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PTE Exam Pattern & Syllabus

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PTE Exam Pattern & Syllabus

PTE Exam Syllabus

The Pearson Test of English exam pattern and syllabus are crafted by renowned scholars. Having a thorough idea about them is the key to taking the exam.

PTE Exam Pattern and Syllabus: Overview

The Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic exam is one of the best computer-based English language proficiency tests known for its unbiased scoring thanks to high-end AI. The exam has earned global fame for its quick results and is widely accepted in thousands of academic institutions in the UK, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

A closer look at the PTE exam pattern reveals that the test comprises three crucial sections – Speaking & Writing, Reading and Listening. The questions for these sections are designed specifically to check whether candidates have enough mastery over the English language.

PTE Sections

PTE Exam Syllabus

Total Questions & Duration

Speaking & Writing

  • Short personal introduction
  • Describe an image
  • Read a text aloud
  • Answer questions (short)
  • Provide a summary of the written text
  • Sentence repetition
  • Re-telling of a lecture
  • Essay

Some questions: approx. 28 to 36

Total duration: approx. 53-67 minutes


  • MCQs – Single answer choice
  • MCQs – Multiple answers choice
  • Complete the blanks (reading)
  • Complete the blanks (reading & writing)
  • Change the order of paragraphs

Some questions: approx. 12 to 18

Total duration: approx. 30 minutes


  • MCQs – Multiple answers choice
  • MCQs – Single answer choice
  • Provide a summary of spoken text
  • Complete blanks
  • Write a dictated text
  • Identify the correct summary
  • Identify incorrect words
  • Choose missing words

Some questions: approx. 13 to 20

Total duration: approx. 30-45 minutes

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Types of PTE Exam Syllabus

The PTE exam syllabus varies depending on the type of PTE exam you wish to appear for. 

Syllabus for PTE Academic:

The PTE Academic is divided into three main categories - Speaking & Writing, Reading and Listening.

Speaking & Writing section:

  1. Self-introduction
  2. Sentence repetition
  3. Written text summarization
  4. Reading aloud
  5. Image Description
  6. Lecture re-telling
  7. Short question
  8. Essay

Reading section:

  1. MCQs – Single answer choice
  2. MCQs – Multiple answers choice
  3. Complete the blanks (reading)
  4. Complete the blanks (reading & writing)
  5. Change the order of paragraphs

The Listening section:

  1. MCQs – Multiple answers choice
  2. MCQs – Single answer choice
  3. Provide a summary of spoken text
  4. Complete blanks
  5. Write a dictated text
  6. Identify correct summary
  7. Identify incorrect words
  8. Choose missing words

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Syllabus for PTE General:

The General PTE exam syllabus is catered to those who wish to test their proficiency in the English language. Unlike the PTE Academic, the PTE General comprises two sections – Written and Spoken.

Based on previous tests, the PTE General syllabus includes the following:

  1. A spoken interview
  2. A written section, including evaluative listening, writing, and reading

The spoken section of the exam might include 

  • Maintaining a sustained monologue on a particular topic
  • Participating in a roleplay
  • Describing an image

Syllabus for PTE Young Learners

The PTE Young Learners exam is organized by Edexcel and designed for students aged six to thirteen. Like the PTE General, it is divided into two sections – Written and Spoken.

The syllabus for this includes –

  • Structuring Sentences in Realistic Contexts
  • Usage of language to complete tasks

PTE Young Learners focuses more on testing children’s knowledge of the use of English in real-life scenarios.

PTE Academic Exam Eligibility

The PTE Academic exam is conducted by the Pearson PLC Group which has laid down certain eligibility conditions for candidates.

Age criteria for the PTE Academic:

A candidate must be at least 16 years of age to be eligible to appear for the PTE Academic. However, candidates who are below 18 years of age must provide a content form signed by their parents or guardian. The softcopy of the form is available on the PTE exam's official website.

There is no upper age limit to appear for the exam.

Educational qualification criteria for the PTE Academic:

Pearson PLC Group has not specified any educational qualification restriction amongst the eligibility criteria. Students of all disciplines can appear for the exam and test their English skills.

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PTE Exam Syllabus 2023-24: Section-Wise PTE Syllabus

The PTE Academic exam syllabus covers a wide variety of questions spread out to its three main sections - Speaking & Writing, Reading and Listening. Renowned English scholars worldwide have framed the syllabus and designed the questions to ensure that candidates appearing for the PTE Academic can receive the best assessment to check whether their English skills are up to global standards.

Based on previous PTE Academic examinations, each section consists of several categories of questions that test your speaking, listening, writing, and reading skills. These mostly cover the language you’re bound to encounter in an academic setting and in daily life.

A thorough understanding of the PTE Academic exam syllabus will provide you with a competitive edge over others and prepare you for what’s to come in the main exam. So, let’s dig deeper into the section-wise syllabus for the paper.

