One of the factors your application hinges on is your proof of English proficiency. Universities around the world set specific score boundaries for widely-recognised English proficiency tests. If your existing qualifications don’t check off what your university is looking for, chances are you’re looking through your options to sit a proficiency test as soon as possible. And the PTE Academic is a great choice, thanks to its accessible format and widespread recognition. So how do you make sure you hit your target scores in a single sitting? The best PTE preparation books are a good place to start!
What You Need to Know About the PTE Academic
The PTE Academic is an exclusively computer-delivered test - meaning you take the entire test through a computer. You can do this at a Pearson VUE test centre or take the online test from the comfort and safety of your home. Note, though, that the PTE Academic Online test has one major limitation - you can’t use these grades to apply for your student visa.
Like major English proficiency tests, the PTE Academic assesses you across four skill areas, in three parts:
- Speaking & Writing
Under these three parts, you’ll encounter 20 types of questions. The exam features between 52 to 64 questions overall, assessing how well you can understand and express yourself in the language, both in academic settings and everyday situations. You sit the entire test in a single, two-hour session, and can get your scores within 48 hours of sitting the test! The short and sweet nature of the exam makes it a popular option for students who are wary of lengthier exams or multiple sessions.
PTE Academic scores fall within a range of 10 to 90, with 1-point increments:
|PTE Academic Score Band||Proficiency Level|
|85-90||Highest level of proficiency|
|76-84||Very high level of proficiency|
|59-75||High level of proficiency (typically the score band universities seek in applicants)|
|30-42||Below average proficiency|
How to Prepare for the PTE Academic
The PTE Academic may be a short and sweet test, but it’s still designed to accurately reflect your English proficiency level. If you don’t hit the target proficiency range your school is asking for, you may have to face resits. And resits mean more time and more resources, eating into the valuable weeks you need to spend on your university applications.
This is why our key advice when it comes to taking an English proficiency test is to practise as much as possible. The PTE Academic is no exception to this rule. The test has a very unique format. Each of its question types tests specific sub-skills under the broader categories of Speaking, Writing, Reading, and Listening. Preparing for the test as much as you can before sitting it maximises your chances of not only hitting your target scores but scoring higher. And trust us, this can make all the difference in getting your applications under the spotlight.
Without further ado, we’re rounding off the best PTE preparation books around to help you prep for test day. These resources are all official - they’re created and recommended by the test administrators, Pearson PLC. And this makes them the most accurate tools and information to boost your success during the test!
The Best PTE Preparation Books
1. The Official Guide to PTE Academic
This comprehensive resource is easily one of the best PTE preparation books out there. The book walks you through every single task and question type, with example questions, preparation tips, skills to focus on, and strategies to answer correctly. You’ll also find practice questions to put your skills to the test!
As a complete resource, the Official Guide to PTE Academic packs together both quick tips and in-depth strategies to help you both before and during the test! The book also contains useful glossaries and guidance on building up your English skills.
2. Practice Tests Plus: PTE Academic
Learn through experience with this thorough resource, packed with practice questions from the test creators themselves! The book covers all the different question types you’ll encounter during the PTE Academic test, with tips and hints to help you work out how to answer them. Practice Tests Plus also contains examples from real student answers to give you an accurate idea of how to score well. Meanwhile, the score guide helps you work out your own progress and performance.
3. Expert PTE Academic Coursebook B1 & B2
First, let’s understand what B1 and B2 mean in this context. A Level B1 or Level B2 shows an intermediate level of English proficiency! At this level, you’re able to communicate with native English speakers without too much difficulty.
If you’re aiming to do more than meet the minimum score requirements, and instead want to score as high as possible, this is the resource for you. The books feature in-depth strategies for answering the various question types. Plus, they walk you step-by-step through how to boost your scores for the Speaking and Writing sections. Since these coursebooks are for students aiming for the highest score bands, you’ll find rigorous and high-level practice questions to work through.
Other Resources to Prepare for the PTE Academic
The best PTE preparation books aren’t the only resources at your disposal to prepare for test day! The best part is that some of these resources are free, while others are available in different packages depending on your needs.
PTE Academic Official Preparation App
Learn on the go with PTE Academic’s official practice app! Available via both Google Play Store and Apple App Store, this free resource lets you get in your daily practice without needing to carry textbooks around. The app features in-depth looks into the 20 different question types and the overall test format. You also have access to “how to” guides taking you through tips on improving your performance in the four key skills the PTE Academic assesses. Better yet, you can practice with several interactive questions through the app, with answers both on- and offline!
The app helps you track your progress, prompting you with practice recommendations based on the date of your test. You can also learn what to expect at the test centre on test day through the app.
