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Managing your time is critical for achieving the PTE test result you need! Jay will explain how to increase your PTE time management for the PTE Speaking, Writing, Reading and Listening sections. 

PTE time management
Counting down to the date of your PTE exam? Start effectively preparing your time wisely! Read on. 

In this blog article, I will tell you the basics of PTE time management. Indeed, it is one of the main skills that you need.

In short, you need to move ‘efficiently’ yet ‘accurately’ through the tasks. Some of the tasks are individually timed, in which case you don’t need to worry.

For example, in Describe Image, you have 40 seconds and that’s that. No time management needed. But while doing the Listening section and the Reading section you will need to know how long to spend on each task before clicking NEXT, because it is up to you to click NEXT.

PTE Time Management

PTE Speaking

5 tasks in 27 – 43 minutes

There are 77 – 93 minutes to complete the Speaking and Writing sections. Since the writing PTE section is either 50 or 60 minutes long and the speaking section is between 27 and 43 minutes long, the PTE time management for these sections will vary as they are dependent on the number of tasks offered on each test.

Answer Short Question

Answer Short Question is quite straight forward. You have 10 seconds to respond to the question asked – just try to understand the question and answer before the timer runs out – usually you will have a one- or two-word response. 

Repeat Sentence

Repeat Sentence PTE section is quite easy for many test-takers if the sentence is up to about 10 words. After this everyone (even native speakers) have difficulty repeating a sentence perfectly, even ones that are 12 to 15 words – especially when several words have multiple syllables. Again, you have ten seconds to respond/repeat. If you can’t repeat the entire sentence as it is spoken, the trick here is to speak with an even tempo and respond with any words or phrases you remember. Generally, always say something from what you heard because if you don’t respond, this will lower your overall score. 

Describe Image and Retell Lecture

For Describe Image and Retell Lecture you must speak with an even tempo and with fluency and try to finish before 40 seconds to score a 90. For Describe Image PTE section you have 25 seconds to prepare, which is loads of time to sort out and prepare to speak 5 sentences if you ‘know’ the E2Language method. The method, when practised often enough, will become easy to remember and increase your fluency.

Likewise, E2Language’s 6-sentence Retell Lecture method will help you add fluency and accuracy to your speech, especially if you use noun clauses to complete your sentences. Since you only have time to write 5 or 6 keywords during the recording, and you have to begin speaking in only 10 seconds after the recording, memorizing the method and how to use it properly makes a 90 in this task obtainable for all.

Read Aloud

Finally, Read Aloud asks the test-taker to finish reading a paragraph in 40 seconds, then speak while being recorded.

Again, speak clearly with an even tempo. In the 40 seconds given before you read, test-takers should skim the entire task, reading every word in their mind, and stopping only to speak out loud the words that they may have difficulty with. Then be ready for the recording to start.

** Remember that the next task in the speaking PTE section will start immediately after the clock records 40 seconds. If you choose to wait the remaining few seconds after completing the task, don’t speak or breath heavily into the microphone as the microphone is active and recording until the 40 second mark. 

TaskTime to prepareTime givenNotesPossible # of tasks
Repeat Sentence10 seconds10 seconds10 – 12
Describe Image25 seconds40 seconds6 or 7
Retell Lecture10 seconds (after lecture)40 seconds3 or 4
Read Aloud40 seconds40 seconds6 or 7
Answer Short Question10 seconds10 seconds10 – 12

In PTE Speaking each of the tasks is individually timed, meaning that you do not need to worry. You just need to follow the instructions and watch the clock. Below are the times are given for each of the tasks including preparation time and speaking time.

Again, make sure you start answering within 3 seconds or you the task will move on.

PTE Writing

PTE Writing Practice
Follow the instructions on-screen. No need to take notes.

2 tasks in 50 – 60 minutes

In PTE Writing each of the tasks is individually timed, meaning that you do not need to worry. You just need to follow the instructions and watch the clock. Below are the times are given for each of the tasks.

Keep in mind that time DOES NOT carry over meaning that if you finish two minutes before the clock that two minutes DOES NOT carry over the next task.

Summarise Written Text

Summarize Written Text: You have ten minutes to summarize a text of approximately 300 words. Scan over the text to gain a superficial understanding. Then take notes of the topic sentences and support ideas. You need 3 -4 main ideas to use in your summary sentence. This should take approximately 5 minutes. From this point, you will have 5 minutes to write a single sentence of 30 to 40 words. Ensure there are no spelling or typing errors!

