PTE Speaking Module Comparison

IELTS Vs PTE: Speaking Test 5 Item Types

PTE Speaking Module ComparisonPearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic) is an English language test designed for non-native speakers. This test is increasingly becoming popular among professional organizations, academic institutions, and government bodies all over the world. PTE Academic, established in2009, has become one of the most popular English language tests in a very short time. The other popular tests, TOEFL and IELTS, took more time to establish themselves as compared to PTE.

The major difference between PTE and other standardized test was that PTE Academic is machine scored from day one. All inputs by the test taker are scored on the basis of specific criteria for that type of item. The scores add up in the corresponding Enabling Skills Scores and Communicative Skills Scores. To fully understand how each individual question is scored, download the Score Guide, here:

Difference between PTE and IELTS:

Now, as you must already know, both these tests are designed to ascertain the level of language proficiency for non-native speakers of English, which are those who don’t speak English at home.

In both PTE and IELTS, there are four areas tested: Listening, Speaking, Writing, and Reading. The order of these sections, we call them, can vary. Test takers have varied opinions about these tests. For some, IELTS is easier while for some, PTE is easier. I would say that both test similar skills in different ways.

Initially IELTS started as a paper based test and PTE a computer based test. But now even IELTS is available as a computer based test in many parts of the world, including in Australia.

In case of IELTS, there is less variety of questions, so the structure of the test is easier to understand. In case of PTE, there is more variety of questions in all sections. To give you an idea, in IELTS Speaking, the test taker is interviewed by the marker for about 15 minutes. While in PTE Speaking, there are five different Item Types, as they call them.

Another major difference is that in PTE, there is overlapping of skills tested in the same Item Type. For example, in PTE Speaking, there is an Item Type “Read Aloud”. Here the test taker reads a text. The points are scored for both Reading and Speaking, though not given the same weightage.

As in all modules of PTE, the speaking module of PTE also assesses your other language skills. It means when one is attempting PTE Speaking questions, there are also some scores being added to reading, listening, and writing modules.

The beauty of PTE Academic is that the question types are designed to test a variety of abilities that collectively make you an expert speaker of a language. The five Item Types in PTE speaking are all different from each other. We will explore all these one by one.

Important Observations:

1. In all five Item Types, use the preparation time efficiently. Write keywords, if helpful. Note key information, where appropriate.
2. Never start speaking before prompted to. Your response will not be recorded during the preparation time. Speak after the beep alerts you to start speaking.
3. The system is designed to stop recording after 3 seconds of silence. So, never stop for thinking for the “right words”. Keep on speaking something into the microphone.
4. Follow the “Progress bar” and make sure that you stop speaking a little before it reaches to the endpoint. This is important as an incomplete sentence will lead to lower scores. It is better not to start a sentence that cannot be completed in the remaining time.
5. Fluency does not mean being in a hurry. A calm, clearly spoken response is better than a hurriedly spoken answer that can create pronunciation and grammar mistakes.

Before starting the actual test, you are prompted to give a brief Personal Introduction of yourself.


Preparation Time: 25 Seconds
Response Time: 30 Seconds

Although this part is not graded, it is useful in getting you ready for the graded parts. You can adjust your volume and headphones for maximum performance. Your chosen institutions will be informed of your results.


Skills Assessed: Reading and Speaking
Preparation Time: 30 – 40 Seconds
Response Time: 35 – 40 Seconds

• The test taker needs to read aloud the text that is displayed on the screen. The test taker has the text displayed all the time, so there is no need to memorize anything. A good idea is to read the passage silently to confirm that one understands the message conveyed and is familiar with the words.
• One should not start speaking into the microphone before he is prompted in the form of a beep. As soon as the recording starts, identified by the beep, one should start reading the passage as clearly and smoothly as possible.
• Although the heading is Read Aloud, the Item Type is mainly testing Speaking skills. So the tone of the speaker should not be that of one reading for oneself. It should be as one is speaking to another person or to a group of people. The underlying idea is to speak in such a manner as to get the message across.
• The scoring of this Item Type is designed to test oral fluency, pronunciation, and content. It means how one speaks is more important than what one speaks. Moreover, there is partial credit, so even if one is not able to speak all the words correctly, marks will be awarded on the basis of what was spoken.
• 6 to 7 texts are usually included in one test.


