trust me – everybody has insecurities about speaking in a foreign language! I have enough embarrassing French pronunciation stories to put you to sleep, so I won’t share them here. Just know you that you’re not alone!

First off, we need to draw a big distinction between two concepts that get confused a lot. These concepts are: fluency vs. accuracy.

English Fluency

Fluency is your ability to speak continuously in English without unnecessary pauses or fillers (umm, ahhh etc.), no matter how many grammar and vocabulary mistakes you make. Being fluent doesn’t mean you are speaking perfect English, it merely means that you are speaking comfortably and others are able to understand you. In my opinion, anyone can be fluent in English with enough practice and confidence.

PTE Oral Fluency
Fluency means speaking continuously, even if you make mistakes!

English Accuracy

Accuracy is your ability to speak fluently in English without making mistakes. Here is what you need to understand: fluency comes first and accuracy follows. You will never speak English with accuracy if you are not fluent first. And obviously, the more fluent you are, the more accurate you will become with practice.

So remember: When it comes to the PTE speaking section – and specifically – PTE oral fluency score, the test assessors are interested in how natural your speech sounds, how well it flows and how comfortable and confident you come across. They are not interested in counting the number of mistakes you make while you speak.

With this important distinction in mind, let’s get to some key PTE oral fluency tips!

PTE Oral Fluency Tip: Get a conversation partner

This is an incredibly helpful way to build your fluency over time. The key here is to pick a partner who is dedicated to simply having a conversation with you. This person should not correct you every time you make a mistake, nor should they give you any tips about the way you speak (at least not until the conversation is over!).  Find someone who speaks fluent English and who has interesting things to say about topics you want to discuss. Talk about the news, the latest movies or your relationships – whatever you find riveting! If you are interested in a topic, you are more likely to forget about the mechanics of the conversation and focus on enjoying the actual content.

Here are some do’s and don’t’s:

Do: pick an interesting conversation partner who is a native or near-native English speaker.

Do: talk about topics you are actually interested in, not just something related to PTE material.

Do: ask your partner to tell you what they notice is improving about your fluency after the conversation.

Don’t: ask your partner to correct you or give you language tips while you are talking.

Don’t: forget to have a two-way conversation with your partner, rather than a monologue of you practicing your English!

If you don’t know any native speakers of English or feel uncomfortable practicing with a friend, try conversationexchange or a similar website to find your conversation partner!

PTE Oral Fluency Tip: Build your vocabulary

One of the major reasons why people find it difficult to speak without pauses and fillers is because they are constantly searching for the correct vocabulary. Vocabulary is built over time, but there are a lot of ways to boost your repertoire on a daily basis. Check out our great PTE vocabulary article for some helpful tips about how to do this. And make sure you always follow these two important rules:

Rule 1: If you notice you use the same word all the time, go to thesaurus.com immediately and find some synonyms for that word. You must broaden your lexical horizons!

Rule 2: If you’re engaged in a conversation and don’t know a word, describe it to your conversation partner. Don’t stop talking! The person will likely supply you with the word you need and you can continue the conversation without interruption.

For example:

You: “I was walking past this place yesterday, it’s a place where people go when they don’t have anywhere else to stay and they live on the street…”

Conversation partner: “A homeless shelter”

You: “Yes, a homeless shelter. Anyway, I was walking past this homeless shelter and I realized that I really wanted to volunteer there.”

PTE Oral Fluency
Describe a word if you don’t know it, don’t stop talking!

PTE Oral Fluency Tip: Use English every single day

It doesn’t matter if it’s in the shower, to your cat, to the mirror or in your car. Use English as much as you possibly can. Some non-native speakers use English at work, with their friends or with their families. Even these people can benefit from chatting to themselves in the shower while they get ready for work or practicing a speech in front of the mirror. Practice builds confidence. The big advantage of practicing by yourself is that you can’t get embarrassed if you make a mistake. A little bit of practice every day could make an enormous difference to your confidence and – by extension – your oral fluency. So:

Do: Set aside time to speak in English every single day, even (and especially!) if you are all alone. Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth!

Do: speak about whatever comes to mind without worrying about grammatical mistakes.

Don’t: Beat yourself up about not knowing how to say something. Rather, try to look it up online or in a dictionary.

Don’t: Talk to yourself in public in front of strangers. You might get some strange looks! 🙂

PTE Oral Fluency Tip: Listen, listen, listen!

