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)!!!

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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.

79 thoughts on “How a Native English Speaker Failed the PTE Speaking Test

  1. I am having the same issue with the exam. I am a native English speaker (Canadian) and getting 53/90 in the speaking section.

    I spoke with Pearson, at first they said it was plosives and breathing noises that caused the low score. Now, they are saying I was hesitating too much. They are a confusing bunch of people.

    I am doing the exam again tomorrow! I am hoping for a good result!!!

    1. Hi Hannah.

      Thanks so much for sharing! We are certainly going to share my experience and your feedback with Pearson so that they are aware that there may be a software issue. Please let me know how it went after you’ve taken it again, I’m very interested in hearing whether or not adjusting your speed/breathing noises/volume makes a difference! I’ll be needing to take it again too! 🙁

    2. Hi,

      Even I have same low score in PTE-A speaking. I have contacted Pearson customer care ,they are saying practice well and arrive once again. Will they share the details of whether plosives and breathing noises is reason for low score?

      1. Hi Krishna,

        They will only share these details if you request a re-score, which you will have to pay for. It’s probably not worth it, because Pearson views technology related issues like plosives and loud breathing as “human error” (your fault), so you will have to pay to find out this information AND pay to take the test again. Email us at hello@e2language.com with your previous score reports if you like, perhaps one of our tutors can provide some more insight about your scores and help you out!

  2. Hello,
    I noticed that on the writing posting you got a perfect 90. The writing is an area I had trouble on when taking the TOEFL. So I decided to try my luck with PTE. Do you have any tips for the writing section?
    I am a native speaker as well.

    1. Hi there!

      In general I would say the PTE is a little more test friendly than the TOEFL because it has a very short writing section. Essentially you just have to write a few comprehensive sentences for “summarize text” and one brief essay.

      For the “summarize text” section, I highly recommend keeping your sentence concise rather than trying to incorporate all the information you read into a long, convoluted sentence with a million commas! Write a sentence referencing the main idea and pick one or two details to incorporate into the sentence MAXIMUM.

      For the essay, I would recommend sticking to the basic format of Intro, 2 points and conclusion. This is all you will have time for in the 20 minutes you are given. Don’t worry as much about content (it’s still important, but not as important as sound grammar and spelling!) and make sure you give yourself at least 3-5 minutes for proofreading and tweaking.

      You might also find these two youtube videos helpful for the writing sections if you haven’t seen them already:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cw3JN4d8YgA

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqwKAydcnLM

      If you are really worried about it, you can sign up to our free PTE trial at http://www.e2language.com and do one of the practice tests for these tasks. Once you’re in the system, you can also set up an information session with one of our teachers and set up a writing assessment tutorial!

      Best of luck to you, definitely let us know how you go! 🙂

    2. Hey there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a exdtiorranary job!

  3. Wow, thank you so much for this. I do feel better now, and will take your advice to heart. i have taken the test 3 times now, and although I am not a native English speaker, I receive above 80 in all but the speaking and it is just getting worse. I also noticed the background noise in my last test, so I will ask to get this fixed next time it happens.

    1. Hi Jo,

      I’m so glad to hear that! 🙂 Definitely comment back when you’ve taken it again and let me know how it went!

  4. Hi Kaiya,

    Thanks for highlighting the problem.
    I am a non-native speaker. I have taken my my PTE academic exam twice and scored around 50s in speaking in both attempts whereas my other section scores were in the range 70-90. After my first attempt, I was also thinking that environment affected my score. However, during my second attempt, I was the only test taker. Background environment had no impact this time around. Moreover, I didn’t fumble at all, all my repeat sentences were correct, finished read aloud in 23-28 s, and followed all the advices from 90 scorers. I was really confident this time. I even took coaching of speaking section from pearson official partners before taking this second attempt, and I was scoring really high there. Guess what, in actual exam, I scored a mere 52. I am really feeling down as this was my best shot. I don’t think I can improve. I see only two reasons for this poor score-
    1. PTE software has some problem – it can interpret some voices and not others.
    2. Pearson is deliberately reducing scores in one section so that people keep on retaking their exams. I really hope this is not true.

    I am really down friends. I felt like sharing this. If anybody comes up with a reason or solution, please do let me know.

    1. Hi there,

      I’m very sorry to hear that you had this experience with the PTE!

      Have you contacted Pearson and asked them to investigate whether or not it is a technical problem? If not- definitely contact them. They should be able to look into it and at least let you know whether it was due to sound quality or some other technical error!

      Let us know how you go!

      1. Hi Kaia,

        I mailed them few days after the exam, and explained the situation. However, they refused to provide any feedback. They told me to apply for revaluation, which costs same as the main exam, and is evaluated by the machine again. I do not feel like taking the exam again unless I know the actual reason for low score in speaking section. This has really shattered my dream of going abroad.

        Regards.

        1. Hi again,

          I’m so sorry to hear this. What an awful and frustrating experience for you. I know it’s not so tempting, but have you thought about switching to IELTS instead? The human examiner might make all the difference for you- no chance of technical error. It’s a different format to learn, but it may be more suited to your needs.

