Today we’ll be talking about 5 PTE Mistakes to Avoid that you might be making in your PTE exam.

These mistakes are applicable if you have taken the exam before, and also if you haven’t taken the exam before.

It will be good to know these mistakes because they might be costing you marks in your final grade and we would like to avoid that of course. The goal would be to maximize the marks that you are able to potentially achieve. So let’s get to it!

Quick Intro

A little bit of an introduction of myself.

My name is Sue Anne. I’m one of the education specialists in Master PTE. We help in training students to prepare them thoroughly for the PTE exam so that they are able to achieve their desired score in the shortest amount of time and in the least amount of attempts.

PTE Mistakes to Avoid # 1 – Focusing on the wrong task types

Alright, mistake number one is focusing on the wrong task types. This is actually a very often overlooked mistake, albeit very important. It is because knowing which tasks types you should be focusing on is very useful in terms of prioritizing time. Prioritizing your studying time, as well as prioritizing your time in the actual exam.

There are 20 task types in PTE and not all of them are created equal. This means that some of them are of a heavier weightage than others. It’s important to know how important each task type is, so that you can be most effective allocating your time and answering the questions.

Based on our experience, our students’ achievements and the tests that as we have carried out, we have identified that 60% of task types in PTE carry about 90% of the total score in PTE.

That’s almost half of the exam carrying the weightage of the entire exam. Which means if you just focus on the important half of the exam, you can be almost equally as effective as focusing on the full exam.

This is extremely in the useful information. Why? Because you should focus on the important 60%.

Allocate your time, energy, resources and brain power to practice and answer them well during the final exam. Don’t treat the entire exam like every question is of the same weightage.

A lot of times, candidates are unable to complete the entire exam in time because they get tied up in the less important task types that take up a lot of time, and miss out the ones that actually matter. That is a real waste, which is why this mistake MUST be avoided at all cost.

So if you’re focusing too much time and energy on every task type, I recommend you change your strategy, and focus instead on the important 60%.


PTE Mistakes to Avoid # 2 – Being Caught off Guard

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The first thing you should know about PTE is that it is a fully computer-based exam. So everything is done on the computer and everything is assessed by the computer.

There is no human examiner that will review your answers.


So there is no forgiveness if you don’t know what’s going on. Because the computer will just keep going even if you’re not ready, or you’re not aware of what you need to do at a particular task type. That is why you need to be extremely prepared.

The goal, of course would be to finish the entire exam on time. But I’d like to highlight two sections that are extremely critical to be wary of.

First, is the speaking section. It is very tricky and quite intense. You’ll need to respond quickly to the questions that pop up. If you’ve taken the exam before, you’ll know that you begin with Read Aloud, and then you move to Repeat Sentence and Describe Image and so on and so forth. There’s a very rigid sequence so you actually need to know what’s happening before it happens, or else the timing in each question will throw you off.

This is especially so because each question in Speaking has its own time block. For example, Read Aloud has 40 seconds of prep time and 40 seconds of speaking time. For Describe Image, you have 25 seconds of prep time and 40 seconds to speak. So once the time block ends, you need to click ‘Next’ and go to the next question.

There is no time for you to read the questions’ instructions. Once you see the question come up you need to respond to it right away which is why preparation is paramount when you’re doing speaking. Otherwise, the rigid, time-sensitive structure can be very alarming.

You will also need to be very familiar with the sequence of questions. It’s more or less the same each time. A lot of students who are unfamiliar will definitely get caught off guard. For example, when you finish Describe Image, Retell Lecture begins playing, and you need to actually jot down notes while the lecture is playing. If you’re not prepared when the recording begins, you panic, scrambling to try to find a pen to take down notes. This is common even with PTE veterans. As a result, you will waste precious seconds and miss vital keywords. So be prepared to avoid encountering these nasty surprises.

The next section is Listening. The Listening section is very tight in terms of timeline. After Summarise Spoken Text, you have only about 30 to 40 minutes to finish the rest of the Listening section, so you need to be extremely careful in terms of allocating your time.

