PTE Incomplete Guide

I completed the PTE test at Wuhan Hubei University test center on December 27th. After waiting for three days, my scores were released, and you can find my scorecard below. I successfully met the entry requirements for the University of Glasgow. I want to share my preparation experience with you all, and I wish everyone a quick farewell to language exams (IELTS is just a terrible ex, anyway).


This post was translated from my Chinese blog post with the aid of ChatGpt.

First, let’s talk about the timeline. I started learning about PTE in May this year. This was because I didn’t meet the admission requirements for my desired program with my IELTS score from the test in April. What’s even more frustrating is that my scores didn’t change significantly after a month of review and taking the test again. I only managed to increase my reading score by 0.5 points.

Here’s a rough timeline of my PTE journey:

  • In May, I learned about PTE on Bilibili and started preparing for my graduate school application.
  • At the end of October, I received an offer from the University of Glasgow with a requirement of either IELTS 6.5 (with at least 6.5 in writing and 6.0 in other sections) or PTE 68 (with at least 62). Even though their official website mentioned PTE 60 (with 59 minimum).
  • I started my intensive preparation on November 11th, the Singles’ Day, and also bought a voucher on Taobao to register for the test. My initial focus was on the speaking section, practicing for about 2 hours every day while dealing with accommodation arrangements for Glasgow. I must admit, I spent a lot of time procrastinating.
  • After November, I began practicing all the question types daily, dedicating approximately 4-6 hours to study.
  • On December 11th, I took the official practice test A and scored 66 overall, with individual scores of 62 in listening, 70 in speaking, 65 in reading, and 64 in writing. The University of Glasgow required a minimum score of 68, which made me quite nervous. After December 11th, I increased my daily study hours to 6-8.
  • On December 21st, I took practice test C, scoring 67 overall. It was said that test C was the closest to the real test in terms of difficulty, which added to my anxiety.
  • On December 25th, I took practice test B and scored 70.
  • On December 26th, I flew to Wuhan, and my test was scheduled for the morning of December 27th.
  • On December 30th, at 1:00 PM, I received an email with my scores. (I have to complain here about the Wuhan test center; they are incredibly slow in releasing scores. My friend took the test on the afternoon of the 29th at Baiyun, Guangzhou, and received the scores early on the 30th.)

About PTE

PTE, Pearson Test of English, is an English language proficiency test developed by Pearson, a UK-based educational company. It is a computer-based test, and scoring is done automatically. Currently, most UK universities accept PTE scores.


  1. PTE does not artificially suppress scores like IELTS, so as long as you put in the effort to practice, you will see improvement. Unlike IELTS, where you might struggle to raise your score even with significant effort.
  2. PTE results are fast, typically available within 1-5 working days.
  3. PTE test centers often have more available seats, so you don’t need to worry about not finding a spot.

Suitable Candidates

PTE is suitable for candidates with strong listening and reading skills, as these sections tend to be more challenging. It’s especially suitable for those who have struggled with low scores in speaking and writing in IELTS.

Question Types

I previously introduced the question types; here’s a summary in a table:

SectionQuestion TypeDescriptionNumber of QuestionsCross-Scoring
SpeakingRead Aloud (RA)Read a short text aloud displayed on the screen with 40 seconds of preparation and 40 seconds for speaking.6-7Reading and speaking / Oral fluency, pronunciation
-Repeat Sentence (RS)Listen to a computer-generated sentence and repeat it immediately.10-12Listening and speaking / Oral fluency, pronunciation
-Describe Image (DI)Describe a given image with 25 seconds of preparation and 40 seconds for speaking.6-7Speaking / Oral fluency, pronunciation
-Retell Lecture (RL)Listen to a lecture, possibly with background noise and various accents. Summarize the lecture in 10 seconds of preparation and 40 seconds of speaking.3-4Listening and speaking / Oral fluency, pronunciation
-Answer Short Question (ASQ)Answer short questions with single-word answers. Generally, these are common knowledge questions.10-12Listening and speaking / Vocabulary
WritingSummarize Written Text (SWT)Summarize a passage in 5-75 words using only one sentence. You have 10 minutes per question.2-3Reading and writing / Grammar, vocabulary
-Write Essay (WE)Similar to IELTS essay writing, with 20 minutes per question.1-2Writing / Grammar, vocabulary, spelling, written discourse
ReadingFill in the Blanks (Word Bank) (FIBW)A variation of fill in the blanks where you drag and drop appropriate words into the blanks in a passage.5-6Reading and writing
-Fill in the Blanks (FIB)Similar to traditional fill in the blanks, where you choose missing words from a drop-down menu.4-5Reading
-Re-order Paragraphs (RO)Rearrange jumbled paragraphs to create a logical sequence.2-3Reading
-Multiple-choice, Choose Multiple Answer (MCM)Multiple-choice questions with multiple correct answers.2-3Reading
-Multiple-choice, Choose Single Answer (MCS)Single-answer multiple-choice questions.2-3Reading
ListeningSummarize Spoken Text (SST)Summarize spoken passages of 50-70 words. Take notes while listening. This section is individually timed.2-3Listening and writing / Grammar, vocabulary, spelling
-Fill in the Blanks (Listening) (FIB)Listen to a recording and type the missing word.2-3Listening and writing
-Write from Dictation (WFD)Listen to a sentence and write it down.3-4Listening and writing
-Multiple-choice, Choose Single Answer (MCS)Single-answer multiple-choice questions.2-3Listening
-Multiple-choice, Choose Multiple Answer (MCM)Multiple-choice questions with multiple correct answers.2-3Listening
-Select Missing Word (SMW)Listen to a passage, and the last few words will be omitted. Select the missing words from a list.2-3Listening
-Highlight Incorrect Words (HIW)Listen to a passage while reading it, then identify the words that were different in the audio.2-3Listening and reading
-Highlight Correct Summary (HCS)Listen to a passage and choose the summary that best captures its content.2-3Listening and reading