          Also, I’d recommend setting up a 10 minute information session with us in the New Year (right now it’s a bit too busy before the year ends, check back after January 1st!) so that one of our tutors can have a chat with you and try to help you figure out what else could be going on with your speaking score.

          Try not to get too discouraged- I know it’s tough but don’t give up on your dream of going abroad!

          Take care,

          Kaia

    2. Hi..
      I share your experience.
      I took 3 times and and always got issue with the speaking section. My score were always around 50 and I was alone at one of the session. I’m not a native speaker but 50 is just too low cause I always got band 7 in IELTS. How do we raise this issue to Pearson?

    3. I am a non-native speaker. I have got the same problem in PTE Academic speaking even after plenty of practice. I have raised my concerns to Pearon Support Team and they said they would take four weeks to review.
      I personally don’t expect any constructive feedback from them and thinking to take IELTS.

    4. Hi Kaiya and Warrior

      Thanks for sharing your stories. I shared your disappointment. I have taken the test 7 times and was aiming to get above 80 for each components.

      I have always scored 80 and above for listening, reading and writing except in speaking. In my first three attempts i have achieved 73, 75 and 73 in speaking but in the subsequent tests, my speaking scores are always 58.

      While attempting PTE the fourth times in melbourne, i thought i was given a bad headset, because the recording quality is worst than my previous tests (I can tell from the microphone test). I have raised this issue with test administrator but was told that all microphones in the centre have the same quality:( I thought maybe only that specific centre in Melbourne that have bad headsets, so i took few more tests in different centres but my speaking results are still below 60. I really think that PTE have modified their software by making the voice harder to be detected . Otherwise how can my scores vary so much? I am confident in my speaking skills and always score 8 in IELTS speaking.

      I have since raised my concern to PTE, the test centre and even consumer affair in Australia, but PTE refused to do anything about my complaint and to my dismay i found out that no ombudsman or any authority is watching PTE and IELTS to make sure they are not ripping us off. It is so frustrating cause i have no one to raise this issue with and it is clear that PTE is taking advantage of us, making us paying more money. I have since give up PTE because of its unfair assessment. Hopefully one day Australia government will look into regulating PTE.

      1. Hi Yoyeoh,

        I’m so sorry to hear that this has been your experience. It’s very interesting to hear your story and I thank you for sharing it with me!

  5. Hi kaia,
    I am a non-native speaker. Got my result today. Everything else was above 80 but speaking. I paid for getting distracted with all those loud voices around me.
    But, thanks for sharing your experience, this will definitely help.

    -Pratt

    1. Hey Pratt,

      So sorry to hear that! Depending on where you are, sometimes you can schedule a test in a smaller center where fewer people will be writing alongside with you. I wrote my PTE in one of the busiest centers in Melbourne and I have rescheduled it for a smaller, more out of the way center in hopes of reducing the noise issue! Definitely look into that! Best of luck with your next PTE 🙂

  6. HI,
    I gave PTE-A got above 70 in all the sections but scored less in Pronunciation which was around 47 that affected my speaking section. I want to know that what really affected this section as I got above 65 in oral fluency.

    1. Hi Harshank,

      Often times you can have excellent oral fluency but have poor pronunciation on a few key words. This happens a lot with second language speakers at a very high level- they speak fluently and confidently but have fallen into bad pronunciation habits. This is rarely a problem in real life, as most people will know what you mean in a conversation and will rarely correct you- but on the PTE you are being judged on having “native-like” pronunciation for every single word!

      Our PTE preparation course (www.e2language.com/home/pte) includes a pronunciation app (e2pronounce) that actually assesses your pronunciation for a given word and corrects you based on how a native speaker would pronounce the same word. It’s a really great tool for working out where you may need to brush up.

      Another thing you can do is pull up a youtube video, podcast, or some other form of auditory media and use this method:

      1. Turn on a recording device (on your phone, computer, etc.)
      2. Start the video/podcast and listen to the speaker speak one sentence.
      3. Pause the video/podcast etc. and repeat the sentence exactly as you heard it.
      4. Listen back to the recording you made and see if you can hear any differences in pronunciation.
      5. Repeat.

      Sometimes it’s very difficult to hear the differences in your pronunciation, so if you have any native or near native speaker friends, have them listen to it and identify what words sound different. If you need a conversation partner who speaks english, you can go on conversationexchange.com to find one!

      I hope this helps, best of luck to you!!

  7. This is a very helpful post. I had same problems in speaking module but as I am not a native speaker, maybe it also effected my performance. Specially in re-tell lecture, presenting organised summary of the content is very hard. Any suggestions how to improve that part.

    Cheers

    1. Hi Mubashir,

      Thank you for your comment! “Re-tell lecture” can be incredibly difficult, as is the “describe image” task. What really helps is to have a solid method to go in with so you know exactly how you will structure every response. For example, check out our “describe image” webinar on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgnyEgNAQ-c . We have a re-tell lecture webinar available in the webinar bank of our paid course as well. The second time I took the PTE, I used the E2Language.com methods in the speaking section and it really took the anxiety away because I wasn’t searching for words!

