When your future depends on your PTE test result, it’s time to get serious about your preparation. Trust me, I know this from experience.
It’s happened to all of us at some point: we’ve tried our best at something and been disappointed. I remember staring in disbelief at my GRE (Graduate Record Examination) score a few years ago, and the embarrassment and anger that followed. I had studied for months and put everything I had into that exam. I had locked myself away every night after work and spent my weekends with my face buried in a math textbook. And yet- I still couldn’t reach my desired score in the quantitative (math!) section of the test.
It seemed like all of that time, energy and drive was for absolutely nothing. I wanted to storm into the test centre and demand a refund. I wanted to rip my math textbook in half and burn it in my backyard. I wanted to give up on my dream of getting into graduate school and live on a deserted island for the rest of my life.
In my work at E2Language, I’ve talked to so many competent, intelligent and motivated people who are feeling exactly the way that I felt a few years ago.
They feel like they’ve done everything they can to achieve their desired PTE test result, but nothing they do is good enough.
Every time I meet these people, I’m transported back to my own feelings of hopelessness, frustration and anger, and it reminds me that I am now in a position to share the lessons I learned from my own experience with high-stakes testing.
With the passage of time, I can now look back and see what I wasn’t ready to accept back then. I want to share my insights with you now so that you don’t fall into the same trap that I did. You see, 22-year-old Kaia eventually gave up on achieving my desired GRE score, and I ended up choosing a different path. I don’t regret this at all- it got me to where I am now- but I do realize now that I could have succeeded if I had made different choices in my test preparation.
So, what kind of test preparation mistakes did 22-year-old Kaia make? Let’s find out.
Mistake #1: I barely studied for my first test
The first time I wrote the GRE, I had barely even glanced at the textbook before. I figured “I’ll just see how it goes, I might be able to get the score I need without even needing to study!” BIG MISTAKE. I failed the math section by a lot, and my confidence took a massive hit. I see this mindset all the time with PTE test-takers and it always turns out the same way. The PTE evaluates more than your English skills, and if you don’t know the format of the tasks back-to-front, you’re not going to get the PTE test result you want.
Take it from me: it’s not worth $300+ to “see how it goes”. I can tell you how it goes for 99% of test-takers: You go in, you don’t get your score, you lose confidence in your ability. Want to know the number #1 reason why people give up? They’re not confident that they can succeed.
Don’t set yourself up to fail from the very beginning by sitting the test before you’re ready.
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Mistake #2: I thought doing practice questions would fix my score
After my first disastrous GRE attempt, I convinced myself that all I needed to do was more practice questions. I figured: “Practice makes perfect”. What I didn’t know was that this tired old saying is only true when you have actually mastered the skills you are trying to perfect. At this point in my preparation, I still didn’t understand basic mathematical concepts and I had no idea what the questions in the GRE quantitative section were even trying to test.
So, what did I do? I tricked myself into thinking I understood by doing practice questions, then checking the answers (I ALWAYS got them wrong) and convincing myself that I understood why I got the wrong answer. Needless to say, after months of practice questions, I failed the GRE quantitative section yet again.
Again, this is a trap that I see may PTE test-takers fall into. One of our awesome students, Vishal, told us that he took PTE over and over again (5 times in total!) because he assumed that the more he did it, the better he would get. I understand how this seems logical to many (heck, I did the exact same thing!), but in reality this approach rarely works, and it’s also a very expensive route to take!
Why? Because you’re not actually learning anything new; you’re memorizing responses to set questions that you aren’t even going to see on the PTE, and you’re not understanding the purpose behind them. Believe me, your PTE test result will reflect this.
Remember: practice questions are what you do after you’ve mastered the skills for the test!
Mistake #3: I wasn’t willing to invest in my preparation
Throughout the whole traumatic GRE experience, I stubbornly refused to pay for any practice materials or help from a tutor. Part of the reason for this was that I was too proud to admit I needed help. On top of this, I thought I was resourceful enough to teach myself everything I needed to know. After all, I am a millennial who knows as well as my peers that one can google pretty much anything. We live in the age of youtube videos and free streaming, of free blogs, forums and “how-to wikis”. In this environment, it’s pretty easy to convince yourself that you have all of the knowledge you could possibly need.
Here’s where I got it wrong: There is plenty of information available online, yes, but information is not the same as knowledge. And what’s more, there is a lot of bad information out there. Most of the free GRE materials I found online were completely useless to me, and some of them even impacted my score negatively.
When I googled “free PTE materials” recently, I saw the exact same problem. There is free material out there- but every little of it will truly help anyone. At E2Language, we provide some free materials because we think it’s important for there to be quality information out there. The difference between our material and most of the material in the “Free PTE” google search is that all of our content is created by qualified teachers, linguists and test experts, all of whom have actually taken the test themselves.
If you take nothing else away from this article, please remember this: you can’t trust 99% of the free material out there. And, more importantly, none of the free PTE material you find is going to match your learning needs 100%. You are going to have different strengths and weaknesses than the next person taking the PTE, and you need to find the methods and strategies that work for you. When you invest in good materials and personalized support like one-on-one tutoring, you are investing in the tools that will get you to that PTE test result you need.
Your PTE test result is directly determined by your approach to preparation
22-year-old Kaia thought she could walk into a complex, difficult standardized test without any preparation whatsoever and get the score she needed. 22-year-old Kaia walked out with nothing but bruised confidence and less money.
Next, 22-year-old Kaia decided to try practice questions over and over again in order to boost her score. Again, 22-year- old Kaia walked out of the test with bruised confidence and even less money.
Finally, 22-year-old Kaia decided to teach herself math concepts (that she had never understood in the first place!) using free materials only. And, as we all know, 22-year-old Kaia walked out of her third and final test and gave up. 22-year-old Kaia blamed the test for destroying her dream.
26-year-old Kaia can now recognize that she was actually much more in control of the situation than she thought. If she had admitted that she needed help, found quality materials, and stopped trying to take the test when she wasn’t ready for it, 22-year-old Kaia could have reached her goal. As I said before, I don’t regret how my life has gone since my GRE experience, but I am grateful for the lessons I learned from that time.
If you’re someone who is in a similar situation with their PTE preparation (discouraged, frustrated, desperate), please evaluate what you are doing and how you are doing it. If you are making any of the same mistakes that 22-year-old Kaia made, you’re not going to get the PTE test result you need anytime soon.
Give yourself the right learning tools and don’t put yourself in a test setting before you are ready. If you do this then I promise you that at the end of it all, you’ll have more money, more skills, and most importantly, more confidence in yourself.
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Written by: Kaia