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PTE: The Pearson Test of English Academic

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The Pearson Test of English Academic is all set to attract more takers. Hear it from Carl Rhymer.

S. Dipak Ragav: For students wanting to pursue higher studies in English-speaking nations, the TOEFL (for U.S. universities) and IELTS (for U.K., Australian universities) have for long been the two options as language proficiency tests. About three years ago, Pearson group, one of the world’s leading Education company, came out with their own English language test called the Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic in 2009.

In over three years, PTE Academic has managed to find wide acceptance amongst most universities in the U.K. and Australia. Global sales director of Pearson Language Tests Carl Rhymer was in Chennai recently. He spoke exclusively to The Hindu Education Plus about PTE, Indian students’ performance in the global examination scenario and more.

You have been associated with global exams for nearly two decades. How have Indian students fared over the years?

Indian students are doing a very good job. Over time their language ability and performance in exams have been improving year on year. They realise their importance of maximising study opportunities and invest their time and efforts in preparing themselves for examinations. Globally, Indian students perform pretty well against other nationalities.

What are the salient features of PTE and what are the advantages for students?

One main thing is convenience. It’s easy to register and students can apply very close to exam day and can get their results in five working days. The test is done in three hours in one sitting and there is no need to come back another day.

Also, this test is the most relevant to the studies. All materials are real lectures or journals and not recorded in studios. It better prepares and mirrors what they do in classroom. The other area is we are the fairest as we use automated scoring for tests. Read More.....

PTE Academic measures your English ability by testing your level of English through tasks which reflect real-life settings.

Test timings

PTE Academic is 3 hours long and is split into timed parts. When the time is up on the section, the test will move on automatically.

There are 20 different types of task.  Some tasks will test intergrated skills (e.g. reading AND speaking). 

  1. Introduction: untimed
    We ask you to introduce yourself. This section is not assessed. 
  2. Speaking and writing: 77 – 93 minutes
  3. Reading: 32 – 41 minutes
  4. Break: 10 minutes
    The break is optional.
  5. Listening: 45 – 57 minutes

The timings shown are variable. The test will always last 3 hours in total.

  • You can register online for the test 48 hours in advance
  • You must visit a Pearson test center to take the test of English
  • There are test centers worldwide

Find a test center and  register now

  • Deliver results typically within 5 working days
  • Keep checking your account for scores and we will also email you when your scores are available
  • You login to your account to view your scores
  • Send them to institutions via your account
  • Website:

Before the test - Registration and Payment

PTE Academic is for non-native speakers of English who need to demonstrate their English language ability.
You must be at least 16 years old. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you must provide a signed parental consent form before taking the test.

 Download the parental consent form

Complete the form, then follow the instructions printed on it to send it to us.

No. You can take it at any of our test centers around the world. Make sure you check what type of ID you have to use.

If you are outside your home country, you will probably be asked to show your passport at the test center.

No.  You can choose the institutions you want to send your scores to after you have seen your results.
No. PTE Academic is a test of your English ability.  The test covers a range of subjects, but you are not being tested on these subjects.
You do not need any special computer skills. We recommend taking one of our practice tests to get used to moving through tasks. You can also watch the tutorial on our website.

PTE Academic is taken using a QWERTY keyboard, where the letters on the top line spell out 'QWERTY'. IF you are not used to this type of keyboard, it may help to practice with one before you take the test.

No. You can register for the test online or by phone through our call centers.
Enter your name into the family name field. Enter a period (.) in the given name field.
Enter as such of your name as you can.  Then contact us so we know there will be a difference between the name you register with and the name on your ID.
You will not be allowed to take the test and you will lose your test fee.

If you made a mistake when registering, please contact us before your test day.  We will do what we can to help.

Your pasword must contain a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. It must be a minimum of 8 characters long.

This ensures your password is secure, making it harder for hackers to break into your account.

All your personal data is collected, transmitted and stored in a safe and secure way. We will only use the information you enter for expressly stated purposes.

Full details are contained in our privacy policy. If you have any questions, contact us.

We accept these payment methods:
  • MasterCard and Visa debit cards
  • MasterCard, Visa, American Express and JCB credit cards
  • Vouchers and promotion codes (you must pay the balance if your voucher does not cover the full test cost)

We do not accept PayPal

No. You can use a card that is registered in a different name (i.e. a parent's credit card.)
To request an accommodation please contact customer service in your region to discuss your requirements.

In some cases you may be asked to complete and return an accommodations request form:

 Accommodations Request Form

You should print and return by fax or by post to the accommodations team in your region:

Fax: 651-389-0507
PTE Academic - Accommodations
5601 Green Valley Drive
Bloomington MN 55437

Fax: +44 (0)161 855 7020
PTE Academic - Accommodations
PO Box 381
M50 3UW

Please do not use email to return the form.

Please complete and return this form only if you have been advised to do so by customer service.

Depending on the nature of your request, it may take up to 6 weeks to process your application.  Therefore, please ensure that you leave sufficient time before the date on which you would like to take the test.  Please refer to page 7 of the test taker handbook.

If you fail to turn up to your appointment you will not generally receive a refund.

You may recieve a partial refund if you cancel your test before the appointment date.

