- Martin Valentino
Like many other people here in Australia who currently looking into getting a permanent residence and come from a non-English speaking country, take an English Test is a must requirement for the visa application. The current pandemic situation makes the situation harder as most of the testing place is closed due to the lockdown situation. For me, I finally ticked the test from my list this year after several times cancellation because of the restriction. Last Monday, I took my PTE Exam, and I got the result the next day. I'm happy with my result as it more than enough score for the visa that I'm going to apply. In this post, I'll share my learning from preparation, including some materials that I've used until I get my test result.
First of all, some background context on me, I came to Melbourne 4 years ago to studied for Master of Information Technology from The University of Melbourne and since graduated I've been working in the tech company here in Melbourne. For the last four years, I've been used to academic writing (even though my result doesn't say so) and speak in English. Also, I have taken the IELTS test (for one of the requirement to enter my Master degree) 4 years ago and got 7.5 for an overall score. I choose the PTE because most of the people that I talk with here in Australia told me that the exam is easier than IELTS. So I was sold into it.
My preparation for the exam is not too much. I only use two resources for my learning. I subscribe to E2Language.com for exercise material and also some learning material. In addition, I also learn from SonnyEnglish youtube channel, which I find the template provided there for the speaking and the writing part is beneficial. At the end of this post, I also share some of the templates that I find useful, and I use it on the exam day.
As I've said in the beginning, because of COVID-19 pandemic, my test has been cancelled several times. I suppose to take my exam in March, but because of the lockdown in Australia, the exam has been rescheduled several times until finally, I get my chance this week, July 13, 2020. In total, I have 5 months preparation (even though most of the time, I only procrastinate). In the next section, I'll briefly explain some of the resources that I use for study and the learning I get from each.
E2Language is my primary resource for learning all of the 21 tasks in PTE, starting from Read Aloud to Write from dictation. I subscribed to their Express+ package for USD 59. That package gives me 6 months of access to all of their learning and exercise material. You also get 25 live class and mini mock test. The mini mock test is basically a simulation for the real PTE exam but in a shorter format and with real feedback for your speaking and writing from E2Language teacher.
I find the learning and exercise material in E2Language is really good and comprehensive. They have formulated their own method to solve different tasks in the PTE. You can find most of their learning material from their youtube channel as well. For the E2Language platform, the experience and UI interface there is not the best, but I find it good enough to be able to easily navigate through the exercise. They also provide what they call Study Pathway, which they recommend to optimise the learning outcome, but I rarely use it.
I definitely recommend E2Language for a resource to study for PTE Exam. The exercises bank that they provide has helped me to familiarise myself with all of the tasks in PTE. The methods that they teach also have helped me to formulate a way to answer the question for each task. But, I also recommend using the technique from E2language in combination with other resources such as the technique from SonnyEnglish that I'll explain next.
SonnyEnglish is another resource that I use to study for the PTE. For this particular resource, I only watch his video on youtube. He has an actual learning platform just like E2language, which you can find it at https://justasksonny.com/. I found SonnyEnglish after I've been subscribed to E2language package, so I didn't buy his online course. But some of the techniques and templates that he shares in his video sufficient enough for me to speed up the learning process.
SonnyEnglish has a casual teaching style and emphasises on what part of the PTE should all candidates focusing on to boost their overall score. For example, you can see below one of his video which explains it. Those tasks are:
- Read aloud
- Repeat sentence
- Read & Writing Fill In The Blanks
- Writing from dictation
There's also another video that explains some of the time-wasting tasks in PTE. This video has helped me to not putting much effort into those tasks on the test day. I still do my best to answer the question correctly, but I didn't spend a lot of time on the tasks. Those tasks are:
- Answer short question in Speaking
- Multiple choice question (both single and multiple answer) in Reading
- Multiple choice question (both single and multiple answer) in Listening
- Select missing word in Listening
- Highlight correct summary in Listening
Official Pearson Scored Practice Test
Pearson, as an institution behind the PTE exam, also provide an official scored test, you can find about it on their website. It's a web-based application where you can experience the real PTE exam and also get an actual score immediately after you finish the test. I did the Version 3 of the practice test and got the result in 2hrs. I recommend you to take this practice exam at least a week before your actual exam. In that way, you can figure out which part of the PTE task that you still lack and you can focus on that. I got an overall score of 73 for the practice test.
I took my test on Monday, July 13th 2020, at Melbourne Polytechnic. I think it's because of the COVID-19, the test centre only limits participants to a certain number of people. For my case, it was only 6 people in the room. I've heard from people that have taken the test before and from a review on the internet, the room and the facility in the test room can contribute to the success of your exam. I choose Melbourne Polytechnic because I heard a lot of good feedback on this test centre in regards to the sitting layout and the Audio equipment. Overall, I have a great experience on the test day.
