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PTE Speaking – Common Microphone Mistakes!

How do I record my answers?

PTE Academic is a completely computer-based English test. You are given a headset to listen and speak your answers during the Listening and Speaking sections. All your spoken answers will be recorded on a microphone – so you need to know how to use it!

Check your microphone

  1. The very first thing you should do is put your headset on correctly. The microphone must be down and near your mouth, but not directly in front of it. If it’s too close this can cause interference from the puffs of air that come from your mouth as you speak.

2. Secondly, it is very important that your test your microphone.

At the beginning of the test you will be given a chance to test your keyboard, headset and microphone – MAKE SURE YOU DO THIS. Click ‘Record’ and say a few sentences in a clear, loud voice, the same way you will be speaking during the test. For example:

Testing, testing, one, two, three. My name is ______ I am from ______. I like ice-cream and taking long walks on the beach.

You could even say make up a sentence to warm up for your Describe Image task: In this graph we can see the population in various Spanish-speaking countries. The country with the highest population is Mexico, and the country with the lowest is the Dominican Republic. It doesn’t matter what you say, so long as you say something to test the volume and how loud you should speak. Click ‘Stop’ to stop the recording. Click ‘Playback’ to hear what you have recorded. If you cannot hear your recording clearly, raise your hand and alert the Test Administrator.

3. If you think your headset is not working correctly TELL SOMEONE. If you suspect your microphone or headphones are not working 100% correctly, let someone know straight away. Don’t be shy – alert the staff so they can help fix the problem.

Problems caused

If you have received, or are constantly receiving, a low speaking score, in addition to improving your speaking with a PTE Academic coaching course, make sure you avoid these common problems with the microphone:

1. Too loud

Some people place their microphone too close to their mouth. This can often cause interference and the microphone may miss the word you have said. So speak at a good volume, but do not hold the microphone to your mouth and yell.

2. Too closed

If you speak too closely to the microphone, it is likely that your microphone recording will be interrupted by puffs of air coming from your mouth as you speak (plosives). This has been reported by previous test-takers and can cause in a greatly reduced score. So make sure your microphone is not directly in front of your mouth.

3. Too quiet

Some people have naturally soft speaking voice, and as a result it may be hard for the microphone to pick up what you are saying. So make sure you speak at a good, clear volume. You don’t have to yell, as we said above, but you need to speak loud enough. If you are speaking too loudly, one of the assistant will let you know.

4. Background noise

Another reason to speak loudly is that there will be other people in the room who are also taking the test – this is normal – so there will be background noise.

Starting a coaching course

The best way ensure a good speaking score is with practice. By joining a PTE preparation course at English Key, you have access to our practice tests and resources. You can come into one of our centres in Sydney or Melbourne and attend a practice test session using our PTE academic software and real headsets. Furthermore, our PTE Academic coaching courses provide specific classes to improve your skills specifically for PTE Academic. To find out more about our courses, get in touch with us, or drop by and chat to one of our lovely staff.

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