From this, we can learn from the lessons of mistake number one, which is to prioritise task types properly so that we focus on the 60% of important task types instead of the less important 40%.

For example, in Listening, there are the Multiple Choice Questions. If you don’t know the answer to the question in the first 30 seconds, you should just guess one and move on. There is no point spending extra time here because accumulatively, all these questions amount to such an insignificant amount of marks that it would be silly to spend time there rather than on the heavier task types which actually accumulate a far greater percentage of your final grade.

PTE Mistakes to Avoid # 3 – Not Speaking Loud Enough

Now we move to mistake number 3, which is not speaking loud enough.

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This is applicable to the Speaking section. When we look at the Speaking section, the tell-tale signs that you are not doing well, are your oral fluency and your pronunciation.

Speaking too softly is very common with Asians because we are generally shyer and we are not comfortable speaking in a higher volume. Also, there will be other candidates in the exam room and you might not want to disturb them, hence you tend to speak in a lower volume to avoid distracting. Or, you just may not be very confident in the way that you speak.

Speaking softly is unhelpful to our pronunciation because firstly, the headset will not be able to capture the words that you’re saying. Secondly, the other people around you, if they are loud enough, might actually impact your pronunciation. This would definitely drag down your pronunciation score.

At the same time, this might impact your oral fluency because you’re speaking too softly for the headset to detect your words. Even if you may be speaking in an extremely fluent manner, if the volume is no good, the marking system will give you a bad grade for your oral fluency.

Hence, it is very important to speak confidently and not worry about your surroundings. After all, you’re the one who’s paying for the exam, so you should try to do it as best as you can to avoid having to retake it multiple times.


PTE Mistakes to Avoid # 4 – Not having enough Speaking Content

Mistake number four is not having enough speaking content. This is quite important, more so now than in the past, especially for the Describe Image and Retell Lecture.

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For those of you who have taken the exam before, for Describe Image, you are given an image and you have to describe it in your own words for about 40 seconds. Retell Lecture is where you’re given a lecture about 40 seconds to a minute long, and at the end of it you have 10 seconds to prepare your speech, and 40 seconds to deliver.

You need to have enough content to continue speaking for those 40 seconds. You cannot speak for 10 seconds and be silent the rest of the time and expect good results for Speaking.

You’ll have to come up with enough content during the prep time, so that you’re able to expand on the topic given. A good tip for this would be to work on an introduction, body and conclusion during the 25 or 10 seconds of prep time.

It may not be a lot of time, but we just need to utilize it properly.

We have ways to execute this perfectly and if you’d like to get help for Speaking, get in touch with us here.

PTE Mistakes to Avoid # 5 – Not Flexing your Vocabulary Muscles

Mistake number 5 is not flexing your vocabulary muscles.


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This is where we address the Writing portion of the exam. Essay Writing is where you should try to input as much good vocabulary as you can.

A good tip for this, is to not go into the exam empty-handed. Doing so is very risky because PTE is a very time sensitive exam. It’s not a good idea to leave everything to chance, go in and say to yourself “Let’s see what happens and I’ll response respond appropriately”.

This might work of course but it will be far less risky to have some sort of guiding template to boost your vocabulary and word count in case you struggle to come up with strong vocabulary during your exam.

Being prepared will buffer against brain freeze in case you don’t have enough content.

You can help yourself out by preparing beforehand. Have your own template ready. If you have one, but are uncertain of its vocabulary or grammar, we will be able to edit and improve it for you here before your exam.


I hope you got a lot of information from that quick article. Here are our contact details if you’d like to get in touch for training. We hold face-to-face classes in Malaysia but we also do have online classes. You can get in touch with us here for your free assessment. We usually don’t accept students without an initial assessment because we need to make sure that we can actually help you achieve your target score before you decide to enroll in our program.

Get in touch with us if you have any questions and I hope to see you soon in our next article. Subscribe if you like our content so we can give you regular updates of new articles. Thanks for reading and all the best in your upcoming PTE exam!

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