PTE - Format, Questions, and Scores

Pearson Test of English Overview

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What Is the PTE?

The Pearson Test of English, also known as the PTE, is a computer-based standardized test that measures your ability to read, write, speak, and listen to English. Business school applicants who speak English as a second language may need to take the PTE as part of the admissions process to prove that they can understand English in a classroom setting. Similar tests include the TOEFL and IELTS.

Who Accepts the PTE?

Nearly 500 business schools around the world, including top business schools like London Business School, Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, and INSEAD, accept PTE scores as a demonstration of English ability. See a list of MBA programs that accept PTE scores.

PTE Versions

There are several versions of the Pearson Test of English. Business school applicants should take the PTE Academic, which is specifically geared toward students who want to study at the postsecondary level.

PTE Format and Questions

The PTE is split into three timed parts: Speaking and Writing; Reading; and Listening. The entire test lasts three hours and must be completed in one session. Test takers should expect to perform 20 different types of tasks throughout the test. Some tasks test more than one skill at a time (for example: reading and speaking or speaking and writing).

  • Speaking and Writing: This portion of the test takes 77-93 minutes to complete. For the speaking part, you will record answers into a microphone. For the writing part, you must write your response to a question.
  • Reading: This portion of the test takes 32-41 minutes to complete. You must read portions of text and answer questions about what you have read.
  • Listening: This portion of the test takes 45-57 minutes to complete. You must listen to audio or video clips and answer questions associated with each clip. You will not be allowed to replay the clips more than once before answering.

    PTE Scoring

    You will receive your scores within five days after taking the PTE. The highest score you can receive is an overall score of 90. Some schools require a minimum overall score for acceptance. Minimum score requirements vary by school but typically fall between 51 and 61 for undergraduate studies, 57 and 67 for postgraduate studies, and 59 and 69 for MBA studies. Visit the website of your target school to learn more about minimum test score requirements for international program applicants.

    Registering for the PTE

    One of the advantages of the PTE over other English proficiency tests is the ease and convenience of registering. The PTE can be taken on very short notice: 24-48 hours. You can book a test session online or over the phone. The PTE is taken at authorized test centers, which are located all over the world. If you can’t find a pre-scheduled testing date that works for you, a special date can be arranged.

    Fees for taking the PTE vary depending on your country. You can register for the PTE, find test centers, and learn more about fees on the Pearson website. If you aren’t satisfied with your initial PTE score, you can register for a retake at any time. You can retake the test as many times as you want.

    PTE Prep

    Preparing for the PTE is a must. Business school admissions can be competitive for international applicants. The higher your score is on an English proficiency test, the better your chances are of standing out among other applicants and getting into your school of choice. A practice PTE test is a good way to begin your prep experience. The results of the practice test will help you determine what you need to study and improve upon. You can also use the following resources to learn more about the test and PTE prep.

    • PTE Academic Guide - This free PDF guide from the makers of the PTE provides detailed information about the PTE.
    • PTE Tasks - Watch these videos to learn more about the tasks you will be asked to perform as part of the PTE.
    • PTE vs. TOEFL vs. IELTS - Compare the different English proficiency tests that can be taken as part of the admissions process to determine which test is right for you.