When you listen to people speaking English, stop worrying so much about what they are saying and start noticing how they are saying it. English has rhythm, tones and patterns that you might not be picking up on right now because you are so concerned about getting your grammar right! A large part of becoming a fluent English speaker is being able to mimic the way native-speakers talk. And at first it really will just be about mimicking them, because you won’t understand why people choose to talk the way they do. But after awhile, you’ll start recognizing patterns and you will be able to identify when it is appropriate to use a certain tone or inflection in your speech.

Here are some more do’s and don’t’s:

Do: listen to the radio, TV shows and people around you for clues about how people talk in different contexts.

Do: practice mimicking the way native-speakers use their voices to convey meaning.

Don’t: be so concerned about getting your grammar right that you end up talking like a robot.

PTE Oral Fluency
Listen to English audiobooks, radio and podcasts for speaking clues from native speakers!

Confidence is Everything

Overall, oral fluency is improved when you immerse yourself in English as much as possible and let go of your insecurities about making mistakes. It’s hard to let go of your fears, but as soon as you do, fluency becomes achievable, as does accuracy. Believe me, it’s easier than you think.

Follow our social media for more PTE Speaking Preparation resources and updates!

 

If you’re an E2Language student, make sure you’ve downloaded our app, E2Pronounce! It provides you with valuable feedback about your pronunciation and helps you build your academic vocabulary accurately. Also, make sure you check out our free PTE pronunciation and oral fluency activities!

 

Written by Kaia Myers-Stewart

PTE Vocabulary Tips

An extensive PTE vocabulary can make all the difference in all of the PTE tasks, and it’s crucial to make vocabulary expansion an integral part of your PTE preparation.

Vocabulary is one of the building blocks of language and a necessary requirement for success in the PTE. Being ready for the PTE requires a lot of preparation, including understanding the test, knowing the strategies, and practicing. In addition to all of that, you need vocabulary. It is essential for the reading section, the listening section, for writing a good essay and for being able to speak impressively in the speaking test. To do well, you need to know words. It is believed that it takes 15-20 exposures to a new word for it to become part of your vocabulary. So here are my top 10 methods for integrating new words into your English library.

PTE Vocabulary Tip: Read, read, read!

The more you read, the more words you’ll be exposed to. This is essential for PTE reading preparation, and for increasing your English fluency. Reading doesn’t have to be boring. Read about things that interest you: Food, gardening, fashion, celebrity news, economics, science, politics, etc. As you read, you will discover new words in context. You can infer the meaning of new words from the context of the sentence. If not, then look the word up in an English to English dictionary.

PTE Vocabulary
Reading is one of the most effective ways to expand vocabulary!

PTE Vocabulary Tip: Use an English to English dictionary and Thesaurus.

You can use hard copies or online versions such as dictionary.com and thesaurus.com.  When you come across a new word, look it up in the dictionary. An online dictionary will give you the definition and will let you hear the pronunciation. It’s important not to just use a translation tool. A translation may be helpful for you to understand the meaning of the word in your native language, but it will not help you integrate the word into your English mental library. You need to be able to think of the word in English, and not rely on a translation. Otherwise you will be thinking of the word in your own language and will have difficulty recovering it in English when you need it. Then use the thesaurus to find synonyms. You don’t have to memorise every synonym (there may be too many). Choose a couple of interesting ones and add them to your vocabulary journal.

PTE Vocabulary Tip: Use a vocabulary journal.

This can be a little notebook that you keep with you where you record new words that you hear or read. Steps 4-7 will explain useful ways to use a vocabulary journal.

PTE Vocabulary Tip: Organise your journal thematically.

Group words together that relate to a similar topic to make it easier to remember and relate them. These categories could be food, hobbies, nature, society, etc.

PTE Vocabulary Tip: List the different forms of the word.

For example its noun, verb, adjective and adverb form, as well as its past participle. Let’s take the word “manage”. It is a verb. The noun form is “management”, the adjective is “manageable” and the adverb is “manageably”. The past participle is “managed. Now you know five new words instead of one! A dictionary will usually give you the different word forms abbreviated as (n) for noun (v) for verb, (adj) for adjective and (adv) for adverb.

PTE Vocabulary Tip: Collocate!

List words that the word collocates with. For example, manage effectively; manage competently; efficient management; competent management, etc.

PTE Vocabulary Tip: Write, write, write!

Writing helps to ingrain new words into your memory. When we hear and see a new word, it becomes part of our passive Our passive vocabulary includes words that we can understand but not use. We want to make new words part of our active vocabulary. This means we can both understand and use new words. To do this, we need to use them! One way is to write sentences using the new word in two or more of its word forms. Even better, integrate reading with writing by writing a short summary of an article you have read using 2 or 3 new words from the article in their various forms. Remember to check your spelling! At the end of each week, go back to your list. Pick 10 words from that week and write a short story, even if it’s just 100 words. It can be a personal reflection, a review of something you read that week, or a practice PTE essay.

