The Exams We Prepare For: PTE


PTE stands for Pearson Test of English. Pearson is an education company with students and staff in over 70 countries. Their English tests are designed to assess second-language speakers’ English competency, both general and academic. Because Pearson is a reputable and internationally recognized company, PTE results can often be used when applying at an English-medium university or migrating to an English-speaking country.  

Are there different kinds of PTE tests? 

Yes, Pearson offers PTE Home and PTE Academic. PTE Home test are used for beginner and pre-intermediate language-learners who need to use their results to apply for visas. PTE Academic is a more advanced test that can be used for university applications (or when applying for a visa related to university-studies).  

Where will my PTE results be accepted? 

The PTE is recognized by a long list of universities the world over. The list includes respected institutions like Harvard Business School and Yale. If you are looking to get into a specific university, you can either check directly with the university’s admissions team, or with Pearson at www.pearsonpte.com, where you can browse by country to find universities currently accepting PTE results. 

When it comes to visa applications, if you are looking to migrate to Australia, New Zealand, or the UK, you could take the PTE to prove your English competency. Immigration bodies in these countries use different iterations of this test to see if visa applicants comply with language requirements. In the UK, for example, athletes applying for sportsperson’s visas and professionals applying for overseas business-representative visas can take the PTE Home A1, a beginner-level English test that assesses speaking and listening. While prospective university students applying for student visas need to take the PTE Academic, a more advanced-level test that assesses speaking, listening, reading and writing.   

What are PTE tests like? 

Fully computer-based! Even if your test assesses speaking and listening, you will be able to complete the entire test on a computer. This is good news for language-learners who feel nervous about an examiner assessing their conversational skills in a live session.  Test-takers need to attend a Pearson test centre in order to take the PTE. You will be assigned a computer and headset to use for completing each component of the test. 

If you are taking a PTE Home test, you can expect to sit the exam for about half an hour. You will be asked to repeat sentences, to describe images and to listen and answer in a conversation. If you are taking the PTE Academic, you can expect to sit the exam for three hours. 

The test has three parts: 

1) speaking and writing (tested at the same time)

2) listening

3) reading 

You will be tested on academic English, so you can expect to find excerpts from lectures and academic texts in the test. You will also hear different kinds of accents in the test.  

How are PTE tests graded? 

Electronically! The PTE is known for favouring algorithmic grading over human examiners. According to Pearson, grading test with artificial intelligence leads to fairer, more accurate and quicker test results. You will usually get your results in under 48 hours.  

How can I prepare for my PTE? 

Whether you are taking a PTE Home or PTE Academic test, you need to make sure that you prepare using the appropriate materials. You can buy a practice test from Pearson. But you will still need to ensure that you are prepared for questions that might not be covered in the practice test. While practice tests are great for familiarizing yourself with the format of the test, they cannot adequately prepare you for the content of the actual test. (It would be unfair to make practice test too similar to actual tests). If you enjoy structured learning, taking one-on-one lessons is a good idea. A trained and experienced teacher will be able to help you draw up a learning-plan to ensure that you cover everything you need to, before you head to a Pearson test centre to take your PTE.  

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