Some of the things that I learn and recommend to do on the test day
- Make sure your headset is in the best settings for you. Before you start the exam, you'll be allowed to adjust your headset and microphone (test the audio output and the recording). Make sure when you test your voice recording, you can hear it clearly and not too deep or too far. I did tests several times for the microphone until I get the correct sound that I believe is clear enough for the computer to process.
- On the speaking part, if you have finished with the recording, just click next immediately. The system will automatically stop recording if there's no sound in 3s, but I straight away click on the next button to prevent it records my breath.
- Focus all of the time during the speaking section. The number of question that you'll get for each task in the speaking part will vary. There's a time when I didn't focus on the transition between task, from Describe Image to Retell Lecture, I end up didn't hear some part of the talk.
When you have finished the test, you'll be told by the supervisor and also get an email that you'll get the result in the next 5 days. It turns out, I get my test result the next day. I get 79 for an overall score with the breakdown like in the below image.
As you can see, there's some improvement from my practice test (my speaking is way higher here) and a part that is decreased (the writing score).
In conclusion, I'm pretty with the result that I get from my exam. It has been more than enough for the visa application requirement that I'm going to apply.
All of the above are my learnings and experience, it may not be applied similarly to your situation. As I've said at the beginning, even though I have like 5 months preparation, in reality, it's only a month at the most. My work, family life and procrastination has taken most of the time that I should have used for the study. That's why I find the templates from SonnyEnglish are useful. As you can see as well, my result is not like many others who get an overall score of 90. Hopefully, this post can add more insight into your PTE learning journey.
Below are some of the templates that I find useful during my test.
For this particular type of essay, spend several minutes at the beginning to come up with some ideas for a reason that you'll be applied to the template below.
One of the most discussed issues today relates to how [paraphrase general statement in a simple sentence]. I firmly [agree / disagree] with [paraphrase side 1 from the problem statement]. In this essay I will discuss the two reasons why I strongly [agreee / disagree] with the idea.
I feel strongly that [write simple sentence about reason 1]. The reason for this is that [write simple sentence to state the main reason]. In addition, [simple sentence to state second reason]. For example, [simple sentence with an example for reason 1].
I feel just as convinced that [write simple sentence about reason 2]. I often argue that in fact [simple sentence to state main reason]. Furthermore, [simple sentence to state second reason]. For instance, [simple sentence with an example for reason 2].
In conclusion, [paraphrase the topic sentence]. It has now been shown [paraphrase body 1 topic sentence] [but / and] [paraphrase body 2 topic sentence]. It is expected that this trend will continue in the future.
Two Views Essay
One of the most discussed issues today relates to how some people believe [simple sentence for side 1], while others feel that [simple sentence for side 2]. In this essay, I will explore both points of view and state my opinions of each.
Many people feel strongly that [simple sentence for side 1]. The reason for this is that [simple sentence to state main reason]. In addition, [simple sentence to state second reason]. For example, [simple sentence for an example].
On the other hand, others feel just as convinced that [simple sentence for side 2]. It is often argued that [simple sentence for side 2 main reason]. Furthermore, [simple sentence to state side 2 second reason]. For instnance, [simple sentence for an example].
In conclusion, [paraphrase the topic sentence]. It has now been shown _[paraphrase body 1 topic sentence] _[but / and]_ [paraphrase body 2 topic sentence]. It is expected that this trend will continue in the future.
Spend for about 5 minutes to brainstorming the keyword noun that's related to the problem statement. You'll use those keywords to the template below.
One of the most controversial issues today relates to how [paraphrase topic with simple sentence]. In the following essay, I will discuss some of the biggest [problems/causes] associated with [noun from the topic], before suggesting possible solutions.
The main problem related to [noun from the topic] is [another noun>]. The reason for this is that [simple sentence to state main reason]. In addition, [simple sentence to state second reason] . For example, [simple sentence for an example].
In my opinion, the best approach to overcome [noun from the topic] is [another noun]. It is often argued that in fact [simple sentence to state main reason]. Furthermore, [simple sentence to state second reason]. For instance, [simple sentence for an example] .
In conclusion, [paraphrase the topic sentence]. It has now been shown [paraphrase body 1 topic sentence> [but/and] [paraphrase body 2 topic sentence]. It is expected that this trend will continue in the future.
Summarise Spoken Text
While listening, note down all of the keywords that you hear.
The [speaker/lecturer] was discussing [simple sentence about the TOPIC] [She / He] firstly mentioned [simple sentence with the keyword] [She/He] then talked about [simple sentence with the keyword] In addition, [She/He] discussed [simple sentence with the keyword] [She/He] described [simple sentence with the keyword] Finally, [She/He] suggested that [simple sentence with the keyword]
The [speaker / lecturer] talks about [simple sentence about main idea with noun phrase] According to the [lecturer / speaker], [he / she] mentions [simple sentence with noun keyword from the note] In addition, the [lecturer / speaker] indicates that [simple sentence with noun keyword from the note] The [lecturer / speaker] concludes that [simple sentence for some conclusion]