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Writing an essay

In the **Essay** question type, you need to show critical thinking skills and be able to link ideas in a logical way.

The Essay question in PTE tests your ability to write a persuasive or argument essay where one side of the argument is developed on a given topic. In this item type, you need to show critical thinking skills and be able to link ideas in a logical way.

Analysing the question

Before writing, read the question prompt carefully and determine what the task requires you to do. You may be asked to do one or more of the following:

  • agree or disagree with a statement
  • argue for or against an opinion
  • describe a situation
  • answer a question
  • discuss advantages or disadvantages

Let’s look at an example Essay question prompt. Analyse the prompt using the skills you learnt in Week 1. Identify the key task words, content words, direction words and the aspect of the topic you are being asked about.

The content of the question is about alcohol, the harmful effects, and alcohol laws and legislation. It is asking you to decide if governments should have alcohol laws or not (leaving it up the individual). You need to determine which side of the argument you agree with and develop a response to support your viewpoint using examples from your own experience or observations.

Essay plan

Content is scored by determining if all aspects of the topic and task requirements have been addressed in your response. An essay plan will help you stay on topic, address all the key points and arrange your ideas logically when you write. Use the erasable noteboard to carefully plan your essay.

Here’s an example of a plan for the question prompt above.

Opinion: Governments should have strong legislation / not just up to the individual as impacts on community
Point 1:  
Argument Improve public safety for families and communities
Details/examples/explanations Drink driving laws
Limiting where you can drink
Point 2:  
Argument Protect the health of individuals who can’t make own decisions.
Details/examples/explanations Legal drinking age
Drinking while pregnant

Once you have completed your plan, check the timer and plan how much time you will use to write, allowing a few minutes at the end to proofread your essay.

Your essay should consist of a minimum of four paragraphs with an introduction, two body paragraphs each developing an idea, and a short conclusion summarising your ideas.


Your introduction should begin with a general statement giving the background or contextual information. The next sentence is your thesis statement and it should clearly and directly respond to the set question by giving your stand or viewpoint on the topic. You can then link your introduction to your body paragraphs with an overview of your points that will follow in the body paragraphs.

In total your introduction only needs to be three to four sentences. Let’s look at an example:

General statement Alcohol has a complex role in society while many people enjoy alcohol responsibly, drinking at excessive levels leads to harmful effects for individuals and significant social costs.
Thesis statement Governments should have strong legislation related to citizens buying and consuming alcohol to minimise and prevent harm to society as a whole.
Overview This essay will argue that alcohol legislation is an important factor in keeping families and communities safe and protects individuals who cannot make their own decision but may be negatively impacted by alcohol use.


Your conclusion is a summary of the main points discussed in your essay. It is also where you can make recommendations, evaluate your argument, or make predictions.

Your conclusion should start with a link to the previous paragraph. Next, restate your your position or viewpoint on the topic. Finish your conclusion by briefly summarising the key points from the body paragraphs / topic sentences.

Your conclusion also only needs to be three to four sentences. Here is an example:

Link to the body In conclusion,
Restate position harmful effects of alcohol can be limited through laws that are designed to protect the community.
Key points It is the responsibility of governments to enforce laws with fines and penalties to reduce the incidence of violence and accidents. This is especially important for young people who are vulnerable to the effects of alcohol and need projection through legislation.

Overall, your essay should be between 200-300 words long. Make sure you write a minimum of 200 words and leave enough time to check the quality of your writing.

Your task

Watch the video tutorial about the Essay item and how it is scored. Then, read the test tips for this question type.


Pearson. (2019). Score Guide (Version 11). Retrieved from here

Pearson. (2019). PTE Academic Test Tips (Version 2). Pearson.

Silva, F. O. J. C. C. J. H. (2020). Pearson Test of English Academic Practice Tests Plus and CD-ROM with Key Pack (1st ed.). Pearson Longman.

Disclaimer: The question prompts are for practice purposes only and are not official PTE Test materials.

© Griffith University
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