This PTE speaking score improvement article contains several complex vocabulary words and expressions.These words are hyperlinked to their definitions to help you if necessary. Make sure you click on a word or expression if you do not understand it!

Over the life of this blog, there have been several excellent articles aimed at helping future PTE test takers improve their marks in the speaking section of the test. Kaia addressed these issues when she wrote entertainingly about her experience with the speaking section in her first PTE, and published another in which she gave some insight into how to improve one’s oral fluency.

Are you falling short on your PTE speaking score?

Issues arising from the speaking section, while relevant for all test takers, have special resonance for people from South Asia. It is all too common for people from the sub-continent to score well in the other three areas yet fall short – and often very short! – when it comes to their spoken performance on the PTE.

PTE Speaking Score
A number of test takers from South Asia struggle with their PTE speaking score in particular.

As I wrote in my previous blog post about Priyanka’s PTE success story, this can be extremely vexing for such candidates: they speak English very well, use English every day, work in English, write in English, make calls in English and yet, mysteriously, they are getting 48 in the PTE. In that article, I mentioned five key areas that south Asians need to focus on to ensure success in their PTE speaking score.

1) Do not speak too quickly.

It is essential that you adopt a speed which you can maintain for the duration of the test. Being an internet-based test, like the TOEFL, the PTE depends on your input to provide you with a score. But unlike the TOEFL, no human ears will hear your spoken submissions, meaning that every word you say must be recorded by the algorithm. You are not doing yourself any favours by prattling on like a lunatic.

The key to speaking in the PTE is quality rather than quantity. It is better that you say 40 or 50 words in 35 seconds and cover all the mains points than attempt to cover every single issue you have identified in a double graph, force out 100 words in 40 seconds and get cut off before your conclusion.

It is also very hard to sound natural if you are speaking too quickly, so just slow it down. A standard to measure yourself by is good quality news reading and high quality public speaking.

Check out Kaia’s “Common Questions” video for more tips about handling the time-limit and boosting your overall PTE speaking score.

2) Do not mumble.

If the computer cannot hear you, the computer cannot mark you. I hear from our students (and from Kaia!) that, out of respect for the people around them, they have tried to speak into the microphone in hushed tones when they are in the test centre. This simply will not do. Do not deny the computer the opportunity of hearing what you have got to say.

Many PTE test takers complain about how noisy the test centre can get during the test, especially during the speaking section. Well, it is what it is, and if you are having a problem with the noise remember that it is just as bad for everyone else. (Still, I think that noise-excluding headphones for everyone would be a very good idea.) A useful way of training for the test is to have a radio playing in the background while you are practicing your speaking. To make it even more annoying, make sure the background noise is in a language you understand, making it harder to tune it out. The more prepared you are for the realities of the PTE, the better your performance come test day. For more tips about adjusting to the noisy PTE testing environment, read our “PTE Exam Secrets” blog article.

3) Make sure your enunciation of words is clear.

Are you being clear about where one word ends and the next word begins? The careless blending of words, as opposed to the natural blending of words, needs to be dealt with. What does this mean for your speaking? Take, for example, the sentence: “We have been together for a long time.” Now, speaking naturally, this would come out something like: “Wiv bin tgethr fra long time.” Pronouncing every single phoneme would be forced and weird, but that is a little bit like the way you are meant to speak in the PTE.

When you practice on your own and recording your efforts, pay close attention to your enunciation. Are the words clear enough? If in doubt, re-record it as any times as it takes to make it clear as a bell. The PTE criteria ask test takers to speak clearly enough for a native speaker to understand you. I would go further and encourage you to speak clearly enough for a competent, non-native speaker to get every word. This will greatly help your PTE pronunciation and oral fluency scores.

Watch this video if you want to learn more about how an accent can affect your PTE speaking score.

4) Make sure your tone sounds natural.

You would probably agree that belting out your words at a mile a minute is a bad idea (see above), but you must not slow yourself down so that you end up talking like a robot from Star Wars! For example, saying “I-do-not-believe-that-there-is-any-good-reason-for-doing-this” would get you low marks, even though it’s grammatically correct. Why? Although you are pronouncing the words clearly, enunciating well, avoiding hesitations (see below) and speaking at the right pace, there is nothing natural about your delivery. Basically, keep it real!

PTE Speaking Score
Don’t be talking mechanically like a Star Wars Storm Trooper. Use the Force to maintain a natural balance… in your speaking, of course!

5) Avoid all hesitations, umms and aahs.

This is another part of normal, day-to-day speech that is totally unacceptable in the PTE. The most obvious thing you can do is slow down (see above). This will give your brain time to think of the words you are going to say next. Most of the time, words just tumble out of our mouths willy-nilly, so being fully aware of what you are saying can be a disturbing experience for many. It’s a bit like becoming aware of your breathing or blinking. Nevertheless, get used to doing this whenever you practice ahead of your test. It is a good idea to become self-conscious of this every time it happens. If you are recording yourself, go back to the start and try again. Do this, and you will notice a big difference in your PTE oral fluency score.

I promise you that making the most of these 5 suggestions will not only boost your PTE speaking score, but your overall confidence in spoken English too. Go ahead, try it out!

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Written by Colin David.

12 thoughts on “5 Ways South Asians Can Improve Their PTE Speaking Score

  1. I have found the reason why many south Asians getting low score in speaking despite the fact that they are good in English. You can notice that your speaking score is almost equal to your fluency score on report. Speaking score is based on fluency score mainly. So, focus on your fluency instead of content and pronunciation.
    For instance, in first attempt of PTE, I scored 69 in speaking and 72 in fluency. Next one, 48 and 51. I focused on content in later one. So, I lost marks in fluency and therefore in speaking. You can also notice 21 marks reduced in fluency and the same in speaking in my second attempt. Good Luck..

