PTE Scoring is a little confusing at first, but crucial to your understanding of how to approach your PTE exam.

This post from E2Language breaks down the PTE Scoring and provides insight into the different skill components required of you. 

How is the PTE scored? We get this question a lot. And no wonder! The curious students who ask about PTE Scoring just get pointed towards the PTE Score Guide. But informative guides are LONG and hard to read (I don’t know about you, but, I still have not read my school’s Student Handbook). 

Having a good understanding of PTE scoring is important. It can give you insights on where to focus during the exam. So, I am going to outline the basics of what a PTE Newbie will need to know about how the exam is scored.

PTE Scoring
Say goodbye to human error, the PTE items are machine graded.

The Basics

The PTE Academic reports an ‘Overall Score’ which is made up of a combination of what they call ‘Communicative Skills Scores’ and ‘Enabling Skills Scores’. These scores are given on a scale that runs 10–90 (with 90 being the perfect score). PTE items are all machine graded.

What are “Communicative” and “Enabling” Skills?

The PTE measures the following Communicative Skills:

  1. Listening
  2. Reading
  3. Speaking
  4. Writing

Different tasks throughout the exam will impact each of these scores.

The Enabling Skills are:

Grammar: The order that words are written in a sentence. Ex. Is the action verb written in the correct place?

Oral Fluency: The pacing of your speech. Ex. Is it smooth? Do you sound natural? Or are there a lot of pauses or stutters? Find our article on “How to Increase Oral Fluency” for tips on increasing your English fluency.

Pronunciation: The clarity of your words. Ex. Can a native speaker understand you easily?

Spelling: Spelling has to be correct

Vocabulary: The right words are used when appropriate

Written Discourse: Clear and correctly developed ideas/concepts in written form Ex. Are the ideas organized? How easy is it to understand and follow the text?

How do “Enabling Skills” affect “Communicative Skills”?

PTE scoring is complex. Your overall score is given by balancing all the skills that are evaluated through the exam’s tasks.

You can think of Enabling Skills as the “building blocks” or foundation of the Communicative Skills. An example of this is how during a speaking task your “Oral Fluency” and “Pronunciation” will directly affect your Speaking score.

Make sure that you are working to strengthen your enabling skills to boost your overall performance!

PTE Scoring
The PTE enabling and communicative skills are testing both the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

PTE Scoring can be thought of as a 3-step-process

It is important to FOLLOW DIRECTIONS! If the task says to answer in a two-three word response; do that! Remember, the PTE is graded automatically by a computer. So, if it detects a long sentence where a participant was supposed to answer in a short response they will not receive any credit past “content”.

You can think of the grading system in a 3-step process:

Step 1:

Content is scored (Did you answer with the appropriate response/include the correct content? For example,  if you were instructed to describe a diagram but speak about an unrelated topic, your content would be incorrect)

         -If ‘Content’ is CORRECT then ‘Format’ is assessed-

Step 2: Form is scored (Did you answer “in the right way”?As I explained if the prompt asks for any specifics these guidelines must be followed. For example, a “summarize written text” response must be written in only one sentence.)

-If ‘Form’ is CORRECT then the other skills will be scored-

Step 3: Applicable skills are evaluated and marked (Depending on the task different ‘Skills’ will apply.)

This 3-step content-form-skills method makes it important to answer with the RIGHT content and form. You’ve studied so hard to improve your grammar and spelling, don’t waste your chance to boost your score, by neglecting the form in which you need to answer. By answering in the wrong form/content you will automatically lose the opportunity to gain any marks on critical skills (Spelling, Grammar, Writing etc).

Everyone always talks about “NEGATIVE” PTE Scoring

There are three sections on the PTE that use “Partial Credit” scoring to deduct (-1 point) for every incorrect answer.  

The three tasks are:

  1. Multiple Choice, Choose Multiple Answers (READING SECTION)
  2. Multiple Choice, Choose Multiple Answers (LISTENING SECTION)
  3. Highlight Incorrect Words (LISTENING SECTION)

There’s a common misconception that these tasks are graded with ‘negative scoring’. I will explain why, in fact, these tasks are not truly negatively scored.