PTE Writing & Speaking/Interview Section

Total duration: approx. 53-67 minutes
Total number of questions: 28-36

The Writing and Speaking/Interview section of the test is designed to assess a candidate’s communication and comprehension skills. The questions asked will include vocabulary that the candidate is most likely to encounter in an academic environment.

The kinds of questions a candidate can receive from this section are divided into 8 categories:


Duration: 55 seconds

You get 25 seconds to listen to a prompt and 30 seconds to record your answer.

Sentence repetition

Duration: 15 seconds

The prompt takes 3-9 seconds to play and you have 15 seconds to repeat the sentence.

Written text summarization

Duration: approx. 10 minutes

You will receive a 300-word text prompt which you must read thoroughly and summarise within 10 minutes.

Reading aloud

Duration: approx. 40 seconds

You will be provided a text of 60 words which you can read aloud after getting 30-40 seconds of prep time.

Image Description

Duration: approx. 60 seconds

You get 25 seconds to observe the image and another 25 seconds to think up an answer before recording it.

Lecture re-telling

Duration: approx. 2 minutes 20 seconds

You have 90 seconds to listen to the lecture, 10 seconds to think of your answer, and another 40 seconds to record.

Short question 

Duration: approx. 20 seconds

You get 3-9 seconds to listen to the prompt and answer in 10 seconds.


Duration: 20 minutes

You’ll receive a prompt of 2-3 sentences and write an essay within 20 minutes. 

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PTE Reading Section

Total duration – approx. 30 minutes
Total number of questions: 12-18

The PTE Academic reading exam syllabus consists of five segments where candidates must read a particular text and answer the questions related to it. The questions are framed to test the levels of your reading comprehension.

The five segments are – 

  • Multiple Choice Questions – Single-answer choice 

You must read a 300-word text and answer the MCQs. There is only one correct answer among the options.

  • Multiple Choice Questions – Multiple answers choice

You must read a 300-word text and answer the MCQs. There can be multiple correct answers among the options.

  • Complete the blanks (reading)

You read a text of 80 words and fill in the blanks.

  • Complete the blanks (reading & writing)

You must fill in the blanks after reading a text of 300 words.

  • Change the order of paragraphs

After reading a text of 150 words, you must rearrange the paragraphs in the correct order.

PTE Listening Section

Total duration – approx. 30-45 minutes

Total number of questions: 13-20

The Listening sections of the PTE Academic are carefully curated to assess the candidate's spoken English skills. It is divided into eight segments:

  • Multiple Choice Questions – Multiple answers choice

You have 40-90 seconds to listen to the prompt and choose the right answers.

  • Multiple Choice Questions – Single-answer choice

For single-answer MCQs, the total time is 30-60 seconds.

  • Provide a summary of spoken text

You'll get approx. 90 seconds to remember the spoken text of 50-70 words and 10 minutes to summarise the main points.

  • Complete blanks

You get 30-60 seconds to complete the fill-in-the-blank questions.

  • Write a dictated text

You can listen to the dictated prompt for 3-5 seconds and write it down.

  • Identify the correct summary

You get 30-90 seconds to highlight the correct summary after listening to the prompt.

  • Identify incorrect words

The total duration for this section is 15-50 seconds.

  • Choose missing words

You get 20-70 seconds to identify and highlight the missing words in a prompt.

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What is the Pattern of the PTE Exam?

The PTE Academic is a completely computer-based exam that tests your English reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills. According to the PTE exam format, candidates must attempt 20 different types of questions throughout the three sections of Reading, Listening Speaking & Writing.

Here’s an overview of the exam pattern:

PTE section

Number of questions

Time limit

Speaking & Writing


Approx. 65 minutes



Approx. 30 minutes



Approx. 40 minutes

You’ll get time to listen or read through the prompt (time depends on the prompt length) and enough time to ponder on the answers and jot them down or record them.

Your answers are saved once you press record for spoken answers, click on 'Save' for written answers, and choose options for MCQs.

PTE Pattern Highlights

Here’s a simple highlight of the vital information to remember regarding the PTE exam.

PTE Segments

Important Details

Exam pattern

Speaking & Writing – approx. 65 mins

Reading – approx. 30 mins

Listening – approx. 40 mins

Total types of questions


Exam duration

2 hours

Mode of exam

Computer-based at test centre/home

Medium of exam

Computer with headset

Test focus

Academic English and English in daily conversation

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Frequently Asked Questions by Students

The PTE is a completely computer-based English language proficiency test that emphasises international English. The PTE exam 2023-24 syllabus comprises 3 sections in which four types of skills are evaluated. The mark from all these sections is compiled to get the final score. These sections are –

  • Speaking and writing
  • Reading
  • Listening

The PTE exam syllabus is structured into 4 sections-speaking, writing, reading, and listening. Every segment evaluates different aspects of your English language skills, and you will be given a score out of 90 for every section. Here’s how the PTE exam syllabus is structured –

  • Speaking and Writing (54-67minutes)
  • Reading (29-30 minutes)
  • Listening (30-43 minutes)

There are two versions of the PTE exam syllabus – one for the PTE Academic Test and one for the PTE General Test. The two tests are incredibly similar, but there is a certain key difference in the syllabus. The PTE academic test incorporates more academic topics and tasks, while the PTE General Test incorporates more everyday topics and tasks.

