PTE Academic Syllabus & Exam Pattern 2021

Pearson Test of English (PTE) is a prevalent certification test for evaluating proficiency in the English language. It is widely accepted as a fair measurement of a candidate’s competence. That’s why the PTE syllabus includes various sections such as Speaking and Writing, Reading, and Listening. Clearing the PTE Academic exam serves as selection criteria for educational institutions of countries including the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

PTE Exam Pattern

The PTE exam pattern consists of three sections, which include Speaking and Writing, Reading, and Listening. To complete all the sections, it takes around 3 hours on average. 

Each question that is placed in front of the candidate has three separate parts which must follow this flow:

Question: Read the text prompt or listen to the audio clip within the given time which varies according to how long the text or audio is. Actively engage and comprehend the information presented in written or audiovisual format.

Preparation time: Time is provided for you to think about how to best answer. Relax and work towards framing your response to the question within the given 10 to 15 second time.

Answer: Within the stipulated time you need to provide the answer in the form of an oral response that is recorded, written text that is saved, and selection made from presented options.

Here are all the three sections of the PTE exam pattern mentioned with time duration. To explain each segment in detail, refer to the description boxes provided for each segment and section of the PTE examination.

Speaking and Writing: 77 to 93 minutes

This is usually the longest of the three sections where the candidate’s speaking and writing skills are assessed. The candidates need to focus on giving prompt responses to the questions displayed. There are 6 small sections as listed below that are covered here which involves various tasks related to speaking and writing:

Tasks Duration
Personal Introduction 55 seconds, which include 25 seconds for prompt and 30 seconds to record
Read Aloud 30-40 seconds to prepare for reading 60 words long text
Repeat Sentence 15 seconds, which include 3-9 second for prompt and 15 seconds to record
Describe Image 25 seconds to study the image and prepare for the response on the same
Re-Tell Lecture 90 seconds for the prompt length, 10 seconds for preparation, and 40 seconds to answer
Answer Short Question 20 seconds, which include 3-9 seconds for prompt and 10 seconds for the answer
Summarize Written Text 10 minutes for answering to text prompt of 300 words
Essay 20 minutes for answering to the text prompt of 2-3 sentences

Reading: 32 to 41 minutes

The section includes tasks that evaluate the reading ability of the candidate including comprehension, sentence construction, and other key skills. There are 5 segments under this section, which are listed below:

Tasks  Duration varies as per the length of the text prompt
Multiple Choice, Choose Single Answer Read text of 300 words
Multiple Choice, Choose Multiple Answer Read text of 300 words
Re-Order Paragraphs Read text of 150 words
Reading: Fill in the Blanks Read text of 80 words
Reading and Writing: Fill in the Blanks Read text of 300 words

Listening: 45-57 minutes

This is arguably one of the challenging parts of the PTE Academic test where the ability to understand the speech of a native English speaker is evaluated. An audio file containing content is played and the student needs to comprehend and retain the information to answer the questions from the following sections:

Tasks Duration
Summarize Spoken Text 60-90 seconds to comprehend 50-70 words, and 10 minutes write
Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer 40-90 seconds for prompt
Fill in the Blanks 30-60 seconds
Highlight Correct Summary 30-90 seconds
Multiple Choice, Single Answer 30-60 seconds
Select Missing Word 20-70 seconds
Highlight Incorrect Words 15-50 seconds
Write From Dictation 3-5 seconds

PTE exam syllabus

PTE is a 3-hour test that is taken on a computer. Candidates who take this test need to answer 20 types of questions that range from graphs, real-life lectures, charts, several types of accents to regular life situations. The PTE exam syllabus is divided into three sections, such as Speaking and Writing, Reading, and Listening. Below is the syllabus mentioned in detail.

Speaking and Writing

  • Personal introduction: In the personal introduction section, the student needs to introduce themselves within 30 seconds after reading a prompt within 25 seconds. It is not scored and sent along with the scorecard of the student.
  • Read Aloud: A passage is displayed to the candidate that they need to read aloud after preparing it within the given window of 30 to 40 seconds. The passage is more than 60 words and the candidate needs to start reading aloud within 3 seconds of activating the mic.
  • Repeat Sentence: The candidate needs to repeat the contents of the audio clip ranging from 3 to 9 seconds in length. The repetition must be completed within 15 seconds.
  • Describe image: The candidates are shown an image that they can study within 25 seconds and then describe within 40 seconds after the mic is opened.
  • Re-tell Lecture: An audio-visual lecture of 90 seconds is played and must be retold by the candidates within 40 seconds. The preparation time of 10 seconds is given in between for the candidate to prepare.
  • Answer Short Question: A short question and answer takes place between the test and the candidate where a question with an image is played for 3 to 9 seconds. The answer must be given by the candidate within 10 seconds.
  • Summarize Written Text: A summary of up to 300 words of passage will be given to the candidate that they must summarize within 75 words. Candidates get up to 10 minutes to provide the answer.
  • Essay: For a given 2 to 3 sentence prompt, the candidates must write a 200 to 300 words essay within the given time of 20 minutes. 


  • Multiple choice, single answer: A passage of up to 300 words is given to the candidate and after that, a series of multiple-choice questions are asked. Each question has only one correct response.
  • Multiple choice, multiple answers: A passage of up to 300 words is given to candidates, and based on that multiple-choice questions are asked. Each question has more than one correct answer and the student must select each correct answer.
  • Re-order paragraph: Various boxes with each containing some text appear on the screen that the candidate must arrange in the right order according to them.
  • Fill in the blanks: Candidates need to drag and drop the randomized text boxes to their correct place from where they are missing in an up to 80 words paragraph.

Reading & Writing Fill in the Blanks: Several blank spaces are displayed in a passage and each space has a dropdown with options from which the candidate must choose the right response.


  • Summarize Spoken Text: The candidate has to listen to an audio clip of 60 to 90 seconds and then write a summary of it in 50 to 70 words within a time limit of 10 minutes.
  • Multiple Choice, Multiple Answers: Multiple choice questions, each with more than one correct answer are asked from the candidate based on a 40 to 90-seconds audio clip.
  • Fill in the blanks: An audio clip of 30 to 60 seconds is played which the candidate can listen to and analyze. Based on this clip the students need to fill the blanks in a passage that has been presented.
  • Highlight Correct Summary: A 30 to 90-seconds audio clip is played for the candidates, who need to choose the best fitting summary for the recording.
  • Multiple Choice, Single Answers: Based on 30 to 60 seconds audio recording, the candidate must answer the multiple-choice question presented which has a single correct answer.
  • Select Missing Word: From a list of options the candidate needs to select the missing word that has been replaced in a 20 to 70 seconds recording with a beep. 
  • Highlight Incorrect Words: In this section, the candidate needs to highlight the incorrect words by matching the transcript of an audio clip with the clip itself which can be between 15 to 50 seconds long. 
  • Write from Dictation: The candidate needs to write down the short 3 to 5 seconds audio clip that he can listen to.

If you are planning to attempt the PTE so that you get yourself admitted to a reputable educational institution, then you can use the PTE study material to prepare for the test. Clearing the PTE will help you unlock many great avenues for you to study abroad.

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