      Check out this article for some speaking tips too: https://blog.e2language.com/common-mistakes-make-pte-speaking-tasks/

      Best of luck to you on the PTE!!!!

  8. I had exactly the same experience as you!
    I’m not a native speaker, but I’ve lived in Australia since I was young, so I’m kind of near-native.
    I received 90 in Writing and 80s in Reading and Listening,
    but only 60 in Speaking, which was pretty shocking.
    The scores for my pronunciation and fluency were very low, and I just couldn’t understand why.

    There were a lot of background noises, the man next to me was literally shouting, and this affected my concentration.
    Not to mention the recording box below the screen that was confusing, as the blue bar appeared AFTER the ‘recording’ sign appeared. Because of this, I didn’t know exactly when to start speaking.

    Also, the graphs in describe image were way too complex compared to all the practice questions I encountered.

    Now I’m doubtful whether the PTE exam is actually reliable, and considering taking the IELTS exam instead.

    Please give me some advice Kaia!
    Thank you

    1. Hi Mary,

      That is very interesting to hear! It does sound a lot like your score was affected by the background noise and by your confusion with the recording box. Honestly, I had the same issue with the recording box and I figured out the second time I took the PTE that you CAN start speaking before the blue recording sign actually shows up. I also found the “describe image” questions quite complex, especially the maps! However, I used the method that we came up with at E2Language and managed to get a 90 on my second go-around. Have you seen our “describe image” webinar on youtube? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgnyEgNAQ-c

      I’ll share with you here a couple things that I did differently to get a 90 in speaking:

      1. I checked my microphone WITH a Pearson representative to make sure my voice was being picked up clearly.

      2. I chose a smaller testing center so that I would be less distracted by people. Also in general I found it a lot easier to concentrate the second time around because I knew what to expect.

      3. I waited until other people started speaking so I could get used to the background noise around me before beginning.

      4. I memorized the E2Language methods for re-tell lecture and describe image, which helped me immensely in terms of my confidence and not running out of things to say!

      I go into these things in more detail in a few blog articles that you can check out here: https://blog.e2language.com/pte-90/,https://blog.e2language.com/pte-exam-secrets/

      As for switching to IELTS, I’ll be super honest with you: switching tests can be really difficult. Why? The formats and expectations are completely different. You have to learn a whole new set of methods and strategies, and you should really give yourself at least a month to do this. With that being said, sometimes it is worth it. If you feel like you are much more comfortable speaking to a person rather than a computer, IELTS may be more suited to you. You just have to get ready for the rest of the test, which is quite a bit different from the PTE and you have to be willing to invest the time.

      What I would recommend is doing what I did: making sure there is NO room for technical failure and brushing up on methods, as well as doing the best you can to avoid background noise (within your power!). If for some reason you STILL fail the PTE after taking all these measures, think about switching to IELTS. I think the tests stack up about the same in terms of reliability; that is to say that external issues and distractions can affect your score on BOTH tests, but often these issues are just different. Of course, I was lucky enough to experience success on my second try, so I am probably coming from a bit of a biased standpoint. Definitely do whatever you think will optimize your chances for success, and if you think that is switching tests to make sure a physical person will hear your excellent speaking skills- then do what you have to do! 🙂

      I hope this helped, let me know how you go! I really hope you have more luck on your second time around.

      Kaia

  9. Hi Kaia, first of all, thank you for guiding our path in right direction, with your valuable feedback.
    well, I appeared for PTE and scored only 47 in speaking. Do we have to maintain the same pace within speaking section? Like if I complete read aloud nicely (like bit speedy, smooth and without any pauses, hesitation etc.) and in describe image or retell lecture, my speed gets a bit slow as I have to think and say. So does this affect my score ?

    1. Hi Priya,

      Thanks for the comment! Sorry to hear about your speaking score. It’s not important to maintain the same pace in each section, as the examiners do understand that you will read more quickly and (often) more fluently then you will talk about something where you have to find the words.

      There are a couple things that may have happened to have affected your speaking score, but keep in mind that these are just suggestions because I don’t know you! You must decide if they apply to you 🙂

      1. Perhaps your reading was a little too quick in the read aloud section. In the PTE, the examiners really favour enunciation of words over speed. You don’t need to read super slowly by any means, but you have to make sure that you really stress the proper pronunciation, and often this means slowing down a TINY bit more than you do naturally.

      2. In the describe image or retell lecture task, it’s possible that excessive pauses and fillers (like um and ahh) could have affected your score. The assessment of these speaking tasks is ruthless- they expect you to talk fluently with barely any pauses for the full 40 seconds, and that is a very tall order! That’s why it’s so darn important to have a method in mind to answer these tasks so that you never feel lost for words.