Write Essay

Write Essay: Write Essay PTE section has to be done in 20 minutes, so the 13 sentence E2 language outline has to be memorized. The introduction of 3 sentences should take the longest because it is the most important organizational feature – 5 to 7 minutes. The 2 X 4-line body paragraphs should take no more that 4 minutes each, and the conclusion should be no more than 3 minutes to write. The final 2 or 3 minutes should allow you to read through your essay and check for any spelling, sentence structure, word choice, grammar, or punctuation errors.

TaskPossible number of tasksTotal time either 50 or 60 minutes
Summarize Written Text1 or 2 or 310 minutes each
Write Essay1 or 220 minutes each

PTE Reading

In both the Reading and Listening sections you can ‘push the time’ or click to go on to the next task of the section immediately upon completion of the task you have just completed. This will save you critical time!

We have done some mathematics and timed 100s of students taking these questions to live and have formulated ‘recommended time management’ for PTE Reading.

Test-takers tend to waste time in Multiple Choice Multiple Answer while looking for the second or possible third answer – just choose one answer if that is the best you can do and follow the E2 time guidelines and methods. The Reading Section is 32 – 40 minutes in length while the Listening Section is 45 – 57 minutes.

5 tasks in 32 – 40 minutes

TaskSuggested time for each taskPossible # of tasksTotal time 40 mins
Multiple Choice Multiple Answer2 mins. 20 sec.2 or 37 minutes 
Multiple Choice Single Answer1 min. 30 sec.2 or 34 minutes 30 sec.
Reading Writing Fill in the Blanks2 mins. 20 secs.5 or 614 minutes
Fill in the Blanks1 min. 50 sec.4 or 59 minutes 
Reorder Paragraph1 min. 50 sec.2 or 35 minutes. 30 sec.

PTE Listening

In PTE Listening the first task — Summarize Spoken Text — is individually timed for ten minutes. You can consider this task ‘separate’ to the other six listening tasks.

For the other 7 tasks, you must manage your own time making sure that you move efficiently yet accurately through them. Don’t waste time in PTE Listening because it is vitally important that you make it to the final task which is called Write from Dictation.

I have seen many candidates get low writing and listening scores because they did not move quickly enough through PTE Listening and as such missed some of the Write from Dictation questions.

Don’t spend times looking for the answers

In PTE Listening you will get the answers during the audio or immediately after the audio. Therefore, you really should not spend time ‘looking’ at the answers. If you listened carefully and took notes then you can match your notes (and your memory) to the correct answer option in just a few seconds.

Take Select Missing Word, for example. In this task, you will hear short audio of about 30 seconds. The final word or words is missing and you must select from a list of around 5 options which word is missing.

You should select ‘immediately’. If you missed it, you missed it; don’t waste time looking at those five answer options because the audio can only be played once and is not coming back.

The same goes for the other tasks. For MCSA and Highlight Correct Summary, for example, you should match your notes to the correct answer.

This means that you should only spend about 30 seconds after the audio has finished before you move on to the next question because all you do is match your notes to the correct answer option. Reading through the answer options should only take you about 30 seconds.

Remember, the audio is not coming back; you can’t replay it. If you don’t know the answer guess and move on; don’t waste precious time.

8 tasks in 45 – 57 minutes

TaskPTE Timed EventSuggested time to complete the task after the recordingPossible # of tasksTotal time 50 minutes
Summarize Spoken Text10 minutesClick forward if you finish early2 or 330 minutes
Multiple Choice Multiple Answer60 seconds2 or 3 3 minutes
Fill in the Blanks60 seconds2 or 3 3 minutes
Highlight Correct Summary60 seconds2 or 33 minutes.
Multiple Choice Single Answer60 seconds2 or 33 minutes
Select Missing Word60 seconds2 or 33 minutes
Highlight Incorrect words30 seconds2 or 31 minute 30 sec.
Write from Dictation45 seconds3 or 43 minutes

PTE time management
So, what’s next?

Remember that time management is essential in achieving your goal score. Learn the timings, and once you have mastered the methods, practise under timed conditions. The Live Classes and recorded Live Classes are excellent ways to do this. You could also book yourself into a PTE Mini Mock Test!

