How to improve your PTE Speaking Score

The Speaking section of the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE) may be the hardest section for some, if not for all of those who have sat the test. This section entails recording your responses, which will then be rated purely by a computer. Hence, the aim is to deliver responses which are clear and understandable. This, while simultaneously producing a meaningful content, is an arduous task especially if you’re only given 40 seconds to speak (for example, in the ‘Describe image‘ and ‘Re-tell lecture‘ sections).

Today, we’re listing effective strategies for each task to help you improve your speaking score:

Read aloud

  1. Read every single word and only the words that appear on the screen. Omissions, replacements and insertions are errors and are deducted from the points earned for words spoken correctly.
  2. Observe syllable stresses. Stress the words that carry significant context to the paragraph. Divide the text into pieces. Use the punctuation to help you choose which points should you pause and change your intonation.
  3. Speak with confidence. Confidence can bring out clarity, volume and calmness when speaking. Speak like you are delivering a speech or reading a story to a bunch of kids, but with enough speed.

Repeat sentence

  1. Take note of the speaker’s pauses and word stresses. Copy the speaker’s intonation and listen to those very brief moments where he pauses to introduce a new information.
  2. Do not imitate the speaker’s accent. Candidates are advised to be natural and clear when speaking. Having an accent like that of a native English speaker does not give added points.
  3. Understand the meaning of the sentence. Understanding the thought helps us recall the words. If you have short-term memory, practice this task to train your brain.
  4. If you stutter halfway during recording, get back up and continue speaking. Avoid stuttering and uttering non-words (uhhhm and ahhh). These are incorrect words and can lessen your score for this task.

Describe image

  1. Learn how to interpret a graph and study its various types. Basic knowledge about graphs is enough to make simple interpretations. You must know the X and Y axes and different types of graphs such as line graph, bar graph, pie graph, etc. Also, the image can be a chart, process diagram or simply, a picture.
  2. Structure a complete and logical description. An ideal description has an introduction, body and conclusion. The body must contain at least two significant points or features.
  3. Identify the extremes. The areas of a graph that are usually easiest to define are the highest and lowest points and the largest and smallest chunks. An example description for a demographic graph is, “The country with the highest population is…; while the country with lowest population is…”
  4. Make use of the words commonly used to describe a graph.

Intro: “The graph hows/ represents/ illustrates/ projects/ indicates/ depicts/ reveals…”

Movement: increased, decreased, has risen, lowered down, dropped, has grown

Presenting features: “It is interesting to note…”, “It seems surprising…”, Meanwhile…”

Re-tell lecture

  1. Focus and listen carefully, especially to the introduction and conclusion.  The primary idea is introduced at the beginning and upon which the supporting details will be built. Try to deduce the argument the speaker is trying to make and the examples that he is citing.
  2. Write some notes and include the content words. You don’t have to write every single word you hear. However, if you have paralegal skills, then the odds are in your favor.
  3. Prepare introductory and concluding phrases or use transitional words and phrases that connote addition of a new idea. Introductory and concluding phrases can be: “The speaker discussed/described/talked about…” ,“The lecture was regarding/talked about…”, “To conclude, the speaker…”, “Overall, the lecture was…”, Example transitional words and phrases are in addition to, furthermore and moreover.
  4. Look at the image that might appear on the screen when the lecture will start playing. The image will give you an idea what will be discussed on the lecture. Look for any words that describe the image so you can have a better understanding of the message the speaker wants to convey.

Answer short question

  1. Again, focus and listen carefully. The question will be delivered only once, so never slack or be distracted so you can have full attention to the recording.
  2. If you hear unfamiliar words, try to infer their meaning using the adjacent words.
  3. Do not give long answers. Answers are usually composed of a single word or two. You don’t have to deliver a complete sentence or create an explanation.
  4. Do not close your eyes. Occasionally, the question will be based on a picture that will appear on the screen.

Lastly, always remember not to pause for a long time. The microphone will stop recording after three seconds of silence.

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