      Which brings me to my third point…

      3. It’s possible that your methods for answering the describe image and re-tell lecture sections were not what the PTE examiners were looking for. They want a specific format, and to be honest- the first time I did the PTE I didn’t follow the format and I constantly ran out of things to say and paused. The second time I took it (and got 90!), I made sure I memorized a method that I could use every time without fail. You can check out the describe image method here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgnyEgNAQ-c

      One last thing to consider is that you may have been thrown off by the noise and distraction around you. I find that this affects many students’ scores the first time around. The good news is that now you know what to expect, the bad news is that you had to pay to find out what it’s like. 🙁

      I hope this helps you, if you haven’t already- check out the other articles I wrote about the PTE speaking section and what I did differently the second time I took the PTE:

      https://blog.e2language.com/pte-90/
      https://blog.e2language.com/common-mistakes-make-pte-speaking-tasks/
      https://blog.e2language.com/pte-exam-secrets/

      Good luck!!!

      1. Helly Kaya

        I´d like to know how it turned out for you. I´m feeling really aggrieved by the PTE exam, as I took it twice, the first time I had 87 on speaking but 78 on writing. The second time I got 78 on writing, 83 on listening, 87 on reading, but 73 on speaking. I was also told to speak normally when everyone was screaming around me. The problem is that I’m sure I did better than the first time. I spoke clearly, with fewer pauses, more structured than the first time. So I´m sure there was some technical issue. The recording device didn´t stop recording even when I was not talking. I called Pearson and they told me I should complain at the test center (!)

        1. Hello there!

          I’m sorry to hear this. 🙁 If you believe there was a technical issue, you absolutely should be able to have your exam reviewed! What happened for me was that I sent an email asking for an investigation of my scores and Pearson concluded that there was “human error” (i.e. I was breathing too loudly into the microphone or hadn’t positioned it properly). When I took the test again, I made completely certain that my voice was being recorded clearly. I even asked a Pearson representative to come over and verify this for me.

          I’m not sure why Pearson told you to go to the test center to complain- it’s possible that the representatives at your centre might be able to review your score if you go there, but I really don’t know what their official policy is. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for you to call again and be persistent. You could also do what I did and write an email detailing why you think there is an error. You could structure it like this:

          1. Introduce your concern. (E.g.”I am writing to you today to express a concern I have regarding my most recent PTE speaking score.”)

          2. Provide evidence of your previous and current scores. (E.g.”The first time I wrote the PTE, I received a score of 87 in the speaking section, but in my recent attempt, my score was 79, which is quite a significant drop. Please see my scorecards attached in this email.”)

          3. Give your reasons for concern. (E.g. The second time I took the PTE, there was a substantial amount of background noise from other test-takers in the testing centre. I spoke at a quiet volume so as not to distract others, and I am concerned that this may have impacted my score. In addition, it’s possible that my microphone was positioned incorrectly, and this is something I would have had difficulty hearing in my microphone test because of the excessive noise around me.”)

          4. Explain why it’s important for you to know what happened. (E.g. I want to know if my score was caused by a technical or human error so that I can be sure I won’t make unnecessary mistakes on my next PTE attempt. I want to be sure that my scores reflect my speaking ability, rather than an error that I made accidentally or a technology related complication.”)

          5. Politely conclude. (E.g. “I understand that there is a possibility of my scores reflecting my reduced speaking ability on the speaking test and not a mistake, however it is very important to me that I confirm this fact so that I know where I went wrong and can work to improve in the future. I very much appreciate your help, and I hope to hear from you soon. Sincerely…”)

          I can’t promise that Pearson will do anything, however they may be more likely to investigate if you lay out your facts and concerns clearly in writing.

          Good luck, please let me know how it goes!!

  10. I had the same problem about speaking and oral fluency scores being way lower than expected, and pearson rep told me that they do not re-evaluate these parts only the written test sections. That seems to be not fair at all! Next time for me (if I ever need it again) definitely IELTS or TOEFL.

    1. Hi Noa,

      How interesting… you would think that re-evaluating the speaking wouldn’t be an issue! Sorry to hear you had this experience 🙁

  11. I have appeared for PTE academic 4 times. After giving the exam for two times, I had taken training from PTE certified trainer and in my third attempt (21-Oct-16) I was short of only 2 and 3 marks in speaking and reading respectively. (S-63, R-62, L-66, W-71). Then I again improvised and went to give my best and the fourth attempt on 13 Nov 2016. The exam went very well, and I was very confident to achieve a score of 65+ in all four sections.

    But, to my utter shock, my score were as follows: R-53, S-38, L-62, W-67. I am totally disappointed now. How can the scores drop so drastically in 20 days!! I tend to believe that there was a technical error in calculating the scores. Then, I checked with one of my colleague who had appeared for PTE the same day 13-Nov-16. It was her 5th attempt and the scores of this exam was the least for her as well!!
    I don’t understand whether they are just minting money at the cost of our efforts and deliberately reducing the scores or it was a genuine technical error. If yes then will the calibrate the scores?