PTE Vocabulary Tip: Listen!

Hearing words in context will help you hear how words are used and also familiarise you with their pronunciation. Watch music videos or short movie clips on YouTube with English subtitles. When you hear a word that you don’t know, or have difficulty pronouncing, play it again and sound it out. Also, Ted ESL and Ted Ed are great sources for interesting and inspiring talks on a variety of topics. You can watch videos and read the transcripts to see the spelling of new words that you hear in the talks. This will help you understand the pronunciation of words, how they are used in context, and how they are spelt. You’ll notice the big difference this makes on your PTE Listening test, too!

PTE Vocabulary Tip: Learn a word a day.

Check the English Learner’s Dictionary word of the day for a new word each day with the definition, pronunciation, word form and example sentences. Add them to your journal list and use them in your journal writing and PTE writing practice.

PTE Vocabulary Tip: Speak!

Incorporate the new words into your everyday conversation. Talk to your friends about a movie you saw or an article you read, or a hobby you did, using new words you learned that week. The best way to remember words is to use them! This will grow your vocabulary and make the word part of your mental word bank. This will increase your speaking fluency which will help you in the PTE speaking test, and in your everyday English development.

 

Written by Jamal Abilmona.

Jamal Abilmona is an expert IELTS and PTE teacher, curriculum designer and language buff. She has taught English for general and academic purposes in classrooms around the world and currently writes e-learning material for E2Language.com.

 

4 Mistakes Everyone Makes on the PTE Speaking Tasks

The PTE Speaking Tasks are the hardest to master for many of our students.

I’ve spoken to a lot of students lately who have told me variations of the same concern: “I am a native or near native speaker and I am still scoring very low on the PTE speaking tasks. It’s destroying my confidence! HELP!” As somebody who has failed the PTE Speaking section, I completely understand how bad it feels when you don’t get the score you expect.

PTE Speaking Tasks

Speaking as someone who has been there, I want to say this to all those who have done poorly on the PTE speaking tasks: STOP beating yourself up over your speaking ability. You’re probably not as bad as you think. I don’t care what your level is either; I bet you are making at least one or two of the common mistakes I will describe below. And I bet it’s losing you points. To everyone who has lost confidence and felt defeated after receiving their speaking score: you can do this! You just need to be prepared.

Speaking of being prepared, make sure you download our free PTE Academic Word List:

Before I outline the 4 common mistakes that people make on the PTE speaking tasks, I just want to mention that my poor PTE speaking score was caused by “human interference” with my microphone. This means that I was making “plosive” sounds (caused by pushing out excess air when pronouncing the “P” and “B” sounds) and due to excess breathing noise. Essentially, my score was not a true representation of my speaking skills, and this brings me to a very important point for all PTE takers: if you listen to your voice sample at the beginning of the test and you hear loud breathing noises or a “thudding” sound when you pronounce P’s and B’s, you need to tell someone. This can and will affect your score.

Check out our latest YouTube video on PTE technology and testing environment here:

Now let’s get down to the 4 most common mistakes people make on the PTE speaking tasks!

Mistake #1: Speaking too fast

Many people make the mistake of thinking that a brisk talking speed is the same thing as fluency. We see this a lot with our E2Language students, and I can’t even tell you how many times we have told people to SLOW DOWN! You can have a very high level of English and still be completely impossible to understand.

For example, one of our top students is from India and considers English to be his first language. His grammar is perfect and his vocabulary is impressive, but he speaks even quicker than an auctioneer (and those guys speak FAST)! Although it took him quite a bit of practice to break the habit, it made a huge difference and he was finally able to achieve the PTE speaking score he needed.

Another thing to consider is that when people are nervous, they naturally speed up. We all do it, and it’s a natural reaction to stress. However, you need to be aware of yourself doing this so you can break the habit. No matter how anxious you are, you will benefit much more from speaking in a slow, measured way than you will from spouting out 1000 words per minute!

Mistake #2: Using too many fillers (“like” and “um”)

We are all guilty of this one, native English speaker included. Most of us use fillers while we are thinking of a word or concept to fill the next part of our sentence. In real life, people don’t even notice when you do this. But the PTE academic can be very unforgiving. Remember, you’re not in a normal situation. You’re not talking to a friend, you’re not telling your partner about your day. You are being assessed on your ability to access vocabulary and concepts quickly and accurately. Is this realistic? Probably not. But it is the reality of an English proficiency test.

