The only guide you need to pass PTE Academic Exam

Manjula Liyanage
8 min readMay 22, 2019

How to find the time and get the things done.

Focus on the most important questions that get you more marks — 80/20 rule.

What is the 80/20 rule? Check this out.

Apply this to PTE

Understand the PTE scoring system:

Most essential questions in the test:


** Speak non-stop — NO um ah

** Click next button immediately once you complete your response.

Read aloud — (Contribute to Reading and speaking)

Read it aloud during the preparation time — don’t just read it in your mind, but read aloud as if you are doing in the recording phase.

Read it faster, but read clearly as much as possible. Practice every day reading some passage (or you can use repeated questions) Check this video. She reads it so fast some words are not even clear, but she gets 90 for speaking. However, in my experience, reading super fast will not get full marks for reading; therefore, read it at a moderate pace.

Practice some tongue twisters every day to train muscles for intricate sounds and combinations.


Repeat sentence — (Contribute to Listening and speaking)

The only way is to practice as much as question every day. Find youtube videos for the repeated question and practice one every day (25 questions daily) Example:

If you have difficulties in memorializing longer sentences, you might want to work on your attention space (working memory/ human RAM). Try Dual N-Back app. Check this video:

Overall, human attention space has reduced so much as per some researches because of smartphone use, so think of using an old phone until you finish your exam.

** Pronunciation is not essential, non-stop talking is the key.

Describe the image. (Contribute to Speaking)

I just used a simple template for all types of images. You can use a different template for different types if you like, but it doesn’t matter so much. Important things are the topic sentence, introduction (describe whats on the x-axis. For instance, to begin with, we can that there are five different products in comparison, which are prod1, prod2, prod3, prod4, and prod5). And then identify the top and bottom figures, and one more other characteristics such as an average number. (for example, last but not the least product 3 had low sales percentage in 2001) and identify the overall trend or a conclusion idea from the image (for example, In conclusion,/finally, overall, we can see that number of public universities have decreased over the given period/ 100 years …)


** Speak non-stop even it is meaningless.

Re-tell lecture. (Contribute to Listening and speaking)

Good note taking is vital in both question types: re-tell lecture and summarise the spoken text. Note down key points and topic related words. Find a suitable note-taking technique for you.

Note taking:

Note taking:

Create a flow in your mind for your talk within the prep time. Talk non-stop. Avoid um ah sounds. While practicing, record your answer and identify your mistakes and then fix them. You have to say something even if it is out of topic rather than taking long silences or umming and ahhing.


Summarize written text (Contribute to writing and reading)

Learn how to use the comma, semicolon, colon, and dashes.


the semicolon and colon


Learn sentence types and phrases.

Understand Run-on sentences

Sentence fragments

Comma Splices

You probably need to write 40 + words to cover all key points. I wrote 30–35 words in my previous attempt, but this time I wrote 45–50 words. You have to understand all the key points and the overall idea of the passage. Some YouTubers suggest you can pick the topic sentence from each paragraph and join them with conjunctions — this might work for 65, but not for 79+. I just followed this. Full pdf is attached at the bottom.

Some more tips:

Write essay

(Contribute to writing)

Write an essay every day, correct it with Grammarly and find out what are the mistakes you commonly make. I have a lot of problems with subject-verb agreement and using articles. Fixing these things take time, but you can develop an awareness to pause and notice the mistake. However, pausing and correcting errors is not a good idea in PTE essay — write FBR; that means write fast, bad, and wrong. Type the essay below 15 minutes and then correct the mistakes.

I found write FBR from this podcast, and there are many more interesting concepts here.

Most common grammar mistakes:



Vocabulary: don’t try hard and spend time finding the right words. You don’t need sophisticated vocab for PTE. Think about a few words which are commonly used such as “important” and replace them with words like crucial, essential, and vital. You can do this in the correction phase. Grammarly suggests alternate vocab, so if you practice daily and use Grammarly you can have a good set of vocab built into your writing process.

You can follow a simple template, but it should not be template-heavy. Use it only to build the structure. I have attached one at the bottom.


Vocab :

Vocab :

Transition is critical in all writing tasks: essay and SST





Reading fill in the blanks — drag, and drop(Contribute to reading)

Reading and writing fill in the blanks — drop down(Contribute to reading and writing)

Both of these question types could be based on vocabulary or grammar.

Repeated questions can save you a lot of time here, and that will help you to save time for reorder paragraph and MCQs. My score went from 75ish to 88 only because of repeated questions. I didn’t even have to read the section to select correct answers. I think I got around four repeated questions in FIB/RWFIB.

Re-order paragraph (Contribute to reading)

Read a paragraph of a book every day and do REAS (again from the post). You are Reading for Ear, Art, and Skill: REAS.




Listen to a podcast every day. This does not only helps you to tune your ear and focus, but it also helps you learn so many other things. My favorite podcasts: Tim Ferris Show, Joe Rogan Experience, and Sam Harris making sense podcast. You can download the podcast from google podcast, apple podcast or the web site as an audio file and listen to it while commuting to work. You can play them 1.5x speed, and this will help to comprehend faster speech.

Write from dictation (Listening and writing)

Probably the most crucial question in the test.


Practice every day at least 20–30 questions.

Repeated questions:

Summarize spoken text (Listening and writing)

Similar to re-tell lecture, note taking is the key. You can take note in the answer box itself or the notebook. First time I did it in the notebook, but I couldn’t read my notes, so I decided to type the key points and essential words into the answer box. This saves some time too. Practice and find what is working for you.

How to identify key points:

Some more tips:

Fill in the blanks (Listening and writing)

Note down the word in the notepad first and then type into the boxes. Focus on spelling.

Highlight correct summary(Listening and writing)

You can take notes on important points, but try to understand the main idea of the lecture.

Some tips:

Allocating time:

You have to take at least 3 hours(4 hours is good) from your day to study. You can find what works for you. This is what I did:

This was very tight and was not sustainable, but I managed to do this for about three months with an approximately 70% success rate. Not every day I could sleep early and wake up early. I had my allergy days, tired days, and lazy days. However, I was able to follow this most days. First, I did a mock test and revised the answers. After that read 30 minutes. I was reading Noah Harari’s Sapiens (a highly recommended book — mind-boggling), and I would read a couple of paragraphs very slowly and try to identify subject and verbs and their agreement. Use of article and transition from one sentence to another. Some days I read it loud and faster. I used note cards to note down new words. I would go through those cards later.

After three months, I reduced the study time 5.30 to 7 and the format. I stopped doing mock tests and focused on more important questions (described above)

Note cards:


Tracking your work is important as allocating time. I tracked my studies in a word document for some time.

Green = done; Gray = not done

This tracking system is OK. However, in some days, I was so lazy to open the laptop to update the tracking file. Then I found out Bullet journaling — now I do this every day.

How to Bullet Journal:

Bullet Journal Masterclass:


Snip of my bullet journal of PTE study days:

Practice materials: you can get ten free mock tests by downloading the app and entering promo code 2019PTE10 free practice questions repeated questions (I got around 5 questions from this couple of FIB, RWFIB, one SST, and one WD) This is 29$ per month but worth the price. PTE official mock test

Go to below link for the writing summary guide, essay templates, and repeated questions.