The scoring is as follows:

CORRECT Response 1 point
INCORRECT Response -1 point

NOW, the minimum (lowest possible mark) you will receive for any of these questions is 0. That’s right! ZERO.

Multiple Choice, Multiple Answers:

There’s a lot of confusion about how ‘Multiple Choice, Multiple Answers’ is scored on the PTE for both Reading and Listening.

The below explanation has been officially confirmed by Pearson.

Example: Suppose a question has four answer options: A, B, C and D.

A and B are the correct options.

-If you select A and B, you will score 2 points.

-If you select A, you will score 1 point.

*No points are lost for not selecting B*

-If you select B, you will score 1 point.

*No points are lost for not selecting A*

-If you select A, B and C, you will score 2-1 = 1 point.

-If you select A, B, C and D, you will score 2-2 = 0 points

Obviously, you should try to select all the correct answer options and avoid selecting any incorrect answer options to maximize your scores. However, if you want to be cautious, you can select just one answer option.

Highlight Incorrect Words:

This section has the same ‘Partial Credit’ (-1 point) for every incorrect answer. This task is graded in the same way as ‘Multiple Choice, Multiple Answers’. These sections are nothing to freak out about. It is impossible to receive a negative mark.

Having lots of questions can be scary, so, we wrote this post to clear up some of that PTE scoring confusion. And by now, you shouldn’t be a “Newbie” anymore. You have to focus on studying NOT worrying. So, if you have any further questions please leave us a comment!  

Subscribe to the E2 PTE Youtube Channel to watch methods webinars and live mock tests like this one! 

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Written by: Olivia 

10 thoughts on “PTE Scoring for Newbies: Key Questions Answered!

  1. Hi E2Language,
    I ma repeatative test taker of PTE always I am struggling withy reading section to get minimum required 65 ,but always I am in 57-60 though 5 times crosssed in my attempts.

    Kindly guide to pass through it.

    1. Hello there!

      Sorry to hear about all of your attempts. Can you please email your scorecard to hello@e2language.com? You can also ask in your email for the link to book a consultation with our student support specialist, who can make some recommendations for how we can get you to the PTE score you need! 🙂

  2. Hello
    I am looking for the PTE class to join to boost my level of English for the upcoming test in about month and a half. Can you please let me know where do I contact in Sydney? I live in the inner west suburb, just 20 minutes away from CBD.

    1. Hey Binod,

      E2Language is 100% online to ensure that we cater to students all around the globe. All you need is a laptop/mobile device and an internet connection to commence your preparation with E2Language. To assist you better, please send across your most recent test scores. the scores you are looking to achieve and your next test date to hello@e2language.com.

      We look forward to hearing from you 🙂

      Best,
      AC

  3. Hi,
    I’m looking for a slight push in right way to get my writing score in PTE, even after several attempts I have left with disappointment. Your help would be highly appreciated.

    Thanks.

    1. Hello Vatsal,

      Think this section would help: https://blog.e2language.com/speaking-writing-pte-tips/

      For even more tips and guidance, I highly recommend you sign up to one of our packages. Our packages include 1:1 tutorials with an expert teacher, video lessons and practice questions and lots more to ensure you are well prepared to tackle the challenges that you face.

      Best,
      AC

  4. Hi,

    Your analysis contradicted below-mentioned text which is copied from PTE academic site.

    http://pearsonpte.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/PTEA_Test_Tips.pdf

    “Read the instructions carefully. Remember that more than one option is correct in this type of multiple choice item. You will score marks for any correct options but you will lose score points for any incorrect options. These include options that you have clicked on as correct but which are wrong and options that are correct but that you have not clicked on. If you click on all the options, because you do not know the answer, you will lose score points. This applies to Multiple choices, choose multiple answers item types for reading and listening.”

      1. Yes, it says you will lose scored point if you do not select correct response. “If A and B are correct response and you select A only you will be scored 0 for not selecting B”.

        1. Hello Ravi,

          It looks like you could have received incorrect information from Pearson. Jay checked this Pearson to confirm that the information that we have shared in this article is the one that we recieved.

          Best,
          AC

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