Skip main navigation

Introduction to the speaking section

Introduction to the Speaking items types, scoring criteria and sample score report for the PTE Academic test.
Welcome back. How did you do in the quiz? I hope that you learned about the test. We’re now going to look at the structure, content, and scoring of PTE Academic. This will help you understand it and how you can perform well. PTE Academic is taken entirely on a computer, and this includes the speaking section. You will see a screen that looks like this. It will look different for the different item types. The screen gives you instructions during the different item types. It may give instructions telling me to read, listen, or speak. It also shows you how long you have for the different parts.
You can see a timer and a status bar showing the time you have used and the time that remains. It is important to pay attention to the screen and respond at the correct time. In PTE Academic, the speaking and writing sections are taken together, and they are the first part of the test. The speaking items are the first questions that you answer. Together, the speaking and writing test takes from 77 minutes to 93 minutes. The speaking takes around 37 to 53 minutes. The number of items that you answer differs, but there are always six different item types. These are Personal introduction, Read aloud, Repeat sentence, Describe image, Re-tell lecture, and Answer short question.
We will look at each of the assessed item types in more detail in the next step. Let’s move on to have a look at the scoring for PTE Academic. The test overall, and each of the communicative skills, reading, writing, listening, and speaking, are graded with a score between 10 and 90. These four scores are the scores which are provided to universities. You’ll also receive a set of scores for enabling skills. These can help you understand your strengths and areas that you can improve, but they are not used to assess your readiness for university. These are grammar, oral fluency, pronunciation, spelling, vocabulary, and written discourse.
So, how is your speaking and score calculated? Most of the speaking items are graded in three areas. Let’s have a look at these. The first is content. The assessment of this differs depending on the item type, but overall, it looks at whether a candidate is including all, some, or none of the information required. The second area is oral fluency. This looks at whether speech is smooth and whether it contains hesitation or repetition. It also looks at the speed a candidate speaks at. It is assessed as native-like, advanced, good, intermediate, limited, or disfluent.
The third is pronunciation. This is the same across all the item types. This looks at whether the sounds, stress, vowels, and consonants a candidate uses are native-like, advanced, good, intermediate, intrusive, or non-English. For more detailed information about these, refer to the PDF scoring criteria handout. Now that you have learned about the structure and the scoring of the speaking section of PTE Academic, let’s move on to have a look at the item types in more detail.

In the next step, you will learn about each of the five assessed item types in the speaking section of PTE Academic. This will help you understand the requirements for each and how you can effectively prepare.

The Speaking Item Scoring handout is below.

This article is from the free online

Practise your PTE Academic Speaking Skills

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education