    1. Hi Raghu,

      I definitely agree with you that oral fluency is a very important factor in improving your PTE score! However,that fluency needs to contain a certain cadence, rhythm and tone in order to be understood accurately and easily by native speakers. That’s where these tips will come in handy! Check out the article I wrote recently about oral fluency for PTE as well: https://blog.e2language.com/increase-pte-oral-fluency/

      Thanks for your insights and good luck to you! 🙂

      Kaia

  2. Hi everyone,

    I did PTE 5 times and I am lacking a few marks to be over the 65 points in each section. Everyone says that fluency and pronunciation are important in speaking section but I doubt it as I scored 74 for fluency and 48 for pronunciation. I got 54 in speaking. Can anyone explain this? I got a friend she scored 69 in speaking but her fluency is 65 and pronunciation 48. How com she scored 69 and I am not ?

    Unfortunately , this happened to me in each section , grammar and written disclosure scored as 75 but got 59 in writing

    Can someone explain this ?

    Thanks

    1. Hi Cham,

      Unfortunately, high fluency does not necessairily equal strong pronunciation, at least as far as PTE assessment is concerned. Basically:

      Fluency is being assessed as your ability to speak without unnatural pauses and hesitation in English. In other words- do you “keep talking” at all times? It is not being equated with accuracy in your pronunciation.

      Pronunciation is a measure of accuracy in English. Many people speak fluently (without stopping) in English, but have not mastered near-native pronunciation yet. Unfortunately, many highly fluent speakers of English have developed bad pronunciation habits that haven’t been corrected. The test can be quite unforgiving- so it’s important to work specifically on word pronunciation with a tutor or speaking partner to get valuable feedback from a native speaker. In addition to personal tutoring, our PTE courses offer a pronunciation app that scores you on your pronunciation and shows you what part of the word is being mispronounced. We also conduct speaking assessments that are scored using the real PTE criteria, and can provide you with some insight about your pronunciation challenges.

      When it comes to your friend’s score being different to your score- that sounds like more of a content issue. Essentially, the PTE assessors are not only looking for fluency and accuracy skills in your speaking, but also for content in your answers that meet their exact criteria. The PTE is more than just an English test- which is part of the reason it is so challenging! For example, the first time I wrote PTE, I had no idea how to go about answering the Describe Image task, and I ended up going on and on about every single detail and didn’t have time for a concluding sentence! The next time I took the PTE, I adopted the E2Language “Describe Image Method” and had no difficulty whatsoever with the task. Remember- each task has a specific format in need of following, and it’s a good idea to have a formula for each one.

      Your writing score also sounds like a content issue. Your writing obviously flowed well and displayed good grammatical structure, but it’s likely the content of your essay and summaries that did not meet the PTE 65 criteria.

      The takeaway here is that good mechanics in English (like grammar and fluency) are not the only important aspect of the PTE. Completing the tasks in the way the PTE assessors are looking for is just as important. If you haven’t seen them already, check out our free webinars on YouTube, especially the Speaking and Writing ones. They describe the kind of method you’ll need to meet the criteria for the given task and provide helpful insight about what the Pearson examiners are looking for.

      Describe Image Webinar:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EgnyEgNAQ-c&t=1202s

      Write Essay:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Debt-H-DHC8

      Summarize Written Text:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teVfEY_emTw

      Also, think about signing up to one of our PTE courses. We can work with you one-on-one to identify your specific weaknesses and help you improve upon them substantially. Taking the PTE 5 times is not fun by any means, and we would love to help you make sure that your 6th time is the last time you’ll ever take it!

      GOOD LUCK!!

    2. Hi Cham,
      There are marks for content as well. You should have got very less marks in content. That is why though your fluency is good, you got less in speaking. The same applies to writing as well.

  3. Hi Kaia,

    I’m also looking for assistance. I did the PTE once and preparing for the next. I would like to get it right.

    Regards,

    1. Hi Rakesh,

      Has anyone from E2Language replied to your email enquiry yet? If not- and you’re unsure of what course will suit you best- you can book a free information session by clicking this link:https://calendly.com/e2languageteam/infosession

      If you have an idea of what course might work for you- you can sign up here and set up your study plan consultation with your tutor right away to get started!

      Please let me know if you are unable to book a free consultation in the near future or don’t hear back from any of my colleagues! I am currently on leave in Canada but would be happy to answer your questions over skype if you need! 🙂

  4. I got 64 overall
    65 speaking
    62 reading
    64 writing
    69 listening
    I want to improve n get 65 each.
    Is it possible?
    I don’t have enough time to practice. What should i do?
    I found Retell,Repeat sentence and whole listening material quite difficult. However , I got less score in reading.
    Please rply . Its request.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Rufi,
      You’re very close, and literally ANY extra practice you can squeeze in before your next test will make all the difference. Even if it’s just an hour or two a week, every little bit counts. If you take the PTE again without practicing, there is absolutely no guarantee you will get a 65 this time (and in fact you might score even lower, since every test is a little different!). I know its tough to find the time, but studying with online materials will really help you work around your schedule.

      The E2Language PTE Express package is built for students like you who are very close to their goal score and have very little time. It provides you with quick video webinars and lessons that teach you proven methods for tackling each task, and all the practice questions you’ll need to improve.

      Also, make sure you check out these free resources to help boost your score (especially reading and listening!)

      Free PTE Methods Webinars
      PTE Practice Activities
      PTE Reading Tips Blog
      PTE Listening Tips Blog

      Good luck, I hope your preparation goes well!

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