    1. Hi Suvidha,

      This is very strange and certainly worth following up with Pearson. It’s quite possible that there was a genuine technical error, and if this is the case, they may reconsider your score. If there was a “human error” problem (like breathing loudly into the microphone), they may still offer you a free re-take. This is what happened for me. I highly recommend that you email their contact address WITH proof of your previous scores to illustrate a point about the drop in scores. You have a right to ask whether or not a technical error was at play here.

      Good luck, I really hope you get an answer about what went wrong!

  12. I just faced my pte test yesterday and I faced with couple of issues with speaking. First one was that I faced only 3 short answer type questions at the end of the speaking section. After attempting the third question it suddenly got timed out. It never happened to me when i was doing pratice tests. I would like to know if any body is aware of this issue.Second issue was that the testing software itself got stuck in the middle of the test. It did not proceed to the next question. Then I was moved to a different machine. Admin told me that she reported all these issues to PTE. I am waiting for the results now.

    1. Hey there,

      That’s so strange, and the first time I have heard of these issues occurring! I’m very glad you alerted the administrator of the test about it though. Those things are not your fault and should have no bearing on your score. Let us know what happens, this is good information for fellow PTE takers to know!

      Thanks for your comment! 🙂

      Kaia

      1. I’ve also found similar issues during the PTE exam, infact twice. Furthermore, remaining time was about 4 minutes, by the time I’d finished the exam, however, I noticed most of the other candidates still had plenty of time remaining, though all of us started together. Question do seem to timeout faster.

        1. Hi Nitin- is it possible that the other people in the exam just took longer to read instructions, and/or took the 10 minute break? Sorry to hear that you had issues twice! 🙁

  13. Hi,
    I have the same problem with speaking section, it was my 7 th attempt on 9 Dec and again I scored 65+ in all other section except in speaking (s-47) . I have tried almost every thing but not sure where exactly i am making mistake. The last exam went very well, and I was very confident to achieve a score of 65+ in all four sections but I have no clue why i scored 47 in the speaking section . Before appearing for pte 7th time ,I joined some classes as well and they gave me all positive feedback. Not sure , if this is true or not as one of my friend told me to speak in loud voice and try to speak in male voice . Please if some one can help me with this ????
    Regards

    1. Hello Shiv,

      I’m sorry to hear that this is happening to you! I would not recommend speaking in a male voice if you are female- it’s best not to try and alter your voice because it might backfire! As for speaking in a loud voice, that’s not totally necessary either. It’s more about clarity than volume. Try to enunciate as much as you can, and also make sure you ask the Pearson representative to check your microphone before you begin. I did this my second time and it assured me that there was no way there could be a technical error! If you’re not keen to take PTE again because of your speaking score- maybe think about switching to IELTS. A human examiner might be a better option for you in the speaking section!

      Good luck!!

  14. I feel this is more of a money minting strategy. I also agree the test is conducted in a sub-par environment where one can’t concentrate, especially on the reading part. There is a simple solution, by letting two students start the exam and once they finish the reading part, two more students may start the exam and so on. The alternative would be to allow test-takers to bring in their own headset, in which case, I shall carry-in my noise-cancellation headset. I also feel the exam content is not relevant to testing English language ability, e.g., how many of us can understand the content or subject shown by the graphs/pie-charts? There may also be too many bars or lines and I wouldn’t know where to start or it also happens that the 40 seconds is not enough! Furthermore, the retell lecture, where you listen to a lecture and speak in your own words, there is a similar task in the listening part as well. So what are they trying to test? If its speaking, only speaking should be tested and in listening part, only listening to be tested. I also feel that some of the lectures or voice played is too fast or abnormal accents. What is the point in such recordings? In a real life scenario, we’ll usually tell the person to slow down, so that we can listen and understand them better. Hence I feel the PTE Academic or even IELTS is more of a money making racket.

    1. Hello again Nitin! 🙂

      I hear what you’re saying and I’ve even shared some of your frustrations as a native speaker of English! PTE is so much more than an English test- and it’s challenging to study for the format on top of the English skills. Have you thought about emailing Pearson with some feedback about PTE? Their contact information can be found here: http://pearsonpte.com/contact/

      Although you may not think it will have an impact, it might have more than you think. The more people that express their concerns, the more Pearson will have to examine and improve the test in future. In addition, they may be able to provide explanations for why they set up the format the way that they do and why they think the PTE is a good assessment of real-life English tests. At the very least, it would be interesting to see how they respond to your feedback and concerns and whether or not they provide you with further insight.

      Let me know how it goes if you decide to do so, I would be interested to know too!

      Best of luck to you!

  15. Hi Kaia,

    It happened to me as well. Scored good marks in Writing and Listening. But score went down in reading and speaking.