In the PTE speaking tasks where you are required to say more than a few sentences (describe image and re-tell lecture), you are given some time to collect your thoughts before you are recorded. Use this time to mentally choose the 2-3 concepts you will address in your response so you are not scrambling to think of the next thing to say.

Another crucial thing about these tasks is that you must have your own format method already planned out before you go in to the PTE. In other words, you must have decided how you will structure your response so that you’re never unsure of what you are going to say. If you need an example of what this looks like, our PTE describe image webinar on YouTube provides a great method that works. 

Mistake #3: Use of colloquial language

What does this mean? Well, it means that you are using casual language instead of the more formal, academic language that the Pearson test assessors are looking for. You might say something like: “the trend in this graph shows that employment is gonna keep going up in Europe”. You may think that talking the way you often hear native speakers talk is an advantage, but the assessors are looking for advanced vocabulary and word structure, so it’s best to leave this kind of language to your social life.

How can you avoid this mistake? Pretend you are in a job interview. You would never speak to a potential employer the way you casually speak with a friend, and the same logic applies here. Impress the computer with your professionalism!

If you don’t have a clue what kind of language the PTE test assessors are looking for, think about every essay you have ever written. Those big, impressive words that got you an A+ and a gold star on your dissertation about how technology has shaped the modern world? Those are perfect. For the purposes of this test, you need to use “essay” language to prove that you have a wide range of vocabulary. If you want improve your vocabulary range and work on pronouncing those complex academic words, our e2pronounce app (included in most of our course packages) is a great way to do that.

Mistake #4: Speaking in fragments

We (again, native speakers included) often start thoughts and don’t finish them, or start a new thought in the middle of a sentence when we are speaking. In a conversation, this often goes unnoticed we’re used to this “stopping and starting” and so is everybody around us. However, this way of talking will not do you any favours on the PTE academic!

The PTE requires you to speak in complete sentences, no matter what. The way the PTE speaking tasks are scored for oral fluency, you’ll probably score higher if you finish a nonsensical sentence than if you self-correct halfway through your point and start a new sentence. Why? You get 5 points for oral fluency. This means that even if the content of your sentences is slightly off (or just not as comprehensive as you had hoped), you can still get full points for fluency if you speak in full sentences with no re-starts.

So, the best advice we have to avoid this mistake is: If you missed a word you wanted to say, if you feel like you want to rephrase the beginning of your sentence, if you got confused and said the wrong information – whatever – KEEP SPEAKING UNTIL YOU COMPLETE YOUR SENTENCE! You can always add additional information or clarify your point in a new sentence.

Follow our social media for more PTE resources and updates!

 

Now that you know the common mistakes, can you tell me which ones you’re guilty of? Can you think of any more common speaking mistakes people might make on the PTE?

 

 

Written by Kaia Myers-Stewart

How a Native English Speaker Failed the PTE Speaking Test

So, remember that time I self-righteously proclaimed that I wasn’t worried about my PTE score? Yeah…I’m eating my words right now.

I excitedly opened my PTE result document on Monday expecting to feel self-satisfied and proud, and instead I ended up feeling nothing but horror and heart palpitations! Although I achieved top scores for the reading, writing and listening sections, I FAILED the PTE speaking section by a lot; 43 out of 90, to be exact. Just to reiterate: I failed a speaking test in my first language. How did this happen?

 

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!!!!
WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!!!!

 

First off let me just say this: The Pearson Test of English (like all English proficiency tests) is challenging and I have an immense amount of respect for the people who keep at it. I knew going in that it was important to understand the format of the exam as much as the content, but I didn’t know just how much. Mark my words: a native speaker of English CAN and WILL fail the PTE if they do not prepare properly. That being said, I have pinpointed several reasons for which I may have failed the PTE speaking section, although I am still awaiting confirmation from Pearson regarding whether it was a technical error.

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PTE Speaking Tips – Speak up

At the start of the test, a Pearson representative informed all of us that because we would be writing the test in close proximity to one another, we must keep our voices down so as not to distract others. This resulted in me cowering in my corner and whispering out of the side of my mouth into the microphone because I was afraid I was going to get in trouble for unleashing my booming voice upon my fellow test-takers. However, when I think back on it I realize that nobody else taking the PTE let a fear of distracting others undermine their resolve to be as loud and clear as possible, and they certainly didn’t get into any trouble for speaking at this volume.

It’s important to understand that the PTE online test is assessed entirely by a computer. This means that a human being is NOT sitting there listening to your audio files and realizing that you are whispering like a terrified mouse because you are a polite Canadian who doesn’t want to throw anybody off! With this in mind, it’s your responsibility to speak as clearly as you need to in order to best demonstrate your language skill and oral fluency. If you are being too loud, somebody will come in and let you know. DO NOT be afraid to be a little selfish when you’re paying 330 AUD to be there!

