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Hunts

Pearson PTE - advice for each question type

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Hunts

As I wrote the Pearson PTE earlier this week and I managed to get 90 for all four sections I thought that I would give some advice for each question type.

 

SPEAKING

 

Read aloud: practice, practice, practice. Don't let the other people in the room distract you. Talk slowly and don't rush. This way you should be able to limit your mistakes.

 

Repeat sentence: Concentrate when they are saying the sentence. Maybe even close your eyes. As soon as the sentence is over you have about a second before the recording starts to be prepared. Even if you forget a few works try and complete the sentence as much as you can.

 

Describe image: This is easier than I thought. Get used to using descriptive words so that you don't have to think of them on the spot. I followed a pattern for graphs/charts e.g 'the line graph/pie chart/bar graph depicts the population trend for the UK in the year 2001'. How you speak and sound is way more important than the actual information on the picture. I also read that if you give a conclusion or an opinion on the picture you get more points. I didn't do this and I got full marks!

 

Re-tell lecture: I made notes, lots of notes. You are provided with an erasable marker and booklet. Try and take notes of the key points. You only need to say 4 or 5 sentences. There is a small amount of time between the end of the recording and the beginning of your speaking where you can quickly try and organise your notes.

 

Answer short questions: this is more general knowledge than english but if you don't know an answer at least guess what you think it may be.

 

WRITING

 

Summarise written text: I struggled with this one at first. I always tried to fit in too much information. As it is a summary and you only have 50-70 words to use it is important that you write about the MAIN point. Read through it once or twice and ask yourself what the main point is.

 

Write Essay: As I had written IELTS twice before I knew the general layout required. You only have 20 minutes for each of these so you don't have too much time to plan. Make sure that you write between 200-300 words. This might seem obvious but I was finished with my one question in the exam and I realised that I had only written 170 words. Luckily there is an on-screen word counter. The basic format of the essay should be like this:

 

Paragraph 1: Introduction

 

Sentence 1: Paraphrase the question and statement.

Sentence 2: State your opinion (I agree/disagree etc.)

Sentence 3: Explain your essay (I will first argue that....., then I will discuss ......)

 

Paragraphs 2/3: First point/Second point

 

S1: State the point.

S2: Explain the point a bit further.

S3: Give an example

 

Paragraph 4: Conclusion

 

S1: Start with 'In conclusion', 'To conclude' etc. and briefly touch on the 2 main points and your opinion.

 

READING

 

Multiple choice/single answer: This is always the first reading question on the practice tests but it was last on my exam. A lot of time can be wasted here as there are 2 of these types on questions and they are only one mark each. My tip would be to write letters on your piece of paper e.g. A,B,C,D. Then through a process of elimination you can normally cross off 2 of the answers. Sometimes the remaining 2 answers might both seem right but one will be more right than the other.

 

Multiple choice/multiple answers: There is definitely more than 1 answer. The amount of correct answers will be different from question to question. Some answers will be obvious. Note that there is negative marking here so an incorrectly selected answer will count against you. In spite of this I would still select all the answers that I felt were correct. Use a similar method to what I described above and write letters down and cross them off or circle them to assist in choosing your answers.

 

Re-order paragraphs: This was another one that I struggled with at first. In the gold practice tests and the exam you are able to move the paragraphs around. This makes reading the flow of the passage much easier than in the practice tests in the book where you have to imagine the order of the paragraphs. If you are struggling with this then maybe print out the pages from the practice tests, cut out the different paragraphs and then try to reorganise them.

 

Fill in the blanks: This is the one where there are words missing in a passage of writing and you need to drag and drop words suppled to you. Try and fill in the words that you are sure about first. As there are limited words available this will reduce the number of words that you need to choose from for the more difficult answers. Read up on collocations and idioms. Try and guess the words in your head before reading the choices.

 

Fill in the blanks: This is the one where there is a separate dropdown list for each missing word. My advice would be the same as above. Try answers it in your head before revealing the choices.

 

LISTENING

 

Summarise spoken text: This is similar to re-tell lecture in the speaking section although you type your summary rather than speak it. You have some more time for this one so you aren't under immediate pressure when the recording stops. Take lots of notes. Write down key words or phrases. If the speaker is going too quickly you need to decide on the fly whether a sentence is important or not.

 

Multiple choice/multiple answer: Make lots of notes and be sure to choose more than 1 answer. What you listen to is shorter than the 'summarise spoken text' type of question but often the only difference between some answers is the use of a key word. Some answers will be completely wrong. Again write down letters and cross them off or circle them to help you decide on your answers. In my exam I only selected 2 for each but there could be more than that.

