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.

PTE Writing

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.

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 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:

Screenshot 2016-09-15 01.23.28

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!

Download e2pronounce as part of your PTE course package!
You can download e2pronounce as part of your PTE course package.

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.

Follow our social media for more PTE resources and updates!


Do you think you have the right tools to ace the PTE Essay task?


Written by Kaia Myers-Stewart

33 thoughts on “PTE Writing Tips: How to Improve Your Essay Score

  1. This is a very important post. The points are vital. I have certainly learned something new. Each time I visit this blog, I learn something new. Thanks Kaia and the E2 team; you’re doing a great work here.

  2. These are really helpful tips! But I’m confused about the word limit. Should we stick to the lower side (e.g. 210) or higher side (e.g. 280) of the word limit for max score since, time is really short and max limit is way too much?

    1. Hi Neha,

      Thanks for the comment! I would definitely recommend aiming for the higher side in order to showcase as much of your writing ability as possible. You can still make the sentences short and sweet to avoid errors, but the content should take up 280-300 words. The time limit really is short, but if you can plan out your points efficiently you’ll be able to put in all the content you need to make your argument. It comes down to practice against a clock. ALWAYS time yourself when practicing writing your essays. And don’t be afraid to be a bit longwinded in your introduction or conclusion if you are under the word count by a lot when you have your points written out! 🙂

  3. Dear Kaia,
    Can I follow the structure 1 with all below three essay types?
    -Type 1: Argumentative essay
    -Type 2: Discussion essay
    -Type 3: Advantages outweigh disadvantages

    1. Hi Shoaib,

      Thanks for the question! You can certainly do type 1 and 3, however type 2 doesn’t rely apply. The PTE essay question always asks you to pick a position, so it’s not enough to just discuss both sides. However, you can discuss both sides BRIEFLY and THEN pick your position. You just have to make sure that you’ve made your opinion on the subject completely clear. So you can structure this type of essay the following way:

      1. Introduction, introducing the topic
      2. One side of the argument
      3. The other side of the argument
      4. Conclusion, with your opinion CLEARLY stated about which side you fall on

      This is perfectly acceptable! That being said, I always favour the following method for my essays:

      1. Introduction of the topic and of my point of view/opinion about it
      2. Supporting arguments for my opinion
      3. Conclusion restating my opinion

      That’s just me though! Both are equally valid. Just make sure you always make your opinion clear and SUPPORT it (say why or why not).

      Hope this helps! We do writing assessments as part of most of our course packages too, you should check them out! 🙂

  4. Hello E2 Team,

    Thanks a lot, Truly speaking E2 has helped me to handle PTE in the simplest way by their methods…

    appreciate your work…

  5. Hello Kaia,

    Can you explain little bit about the conclusion ?
    Should we write only one sentence for conclusion ? Or is it a separate paragraph with multiple sentences ?


    1. Hi Yoshan,

      Thanks for the question! Best practice for the conclusion is to write around 2-3 sentences. You need to wrap things up without being too abrupt!

      For example (topic of extreme sports):

      Overall, although I do understand why some people avoid extreme sports, I think they are beneficial and healthy. Extreme sports keep me grounded and help me express my frustrations in a fun and harmless way. I think this statement is likely true for a large part of the Australian population as well, and that life would be more enjoyable if everyone thought this way!

      Obviously you’ll want to keep the tone and style that you like, but try for around 2-3 sentences to get the length right! 🙂

      Hope this helped!

    1. Hi Tommy,

      Forgetting a full stop at the end of your conclusion will not cause you to fail- however you might lose a point in either ‘Grammar’ or ‘Written Discourse’ because you didn’t add the appropriate punctuation. Basically, the overall impact will be small and you certainly won’t fail because of that.

      Hope that helps! 🙂

  6. Hi there
    The essay writing structure is fabulous. But when I write the essay in accordance to the format mentioned in the webinar video the length only goes upto 200-210. 50-60 for introduction, 50-60 for argument 1 and 2 each, 50-60 for conclusion. Is that word count sufficient for augmenting the score?

    1. Hi Nischal,

      Generally, 250-299 is the magic number. You are right on with your introduction and conclusion length, but it looks like you could add a bit more content to your arguments. All that means is adding one or two sentences more. For example, you could use a clarifying sentence beginning with something like this: “In other words”, “In line with this point,” etc.

      You won’t necessarily be docked points for an essay that is 210 words, but I would add a bit more detail to your arguments and aim above 250 words in general! 🙂

      Good luck!

  7. Hi
    The essay tips that I see in webinar videos are amazing. Would you please let me know the structure of conclusion part? In introduction we have background, rewrite the question and “This essay will” sentence. Is there any such for conclusion?
    Thank you

    1. Hi Rebina,

      I’m so glad to hear that! The E2Langauge structure and method for the conclusion is actually a separate webinar, one that is specifically built into our course for paid users. Here’s what I can tell you: The conclusion should be around 60-70 words and needs to reiterate the main thesis statement and your core ideas from the essay.

      And here’s a snippet of a strong concluding statement : “Overall, the topic of extreme sports is quite a controversial one. While many people (including myself) contend that extreme sports are dangerous and reckless, there are a lot of people out there who find these sports satisfying and beneficial to their mental health.”

      Hope this helps you out a bit, thanks for following us! 🙂

  8. I have a question how the enabling skills reflects on you communicative skills? As you know there are 2 sections in the report card of PTE.
    if someone scored more than 85 in these area : vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, written discourse and still he got 69 in writing overall. can anyone help how to get more score in writing.


    1. Hi Usman,

      It sounds like this person has a content/format problem, not and English language problem. His skills are there, but the way he is approaching the tasks is not working. Unfortunately,the PTE are looking for a set method of answering questions just as much as they are looking for skills. I would recommend that this person focus completely on developing a solid formula for “Summarize Written Text” and “Write Essay”. Check out these resources for some guidance (if you haven’t seen them already!)

      YouTube Resources:

      Write Essay Strategy Webinar:

      Write Essay Methods Lesson:

      Blog Resources

      Essay Writing Sample:

      Summarize Written Text Tips:

      E2Language PTE course (Writing assessments and a tutorial might be quite beneficial for this person)

      Good luck!!

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