Answering Tips


In the speaking section, fluency is the most important. My advice is to keep speaking without pauses. Even if you make a mistake, don’t go back to correct it; just keep going. Pay attention to intonation and pauses. Also, start speaking promptly when the recording begins; if you don’t speak within 3 seconds, the system will automatically close the microphone and move to the next question.

Read Aloud (RA)

During the preparation time, read the text aloud quietly once. If you encounter words you can’t pronounce, try guessing them. For numbers and years, practice saying them a few times in advance.

Repeat Sentence (RS)

I have a fish-like memory; I can’t remember long sentences, only about half of them. Say as much as you can; don’t worry about getting stuck. I personally didn’t have time to take notes in this section, and I don’t recommend it. There’s not enough time to react.

Retell Lecture (RL) / Describe Image (DI)

For these two questions, it’s all about using templates to ensure fluency. Memorize the templates and use them during the exam. Don’t worry about grammar; these questions don’t assess grammar skills. If you don’t have time to remember sentences for RL, just remember keywords and fit them into the template.

Answer Short Question (ASQ)

This question can be tricky, as it requires a good vocabulary. It’s best to go through some practice questions before the test, but don’t dwell too much on it since it’s not worth many points.


Pay attention to spelling in the writing section. There’s a high probability of making typos while typing, so it’s best to spend 2 minutes checking spelling for each question.

A word of complaint about the keyboards in the test center: in the Wuhan test center, they used those chocolate-style keyboards, which are challenging to use. I recommend practicing with a cheap membrane keyboard, as using a mechanical keyboard for practice will make the exam uncomfortable.

Summarize Written Text (SWT)

Usually, the first sentence is the key sentence, and you can ignore examples given in the passage. Remember that you can only write one sentence.

Write Essay (WE)

If you’re transitioning from IELTS, you might find this question challenging. Writing a 200-300 word essay in 20 minutes can be tough, so you’ll have to use a template. You can find templates on Baidu, or on websites like Zhihu or Douban, or request one through email. When you receive a template, check it for errors. Some unscrupulous institutions provide templates that are difficult to use.

Regarding emails, be sure to delete your email address from the correspondence after receiving the materials; otherwise, a certain spam institution (yes, PTE Online College, it’s you) will keep sending you junk emails. When you see these emails during offer season, you’ll wish you could devour them out of frustration.


Vocabulary is crucial for the reading section. Memorize words as much as possible.

During the test, keep an eye on the time. Reading is timed as a whole, so don’t get stuck on low-value single-choice or multiple-choice questions. Allocate enough time for other questions.

Re-order Paragraphs (RO)

This part can be a bit mystical. The trick is to look for the logical flow and connecting words before and after a sentence. If you can’t find it, you might have to rely on the question bank.

Multiple-choice, Choose Multiple Answer (MCM) / Multiple-choice, Choose Single Answer (MCS)

Both multiple-choice and single-answer questions are straightforward. Unlike IELTS, they don’t try to trick you, so don’t waste too much time on these two types; they’re not worth many points. If you’re uncertain about multiple-choice questions, choose the most certain option; choosing incorrectly will deduct points.

Fill in the Blanks (FIB) / Fill in the Blanks (Word Bank) (FIBW)

These two questions test your vocabulary. Initially, they can be confusing, but you can eliminate some options based on word forms, increasing the chances of guessing correctly.


Except for SST, listening is also timed as a whole. Allocate your time wisely because the highest-scoring WFD is presented last. Many people run out of time and are forced to submit without completing WFD. I recommend leaving 3-4 minutes for WFD.

Summarize Spoken Text (SST)

This part is individually timed. The first sentence is usually the main point, and repeated words are essential. If you’re taking notes, try to write complete sentences, and avoid using templates because of the word limit. I also recommend leaving time to check your spelling.

Fill in the Blanks (FIB)

This question mainly tests spelling. I suggest writing the words down with a pen. I can confirm that in the Wuhan test center, you can’t use the “Tab” key to switch to the next blank. You’ll need to use the mouse, which can be slow.

Write from Dictation (WFD)

This question is the highlight. I recommend memorizing templates from question banks before the exam. Each correct word earns you one point. Pay attention to singular and plural forms, as well as verb tenses. After listening, try to recall the general meaning first. If you’re taking notes, I suggest practicing the initial letter method: write down the initial letters of each word and then fill in the rest. After finishing, check your spelling.

