PTE Exam Pattern & Structure

PTE Exam Pattern & Structure

Updated on 21 January, 2022

Mrinal Mandal

Study Abroad Expert

Get Free Consultation

The Pearson Test of English or PTE evaluates the English speaking and writing skills of applicants. The PTE exam pattern is designed to test whether candidates can study at international institutions that have English as the main language for instructions. Students demonstrate their capabilities of understanding, speaking, and writing in English suitably in a foreign land through their PTE scores. The PTE exam structure is similar to many other English testing examinations. It emphasizes three sections, namely, Reading, Listening, and Speaking & Writing. 

Types of PTE Tests and Their Uses: 

The PTE exam structure is such that it is used by organizations, colleges and governments alike to assess a candidate’s English language proficiency. It is this credibility of the exam that has made the two types of the test, PTE Academic and PTE General, popular. 

PTE Academic: It is taken by candidates to study or work in English-speaking nations like the USA, the UK, Australia and New Zealand among others. 

PTE General: It is not an English proficiency test and rewards brilliant achievements in English learning. 

The pattern of the PTE exam is uniform across countries that accept the test scores. What may vary is the cut-off.

PTE Exam Pattern, Format, and Vital Aspects 

The PTE exam format can be understood through the following table: 

PTE Exam Structure





Eligibility guidelines

Applicants should be aged at least 16 years


Testing availabilityThroughout the year
3.Format of examination

The exam format consists of 20 unique questions which test Speaking & writing skills (77 – 93 minutes), Reading skills (32 – 40 minutes), and Listening skills (45 – 57 minutes)


Registration formalitiesRegistrations can be done online via the official Pearson PTE Academic website
5.Test charges

Standard charges/fees of Rs 13,300


Test Results & Score Scale

PTE results are announced within 5 business days. The score ranges between 10-90

PTE Exam Structure: Section-wise details 

Here is the PTE exam pattern for the three sections – Speaking & Writing, Reading, and Listening. 

Speaking and Writing

This section tests examinees’ speaking and writing abilities. It requires 77 to 93 minutes and has 6 portions. Here is a closer look: 

Segment-Wise PatternDuration/Time Required 
Personal IntroductionTotal 55 seconds: 25 seconds for prompt, 30 seconds to record answer
Read Aloud30-40 seconds to prepare for reading out the text of 60 words
Repeat SentenceTotal 15 seconds: 3-9 seconds for prompt, 15 seconds to record answer
Describe Image25 seconds are granted to study the image as well as prepare your response on the same
Re-Tell Lecture90 seconds for prompt length, 10 seconds to prepare, and 40 seconds to answer
Answer Short QuestionTotal 20 seconds: 3-9 seconds for prompt, 10 seconds to answer
Summarize Written Text10 minutes to answer to text prompt of 300 words
Essay20 minutes to answer to text prompt of 2-3 sentences


This section tests examinees’ ability to understand instructions. It is divided into 5 segments that have to be covered in 32-40 minutes. Here is a look at the format for this section:

Section Pattern 

Time Varies Based on Length of Text Prompt 
Multiple Choice, Choose Single AnswerRead 300 words of text
Multiple Choice, Choose Multiple AnswersRead 300 words of text
Re-Order ParagraphsRead 150 words of text
Reading: Fill in the BlanksRead 80 words of text
Reading and Writing: Fill in the BlanksRead 300 words of text



This section covers 45-57 minutes and tests the ability of candidates to understand spoken English. Students should carefully listen to the audio and retain whatever they hear. The portion has 8 sub-segments. Here is a closer look at the pattern and format: 

Pattern of Section 

Time Taken/Duration 
Summarize Spoken Text60-90 seconds to retain 50-70 words, 10 minutes to write
Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer40-90 seconds for prompt
Fill in the Blanks30-60 seconds
Highlight Correct Summary30-90 seconds
Multiple Choice, Single Answer30-60 seconds
Select Missing Word20-70 seconds
Highlight Incorrect Words15-50 seconds
Write From Dictation3-5 seconds for hearing

PTE Academic Exam Pattern and Format:

One may need around three hours to take the PTE Academic exam, which like other language proficiency tests assess candidates on their speaking, listening, writing and reading skills. 

The table given-below elaborates on the PTE Academic exam format:

Sections AssignmentsTime allotted
Listening MCQs to pick single answers, MCQs to pick multiple answers, Writing from dictation, Summarizing spoken text, Fill in the blanks, Highlighting incorrect words. 45-57 minutes 
Speaking & Writing Essay writing, Reading loudly, Re-tell lecture, Introduction, Summarizing written text, Repetition of sentence, Answering short questions.77-93 minutes 
Reading Rearrange paragraphs, Fill in the blanks, MCQs for single answer, MCQs for multiple answers.34-40 minutes 

The PTE exam Result 

Now that you are aware of the PTE exam pattern and its key segments, you can stop worrying and start preparing for the test. Aspirants must also note that the validity of PTE exam scores is two years, much like TOEFL and IELTS. In addition, you can send your PTE scores to as many colleges/universities as you want, without any limit.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What is the Pattern of the PTE exam?

While the PTE exam structure for General test consists of two sections that are spoken and written, the PTE Academic comprises three sections: listening, reading, speaking & writing. The time allotted to attempt both the PTE Academic exam and PTE General is three hours.

Q. What are the Total Marks of the PTE Exam?

The score for PTE Academic varies between 10 to 90 on the Global Scale of English, where 10 is the lowest and 90 is the highest score. The scores indicate a candidate’s proficiency at speaking, listening, writing and reading English. PTE exam lets you measure your command over the language with absolute accuracy.

Q. Is the PTE Exam Easier than IELTS?

Even though the pattern of the PTE exam is quite similar to that of the IELTS, the question types are different. Thus, one cannot really say which one of these English language proficiency exams is more difficult. As for the decision regarding which one of these to take, aspirants must check with the organization/body that requires the score.

Q. What is the PTE Score for Australia?

The PTE score for Australia may vary depending on the purpose you require it for. But generally, a score of 65 and above is required for Permanent Residency (PR).
As far as admission to an Australian university is concerned, a minimum score of 42 is needed. Aspirants must practise caution and check the universities’ requirements when applying for a PTE exam. Some universities may strictly consider the score of IELTS or TOEFL exams.

Q. Is the PTE Exam Hard?

Several test-takers believe that the PTE exam is tougher to crack if the preparation is not as per the syllabus provided. However, it is believed that it is easier to score in the English language proficiency exam. The structure, format and types of questions in the PTE exam stay constant, thereby, ensuring a uniform level of difficulty year after year.

Q. When is the PTE Exam Result Declared?

As per the official information, the PTE exam results are declared within five working days from the test date. For instance, if you had taken the test on a Monday, you can expect the result by Friday, officially. But it must be noted that several aspirants have received the scores within 48 hours after taking the test.

Get free Consultation for PTE Exam


What level of study are you looking to go for?

By submitting this form, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Important Exams

Important Resources for PTE Exam