 

Fill in the blanks: There is time to quickly scan the passage before it starts playing. What I do is count the amount of blank spaces and write down the numbers e.g 1,2,3 etc. Then I look and see if any of the blanks are close together. If they are I know that I will need to be quick with the first of the two words. Write the words down as you hear them, either in full or shorthand, and type them into the computer once the recording has stopped.

 

Multiple choice/single answer: Same advice was with multiple choice/multiple answer. Make notes etc.

 

Select missing word: Listening closely to what is being said as it may help with the context of the topic. Use the timer bar to anticipate the end of the sentence. The answer is normally quite obvious.

 

Highlight incorrect word: I read the passage in my head at the same speed as the recording so that any differences in words are picked up immediately. There seem to be around 5/6 incorrect words per passage.

 

Write from dictation: This is fairly easy. Make sure your spelling and punctuation are correct. The sentences I had were rather short.

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ChrisH

Good comprehensive guide!  We should maybe sticky this.

 

The only thing I can add is my tip on microphone placement.  I went from scoring 54 for speaking to 90 by simply adjusting the microphone properly on the microphone calibration page.

 

Instead of just repeating the "testing one two three" phrase, rather read back the first couple of sentences and listen to them.  Do this over and over until you are 100% happy, this section is not timed.  

 

There shouldn't be any audible popping or breathing when you play back your recording.  Remember a computer algorithm marks this and it can only mark what it can hear clearly.

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RedPanda

I have just pinned it. This question comes up so often that I agree it's a good idea. ;) 

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Rich990

Awesome help, thanks!

 

I'm preparing for mine at the moment so this is really useful.

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CharlesH

So disappointed. I needed 79  across all 4 bands and got 90 for all except speaking, for which I got 68.  Now I'm not sure whether I am just bad at speaking or whether there was a problem with my microphone. It would be nice if  you could get feedback on where you went wrong.  I did calibrate the mic in the beginning and it sounded fine but I may have bumped it out of place. Will the gold preparation kit help?  Will it show if there is a problem with my speaking?

Edited by CharlesH

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ChrisH
9 hours ago, CharlesH said:

Will the gold preparation kit help?  Will it show if there is a problem with my speaking?

 

 

Yes, the gold preparation kit is essentially the same tests you write at the venue so you need to ensure you have a mic.

 

I had exactly the same thing happen to me but the second time I managed to score full marks across the board.

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PurpleFerri

I wrote IELTS in Dec 16 and like most I missed all 8's by 0.5 on writing. Looks like a common issue. 

 

So after reading many posts about about PTE decided to give to a try. I bought the gold kit but used the laptop microphone and not an actual headset. 

 

I scored on my first attempt 

L90

R68

S73

W80

Second attempt was worse:( 

L84

R69

S62 

W84

 

I wrote the PTE in Edenvale yesterday. 

Some of my feedback.  

The venue is fine luckily there were only 4 of us. 

When the other person started speaking I was listening to them instead of focusing on my screen. So it's a little distracting.  But you get used to it after a while. 

My Intro was bad, lol, I said stuff that didn't make sense because I was still listening to the others.  

Worried about the one word answer, I didn't know if I spoke at the right time because there was no beep after the question. So could have messed that up completely. 

Retell lecture, my pen stopped working so I couldn't make notes and had to make up random stuff to say. 

I ended up with 5 minutes and 6 questions to go. I ended up doing all 6 but at such a speed I didn't have time to check the write from dictation but rather wanted to get through all then not finish and get 0 anyway. 

I practiced so much at home and never ran out of time so I don't know what happened. 

I am waiting for the marks now but I am not confident that I will get 79+ since I couldn't even get that in the gold tests and I made quite a few more mistakes in the actual test. 

Anyway I have booked again for IELTS in April as a back up plan. 

So let's see. 

 

 

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RedPanda

I think the IELTS gets people because we are so used to spell checkers helping us that when we write by hand the spelling is quite bad. And I know before we wrote it I had to do a brush up on the proper format for essays, and I read quite a few examples of how they want you to describe graphs, even if the graphs say nothing.

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PurpleFerri

@CharlesH I just got my PTE scores and I scored above 79 for all EXCEPT Speaking by 2 points..... :( 

 

Thinking of trying again before IELTS next week. 

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RedPanda

Ah..condolences. I've always found it's better to miss by a mile than a few hairs.

