Understanding PTE Academic Test Format


The PTE Academic test is designed for students who plan to study overseas, but hail from countries where English is not their first language. PTE Academic measures the students on four language skills, Speaking, Writing, Reading and Listening.  According to the exam pattern of PTE, the speaking and writing modules are integrated into one, whereas the Reading and Listening modules are timed separately.

How does the PTE Academic Work?

The PTE Academic test is a computerized examination that is secure, fast and reliable. It tests the students’ skills in Speaking and Writing, Reading, and Listening. When you reach the exam centre, you will be assigned a computer and a headset, and a notepad and note pen; pencils, pens, and paper are NOT allowed in the testing areas. The total time is from 90 minutes to 2 hours and 10 minutes; and the number of questions ranges from about 52-60 questions in total.

Let Us Take a Look at The PTE Exam Structure

Below is the PTE exam structure divided into various sections – Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.

Speaking and Writing

This section will test the students ‘speaking and writing abilities’. The time duration required is 54 to 67 minutes and has six portions.

Segment Wise-Pattern Duration (all students speak at the same time in the section)
Personal Introduction: 25 seconds for the prompt, 30 seconds to 1 minute to answer (no marks given)

  • Read Aloud : 6/7–25-35 seconds to prepare for reading aloud the text of between 1.5 to 2.5 sentences.
  • Repeat the Sentences: 10-12–3-9 seconds for prompt, 15 seconds max to answer, but can only say 1x!.
  • Describe the Image: 3-4–40 seconds to identify the image and come up with a response.
  • Retell Lecture: 1—2- Hear a lecture and have to Retell what you heard: 10 seconds to prepare, and 40 seconds max to respond.
  • Answer Short Question:5-6– 3-9 seconds for prompt, 10 seconds to answer

Writing ( timed separately BUT must have time remaining on the clock as well from Speaking)

  • Summarize Written Text: 7 marks each-1-2–10 minutes to answer a text prompt of 300 words.
  • Write the Essay:15 marks each- 1-2–at least 130-199; goal is 200-300–Writing 20 minutes.


This particular section will test the students ‘comprehension, vocabulary and grammar skills. The reading section is divided into five segments that must be covered in 29-30 minutes.

  • Reading and Writing: Fill in the Blanks (20-30 marks)—5-6 screens—drop down answers of 4 for each gap. (usually about 150+ words each text).
  • Multiple Choice, Choose Multiple Answers: (2-4 marks each)1-2—2, 3, 4 answers –This has negative marking.
  • Reorder Paragraphs: 2-3— (4 marks each) A paragraph is mixed up; students required to rearrange the order.
  • Reading: Fill in the Blanks: 4-5 screens— (18-23 marks) each screen has 4-6 blanks; there are 7+ choices. This requires vocabulary and grammar (usually about 60-80 words each text).
  • Multiple Choice, Choose Single Answer: (1-2 Marks)—1 -2 screens


The listening section covers about 30-43 minutes and tests the abilities of the students to understand spoken English.

The listening section has 8 sub-segments. (the *star represents modules that have partial credits)

  • *Summarize spoken test: 1-2 questions—(10 marks each)c 10 minutes to write
  • Multiple-choice, multiple-answer: 1-2 questions (1 mark each) 40-90 seconds prompt
  • *Highlighting Correct Summary: 1-2 questions (1 mark each) 30-90 seconds
  • *Fill in the Blanks: 2-3 screens—10-15 marks- 30-60 seconds: spelling is the key criteria.
  • Multiple choice, single answer : 1-2—1 mark each–30-60 seconds
  • Select Missing Word—1-2—1 mark each– 20-70 seconds
  • *Highlight Incorrect Words: 2-3 screens—10 to 15 marks total—has negative marking! 15-50 secs
  • Write From Dictation: 3-4 questions: 3-5 seconds for hearing; need at least 45 seconds per question.

The PTE Exam Result

Now that you know about the PTE Academic exam, format and patterns, you can stop worrying and start preparing for your tests. We do recommend that you sign up at least 1 week in advance to secure the desired date and time. Also, results usually are sent out to Candidates within one to five working days, and the validity of PTE exam scores is two or three years, much like TOEFL and IELTS. In addition, you can send your PTE exam marks to immigration, and as many colleges/universities as you desire.

If you want the best tutors to guide you to ace the PTE exams, Apeiro Training Services has a fantastic reputation for being the best institute Western Australia has to offer! Visit our website, http://apeirotraining.com.au for more information about the various PTE courses and get your desired score in as little as 2 days over the weekend or over a two week period Monday-Friday.