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Decoding English Language Proficiency Test Scores: PTE

 This article covers:
  • What do different PTE test scores mean? How do I read PTE test scores?
  • What is the PTE exam format? How are PTE exam scores calculated?
  • How is the PTE listening section scored?
  • How is the PTE reading section scored?
  • How is the PTE speaking section scored?
  • How is the PTE writing section scored?

For many international students, applying to study abroad will include English language proficiency testing. Students may take one or more English Language Proficiency tests (ELPs) depending on where they want to study. It's important to understand the results for each test as each ELP has a unique structure and scores.

This article will help decode scores for Pearson English Language (PTE) tests. This includes the PTE Academic, PTE Online, and PTE Academic UKVI (PTE UKVI) tests.

Click here to learn more about decoding TOEFL test results.

 Pearson PTE logo

Pearson Test of English (PTE)

Pearson’s primary test for future international students is the PTE Academic exam. PTE Academic results are accepted at many universities and colleges worldwide.

There are three different types of PTE tests:

  • PTE Academic (taken at a testing centre)
  • PTE Academic Online (taken at home on a computer)
  • PTE UK Government tests (including PTE UKVI, PTE Home A1, PTE Home A2, and PTE Home B2)

PTE Academic, PTE Academic Online, and PTE UKVI ask students to complete between 52 and 64 tasks. The PTE Academic exam can be written at one of 388 test centres worldwide. The PTE Academic Online can be completed remotely (depending on your home country and target academic institution). However, visa offices do not currently accept PTE Academic Online.

PTE exams are scored by automated systems. PTE exam results are returned within 48 business hours.

Click here to find out more about the different types of PTE tests.

PTE Scores Decoded

There’s no pass or fail score for PTE. Tests are scored from 10 to 90 points, based on the Global Scale of English. Your student will also receive an individual score in each test area (Listening, Reading, Speaking, and Writing). Some questions will contribute to your student’s score in multiple test areas.

Along with a formal score report and skills profile, your student will receive personalized feedback on their results. This feedback will include targeted advice for boosting their English skills.

PTE exams are broken down into three sections. Within each section, each type of question contributes to your student’s score for different skills.

Speech bubbles
1. Speaking and Writing Section

  • Read aloud (6–7 questions): Reading and speaking
  • Repeat sentence (10–12 questions): Listening and speaking
  • Describe image (3–4 questions): Speaking
  • Re-tell lecture (1–2 questions): Listening and speaking
  • Answer short question (5–6 questions): Listening and speaking
  • Summarize written text (1–2 questions): Reading and writing
  • Write essay (1–2 questions): Writing

Stack of books
2. Reading Section

  • Fill in the blanks (9–11 questions): Reading and/or writing
  • Multiple choice (2–4 questions): Reading
  • Re-order paragraphs (2–3 questions): Reading

Screen image
3. Listening Section

  • Summarize spoken text (1–2 questions): Listening and writing
  • Multiple choice (2–4 questions): Listening
  • Fill in the blanks (2–3) questions: Listening and writing
  • Highlight correct summary (1–2 questions): Listening and reading
  • Select missing word (1–2 questions): Listening
  • Highlight incorrect words (2–3 questions): Listening and reading
  • Write from dictation (3–4 questions): Listening and writing

Each type of question in each section is scored in a different manner.

For example, for an Essay question, PTE scores each student’s response based on seven specific criteria: content, form, grammar, general linguistic range, vocabulary range, spelling, and structure. Meanwhile, a Spoken question response would be scored on three criteria: content, oral fluency, and pronunciation. Note that on some questions, your student can score partial credit for form, content, and answer quality.

Looking to learn more about English Language tests? Click here to find out more about the differences between TOEFL, PTE, and IELTS tests. Or check out this chart to learn how PTE and TOEFL grading compares.

Total Score

Overall PTE scores are not the average score achieved across all four sections. A student’s overall score instead reflects their performance across the entire test.

Institutions set their own minimum acceptance scores, but Pearson recommends the following minimum scores:

  • Foundation courses: 36–50
  • Undergraduate degrees: 51–60
  • Postgraduate degrees: 57-67

Some institutions may choose to set minimum scores for each section of the PTE exam. It’s important to check the ApplyBoard platform or with your ApplyBoard representative to understand what score your student needs to apply to their intended school.

Your student may receive an unconditional offer if they score above the minimum requirement. If your student is a postgraduate applicant, a higher score may also make them eligible for a teaching assistant role.

Enabling Student Success

As their trusted advisor, you can simplify the application process for your students. With PTE test vouchers, you can help your students pay a lower PTE fee. ApplyBoard partnered with Pearson and ETS to offer GRE, PTE, and TOEFL exam vouchers. You can purchase test vouchers online which your students can then easily and safely redeem whenever they are ready to take the test.

Ready to save up to 25% on PTE Academic, PTE Online, and PTE UKVI tests for your students? Purchase vouchers now.

Need more info? Learn how to redeem PTE test vouchers.

It is also important to make sure you review each target schools’ application pages to help guide your student’s study plan. Work with them to improve their skills by focusing on key areas needed for their intended school or program. A great way to test a student’s skill before the exam is by using official study materials and practice tests.

Want to learn even more about PTE? Check out the links below:

  • What is the PTE test?
  • Types of PTE Tests & Vouchers