    Reading i know the cause, i was running out of time, so got tensed and didn’t concentrate well.
    But Speaking i really did well, not sure how the score become low. Got only 50. Initially i tested the microphone and it was working fine, i played back and could hear my voice with little disturbance, as the test room was full with 13 participants.
    One more confusion which was running on my mind during the test was about the recording bar,
    When to speak and when to proceed next ?
    Do we need to wait for blue bar to speak ?
    If the blue bar comes after 3 sec will it still record ?
    And in read aloud section, i completed reading in 30 second and kept quiet for more than 3 sec, but the blue bar was still continuing, won’t it stop after 3 sec of silence ?
    Can we click on next before the blue bar recording completes ?
    One last is, what’s the right place to keep the mic, near the lips or away from lips as in some post i see keeping near lips cause breathing disturbance ?

    Before exam, I took scored practice test and my score was good. Not sure what went wrong in real exam, I really need to get on hold before appearing for next test.

    This blog is very helpful. Thanks in advance for your response.

    1. Hi San,

      I made a video awhile back addressing when to press the next button etc. for the speaking section, give it a watch- it should be helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjqGINI_Prk

      As a general rule, click next as soon as you finish– and if you are doing re-tell lecture or describe image, you shouldn’t have any more than 5 seconds remaining anyways if you are doing it correctly!

      As for the microphone, I placed it right below my lips the second time AND asked the Pearson PTE representative to confirm that there was no interference just to be safe. In my opinion, it was better to be safe than sorry!

      Also, make sure you check out our “Describe Image” webinar too, as many people struggle with the method for this task and don’t do as well as they think because they aren’t addressing the criteria properly: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgnyEgNAQ-c&t=1202s

      And finally, here is another article outlining some of the speaking mistakes I might have made (and that I think a lot of people make!) without realizing it: https://blog.e2language.com/common-mistakes-make-pte-speaking-tasks/

      I know it’s frustrating to not know the reason behind the score, and I can certainly empathize! If you do decide to take PTE again, you can read more about how I changed my approach to make sure the speaking section went better:

      https://blog.e2language.com/pte-90/

      https://blog.e2language.com/pte-exam-secrets/

      I hope this helps you out! Sorry to hear you shared my experience, and best of luck if you tackle PTE again!!!

      1. Thanks a lot of the info Kaia. Video answered most of the questions except below,
        When to start speaking?
        Do we need to wait for blue bar to speak ?
        If the blue bar comes after 3 sec will it still record ?
        And in video you said time will stop after 3 sec, but for me blue bar was still progressing.

        I am planning to take 1 month later with enough preparation. I really don’t want to waste money by doing in a hurry.

        1. Hi again San,

          Sorry, I thought for some reason that my video answered that but it didn’t!

          1. Start speaking right away, don’t wait for the blue bar to start. That threw me off at first too, I thought it wasn’t recording me! However, the recording begins as soon as the countdown time is up, so you don’t have to wait until you see the blue bar to begin speaking.

          2. The time will stop after 3 seconds IF you don’t speak immediately when the recording starts. That’s why it’s important to start speaking right away when the time begins. However when you are finished speaking, the blue bar will keep going (even if it’s not recording you). So just click next if you are worried about that,

          1 month later sounds like an excellent plan, take your time! It’s worth it.

          I hope this answered your questions! Let me know if you need any more help and feel free to check out our free forum to ask any other questions you may have as well1

  16. Hi Kaia
    I just did my 3rd attempt on PTE test yesterday and the result came out quite bad. Quickly I have done PTE test for 3 times and brief scores as below

    1st: Speaking 49, the rest over 60
    2st: Speaking 48, the rest over 60
    Yesterday day: Speaking 43! The rest still over 60

    I don’t know what really happen to me, I practiced followed all e2language tips and my oral fluency and pronunciation kept coming down !!! Please help me on that! As my next test is next Friday. My desire score is over 50 all bands, is there any change for me to have an expert feed back on my speaking by next week if I purchased a package from e2language ?

    Thanks.

    1. Hi Den,

      Sorry to hear about your PTE speaking difficulties.You are pretty darn close to your goal and it must be frustrating. I’ll give you my honest advice on this one, and I’ll start by saying that if there is any possible way you can change the date of your PTE (even just a week or 2 weeks later), you should do it. I’m not saying a preparing enough in one week is impossible, but that is a very limited time frame and the stakes are high. Waiting a little bit will make a huge difference, and decrease the stress around fixing your speaking issue in a very short time. With that being said, if there is no possible way to change it- here is my advice:

      If you purchase a package with us, it’ll have to be the 1st (129$) one, as you won’t have time for more than 1 tutorial. Book your study plan immediately and explain your concerns to your tutor during this time. They will write up a study plan for you that focuses completely on oral fluency and pronunciation, as well as the speaking tasks. They will also devote your one-on-one tutorial to providing you feedback, strategies and methods to increase your speaking skill. A huge reason why it is worth the money to sign up and talk to a tutor is that they will be able to identify what it is about your pronunciation and oral fluency that is causing the low score. It may be as simple as speed or rhythm, things that can be easily modified. Our teachers are experts about “how to speak” for the PTE.

      If you absolutely have no choice and must take PTE next Friday, you should sign up for the course ASAP (as soon as you read this!) and book in your study plan right away. If you have any trouble scheduling one in the next couple of days, email us at hello@e2language.com or through this blog contact page and we will work something out so that you can fit in both your study plan and tutorial before the test.