For your best change of a refund, contact the customer service team in your region. In some circumstances we will try to reschedule your test free of charge.

Full cancellation policies are contained on pg.8 of the Test Taker Handbook

You can take PTE Academic as many times as you like.

You must wait to receive your scores before you can book your next test.

At the test center - What to expect on test day

At least 30 minutes before the start of your test. This gives you plenty of time to check in and pass security.
We will check the ID you bring with you. We also take your photo, a palm vein scan and a digital signature.
Your ID needs to be a valid, non-expired and government-issued.

It must:

  • show your name in Roman characters (A-Z)
  • show a recognizable photograph
  • show your signature

In many countries, a passport is the only acceptable form of identification. Some countries enforce stricter measures – see pg.10 of the Test Taker Handbook before your test.

If you are unsure about what ID you need, or cannot meet the requirements, please contact the customer services team in your region.

Palm vein recognition scans the veins inside your hand to create a digital template that represents your palm vein pattern. Everyone’s veins are different, just like a fingerprint, this allows us to check your identity.

To use the palm vein scanner, you simply hold your hand in place above the scanner for a few seconds. The scanner uses a near-infrared light source, similar to a remote control – and you never touch the sensor.

Contact the relevant customer service team as soon as you know you are going to be late. If you arrive up to 15 minutes late you may still be allowed to take it.  You will still get the full three hours to complete the test.

If you arrive over 15 minutes late you will not be allowed to take the test and you will lose your fee.

There are 20 different types of task. Some tasks will test integrated skills (e.g. Reading and Speaking). 

See tutorial and practice test to see how it works.

The personal introduction is sent to institutions along with your test scores. It gives them an extra way to check your identity, by comparing your voice with the recording from the test.

Your personal introduction is not assessed. It does not contribute to your test score.

Research supports the idea that automated scoring gives more analytical, objective results than markers do.

Our automated scoring system is impartial – it cannot be influenced by external factors like your appearance, personality or body language.

Our automated scoring system means you can be certain you are being judged only on your language performance. And the institutions you send your score to can be confident your score is accurate and representative of your actual English language ability.

We have a white paper examining automated scoring in much greater detail: PTE Academic and automated scoring.

Each section of the test is individually time. You will see a timer in the top right corner of the screen counting down the remaining time.
Yes. We will give you an erasable noteboard booklet (about 5 sheets of A4 paper). If you run out of space, you can ask for another booklet.

You are not allowed to make notes until the test has started.

You can correct multiple-choice responses (click again to deselect your answer) and typed responses (use the cut, copy and paste options)

However, you must correct mistakes before moving on to the next item. You cannot re-record any spoken responses.

The microphone will switch off automatically if you are silent for more than 3 seconds during an answer.

Raise your hand and tell the test administrator. They will do whatever they can to help and will ensure the problem is recorded.

Make sure you tell the test administrator about any problems you feel affect your ability to complete the test. Without their record of the problem, it is very hard for us to trace these issues later on.

Raise your hand and tell the test administrator. They will ask you to complete a form. This will then be sent to us so we can investigate.

Alternatively, contact your local customer service team within 14 days of the test.

Please put your complaint in writing and send it to your local customer service team. We treat all complaints seriously and always investigate them fully.
Raise your hand and explain your situation to the test administrator. They will advise further.
Yes. Raise your hand and ask the test administrator for permission to leave.

After the test - Scores and sending them

Scores are received typically within 5 working days.

Working days are Monday to Friday, excluding US and UK national holidays.

We will send you an email once your score is ready.

We may delay your score if we detect any problems we feel require further investigation – if that happens, we will contact you.

No. We only make test scores available online.

You access your scores by logging into your account.

You can see your scores once you have signed in to your account.

Click View Score Report to see your scores for each test.

Check your junk or spam email folder - your results email may be in there.

If your score is on hold we will contact you, so if you have not received any messages from us at all, contact your local customer service team.

We will put your score on hold if we detect any possible irregularities in your test.

We investigate even minor issues, so having your test put on hold does not mean there is necessarily a problem.

If you fail to adhere to the terms of the test, as listed on pg.18 of the Test Taker Handbook, your test result could be cancelled.

The score report has three sections:
  1. Your personal details and photograph.
  2. Your overall score.
  3. Detail about how you performed in sections of the test.

You will see individual scores for Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing, plus scores for the six enabling skills.

This breakdown of your score should help you identify strengths and weaknesses and focus future studies.

Your score report is valid and will be available online for 2 years.
You can request a re-mark. Pg.13 of the Test Taker Handbook explains how to do this.

If you think there was an error in the test, send us a completed  item challenge form too. We will investigate the problem for you.

You can do this once you have signed in to your account.
  1. Click Send Scores next to the relevant test.
  2. Search for the institution you want to send your score to. You can send up to seven at once.
  3. Click Next to see a summary
  4. Click Next, then hit Confirm Order to send your scores.

You can send your scores to unlimited number of instutitions free of charge.

We will send you an email to confirm your scores have been sent.

It takes up to 48 hours for scores to be sent to institutions.
Yes. Just choose the score you want to send once you have signed in to your account. Scores remain available for two years.
The institution you selected does not yet recognize PTE Academic formally.

You will not be able to use your score to this institution until it accepts PTE Academic.

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