Best luck for your next try!

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CharlesH

I just completed the first of the online tests in the Gold Package.  I obtained a 90 for all sections.  This leads me to conclude that my microphone was the problem. I used a professional recording mic with pop filter during the practice test.  I am writing on Sunday, so I will make a point of getting the mic placement right, even asking for assistance if I have to.  You would think they would use professional microphones with pop filters to prevent this sort of thing, and. come to think of it, noise isolation headphones to prevent you from hearing the others in the room.

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PurpleFerri

@CharlesH oh wow. Well done. I never used a mic for the practice test. I just used the laptop built in mic. 

 

Can you take your own mic to the venue? 

Where did you buy your mic. I will rather buy one then have to write the test again.  

Yes you would think they would set the venue up so that you can't hear the people around you and pens that work. The marker ran out three times.  

 

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CharlesH
Just now, PurpleFerri said:

Can you take your own mic to the venue? 

Where did you buy your mic.

 

I don't think so.

It is a professional vocal mic - I make and produce music as a hobby.  I bought it at music mate in Fourways.

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PurpleFerri

Oh ok. Good luck for Sunday! I am sure you are going to do great! 

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ChrisH

Jup, I found those headsets cheap and nasty.  The microphone calibration page isn't timed, so take your time and read a couple of sentences.  Something else that just occurred to me, most people aren't used to talking on a headset with full headphones on, maybe we compensate by talking softly or too loud?

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PurpleFerri

Yes I also thought I may have been speaking a little soft. I was the only female there so was feeling a little shy and was getting distracted by the others when they were speaking. I tried setting the mic about 3 times. Everyone else started there tests so got anxious and thought I better start too. I guess I know what to expect now so should be better.  

Just one thing. Answer short question, there is no beep after the question so just started speaking when it said recording but wasn't actually sure if I spoke at the right time and said the word twice in some cases. 

 

 

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PurpleFerri

So I have literally just finished my pte exam and I am sooooo upset. I completely messed up the speaking section and know for sure that I did not get the results I need. 

I said the wrong words in read aloud, describe image and retell lecture were so so but answer short question and repeat sentence I maybe got half of the answers correct. The short questions were mostly based on pictures and that threw me. 

There was also another person who was shouting in the room that distracted me.

How do people get 90 for speaking, did you say eveything correctly without even one mistake, word left out etc? 

Maybe pte is not for me. 

I am going to start preparing for IELTS on Sat.  ??????

 

 

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CharlesH

And I am very relieved to report that this time around I got 90 for all 4 sections!

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Rich990

Just did my first practice test and got 90's across the board.

 

No idea how as I accidentally pressed next before I answered one of the describe graph questions.

 

 

Practice Test 1 results.PNG

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Rich990

Looks like I'll need to pay more attention to spelling on practice test 2, tomorrow, and then in the exam on Sunday.

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Rich990

@Hunts you're a champ, your tips here really paid off!!

 

Did my test yesterday and passed with the marks I needed for 20 points, thanks!

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Hunts

@Rich990 congratulations. I'm glad that it helped. Good luck with the rest of your application. We have all of the documents now so we should be submitting our application in the next week.

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Rich990

Thanks and good luck with your application!

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AdriaanSanta

Hi all,

 

So I have read this thread multiple times in the last two weeks while preparing for my PTE exam. I wrote the exam this morning and I have only a few bits of advice, everything else worth saying, has been said above.

 

This biggest single system shock was the fact that you are in the room with other people talking all around you. Trust me, at home, I trained for the PTE while being undisturbed by my family. If you want to do yourself a huge favour, get your kids to sit and play board games next to you while doing the practice exams. I found myself sitting and listening to the people talking around me, wondering how well they speaking and trying to hear what they are saying. With this said, I do get distracted easily but I am sure there is enough people out there like me. I caught myself just in-time to not miss a question. Practice with distraction around you, there is a lot of typing and everything going on around you, you can even hear some of what is being played on the other peoples head phones.

 

Secondly, I found the topics, images, texts and graphs more complex in the test than in the practice material. There is a lot of awesome youtube videos to help you prepare for everything. Take time and watch them, then practice.

 

I once again realised how crappy my spelling is without a spell checker.

 

I wrote at the Edenvale centre, the administrator was friendly and polite. It is a comfortable environment and neat environment to write in with about 8 stations so, 8 people can do the exam at the same time.

 

Good luck to all.

 

Edited by AdriaanSanta
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