PTE: How to Develop Complex Ideas in Speaking & Writing
Developing complex ideas within spoken and written discourse is an important subskill for Part 1 of the test. This involves using a wide range of sentence structures accurately and appropriately in both speaking and writing to express complex opinions and ideas that have been supported with relevant details, examples and explanations.
(1) There are four types of sentences in English. (2) The most basic type, which is known as a simple sentence, consists of an independent clause (complete sentence that can stand alone). (3) Compound sentences have two or more independent clauses, which are joined by a coordinating conjunction. (4) Complex sentences, however, contain both an independent and one or more dependent clauses (incomplete sentence that cannot stand alone) and are particularly useful for comparing and contrasting ideas. (5) This is an important skill in PTE writing. (6) The last type of sentence is a mixture of these last two forms and can be quite challenging to write. (7) These sentences, which form an important part of academic writing, contain at least two independent clauses and one dependent clause and are known as complex-compound sentence.
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|Sentences 1 and 5 are simple sentences||Sentences 2 and 3 are complex sentences|
|Sentences 4 and 6 are compound sentences||Sentence 7 is complex-compound sentence|
(1) There are four major sentence problems, you must try to avoid sentence problems in your written and spoken answers in the PTE Test. (2) First, using short sentences. (3) Because they can make your speaking or writing sound overly simplistic. (4) Next, your goal may be to write or say longer and more fully formed sentences to show that your writing is a high level and to impress the examiner but you must be careful not to write or say overlong sentences as these can be confusing and difficult to follow and are more likely to contain mistakes. (5) Another common sentence problem is a run-on sentence, a run-on sentence occurs when two or more independent clauses are connected improperly, they are often combined with a comma and no conjunction. (6) Sentence fragments are problematic. (7) Therefore, should be avoided in spoken and written responses in the test.
|Sentences 2 and 6 are short sentences||Sentence 4 is an overlong sentence|
|Sentences 1 and 5 are run-on sentences||Sentences 3 and 7 are sentence fragments|
|Short Sentence (2): First, using short sentences.||Revision: First, including too many short or under-developed sentences.|
|Overlong Sentence (4): Next, your goal may be to write longer and more fully formed sentences to show that your writing is a high level and to impress the examiner but you must be careful not to write or say overlong sentences as these can be confusing and difficult to follow and are more likely to contain mistakes.||Revision: Next, your goal may be to write more fully formed sentences to show your writing is a high level; however, you must be careful not to produce overlong sentences as these can be confusing and contain mistakes.|
|Run-on sentence (1): There are four major sentence problems, you must try to avoid sentence problems in your written and spoken answers in the PTE Test.||Revision: There are four major sentence problems. You must try to avoid sentence problems in your written and spoken answers in the PTE Test.|
- Is there a verb? If not, add one.
- Is there a subject? If not, add one.
- Is there a subordinating conjunction? If so, delete it, or add a subordinate clause.
|Sentence fragment (3): Because they can make your speaking or writing sound overly simplistic.||Revision: Short sentences are problematic because they can make your speaking or writing sound overly simplistic|
Developing complex ideas with details, examples and explanations
The hospitality industry is a challenging industry in which to work.
Response 1: After millions of years of being endangered in war-torn coast of southern Lebanon, Mediterranean sea turtles were finally protected by two women, Mona Khalil and Habiba Fayed, who opened a bed-and-breakfast and with the help of the guests, protected turtles’ eggs by burying an iron grid in the sand above the eggs.
Response 2: For the millions of years the turtles lay their eggs. Two women set out to protect them by burying an iron grid in the sand so in the end the baby turtles emerged after a month so now they are protected by predators so now they can have a chance at life.
Here, we are going to compare two test taker responses and consider:
- the use of compound or complex sentences
- the accuracy of the sentence (any sentence problems?)
- the use of supporting detail to create a complex idea
Which response do you think is better and why? Rewrite the poor response using the strategies you have learned in this article for developing a complete and complex idea.
Smekens Education Solutions. (2014). Develop Ideas in a First Draft. Retrieved from here
Sowton, C. (2011). 50 Steps to Improving Your Academic Writing (Student Book ed.). Garnet Publishing.
Western, V & Gasper, V. (2018). PTE Academic Lesson Plan Ideas. Pearson
Disclaimer: The question prompts are for practice purposes only and are not official PTE Test materials.
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