Along the same lines; at the beginning of the PTE test, you must speak into the microphone and listen to yourself to make sure the microphone is working. When I did this, I noticed there was a bit of background noise interfering with the sound quality of my recording, but I figured it wasn’t that big of a deal and I didn’t raise my hand and notify anyone about it. It’s very possible that this issue (in conjunction with all that whispering) is a large part of why I failed the PTE speaking section. If you think something is wrong, let someone know. 

An accurate representation of me during the PTE speaking section.
An accurate representation of me during the PTE speaking section.

PTE Speaking Tips – Don’t be fazed

Ok, I’ll admit it. Sitting in a small, enclosed cubicle and listening to nine other terrified people talk at their computers and click furiously on their keyboards is not the most relaxing way I’ve ever spent a Friday afternoon. Neither is staring blankly at your own screen as an unforgiving clock counts down and you struggle to think of what to say. It’s not an easy or natural setting in the least, but there are some ways you can make the experience it a little easier on yourself:

First off, I would highly recommend doing some breathing exercises before you begin the test. One way to do this is to close your eyes for a minute and become aware of your breath and try to slow it down until it’s slow, deep and even. It must be noted that the “hyperventilate as your sweaty fingers click to the next page before you’re even ready to deal with it” method probably didn’t do me any favours.

DO NOT drink coffee, tea, soft drinks etc. anytime before beginning the test if caffeine has any sort of stimulating effect on you. I literally chugged some delicious Melbourne espresso moments before I entered the testing centre, and about 5 minutes into the PTE speaking section I became a terrifyingly scattered and hyper version of myself that I like to refer to as “Caffeine Kaia”. Needless to say, my concentration was quite difficult to maintain and I found it very challenging to focus on the test information or stay on track when I was speaking about each topic.

The Pearson Academic representatives will tell you to pretend you are on a busy tram talking to a friend in order to make you feel better about the fact that there will be loud voices all around you. I’m not sure this is the best way to conceptualize the situation. On a busy tram with your friend, you are not in a stressful, high-stakes situation where your entire academic future or residency depends on how well you are able to communicate. Also, the computer doesn’t tell you how nice you look today or nod knowingly at you as you delve into the complexities of a bar graph.

If I could re-do the PTE speaking section, I would pretend that I were in a busy public place recording a brief overview of a topic for a friend who hadn’t been present in class that day. I would just think about the basic points my friend missed and outline them as concisely as possible without trying to over-explain, keeping in mind that because they were not present to ask me for clarification, I would need to be as clear as possible on the first try. In short, don’t pretend the computer is a person that is having a conversation with you; see it for the tool that it is and use it that way.

PTE Speaking Tips – Be organized

Anyone who knows me knows that I am probably the least organized person who has ever roamed the earth. Worse, I’m one of those procrastinator types who spent most of my university days pulling caffeine-fueled all-nighters the day before the big term project was due. If you are one of my kind, let me warn you right now: the PTE format will not be kind to you. Instead of taking notes in the 7-10 second countdown you get before you are recorded, I was busy staring out the window at the breathtaking Melbourne skyline! You don’t get a lot of time, but there is certainly enough to jot down some quick notes about what you are seeing or hearing in order to organize your thoughts while you speak.

My inner procrastinator told me I would be able to assess and analyze the information in the moment and this was a spectacular miscalculation. What happened instead was that I ended up giving information in the wrong order and coming back to things I had already said to add further detail. The result was most likely a disjointed mess of information instead of a methodical explanation of a relatively simple topic. The best advice I can give to anyone doing PTE training before the test is to practice pinpointing important information and organizing it in a simple way in sequential order.

I’m still not 100% sure why I failed the PTE speaking test, but I do suspect that it may have been a combination of all the things I’ve listed above. I hope it helps at least one person to know that the Pearson Academic test is challenging for native speakers too, and that I got to learn this lesson the hard way! And hey, whoever you are- make sure prepare yourself sufficiently (like with an expert preparation course, for example)!!!

Follow our social media for more PTE resources and updates!

 

EDIT: I failed the PTE speaking test because of “human error” caused by loud breathing and ‘plosives’, which interfered with the microphone. I wrote another blog article with details about this and how I finally got a PTE 90 .

Check out the video where Jay and I discuss the experience of taking the PTE right after we sat the test! The best part is definitely at the end when I said how embarrassing it would be to fail! Please note that our “PTE results video” is based on my scores from the SECOND time I took the PTE. You all know how my first attempt went! 😉

 

Written by Kaia Myers-Stewart.