The PTE academic exam evaluates the Speaking, Writing, Reading, and Listening skills if they can study in an international environment. Here's a brief overview of the PTE academic exam syllabus for 2023-24 –

  • Speaking & Writing – Personal Introduction, Read aloud, Repeat Sentence, Describe image, Re-tell lecture, Answer short questions, Summarise written text, and Essay.
  • Reading– Reading and writing (fill in the blanks), Multiple choice multiple answers, Re-order paragraphs, Fill in the blanks, Multiple choice single answer
  • Listening– Summarize spoken text, Multiple choice multiple answers, Fill in the blanks, Highlight correct summary, Multiple Choice single answer, Select missing word, Write from Dictation, Highlight incorrect words.

The International Certification (PTE General Exam) evaluates the capability to communicate in English instead of test-taking skills. This exam comprises two parts –

  • Written section – Listening, Reading, and Writing skills (9 tasks, Total Score-75)
  • Spoken Interview – Speaking skills (4 sections, Total score-25)

Yes, the PTE exam syllabus is subject to change. Pearson, the test organiser, reserves the right to change the syllabus anytime. However, Pearson tends to give advance notice of any changes so test takers have enough time to prepare.

The most up-to-date exam syllabus of PTE can be found on the website of Pearson. To find the updated syllabus, login to the website of Pearson and click on the 'PTE Academic' tab. Then, scroll down to the 'Resources' segment and click on the link to 'Syllabus.' The PTE exam syllabus is a PDF document that can be downloaded and saved on your computer.

It is essential to understand the aspects involved in the speaking section of the PTE exam syllabus. This section takes 54-67 minutes on average and comprises seven types of questions. Here are certain tips and techniques to prepare for the speaking segment effectively –

  • Practice speaking with confidence
  • Do not repeat yourself or pause suddenly
  • Only speak after the recording starts
  • Record yourself speaking and listen to determine areas where you need to improve.
  • Develop fluency, accuracy, pronunciation, and intonation skills
  • Watch videos on YouTube and other platforms

The specific listening skills covered in the PTE exam syllabus are comprehension, inference, identification, discrimination, and note-taking. These skills are evaluated through the below-enlisted types of questions –

  • Summarizing spoken text
  • Multiple choice
  • Fill in the blanks
  • Highlight correct summary
  • Highlight incorrect words
  • Select missing word
  • Write from dictation

The PTE Academic Exam syllabus outlines two writing tasks –

  • Summarise Written Text– In this segment, candidates will be provided with a text. Once they go through the text, they must craft a one-sentence summary of the passage. The length of the text will be up to 300 words, and the candidate only gets 10 minutes to answer this section.
  • Writing an Essay– For this segment, applicants will be provided with a topic on which they need to craft a 200–300-word essay. They will have a total of 20 minutes to craft the essay.

The topics covered in the PTE exam syllabus reading segment can change occasionally. However, one can expect a mix of academic, current events, and general interest topics. These are –

  • Academic subjects – It includes topics from economics, business, history, science, and technology.
  • Current events – It includes topics from news like politics, social issues, and environmental issues.
  • General Interest – It includes topics like travel, food, sports, and culture.

There are certain ways to gauge your progress concerning the PTE exam syllabus while preparing –

  • Take practice tests and track your progress over time
  • Review the results of PTE practice tests
  • Get feedback from others
  • Track your reading speed
  • Compare your writing to high-scoring writing samples from the PTE exam

In the PTE Academic Exam syllabus, the duration of every segment is –

  • Speaking and Writing (54-67minutes)
  • Reading (29-30 minutes)
  • Listening (30-43 minutes)

Time management is significant in the PTE Academic test as the test is time-bound. Here are certain ways to improve time management skills during the PTE exam –

  • Become well-versed with test format and instructions
  • Practice using digital tools and features
  • Divide your time wisely between the segments and tasks
  • Keep track of the time during the test
  • Avoid spending excessive time on a single task
  • Do not get stuck on a challenging question

There are countless places where you can find sample questions and practice tests that align with the PTE exam syllabus. Here are some of them –

  • Pearson PTE Academic Website
  • PTE exam preparation books (The Official Guide to PTE Academic, PTE Academic Practice Test Plus, PTE Academic Testbuilder, A Masterpiece of Essays)
  • PTE exam preparation websites like PTE Master, E2Language, PTE Universe, PTE Practice Hub

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