Watch our E2 PTE YouTube Channel for effective methods that work!

Check out the PTE Speaking Describe Image Super Method below! 

In a couple of words, it’s about efficiency and accuracy for PTE time management. Find the balance, score 90!

Check out our E2 Blog article on PTE preparation materials HERE

Written by Jay

All Comments 34
  • Hello jay if in pte practice if we run out of total time, does it will affect the result? Because even I did run out of time the exam was still working and continuing the exam


    • amudala jeevanteja says:

      Hello ifan, it will affect the score , in my previous attempt i ran out of time because of that out of 15 questions i answered only 10 questions in listening section, i got 39 in listening ,over all 52 .

  • Thanks a lot for this I missed write from dictation completely, although I do not think I took much time in listening tasks. And my scores were highly impacted by that, will try to apply the tips suggested in second attempt.

  • I took test today, and missed last 2 Write from Dictionary questions because of time out. How much will that impact my score ? I really should have referred the blog before 🙁

    • Oh no!

      I’m not sure how much these missing tasks will impact your score! But don’t stress about it too much now! You will see.

      & if you have to revisit the exam- now you know!

      GOOD LUCK,
      The E2 Team

    • Friend sorry to say but dictation has great impact on our score because I missed all 3 dictations as a result of which I got Listening 68, Writing 66, Speaking 89, Reading 80. So you can easily analyse the impact of dictation.

      • Dear can u share some tips and techniques for Reading & speaking tasks.How to score 79 at these tasks( Reading and speaking)

  • In part 1 of the PTA Academic for speaking, I ran out of time and was not able to answer the short questions! When the section started the clock was on approx 45 seconds. I felt truly swindled, especially after paying for and completing three practice tests smoothly.

    The advice that: “In PTE Speaking each of the tasks are individually timed, meaning that you do not need to worry” is surely not correct?

    • Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear that!

      I truly feel for your situation 🙁 I guess ‘technically, each task IS individually timed! Making it in theory “easier”…

      But it’s true, for a lot of students, this may just make it EVEN more difficult! We wish you a better test experience next time! Now you know!

      GOOD LUCK,
      The E2 Team

  • Hi Jay
    Thanks for the great video. The chart you asked, which was a bar chart including many colors in each bar called “stacked bar chart”.

  • Hi everyone,

    I got 8+ in Reading and Speaking, but I missed 3 Write from dictation. Writing is my strong point, however, I got the lowest (7) in writing. Got 7.5 in listening. I realised that that last part of Write from Dictation and Spelling ( Realise != Realize) really impacted my score.

    Please ensure you use ‘s’ instead of ‘z’.

  • Hello, I need a guidance for crossing 79 mark, I am currently at 75 (appeared on 7-Dec-2018) (Speaking 90, Writing 76, Listening and Reading 73 each). I have sent a separate email to your team as well with my score report. I would highly appreciate if you could help me to achieve my desired score.

  • Really wish they had a separate timer for each question along with the overall timer. Then you can easily see how much time you are spending on a question and where to move on. I find I don’t have time to waste doing maths to figure out how much time I have spent on a question when I should rather be focusing on the question at hand.

    • Some simple maths! In reading, you just divide the remaining time by 2, and that should be your remaining unanswered questions. On average, each reading task takes 2 minutes, I believe.

  • Hiee
    If we have used ran out of time limit in reading section, can we use the time from listening section or do we need to skip those reading questions?

    • Hi Prasanna, you may well have taken your test by now – we hope you got your desired scores if so! In case you are still preparing, and for the benefit of other readers, please note that if you run out of time in one skill section, you cannot use the time from another section. The timer is automatic and will continue running to give you exactly the required amount in each section, as outlined here:

  • Lavina Aggarwal says:

    The time expired when I was doing summarize spoken text, it asked me if I want to continue or submit,press ok. I pressed ok. Will my response submitted and will I get the score? How much will this impact my listening and writing score?

    • Siobhan MacDonald says:

      Hi Lavina – regrettably, we are not able to comment on any official test procedures. We would advise you to speak directly with your test centre. We hope you achieved your desired score. Good luck!

    • Siobhan MacDonald says:

      Hi there, for more information about our PTE approaches, we would suggest speaking with one of our expert teachers in a 1:1 tutorial!

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