      Again, ideally you should wait at least 2-3 weeks before writing PTE again, and if you can do this route- I would very highly recommend buying our second package (199$) because it will give you access to 4 speaking feedback assessments in addition to your 2 speaking tutorials. The speaking feedback assessments are graded the same way as the PTE speaking section and allow you to see where you are going wrong and improve with each submission. If you could do this option, you would be increasing your chances of achieving your goal score significantly.

      Good luck, please don’t be discouraged! Our free tips are good, but they don’t account for your personal strengths and weaknesses. Our expert teachers do, and with their help you should have no difficulty reaching your goal.

      1. Hi Kaia, for my visa’s reason so I could not wait till next 2 or 3 weeks, I have purchased the first package, and really focus on Speaking section. In addition please help to organise a online tutor for me! Or please tell me how to do it? My user name is Victori@, thanks.

        1. Hi Victoria,

          Did you receive a welcome email when you signed up? The link for your study plan is in there! If you didn’t receive this email, you can write a message on the whiteboard function in your course and a teacher will send you a link! Good luck!!

  17. Hii Kaia.. I want to share my experience..I gave 3 attempts . After giving 2 attempt I compared my score and it was miserable. As in all enabling skills I got quite higher marks as compare to 1st exam (The difference was 10-15 for each skills) but shockingly my communicative skill marks were lesser than previous one. I am sharing my results here ..

    FIRST SECOND
    L 65 65
    R 67 64
    S 60 63
    W 66 63

    ENABLING SKILLS

    GRMR 65 83
    OLFCY 64 81
    PRONUN 47 53
    SPLING 21 66
    VOCAB 62 74
    W.D 54 55

    I AM CONFUSE WHERE I NEED TO IMPROVE, Please help
    I just gave third attempt and my scores are deteriorating because I am not able to find my strength and weakness…

    Should are approach to Pearson in this regard ?

    1. Hi Alpesh,

      I’m sorry to hear about your frustrating experiences with PTE! What your current scores show me is that your English ability is probably not the problem. Your enabling scores are pretty good and getting better, which tells me that you are at an appropriate level to succeed on the test. It looks like the issue probably lies in the content of the test and the format of the tasks. Remember, the PTE measures more than just language proficiency- it demands a certain format in how you structure your answers to fit their criteria.

      First off, have you seen our free PTE webinars on YouTube yet? These help you develop a method for a given task that actually works. Check them out. Then, consider signing up to one of our tailored PTE courses. Our free stuff is helpful, but it sounds like you could use personalized one-on-one tutoring and feedback about each task (as well as plenty of practice using the correct methods!). We can help you identify and build up the exact weak points that are contributing to your low scores. On top of the support from our teachers, you’ll have access to online classes, all of our methods webinars, live mock tests, our practice bank and our pronunciation app, e2pronounce. I think having these resources at your disposal will not only boost your skills and strategies, but also your confidence in yourself.

      I know it’s frustrating and confusing, but don’t worry! It’s not impossible. We’d be happy to help you out!

  18. Hi. I have done my test three times, but always lacking in my speaking score. My first attempt was 61 in speaking, however only 50 for the others. I was speaking fast in my first attempt, and my fluency score was high but low in pronunciation.
    So I went for another test and speak with a slower pace but clear. But I got low marks both for pronunciation and fluency. I am confused because during practice, google translate was able to pick up my voice.
    My friends who went for PTE coach told me to speak fast to get higher marks. is this true?

    1. Hi Carolline,

      I’m sorry to hear about your difficulties with the speaking section! That sounds very frustrating. I think what might have happened for you is that because you focused so hard on being clear and enunciating, your tone came across as forced and unnatural. I hear this all the time when I do speaking assessments for our PTE students. The emphasis on slow, clear pronunciation creates a stiff voice that almost sounds like someone is reading a script. The key is to sound like you are talking to a friend or a co-worker, with a natural (almost friendly!) tone.I’m not sure why a PTE coach would tell your friend that speaking faster in the solution. It’s a common misconception that talking quickly makes it “sound” like you are more fluent because your small grammar mistakes will go unnoticed, but this is very untrue and a PTE coach should know better! Also, remember that the PTE software is actually listening for “Native-like” pronunciation and fluency, whereas google translate takes into account all accents and rhythms as long as they are understandable- so google translate isn’t the best measure unfortunately. 🙁

      In your case, it’s probably a matter of speaking more rhythmically and not sounding stiff or rehearsed. With that being said, I would have to assess your speaking directly to know for sure! If you’re interested, you can check out our PTE course options on our website. Speaking assessments, a speaking tutorial with a PTE expert, and the E2Pronounce app (which scores and corrects pronunciation errors) would be particularly helpful for you.

      Also, check out our free pronunciation videos on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLa_GYMkGfxV1wP_8QZ1TGg4xXjW_Fw27g

      And read this article about oral fluency for PTE if you haven’t done so already: https://blog.e2language.com/increase-pte-oral-fluency/

      Good luck!!

