The PTE writing section may seem intimidating, especially the part where you are required to write an essay.
Writing an essay has always been somewhat of an art, even for native English speakers. While many just want to know the “right” way to write an essay, there never seems to be only one answer!
The most important thing to understand about the write an essay task is that it needs to be done according to a PTE-specific format. Adopting this format will showcase your ability to organise written ideas in a clear, logical and grammatical way. Some impressive (and correctly used!)
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With this in mind, we are sharing with you some strategies to help you improve your PTE “write an essay” score.
PTE Writing tip #1: Keep it simple.
Long, convoluted sentences with lots of punctuation are your enemy. The more you try to extend your sentences, the more likely you will be to make grammar and punctuation mistakes! The Pearson test assessors are not looking for long, impressive sentences; they are looking for sentences that are clear and logical.
Look at this example:
Although many people are in support of standardized testing, I disagree with it for a few reasons and I will talk about these reasons below, including about the fact that it allows students to cheat more easily and stifles creativity in people.
WOW. What a complicated sentence! The ideas are all there, but they sure are hard to follow.
Let’s try this instead:
Although many people are in support of standardized testing, I am not one of them. In my opinion, standardized testing makes it easier for students to cheat and stifles their creativity. I will discuss these ideas further below.
“When I wrote the PTE exam, I adopted this simple writing style and I took absolutely no risks with my punctuation. My result was a score of 90 across all writing-related skills, including written discourse and grammar”. -Kaia, E2 PTE student
PTE Writing tip #2: Take the time to plan your points.
A lot of people run out of time writing their PTE essay because they change their minds about their arguments halfway through and must begin again. People often think that the best tactic is to just begin writing, get the ball rolling and the ideas will follow. Unfortunately, this is rarely how it works.
Creating a plan will save you from having to stop and restart.
People will often say that they don’t write out an essay plan because they’re afraid of wasting valuable time. We can promise you that it really doesn’t take long to jot down a few quick ideas on your erasable booklet, especially if you have a method. The E2 Test Prep method breaks “planning” into 3 easy steps that take less than two minutes. You can find this method in our PTE “Write Essay” webinar, included in our PTE course preparation packages.
Here is a planning hint from our webinar:
PTE Writing tip #3: Use the “right” format.
When many of our PTE students hear the word “essay”, they automatically understand it to mean a text with 5 paragraphs that includes an introduction, three arguments and a conclusion. They panic because they realize how unrealistic it is to write all of that content in just 20 minutes with a 300-word limit!
Here’s the thing: you are NOT expected to structure your essay this way. In other words, the standard 5-paragraph template that everyone knows is not the “right” template for the PTE essay section. You don’t have enough time to complete an essay in this style, and you probably won’t be able to think of enough arguments to support your ideas either!
So, what can you do instead?
Keep in mind that there may be multiple “right” answers when it comes to structuring your essay, so here are two examples of essay structures that consistently work for PTE:
Structure 1: Weigh the arguments
Paragraph 1: Introduction of the topic
Paragraph 2: Arguments for
Paragraph 3: Arguments against
Paragraph 4: Conclusion – tell the reader which argument is most convincing (in your opinion)
Structure 2: Choose a side and stick with it
Paragraph 1: Introduction of the topic
Paragraph 2: Argument 1 (e.g. against)
Paragraph 3. Argument 2 (e.g. against)
Paragraph 4: Conclusion – sum up the arguments you made in paragraphs 1 and 2
Each of these paragraphs needs only be a few sentences long to clearly get your point across. Again, for more information about essay structure methods, our PTE “write essay’ webinar is a great place to start! In addition, check out this great article about writing essay conclusions in English.
PTE Writing Bonus Tip: Brush up on your academic vocabulary!
“I am a native speaker of English who has published academic articles in the past and I STILL didn’t get full vocabulary points on the PTE. I got an 89, so I’m not that upset – but my score really illustrates to me how important it is to know the vocabulary that the PTE is looking for” – Kaia, E2 PTE student.
How can you build this vocabulary? Well, you can READ! Read newspaper articles, read novels, read autobiographies, read whatever you can get your hands on! Reading not only increases your vocabulary, but it also enhances your understanding of context. We’ve all had an experience where we’ve attempted to use a new and exciting ‘big word’, only to have someone point out that we’ve used it incorrectly!
Speaking of reading, E2Language has an academic word list that goes hand in hand with our pronunciation app (e2pronounce) so you can practice your vocabulary and pronunciation simultaneously!
Remember, the PTE writing section (including the PTE Summarize Written Text task) is not about making you write the next literary masterpiece, it’s about assessing your ability to organise ideas clearly and logically, using good grammatical structure and vocabulary. That’s it. And trust me, anyone can do this if they have the right tools.
Check out E2 PTE YouTube to improve your PTE Writing!
Do you think you have the right tools to ace the PTE Essay task? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
For those who like to multitask, a podcast is a handy way to prepare as you can listen in and learn while preparing dinner for the family, commuting or doing some exercise. With a new episode every week, the Everyday English podcast will help you improve your English fluency.