Multiple-choice, Choose Single Answer (MCS)

Similar to reading, multiple-choice questions in listening are straightforward. Choose the most certain answer; choosing incorrectly will deduct points.

Highlight Incorrect Words (HIW)

Selecting the wrong word in this question will also deduct points, so if you didn’t hear it clearly, it’s better not to select an option.

Important Notes


  1. When registering, ensure that your name is in all uppercase letters, with your last name first, followed by a space, and then your first name. The spelling should match your identification card.
  2. Use a frequently used email address when registering, as score reports will be sent via email.


Official vouchers can save you some money. You can purchase them on Taobao, and you’ll receive a voucher code that you can use when making the payment. Vouchers purchased on Taobao are typically valid for 12 months and can be used even after rescheduling your test.

Practice Platforms

There are several popular practice platforms for PTE, including Yangtu, Black Technology, and Xingji. I’ve used all three, and each has its strengths. However, keep in mind that all platforms have some users who may post fake scores. While these platforms claim to provide accurate scoring, it’s best to use them for reference only. Currently, Yangtu tends to give lower scores for speaking, Xingji gives higher scores, and Black Technology uses a 5-point scale for speaking.

  • Yangtu: I purchased my voucher here, and they also gave me a month and a half of membership, which was just enough. The advantage is that you get real-time scores for speaking, and the speaking score is on a 90-point scale, making it quite intuitive. They offer a mobile app and a web version.
  • Black Technology: I had a one-month membership here, mainly for practicing writing. The benefit is that you can view other people’s excellent essays. They have a WeChat mini-program and a web version.
  • Xingji: I used this platform for free to practice writing. It highlights writing errors, and their public classes are worth checking out for beginners.

Question Banks

A powerful tool for PTE preparation is the question bank, especially when the question pool was smaller in previous years. Pearson constantly updates the question pool, so it’s not recommended to rely too heavily on question banks. However, some institutions provide highly accurate prediction questions, and it’s regrettable not to have used them. Two institutions that offer question banks are Yangtu and Yinghuochong. I won’t provide specific evaluations as I didn’t use them extensively. You can find their download links in the Yangtu app or WeChat official account for Yangtu and in the WeChat official account for Yinghuochong.

Mock Tests

Pearson offers three sets of official mock tests, and the scoring mode is the same as in the actual test. There are A, B, and C sets. I strongly recommend taking several official mock tests before the actual exam; otherwise, it’s like burning money. Generally, your scores in the actual test will be a few points higher than in the mock tests because the headphones in the test center have better audio quality.

  • A Set: The most difficult, not suitable for taking at the beginning, as it may dent your confidence.
  • B Set: The easiest.
  • C Set: The closest to the real test.

Additionally, these institutions offer their own mock tests at a lower price, which is good for practice.

Exam Day Tips

  1. Arrive at the test center half an hour before the scheduled time. You can bring some materials with you and review them in the waiting room.
  2. The test center provides lockers for your belongings. The lockers are quite large and can fit small suitcases. Each person is given a key, and you won’t be able to open the locker during the test. You can take out your water bottle before the test; the test center provides drinking water.
  3. Turn off all electronic devices and store them in the locker.
  4. There are 3M earplugs on the test center desks. You can use them during the writing and reading sections because some test-takers might be doing their speaking section at that time.
  5. For Chinese candidates, bringing your ID card is sufficient; you don’t need to bring your passport. I brought both, but I only presented my ID card.
  6. Don’t drink too much water before the test. You’ll only have a 10-minute break after speaking, writing, and reading, which is around 11 a.m. Holding it for two hours can be uncomfortable.
  7. The 10-minute break is optional, but I recommend taking it. During the break, raise your hand to get the attention of a proctor to pause your test. Keep an eye on the time during the break because you’ll need to go through the check-in process again when you return. Remember to bring your identification with you when you leave the test room.
  8. If your computer experiences any issues during the test, report them promptly to the proctor. If you wait until after the test, it may be too late to resolve the problem. The proctors at the Wuhan test center were very nice and friendly.
  9. Don’t speak too loudly during the speaking section. This is not only to protect your voice but also to avoid disturbing others. Others can report you for speaking loudly, and this will be documented (of course, you can also report others for speaking too loudly). The headphones in the test center have good audio quality, so there’s no need to shout. In the Wuhan test center, you can hardly hear others when you’re speaking.
  10. After completing the speaking section, you can click “Next” to move on. This helps avoid recording others’ voices, although the probability of that happening is low.
  11. Position the microphone of the headphones about 2-3 finger widths away from your upper lip and nose.
  12. During the audio check, don’t say “Testing, testing, one two three” along with others. Instead, try some plosive sounds or read the instructions on the screen to see if there’s any microphone distortion.
  13. Be sure to cap your pen when not in use; otherwise, it may not write well after a while. The notebooks provided in the test room are made of plastic material and can be slippery.
  14. Once you’ve adjusted the headphones, try not to touch them again.

That’s all I have to say. I wish everyone success on the exam! Happy New Year 2020!