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Understanding the PTE Score Guide

Jan 25, 2023Date Published
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Applying to study abroad often means taking an English proficiency test for non-native speakers. And Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) is globally recognized by schools and governments as valid proof of English proficiency! Each of these types of tests evaluates and scores your ability in the English language differently. So, understanding the PTE score guide is important to know how to get your target score! Different universities ask for different minimum score boundaries. To meet the required scores of your chosen school, you can work backward from the score guide!

What Do You Need to Know About the PTE Score Guide?

PTE Academic is a 3-hour, computer-based exam. It tests 4 main components: reading, speaking, listening, and writing. Some of the sections of the test evaluate two skills at once, like reading and speaking, or listening and writing.

The results of your test reflect an average Overall Score. This overall score is broken down into two categories. Your Communicative Skills score you for listening, reading, speaking, and writing. And your Enabling Skills grade you for accuracy of grammar, fluency, pronunciation, spelling accuracy, use of appropriate vocabulary, and ability to carry out discourse in writing.

The goal of this test is to gauge how able you are at communicating in English in both daily life and academic settings. So, the better you perform under Enabling Skills, the higher your overall score will be.

Communicative Skills Scores

The test is split into 3 sections, testing the 4 Communicative Skills.

Part 1 – Speaking and Listening

This section can last between 77 to 93 minutes. It has 8 sections:

  1. Personal Introduction – record a short introduction of yourself
  2. Read Aloud – read the text onscreen aloud
  3. Repeat Sentence – listen to the audio and repeat the sentence
  4. Describe Image – look at the image (diagram, chart, graph, etc.) and describe it out loud
  5. Re-tell Lecture – listen to the lecture and summarize its main points
  6. Answer Short Question – answer the question you’ll hear in one or more words
  7. Summarize Written Test – read the text and summarize the key points in 75 words
  8. Essay – based on the prompt, write a 200-300 words essay

Part 2 – Reading

It may take you 32 to 40 minutes to complete. There are 5 sections overall:

  1. Reading & Writing Fill in the Blanks – select the appropriate words for the blank spaces of the passage from a drop-down menu
  2. Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer – choose more than one answer after reading the text
  3. Re-order Paragraphs – organize the randomly shuffled paragraphs in the correct order
  4. Fill in the Blanks – drag and drop the correct words into the blank spaces of the text
  5. Multiple Choice, Single Answer – choose the appropriate answer after reading the text

Part 3 – Listening

The section may take between 45 to 57 minutes to complete. There are 8 sub-sections in total:

  1. Summarize Spoken Text – summarize the audio you hear in 50 to 70 words
  2. Multiple Choice, Multiple Answer – choose more than one answer based on the audio you’ll hear
  3. Fill in the Blanks – listen to the audio as you read the text onscreen and type in the missing words
  4. Highlight Correct Summary – choose the summary that best describes the audio you’ll hear
  5. Multiple Choice, Single Answer – choose a single answer after listening to the audio
  6. Select Missing Word – after hearing the audio with a word missing, choose the word that fits in the missing section
  7. Highlight Incorrect Words – mark the words that are different on your screen compared to the audio
  8. Write from Dictation – type what you hear in the audio recording

Enabling Skills Scores

Let’s define each of the Enabling Skills under the PTE Academic Score Guide.

Oral Fluency – how naturally and effortlessly you speak

Pronunciation – how easily understandable you are when you speak, and how clearly you enunciate

Written discourse – your ability to logically and cohesively structure information in writing and use linguistic range to express yourself precisely and meaningfully

Vocabulary – your ability to use the right words in the right contexts, and choose diverse and precise vocabulary to express meaning efficiently

Grammar – whether you use the correct language rules in writing

Spelling – whether you use the correct spellings and apply the appropriate spelling rules in writing

PTE Score Guideline Compared to Other Test Scores

Now you have a better understanding the PTE score guide. But what about how it compares to other test scores?

PTE Academic scores fall along a 10-90 scale, using the Global Scale of English. This scale is a global standard for the English language. Developed by building on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), it’s based on data from 6,000 teachers across 50 countries. So, the PTE Academic scores are easily comparable to other test score equivalents!

PTE Score Guide vs IELTS

PTE Academic


PTE Score Guide vs TOEFL iBT

PTE Academic


How the PTE Score is Calculated

The PTE Score Chart 2023 Update comprehensively breaks down the definition of each item and scoring for each section. This is an excellent way of working backward from the guide to understand how to score well on the test. Since this is a completely computerized exam, the AI calculates grades for everyone in the same way. So, by knowing exactly what you’re graded on, you can focus more on those items in your responses.

For example, for the Spoken sections, you are scored for Pronunciation and Oral Fluency according to 5 traits:

  • Native-like
  • Advanced
  • Good
  • Intermediate
  • Intrusive
  • Non-English

The detailed PTE score guide lets you know exactly what contributes to a specific score. Under Pronunciation, for example, you score 5 if you can produce completely understandable speech sounds, versus mostly understandable, which might get you a 3 instead. As a result, the PTE Academic Score Guide is an excellent resource to help you prepare for the exam!

Unsure if You’ve Been Graded Correctly? Here’s How to Calculate Your PTE Score

If you’ve received your scores but think there’s been a mistake, here’s one way you can check.

Add up the 6 scores under Enabling Skills. Then, divide these by 6, to get the average for that category. Now take this average and add it up with the 4 items under Communicative Skills. So, get a sum of five items – the 4 components under Communicative Skills, and your average score for Enabling Skills.

Divide the sum you get by 5. This should be your Overall Score! If you notice your score is lower than it should be, this way you know you can request a rescore.

What is the Passing Score for PTE?

Different schools may have different requirements for the minimum PTE scores they accept. Here are the score boundaries for most programs:

  • Undergraduate programs – minimum score between 51 and 61
  • Postgraduate programs – minimum score between 57 and 67
  • MBA programs – minimum score between 59 and 69

In Conclusion

Sitting any English proficiency test might seem daunting at first glance. But after understanding the PTE Academic score guide, you know exactly what to expect in advance. By familiarizing yourself with the exam sections and scoring methods, you can sit the test efficiently. You get to prepare for the sections you think you might struggle with before starting the test. There are a variety of practice activities, online courses, and scored mock exams to try. Approach the test systematically and strategically, and you can get your target score in a single sitting!