  19. Hi Kaia,

    I found all your comments and suggestions really helpful.
    I have a question regarding the weightage of marks in PTE.e.g, Which section has the highest marks available to score?. I think it will be very useful to know as one could spent more time on that particular section rather than stuckink on one section and loose marks.In my own experience of PTE,i spent lot of time in MCQ ‘s, while i struggle to finish other sections in time, which hampered my score.

    Any suggestions!!!!
    Regards,
    Rupinder

    1. Hi Rupinder,

      If I were to take PTE again, here is where I would put a lot of my focus to maximise overall score:

      Speaking Section:

      Describe Image (Learn the method here!)
      Re-tell lecture

      Writing Section:

      “Write Essay” is weighted slightly more than Summarize Written Text, but I still highly recommend that you master both tasks, as your performance on both will have a significant effect on enabling skill scores. Focus on perfecting concise sentences for “Summarize Written Text”, and following a clear method for “Write Essay”. Here are some resources to help:

      Essay Strategy Video:

      Summarize Written Text Tips:
      https://blog.e2language.com/summarize-written-text-tips-strategies/

      Write Essay Tips:
      https://blog.e2language.com/pte-writing-tips/

      Reading:

      All tasks are weighted the same (out of 1) however there is negative scoring for MC questions, so it is definitely smart to focus on getting these right so you don’t end up with -1!

      Listening

      The same concept applies with negative scoring for MC questions in this section, so focus on those here too!

      Good luck!!

      1. Hi Kia,

        Thanks for the wonderfull reply.
        I also have one more concern regarding Repeat-Sentence
        I have been trying hard to remember, but i am still missing some words.
        Please suggest some techniques.

  20. My query is different, all praise to PTE-A scoring techniques. But, In my view PTE manually score the tests, the reason to support this is my experience with PTE-A, I have appeared for the test four times and with their commitment to providing the scores within 5 business days, I have never got my score as committed i.e always reported beyond the given time limit. Now, it is more than 10 working days and yet no sign of score report.
    The only reply you get from PTE is that for few it takes time. If the test is evaluated by a computer then there has to be a logical answer for the delay.
    I am targetting Superior level scores and always fall short of one mark in either listening or writing.
    Please, can you share your views on such delays that too consecutively in a row ?

    1. Hi Harry,

      Sometimes (which might be happening in your case) Pearson re-scores tests to make sure that the scoring was accurate the first time around. This is often the reason for withholding results for an extended period of time, and it is usually for quality assurance of the scores. Hope this helps!

  21. hi,
    I have written PTE-A for three times and for three times i got speaking below 40, pronunciation 27 and fluency 35 . In describe image and retell lecture i have spoke in time .Please tell me how can i improve speaking skills. should i take PTE again or write IELTS this time. Please suggest

  22. I would like to offer my experiences I have had with both the IELTS and PTE. I am a Canadian with a triple university degree and a full English speaking background. This post would be most applicable to those with an English speaking background.

    IELTS: I sat the IELTS exam without studying and ended up with: Reading:8; Listening:8; Writing:7.5; and Speaking:9. I was aiming for a minimum of 8’s for all sections to achieve ‘Supreme English’ and as per the above scores, I did not achieve this. I have terrible handwriting and feel this was part of the reason for my lower performance on the essay section. I decided to look into the PTE exam which is a computer-based test and therefore handwriting would not reflect negatively on my performance.

    PTE: I did not complete the official PTE exam, however, I did pay for two online simulation PTE exams and achieved top marks in my essays, however, I only scored 64 in the speaking section of the PTE. I find it particularly odd the computer-based PTE would provide such a low speaking score when I’ve been speaking English for my entire life and have performed particularly well on the speaking section of the IELTS. After two attempts of the PTE simulation exam and having poor speaking performances, I can assure you that I will NOT be sitting the official PTE exam. Perhaps there are tricks you need to know to succeed in the PTE exam, but as an English speaker, I don’t feel overly enthused to spend $1000s for a course to learn these tricks.

    In conclusion, I think the IELTS is a better choice for an English speaking individual who is looking to achieve ‘Supreme English’ because I feel the PTE computer algorithm is neither accurate nor reliable. Unfortunately I cannot comment accurately on the accuracy of the PTE for people who have English as a second language. Best of luck to all. Cheers.

    1. Hello D,

      Thank you very much for sharing this across 🙂 I am sure our students would find these insights extremely valuable.

      Best,
      AC

  23. I would also like to add that the http://www.qu0ra.com website (I put a zero on purpose for obvious reasons) appears to have a surprisingly strong number of members supporting the PTE. I find this rather in conflict with my experiences. I posted a comment on QU0RA.com website with my experiences of the PTE and it has failed to show up. Would there be any reason to suspect comments on the QU0Ra website are being filtered by interested parties?

    1. Hello D,

      Well, we really cannot comment on that but its possible that the online community in Quora is well-versed with technology and hence supporting the PTE as it is computerised 🙂

      Best,
      AC

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