Skills Assessed: Listening and Speaking
Prompt Length: 3 – 9 Seconds
Response Time: 15 Seconds

• A short sentence is played. The test taker is expected to repeat the sentence verbatim.
• In this Item Type, one’s short term memory plays an important role. The test taker needs to memorize the exact words spoken and then replicate the same in the same order.
• Any change in words or omission of words result in lower scores.
• The scoring is based on oral fluency, pronunciation, and content. There is partial credit, so one gets scores based on whatever was spoken correctly.
• There is no beep to indicate recording start time as in Read Aloud. So the test taker should immediately start speaking at the end of the audio.
• 10 to 12 sentences are usually included in one test.


Skills Assessed: Speaking
Preparation Time: 25 Seconds
Response Time: 40 Seconds

• The test taker is presented with an image to describe in his/her own words.
• The images can be of a bar graph, pie chart, infographic, Line graph, a photo, an organisational chart, a map, a process diagram, a flow chart, etc.
• Ideally, one should note important points from the image, including main values, major trends, overall conclusion, etc.
• The scoring is based on oral fluency, pronunciation, and content. It means how you speak is more important than what you speak.
• Care should be taken in when to start speaking as the microphone starts recording only after the beep. Moreover, a silence of three seconds shuts off the recording.
• 6 to 7 of images are usually included in one test.


Skills Assessed: Listening and Speaking
Lecture Audio: Upto 90 Seconds
Preparation Time: 10 Seconds
Response Time: 40 Seconds

• The test taker is presented with an audio lecture one to one and a half minutes in length. This lecture is to be retold in about 40 seconds.
• The role of short term memory becomes important in this Item Type, as the lecture is played once only.
• While listening, some test takers are able to write key words on the erasable noteboard provided. This helps them a lot in retelling the lecture afterwards. Others just try to memorize as much as possible.
• Scoring is based on oral fluency, pronunciation and content. The focus is on how we speak.
• Ideally the test takers should start with an introductory sentence that tells exactly what the lecture is about. Then important points should be described in correct pronunciation and grammar.
• Repeating exact phrases is also acceptable and do not negatively impact the scores.
• 2 to 3 lectures are usually included in one test.


Skills Assessed: Listening and Speaking
Prompt Time: 3 – 9 Seconds
Response Time: 10 Seconds

• The test taker is presented with a simple question.
• There is no beep to alert the test taker to speak.
• As soon as the question ends, an answer should be spoken into the microphone. The answer should be of one to three words only.
• Any question from general knowledge topics can be asked. Some simple grammar questions may also be asked.
• Scoring is only in the form of right or wrong. So one either gets one point for the right response or no point for an incorrect response.
• 10 to 12 questions are usually asked in one test.

Improving PTE Speaking Scores:

There is an easy way to improve your scores in the Speaking module of the PTE Academic test. In four of the five item-types in PTE Speaking, that is, Read Aloud, Repeat Sentence, Describe Image, and Retell lecture, more than half of the total points come from Pronunciation and Oral Fluency.

In order to get good scores, you need to speak fluently and clearly. By this, we mean that the regular speakers of the language can easily understand all vowels and consonants spoken. The speaker knows where to stress; no non-native phonological simplifications, no repetitions.

At Simply Studies, our students learn the subtle differences between similar words. Our linguistic trainers are experts in identifying the exact problems faced by the individual learner. They work diligently to make your speech closer to that of a native speaker.


• More than half of the points are in how you speak and not on what you say.
• Speak as closely as you can to how a native speaker does.
• Pronounce all vowels and consonants as is traditionally done by regular, native speakers.
• Learn the difference between similar words.
• Get the services of an expert to guide you all the way to the top scores.

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