The PTE writing section can be incredibly intimidating, especially the “write essay” task.
Writing an essay has always been somewhat of an art, even for native English speakers. Many of us just want know the “right” way to write an essay, but unfortunately there never seems to be only one answer!
The most important thing to understand about the “write 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!) vocabulary words will also help your case.
With this in mind, I’d like to share with you some strategies to help you improve your “write 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.
Want to see some examples of PTE 90 level essays? Download 5 free essay samples here:
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 and get the ball rolling, and that the ideas will follow. Unfortunately, this is rarely how it works and in general, 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. I understand this logic, but I can promise you that it really doesn’t take long to jot down a few quick ideas on your erasable noteboard booklet, especially if you have a method. The E2Language.com 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?
I want you to 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 on 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 paragraph 1 and 2
Each of these paragraphs need 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!
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.
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, it 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 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.
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Written by Kaia Myers-Stewart