An Introduction to PTE Academic
This hour-long course is completely free and is a great place for beginners to develop a working knowledge of the PTE Academic! The course covers the full test format, including a closer look at the various question types and what each type assesses. You’ll learn how to answer each question with the right practice, accompanied by tips from experts on how best to approach each task type! By the time you complete the course, you’ll know exactly how to proceed to be completely ready for the test.
Practise your PTE Academic Speaking Skills
This three-week course by Macquarie University offers rigorous training to build up your Speaking skills for the PTE Academic. Through weekly sessions of two hours, you delve into sample Speaking section responses and take a closer look at how oral fluency, pronunciation, and content boost your scores. You’ll also encounter grammar and vocabulary to enhance your Speaking section scores and practise questions so you’re well-prepared for the real thing. Language experts at Macquarie University lead the course, so you can rest assured you’re in the best hands.
Scored Practice Tests
Available in five sets - Versions A, B, C, D, and E - these computer-delivered practice tests help you simulate sitting an actual PTE Academic test before doing the real deal. The tests feature official past test content and the PTE Academic scoring algorithm to create a fully authentic test experience. The best part is that you can receive your score report within a day of submitting your completed test!
These tests are a great opportunity to get hands-on experience with how the PTE Academic works. You can better understand the format, how to navigate the questions, manage your time, and more. Plus, the detailed Score Report you receive afterwards tells you exactly how you performed and which areas you may need to work on more.
E2 Test Prep Online PTE Academic Test Preparation
Available in a variety of bundles, these PTE Academic preparation courses feature one-to-one guidance from experts to personalise your exam prep. The course offers both live virtual classroom sessions as well as class recordings. You also take a series of mock tests and scored Writing & Speaking assessments to get in the right practice. With feedback and advice directly from the course instructors, you know exactly how to improve! Weekly classes cover each of the question types and the four skills the PTE Academic tests you on.
You can opt for the following packages for this course:
|Bronze (USD 159)|
|Silver (USD 239)|
|Gold (USD 339)|
PTE Academic Question Bank
If you want to double down on the practice, the PTE Academic Question Bank is an excellent place to start. Jam-packed with 300 official PTE Academic questions and answers, you get to simulate the feel of the real test by tackling the questions on a computer. The timed questions let you work on how long you can spend on each question. Plus, you can easily navigate between questions to focus on the ones you find you need to practice more.
Questions come with accompanying answers so you can compare your responses. Detailed answer explanations help you better understand why an answer is the right one. These helpful walkthroughs, along with sample audio and written answers, are a great way of learning how to answer the different question types to score better.
PTE Academic English Booster
This fantastic digital resource is full of self-study exercises and practice questions. Perfect for students new to the PTE Academic format, you get to apply what you’re learning as you navigate the question types and learn through practical experience. The resource is ideal for students who are at B1 levels of English proficiency - in other words, those with intermediate English ability. Fine-tune the skills and subskills the PTE Academic evaluates, developing the strategies and techniques that help you boost your scores. Exam strategy and video guides help you along the way, while your results dashboard lets you track your progress and work on areas of improvement.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I prepare for the PTE Academic test at home?
There are plenty of self-study resources available to help you prepare for the PTE Academic at home! These range from self-study resources, like the best PTE preparation books in the article above, to interactive, virtual courses you participate in real-time. Here’s a list of great official resources to get you going:
- The Official Guide to PTE Academic
- Practice Tests Plus: PTE Academic
- Expert PTE Academic Coursebook B1 & B2
- PTE Academic Official Preparation App
- An Introduction to PTE Academic (Online Course)
- Practise your PTE Academic Speaking Skills (Online Course)
- Scored Practice Tests
- E2 Test Prep Online PTE Academic Test Preparation (Online Course)
- PTE Academic Question Bank
- PTE Academic English Booster
How long will it take me to prepare for the PTE Academic?
The length of time you need to prepare for the PTE Academic depends on you. Your current proficiency level, your familiarity and understanding of the format and question types, which skills you need to improve upon, etc. will help you figure out how much time you need to prepare. We recommend trying out a few sample questions of the overall test to get a grasp of your current level. This helps you develop a study plan to work out how long you may need to hit (and surpass) your target scores.
How can I prepare for the PTE Academic in a week?
In our opinion, a week is cutting it too close to prepare for the PTE Academic. We’re not saying the test is impossibly hard - from our experience, students at all proficiency levels benefit from taking enough time to prepare for the test. More time to prepare equals greater familiarity with question types, an understanding of how to approach and answer questions, better time management, and in general greater confidence when sitting the test.
Our Concluding Thoughts
While there is no limit to the number of resits you can do for the PTE Academic, it still costs you in time and resources. Plus, taking the test more than once might not be ideal when you’re already working within a timeframe for your study abroad applications. The best way to guarantee you meet and exceed your target scores is through practice. And with the best PTE preparation books in hand, not to mention the plethora of other handy resources, you’ll be able to sit your test confident in your own success.